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“Why can’t I find the right people?”

Does your current recruitment process for permanent staff look like this


  • Your internal recruitment teams are inundating you with low quality CVs.


  • Your agencies are sending you the first candidates they’ve come across and are then moving on to another client.


  • Your competitors are moving faster than you.


  • Your candidates are having a terrible experience of the recruitment process.


  • You’re not getting through the process quickly enough.


  • Your line managers haven’t got the time to give to the process, so they’re delaying it or making it inefficient.


  • You’re going out to the market with the wrong message and the wrong job requirement, so you’re getting the wrong people.


  • You’re not necessarily paying the right salaries, but you find that out late in the process rather than before you start.


Sound familiar?


If you can’t find the right people, it’s highly likely that it’s the way you’re going about looking for them that’s the issue. The right people are out there, it’s your recruitment process that makes the difference.


Finding the right people has become harder than ever. Especially in Nuclear, Utilities & Energy (NUE), we have certainly seen a change.


You just can’t find the people. Or not the right people anyway.


You might be asking yourself: “What worked for me three to five years ago (to find the right people), isn’t working now. Why not?”


So what’s changed? 


First, let’s look at the current recruitment market conditions:


There’s an even bigger talent shortage in the marketplace post COVID.


Political and economic motivations have massively increased the demand for talent.


This has applied pressure to end clients and their supply chains within the engineering and construction industries, including technical services and products provided to those industries. 


Historically most recruitment providers have focused on contract recruitment with most permanent hiring left to your internal recruitment teams or HR. When the latter didn’t work, the likelihood was that you’d use competitive, multiagency Preferred Supplier Lists (PSLs). The result being multiple organisations sending in as many CVs as quickly as possible.


When there were plenty of potential candidates to choose from, and your teams had more bandwidth to filter applications, that method might have worked. In the current conditions this will not work.


Now that the supply and demand characteristics have flipped, your internal recruitment team, and agency suppliers, are simply not set up to deliver. Not how they go out to market, and not how they run the recruitment process.


This has the capacity to have a significant negative impact on your business, and we’re hearing it as the main limiter to your growth potential.


Compounding the issue is the practical fact that your stakeholders, who are being forced to pick up more work, are now even more time poor. The longer it takes for you to find the right people, the more their workload increases. They are then even less inclined to engage with the recruitment process, as they simply don’t have capacity to take time out of their day jobs.


The result: Your recruitment process creates a reduction in quality, and you lose some of the good people you find because you can’t act quickly enough.  


“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.” 

Now imagine you could set up a way of working with your recruitment supplier that optimises the recruitment process in your favour, giving you the best possible chance to attract and secure the right people.


Imagine a process that is so structured, committed and aligned, you realise a competitive advantage.


What you want is to try and find a provider that addresses all the structural problems within your recruitment process. You want an efficient, simple process that will increase the chances of you securing the best candidates when you find them.


It will also maximise the quality of the candidate shortlists before they get into the recruitment process, increasing the chance of finding the right people.


According to James Chamberlain, Rullion Sector Director for Nuclear, Utilities, and Energy (NUE): “What you essentially want is an ultra-committed, ultra-structured, time-specific, project-led approach to recruitment. Where everybody knows exactly what they’re doing. Everybody is aligned to the process. When you do that, the chance of achieving your goals is just inextricably improved.”


Consider this scenario. You’ve been trying to find the right people to fill 15 vacancies. You’ve got three to four agencies looking for you. You’ve got your own internal team looking for you. They’ve all been looking for months. You’ve reviewed 75 CVs. None of them are a good match. Then, you try a different approach, and in five weeks you’ve filled all 15 vacancies.


“This is a recent real-world example in high demand STEM skills,” James added. 


And the main difference was a change in process.


What if you tried a different approach? 


What if you started to run your recruitment campaigns like a project, to a predetermined timeline, where everybody knew exactly the role they needed to play?


Most NUE companies focus on finding “MORE” candidates. The question you all ask is the same: “Where are we going to find the candidates from?” 


The more challenging the market, the more difficult this is.


Pointing more resources and suppliers at the same active candidates only has limited potential to expand your shortlist.


Its competitive nature further incentivises speed, quickly disengages suppliers, makes controlling the message harder, and disincentivises suppliers to go the extra mile. It’s easier for them to move on the next thing.


This method will find candidates but never finds the best possible shortlist.


You need a supplier that will do 2 things:


  1. Take the time to communicate your message to the widest audience possible, even if they are not looking for a job, and, give you the best shortlist from that activity. This never happens in a competitive PSL


  1. Help you to make the recruitment process predictable by running it to a timeline and managing it as a project.


Get this right, and when those candidates enter the recruitment process, their experience is so efficient, so positive, and so effective they want to work for you, and you get your offer to them first. 


Conventional hiring using multiple agencies competitively (PSLs) isn’t helping you  


The conventional way of thinking is: “If I’m not getting the candidates from these three agencies, I will go and find another three agencies and they will get me different candidates.”


But what often happens is you get the same candidates, with a few minor differences. 


Let’s say you send a job description out to multiple agencies. The moment those agencies receive the vacancies, they will set out to find you suitable candidates as fast as possible – any delay and they risk another one of the other agencies submitting the same people.


This process prioritises speed in the selection process.


What you have is multiple agencies working on the same vacancies simultaneously. They all go out to the same job boards and their own databases. They all speak to candidates as quickly as possible, and they send you the candidates’ CVs as fast as possible. You invariably get overlap.


Far too often the job description provided doesn’t reflect what you want, and almost always information detailing specific information about the role or features like the benefits package are missing.


