Crucial to every organisation’s performance is the need to recruit talented people where and when needed. With a wealth of experience in strategic HR and talent management solutions, Karen Bull, product strateghy manager at Midlandhr, Offers some tips to help manage recruitment more strategeically.

With skill shortages at an all time high, changing demographics and legislation, and a highly competitive and volatile global market, organisations’ talent management, especially recruitment and retention, is a hot boardroom topic. Yet very often, organisations handle recruitment reactively, in isolation from other core talent management activities, giving at best short term success, often with long term detriment to employee engagement and retention.

Having a ‘master plan’
The golden rule is to integrate and align the recruitment strategy with the overall business objectives. Often organisations don’t analyse and understand core skills and key functions which differentiate them from competitors. Businesses need a sound understanding of what talent means within their organisation before they can understand what recruitment is needed to deliver organisational objectives. This will give far greater focus to the recruitment strategy.

Include a time frame in which to recruit candidates, narrow down the pool, interview the best ones, and hire someone. Some job ads appear for months, giving the appearance that these companies are struggling to recruit new candidates.

What skills have we already got?
A key strategy in the current economic climate is to really tap into the talent within. But this requires a more holistic approach, understanding people’s skills beyond the remit of their present job function. Traditionally only an employee’s manager and immediate team members were aware of their skill set. This knowledge can be subjective and invariably only pertains to the person’s current role. This narrow view can foster stagnation and under-utilisation of skills, often forcing people to move on in search of better opportunities.

Having a central skills repository creates an overall picture of organisational competence and can identify skills gaps across the company and subsequently tailor recruitment to fill gaps and work to support the business plan and add competitive advantage. When captured in a consistent, measurable form, and plotted against the business’ requirements, it creates a clearer picture for internal recruitment and optimises the organisation’s talent pool.

In today’s climate of dynamic, flexible resourcing, a skills database is an indispensable tool in adapting to new business requirements. More businesses are adopting a less rigid organisational structure, and using virtual teams. In this environment, where team dynamics are vitally important, a record of both concrete, job-related skills and softer, behavioural skills can help to pull together a team that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Knowing who always delivers, who is creative and who is detail conscious can add great value when choosing a team.

Having a central skills repository creates an overall picture of organisational competence and can be used to identify skills gaps across the company and subsequently tailor recruitment and training to address them before they become a problem. Identify existing gaps in the skills matrix and understanding how to fill these gaps will work to support the business plan and add competitive advantage. Ensuring that the strategy is agile enough to enable quick adaptation to any environmental changes is also key.

Becoming an employer of choice
Organisations often don’t fully understand and exploit their employer brand, when advertising, and throughout the recruitment process. Language, images and key business information can be used to create an image of your organisation as an employer of choice in the minds of internal and external candidates. Technology can really help in this area, but many organisations fail to exploit, or are let down by their technology partner for web recruitment. When accessing businesses websites, they are carefully crafted to show the organisation in it’s best light and yet too often when candidates select the jobs link, they are taken into dull, uninviting recruitment pages that do nothing to embed the brand.

Remember the candidate experience
The millennium generation of job seekers are said to focus extensively on online sources when seeking a new position. E-recruitment allows organisations to extend the net and tap in to markets which might otherwise have been inaccessible. Online web recruitment can significantly reduce the time to hire and give enhanced response times to candidates, thereby enriching their experience and overall perception of the organisation.

When high volumes of applications are received, first stage sifting can be automated which drastically reduces time to hire. It’s important to focus on the critical skills and tangible sifting criteria identified during planning. Failing to do so is time consuming, making it difficult to ‘see the wood for the trees’ and potential talent can be lost. An excellent example is using online tests to whittle candidate numbers down to the top five percent who go through to interviews.

Engaging employees effectively
Recruitment and retention go hand in hand and cannot exist in isolation. Many businesses fail to retain recruits within the first 18 months of their employment because they are unsuccessful in engaging and supporting them during these critical months. Effective employee engagement is often the key to maintaining healthy retention levels, and should be part of every recruitment strategy.

Realising the link between retention and low job satisfaction, companies will become increasingly sophisticated with retention strategies, by making use of predictive analytics. While some view it as just another element of a ‘Big Brother’ society, one cannot deny how predictive analytics — when used in the right way — can promote company-wide well being in terms of performance, job satisfaction and retention. Predictive analytics is about employee engagement — to ensure job satisfaction for every employee while the organisation still gets the best performance from employees.

Was it worth it?
Most organisations analyse their recruitment performance in purely quantitative measures, which can result in efficient yet ineffective recruiting, the most common metrics being cost of recruitment, time to hire and numbers of open vacancies within the organisation. But it’s the qualitative measures that give the fullest picture and often require evaluation, such as employee engagement, results of exit interviews, candidate surveys and so forth. Organisations failing to do proper qualitative measurement fail to make correlations between the different measures, and could be left in a position where the newly recruited candidate leaves after a few short months. The organisation then has to start recruitment process again, and the long-term costs to the business could be greater than the time and effort it would have taken to implement proper qualitative measurement of candidates.

No matter what size the organisation, recruiting at any level is challenging, taking time and resources away from the core business objectives, but with a solid recruitment strategy and the right business tools, organisations can rise to the challenge.

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