How to use an 'attraction strategy' to find the right staff

Office working

Hybrid working is the way forward, say Talk Talk - Credit: FREEPHOTOS

With candidate availability at the lowest levels for 24 years and permanent placements for agencies at record high; what does this mean for recruiting new employees? 

I’ve talked in previous articles about the importance of an attraction strategy in helping employers to find the right people.  

The importance of your employer brand can’t be under-estimated.    What is an employer brand?   In part, it’s understanding your values and working to those and creating a positive culture where people want to work with you and feel valued as an important part of your business.  If you can get this right (or right enough – we’re not perfect) employees are your best ambassadors.   Ensuring that you’re an employer of choice by treating people with respect and fairness and doing your best to make sure that people enjoy working with you – then encouraging your employees to shout that from the roof tops – that’s an attraction strategy 

Another impact of a shortage of candidates is that salaries are increasing - in some sectors up to 20% and bearing in mind that the South West is now competing for candidates nationally, this may mean you have to look at your salary levels and check how they compare.  In some sectors this will be good news for employees, but it can create a disparity between higher new employee salaries and those of your current, loyal employees which may be lower; it can be a difficult conversation and balance. 

It’s not all about the money 

We know that attracting and recruiting the right candidate isn’t all about money – don’t we? 

It’s as important for candidates to know how it will look and feel when they work for you, as it is to understand how much they will be paid, what the job is and how they help your business deliver its goals.   What do I mean by that? 

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How often have I helped business recruit after they have tried unsuccessfully themselves – it seems easy – put out the advert, send out an application form and wait for the applications to roll in – but it doesn’t happen.    

Take time to think about your recruitment process and making sure it’s congruent with your stated values and promised culture – if you say you treat your people with respect and are an inclusive organisation then you need to make sure they feel that in the recruitment process.    Words can exclude as well as include and if you are inadvertently excluding people, you could be missing your best employee. 

Some simple tips to consider when writing adverts and job descriptions: 

Don’t use acronyms that only you understand – it’s like a secret language 

Similarly, use plain language rather than jargon 

Refer to “they” rather than he or she – if you talk about he – only he will apply (or vice versa) 

If you use images, make sure people can see themselves in those images 

For example, if you work for an IT company which has only male employees and you are looking to recruit but struggling, look at the language you’re using – you may inadvertently only be talking to male candidates and showing male employees in your images.  You are unlikely to attract female applicants as you aren’t talking to them and they don’t see anyone like them in your organisation – you could be missing out on excellent candidates.  

Job descriptions and person specifications – I could write a whole article about that!  They are useful – they can describe the areas of responsibility and the activities that the job needs to deliver – they don’t need to be a list of all the tasks that need to be done.   It would be helpful if the skills and experience were also outlined as well as the strengths or behaviours.  For example – a requirement that someone has excellent communication skills and is calm under pressure so that customers receive an excellent service, particularly during busy periods – helps to put the needs of the job in context. 

Think about the qualifications and skills that you are looking for – do you really need them?  The most common qualification I see employers looking for is a degree, which is often not required for that job.   If you set this as an essential requirement for a job – you may be losing out on a brilliant candidate who doesn’t have a degree but has lots of relevant experience.   

Do you use an application form?   For some sectors they are helpful – for example if you work with children or vulnerable adults you will need to use “safer recruitment” practices.   An application form can help to highlight gaps in employment or relevant qualifications or whether a DSB check will be need. 

An application form can also be an obstacle though – how complicated is your application form – do you really need all the information and detail you are asking for?  What is the tone and language in the application form – be clear and if you want specific information ask for it clearly.   It’s also important to use inclusive language in your application form – be consistent across all your recruitment material. 

How do you select the best candidates to interview from those who have applied?   Do you use a fair and transparent process to measure each application against the job description?   It may seem a chore to go through a process like this, but in the long run, it will be helpful.   

There are other important steps in the recruitment process that will help you get to the best candidate – if it’s helpful in future articles I can give some tips and pointers on interviewing and how to create a positive interview experience – let me know?  

It takes time and money to recruit and the more you can do to make sure that you get the right candidate, the more likely you will. 

Although it may be difficult to recruit at the moment; there are great opportunities out there for employers and employees.   When you find the right candidate who can bring energy, enthusiasm, a great attitude, they can make a real difference to your business. 

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