Having previously been a Recruitment Manager for many years I can just imagine the challenge recruitment functions now face as the economy goes through flux and organisations are cost cutting left, right and centre. If you are in a recruitment management role; then you might see some value in hearing about my experiences and through sharing some of your own learning, we may together become enriched with ways of tackling the challenges we face.
The greatest oversight when the employment market changes, is that the market is flooded with candidates as organisations right size. It is assumed we no longer have to work too hard to identify and attract candidates. This could not be further from the truth.
The truth is your knowledge workers will continue to be difficult to find. These people are highly skilled and have well-developed technical and soft skills. They have skills that can transcend across industries and are highly adaptable to different organisational cultures, making them an easy cultural fit. They are rarely out of work and can pick and choose their opportunities. For certain role types there is a shortage of knowledge workers and no amount of changes in the employment market will create an over-supply. I call it the recruiters 80-20 rule, that is roughly 80% of your vacancies can be filled using your traditional recruitment methods and in a market with an over-supply, you will find these roles the easiest to fill.
However, roughly 20% of your roles fall into the “knowledge worker” category. The 20% will require the same amount of effort or, if you have been doing this poorly in the past; it will require a redirection of effort to the 20% of roles which are most critical to your organisation.
An organisations ability to bounce back when the employment market changes again, is based on its ability to deploy the best candidate management strategies during a downturn. It’s not a time to be complacent but rather to redeploy effort to the right activities.
Here is my recommended ‘to do’ list for candidate management in a downturn:
1. Identify your business critical roles.
These are the positions which are filled by ‘knowledge workers’. When your knowledge workers leave your business, they often leave the biggest void. If your succession planning is not the best, this is where recruitment teams can add significant value. Start by identifying where you are most needed. This is a great time to engage with your management team. They will know where the pain points are so if you are proactive in realigning your recruitment strategy to the business needs, you are more likely to be seen as relevant to the organisation.
2. Develop your talent pipelines for business critical role types.
A talent pipeline is not a job requisition filled with candidate records that don’t ever receive contact. Remember, knowledge workers are not short of job opportunities, so regular contact with them is important. The way you make contact with them is likely to be based on your organisations communication channels. If you have cost constraints, a simple phone call is perfectly fine. What’s important is that you record what they have said to you and you only go back to them with information that is relevant.
3. Set a mandate that every candidate will be responded to within a respectable time frame.
I’m not saying they need a phone call but they should receive an email. If you haven’t had time to screen all the resumes, then tell them so. Tell them that you are working through a process and do this regularly until you have an outcome. In my experience, this is the greatest candidate management faux pas. Getting back to your candidates is the right thing to do and trust me; your efforts will have a significant impact on your brand; both your company and personal brand.
4. Use your recruitment database to source candidates first.
For example, why post a job for an Administrator when you have past job requisitions filled with candidates. Send out a job alert with a link to the vacancy and let your candidate network find you the best candidates. In a downturn, you are likely to connect with people who are job hunting or know someone who is. Not all of your jobs need to be advertised. Remember that posting advertisements, cost money. Use your dollars where they are best spent and leverage you database for everything else. Basic you think? You’d be surprised how many recruiters automatically post a job without giving it a second thought. Recruitment Managers … this is laziness, time to take a close look at what you team is doing. Oh yes, don’t canvas candidates if you didn’t treat them well in the first place, points 1-3 come first.
Remember, when times are tough, ramp up your candidate management strategies. Those that do it well will be remembered long after the pain of a downturn has passed.
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