By Max Clarke

As businesses start to emerge from one of the deepest recessions in living memory, many organisations risk missing out on opportunities to grow their business due to recruitment challenges caused by a lack of flexibility and innovation.

According to Part Two of the Future Fit Recruitment Report, released today by the provider of world-class talent and resourcing capability, Alexander Mann Solutions, many businesses are struggling with the realities of recruitment in the current economic climate.

Examining the opinions of senior HR decision makers from around the world, the global research project found that over half of companies surveyed (55 per cent) have experienced difficulty in recruiting in the last six months and that 70 per cent attribute these difficulties to a skills shortage in the candidate pool. This is a particular issue for companies in the UK (76 per cent) and less pronounced in Asia Pac (60 per cent).

At a time when unemployment is high and the candidate pool is larger than it has been for some time, these findings raise questions over whether organisations are failing to adapt their recruitment practices to current conditions.

Despite skills shortages being cited as a major obstacle in the hiring process, only 33 per cent of companies consider themselves as “good” or “excellent” when it comes to using innovative and creative approaches to secure new talent. At a time when top talent is very much in demand, this is a clear sign that organisations need to embrace innovative practices that go beyond their current recruitment processes if they are to successfully attract the skills they need to grow.

A lack of flexibility in organisations’ recruitment criteria could also be contributing to businesses’ recruitment challenges. While over half (53 per cent) of HR professionals surveyed consider that their organisation is “good” or “excellent” in terms of having flexibility in the recruitment process, one in five (17 per cent) of HR leaders polled recognised a lack of flexibility in the type of candidate sought.

In addition, 86 per cent revealed that their company has rigid skill requirements that candidates must meet, in terms of previous experience and education qualifications. These figures suggest that, in many businesses, strict recruitment briefs are potentially stifling the recruitment process and ruling out potential candidates as well as limiting innovation within the business.

With 60 per cent of organisations admitting to having purposefully tough selection processes to ensure only the most committed individuals progress (increasing to 73 per cent in the USA), and 64 per cent having minimum qualification requirements that all candidates must meet, there is a clear need for companies to examine whether their current recruitment process is getting the right people through the door or whether it is simply exacerbating the skills shortage issue.

“The last 12 months have been difficult for the business community, and as we move into a more positive new year, the war for talent is set to continue”,
commented Rosaleen Blair, CEO and founder, Alexander Mann Solutions.

“HR professionals will have a key role to play in identifying and retaining skilled workers. As competition to attract this top talent hots up, it’s going to be essential for organisations to take a more strategic and innovative approach when implementing recruitment policies.

“This report shows a surprising trend, with the majority of HR teams admitting that they are struggling to meet the needs of their business”,
commented David Heath, Global Director of International Business and People Capital, Alexander Mann Solutions.

“With nearly three quarters of businesses facing up to a shortage of skills, HR professionals need to look beyond their traditional practices and adopt more flexible, innovative methods. While there will always be some basic criteria that all candidates must meet, unnecessary red tape needs to be identified and removed to ensure that recruitment is not just a box ticking exercise but something that can deliver real business value across the organisation.