To really thrive, businesses need a team of talented people. Though some companies and industries face an uncertain future right now, many are as busy or busier than they were at the start of the year and are taking the opportunity to stack their workforce with talent.
Prior to the arrival of the COVID-19 virus in New Zealand and the resulting lockdown, MyHR’s CEO, Jason Ennor, sat down with Emma Rowley from inITiate recruitment to talk about smart recruitment strategies, hiring trends, and common pain points for businesses.
Emma has been in the recruitment industry for over 20 years and has a deep understanding of the demands of attracting and retaining great people. Here are Emma's top tips for getting the most out of your recruitment efforts.
Adapt to labour market changes
Before COVID-19, New Zealand companies wanting a competitive edge were increasingly looking at the international recruitment market, due to the small local talent pool. While immigration accreditation was once the sole domain of big businesses, many smaller Kiwi businesses have also been successfully bringing in skilled people from overseas.
Obviously, with the current border restrictions, overseas recruitment is on hold (other than returning Kiwis), but there is still a lot of mobility in the labour market, so your business needs to approach recruitment strategically and constantly.
Plan your workforce
Every organisation wants the best professionals and to attract and retain them they need to take workforce planning and managing their talent seriously.
Emma says it boils down to being strategic and not just hiring on immediate (reactive) need but also looking at hiring people based on what the business will need in the future and a person’s potential.
So instead of seeking to replace a person or only looking at a set of essential skills a candidate needs to get the role, Emma says there has been a growing trend towards hiring people who have additional “softer skills”, such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership skills.
These soft skills can really make a long-term difference in your team, so you need to think about where someone could go in the business, what opportunities they have to grow (and help drive your success), which then links in with your wider employee retention strategies.
Remember, the best way to recruit a replacement is to not have to recruit a replacement. Treat your people well so they have good reason to stick with you.
Obviously, this requires some effort and insight, but if your business is going to stay competitive and flourish, your workforce and long-term recruitment efforts have to grow with it.
Stand out from the competition
In areas with skills shortages, competitive pay rates may not be enough to attract the best talent. Emma says companies need to build a place that people really want to work and to offer a range of incentives, such as development opportunities, career progression, flexible work arrangements, and other benefits.
Before you start recruiting, take some time to define what you are as a business and the reasons why someone would want to come and work for you. People have different aspirations and commitments so you need to understand them and then see how you can best accommodate them.
Building a good company brand that is honest and real is more than just window dressing. If you bring people in promising things the company cannot deliver, they will soon learn the reality of the role, the culture, and their prospects, and will struggle or leave if their expectations don’t match.
Offer development opportunities
Top employees naturally want to learn and grow, so offering career development and learning opportunities is a real plus for candidates.
This applies to all companies, regardless of size or sector, and is gold for the business. A casual waiter or bartender can go on and run the floor or manage the cafe or bar. Trade apprentices can get qualified and then go on to run jobs or whole worksites for you.
It’s not just about putting people through training courses. Are there mentors and peers within the company who can help with upskilling and providing feedback (and be a nonpartisan listener)? Can you rotate staff and teams so multiple people have broad expertise across the business?
If you are bringing in highly-skilled specialists for short-term roles, include a coaching component so your people can learn new skills and the business can retain the knowledge.
Recruitment trends: tech, tech, tech
Emma sees the use of automation as the biggest trend in recruitment, as it offers some real cost- and time-savings. Automation helps with bulk administration tasks, strengthening the screening process and speeding up response times. Interviews can be done remotely and artificial intelligence can be used to analyse facial expressions.
The use of social media and social networks in recruitment is also increasingly common, as it can help companies reach a wider candidate pool, aid screening, and create quick, responsive interaction.
But we’re not at the point where R2D2 and C3PO can successfully hire your next employee. You still need human interaction to connect with candidates, develop a relationship, and bring the new person into the company, even if they are going to work remotely.
Over-reliance on tech, especially clunky tech, can also backfire and turn good candidates away. Your recruitment process has to work seamlessly.
And remember, you want unsuccessful candidates to have a good experience so they won’t bad-mouth your business to everyone they meet.
Interviewing tip: try to find the true person
There is a lot of conjecture about the value of interviews in predicting a person’s ability to do a job. But they still form an important part of the recruitment process.
Emma recommends trying to create a casual atmosphere so the person relaxes and you can get to know them beneath the professional exterior. Everyone is nervous, regardless of experience.
However, ensure you have enough structure so once you get past the initial chat, you can objectively compare candidates’ responses and not be overly swayed by any biases.
Stay in the market
Always keeping an eye out for talent makes recruitment much easier. Even if you aren’t hiring right now, be aware of good people.
If you employ someone great and there are other talented candidates who you can’t offer a job, keep in contact with them. If you meet someone who stands out or you get awesome service somewhere, reach out to that person and connect.
Network and find people. There are lots of ways to do this, via social networks etc. You never know, the person you connected with could be looking for a new challenge just as your company needs a new star.