Even if the information you provide is comprehensive, such is the agency’s haste to get the CVs in front of you, they’ll skip over the details and ask candidates if they want to be put forward for the role.


As for getting a thorough history from the candidate to determine if s/he is the right fit for you, forget it. There’s no time.


What therefore happens is you get a high-volumelow-qualityhigh-speed period of search.


Which, can work, but tends to focus on the low hanging fruit. You almost always miss passive candidates, and in the current market you can’t miss them and get a good outcome.


Poor candidate experience  


What happens next? The CVs all go to a central point where they may or may not get filtered in some way. They are then forwarded to a hiring manager for interview selection. This could take anything from a day to a month to review. When they come back with a decision, they may not have time to give information why one candidate is right over another. That decision might then take a day or more to get back to the relevant recruitment agency, which invariably means it takes that agency anything between half a day to two days to get back in touch with the candidate. By this time that individual might have already secured a role with one of your competitors.  


The process is further slowed down by delays in scheduling interviews, particularly in cases where more than one interview is required for a role.  


A further period ensues between getting sign off and getting the relevant paperwork out to that candidate to secure the offer.


This process not only reduces the quality of candidate, but its length offers ample opportunity for candidates to fall out and go elsewhere. It also doesn’t do much for your employer brand.


This could be a 3-month cycle and, if you have a lot of candidate churn, you could endure it multiple times.


What you want is a recruitment process that is as predictable as possible for everybody involved  


First, lay out a detailed timeline. For example, you could have a two-week search / one week selection structure. All dates and interview availability agreed in detail and in advance.


Second, you want your supplier to sit down with your hiring managers and to secure a very detailed, high-quality job description, as well as a commitment from them about timescales.


Third, before any search, your supplier should provide feedback on market considerations that could affect the process so these can be dealt with in advance.


Fourth, in that two-week search period, you want your supplier to access all potential channels and reach out to candidates across a wide pool, whether they are actively looking for work or not.


Fifth, from that lengthy list of candidates, you want your supplier to present a shortlist of the best candidates. This maximises the quality of the shortlist because instead of five agencies sending you the first three people they speak to, it’s one agency sending you the best three people of everyone they’ve spoken to over a period of two weeks. The difference in quality of that shortlist is extraordinary.


Sixth, once the interviews have been concluded, offers are made promptly and you want a contract in that candidate’s hands as soon as possible.


This is a 3-week process to offer accept.


A predictable process 


By following this structure, everything’s laid out in front of you, everyone involved already has all meetings pre-pencilled into their diaries, they know exactly what’s happening, what to expect, and what is expected of them.


This compresses the entire recruitment process into an incredibly short period of time. Theoretically it could be done in less than three weeks for less challenging searches.


In this example: The first two weeks for search and selection, shortlist meeting at 10 working days, and in the third week you would have first interviews scheduled for Monday, second interviews on Wednesday, and offers made on Friday. All this would be put into the relevant stakeholders’ calendars in advance to ensure their availability. Meanwhile, your competitors haven’t even managed to review CVs yet.


What’s in it for candidates?  


A much-improved candidate experience.


The purpose of this process is to minimise the time it takes for applicants to move through the recruitment process, limiting it to a maximum of three weeks to offer. This will maximise availability for face-to-face interview, and optimise conversion of candidates to offer acceptance.


Giving candidates a good experience, also improves your employer brand, whether they are offered the role or not. Whilst they are in the process, they know you are serious about the hire, and this really makes you stand out.


Shortlisted candidates know precisely when their interview is going to be from the first moment we screen them, which means they can pencil it in their diaries and are already available for interview should they be selected at Shortlisting. Candidates are not left wondering when they will / if they will get a call back about a role. Instead, they know exactly where they stand every step of the way.


What’s in it for hiring managers? 


Your hiring managers know when they’re going to interview, and they know when they’re going to get a shortlist. They also know they won’t have to review 40 CVs, they may only review three. Nor are they under any pressure to accept those CVs, although they are much more likely to be appropriate because your supplier has been through a proper briefing and its consultancy team knows exactly what to say to candidates. They’re also only working with candidates that can make that meeting time.


What’s in it for recruiters?  


When recruiters know that they are shortlisting candidates for a pre-agreed interview date, they are automatically more committed and put a lot more effort into searching for quality candidates than they would be if they have no idea when / if those candidates might be interviewed.


It’s about commitment  


Good recruitment is built around commitment.


You don’t have to invest as much of your time in this process, but for it to work you do need to commit to its project plan and so does the supplier.


For your supplier to have the freedom to assess two weeks’ worth of candidates and to draw up a shortlist of the best, they will need exclusivity for at least the search period. That’s the only way this process works.


If there is a risk that another agency will speak to a candidate and submit his/her CV first, it destroys the possibility of one supplier being able to have the space and time to create the best possible shortlist.


And the main difference between what we’ve described, and a competitive speed focussed model, is the process. The process then naturally creates the conditions for a high-quality outcome.


Final thoughts 


Ask yourself this:  How inefficient is your recruitment process and what is being done to improve those things? Are you going out with the right message? Are the people doing the recruiting going out with the right ask? Are you giving your recruiters the space to widely go out to the market? Are you running it like a project so that you can expedite the whole process and get the candidates before your competitors? 


Everything in the recruitment process currently trends towards chaos and the lowest possible level of quality. Nail the process, and the hires will look after themselves.




Having trouble finding the right people? Does any of this resonate? If yes, and you’d like to find out more about how we help our NUE clients find the right people faster than their competitors, request a call back today by filling out our form below.