How to achieve an agile recruitment strategy in a hyper-competitive talent market
Over the past two years, UK businesses have witnessed a lot of instability and change in the marketplace. As well as the Covid-19 pandemic, external forces that have contributed to this instability and change include inflation, supply and demand, legislation, digitalisation and Brexit.
This has resulted in a shift towards a very candidate-led market, with a lot of organisations struggling to catch up and recognise that.
So, what’s the problem?
The problem is that the way most organisations recruit hasn’t changed at all because the often slow and bureaucratic processes that worked pre-pandemic, no longer work.
Agility means responding quickly.
How can you increase agility?
To be agile means to get rid of as much inefficiency as possible.
Are you still relying on traditional recruitment processes that are often slow and cumbersome? If yes, try to get rid of as many barriers to the recruitment process and increase efficiency as much as possible.
Think of ways to speed up your recruitment process and respond as if you are competing for talent rather than simply seeking it. Because that’s what this is: a competition for talent.
For example, are you still looking at how far someone lives from your office location? By expanding your search to recruit from a much wider geographical area, you allow yourself much greater agility.
Are you still relying on traditional recruitment process shortlists and closing dates before setting up interviews, or are you getting great candidates in front of hiring managers as soon as possible?
Are you spending huge amounts of time chasing hiring managers to get feedback on CVs, or are you having daily huddles with hiring managers to get instant feedback on CVs and applications so that you can move on to the next step of the recruitment process?
Is there a need for any human interaction in your recruitment processes? For example, if you’re in logistics and warehousing, why do you need to conduct an interview with someone? For some organisations, it’s first foot in the door, gets the job, end of story. You apply online, they send you a basic qualifying out criteria and then they give you the job starting on Monday.
Commitment is key
Agility required varies from organisation to organisation. What doesn’t vary is the level of commitment required.
Is recruitment your number one priority? If you can answer yes to that question, then instantly you have an ability to be more agile because you have buy-in from top-down.
In today’s marketplace commitment is more important than it’s ever been. An organisation’s stakeholders', and their partners', commitment to whatever processes you have decided upon is much more important today than it was 12 months ago.
Because when you have lost sight of your recruitment challenge, the consequences of you not being committed to it are that it just gets away from you. And your competitors start to take the people that you need to grow your business.
The barrier to an organisation’s growth is and always has been its ability to scale its people.
Organisations that are therefore committed, and act towards a shared commitment to that, are the organisations getting the people.
Do you have a plan?
Agility is the ability to read the future.
This means the ability to have a plan and to acknowledge the fact that you’re going to have to respond when things change.
Organisations that don’t have a plan just end up reacting to everything.
In fact, all too often organisations only think about talent when it has become a problem for them.
Instead, it’s about looking at those business changes and growth plans and what you want to achieve and having a clear picture around what that means for talent.
Ask yourself: What talent do I need? Is it permanent, is it freelance, is it contingent, is it outcome-based?
The next step is to figure out a plan of how to achieve that.
Ask yourself: What can our inhouse teams deliver? What are we going to need support with? If we are going to grow, do we need to bring in more experienced hires? If yes, are we better off getting our internal recruitment team to do that and to outsource our early years careers etc?
All these kinds of things need to be thought out at the planning stage to ensure agility when responding to change, rather than just reacting to the fact that you need a lot of new people.
HR needs to be able to understand the direction your business is going in and its objectives. To do that, HR needs a seat at the board.
HR also needs to know how your business is going to grow, what it’s going to do and how it’s going to change so that it can put people strategies in place accordingly.
A few of these include:
• Retraining or redeploying existing talent
• Building strategies that retain certain key people that you’ve got in your organisation but then looking at what talent you are going to need
• Identifying your recruitment needs, how you want to recruit and when you need to recruit by
• Identifying where and how to build talent pipelines
• Determining how to select partners, who can support you with all of this.
All these components need to be part of the plan. Once you’ve got that, you can act in a much more agile way. It’s very difficult to be agile when you’re constantly reacting to somebody, who has just put a recruitment requirement on, that you knew nothing about and that you didn’t know was coming down the line.
Insights and Data
Recruitment is all about information and commitment. You’ve got to be aware of what is happening in your market and not to ignore what the data and insights are telling you. As such, you’ve got to trust your partners and experts to give you the right guidance and support.
Organisations that have the information to make the right decisions and are committed enough to execute the processes required to be one step ahead of their competition, are the ones that get the talent.
To get the most out of your recruitment strategy and to ensure agility, you need to understand what you’re good at. Is what you’re currently doing working well for you? What are your recruitment teams and suppliers good at? How does that fit in with your future needs and does it need to change?
How well do you manage risks? For example, if there is a key push for talent that needs to happen, you need to consider what happens to that project if one of your internal recruitment team leaves.
There is a belief that doing everything in-house is cheaper, when in fact the delays and inefficiencies that can sometimes result are more costly in the end. Are you therefore better off using an external partner/s who can augment and support what you are already doing in-house?
If you’re happy and what you are currently doing with your recruitment strategy is working well for you, that’s great. But if not, and there’s a partner out there who can expand on what you’re already doing and support you with things like resource, structure, message and consistency, then consider working with that partner, building a solid relationship with them and making your recruitment strategy more efficient and agile.
Questions to ask yourself
• What is my North Star?
• Where am I going to get the skills for the future?
• How am I going to get the talent for the future?
• Am I exploring every avenue?
• Am I thinking bigger picture than just recruiting permanent and contract staff?
• What is happening down the line with the gig economy and human cloud?
• What different kinds of recruitment trends are emerging in the marketplace?
• Which one is going to match my demands?
• What is the best recruitment solution, holistically for my business?
Not every trend is going to suit every business model but over time these new trends will be entering our markets more and more. For example, instead of doing a permanent or part time role, more people will start doing much more flexible work and outcome-based projects. It’s important to get all the information you need to make the right decision for your business depending on the demand that comes to you.
1. To be agile means to get rid of as much inefficiency as possible.
2. Is recruitment your number one priority? If you can answer yes to that question, then instantly you have an ability to be more agile because you have buy-in from top-down.
3. All too often organisations only think about talent when it has become a problem for them. Agility is the ability to see the future and having a plan.
4. HR needs to be able to understand the direction your business is going in and its objectives. To do that, HR needs a seat on the board.
5. To get the most out of your recruitment strategy and to ensure agility, you need to understand what you're good at.