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In a market devoid of candidates, how can you attract and retain the best?

In a market devoid of candidates, how can you attract and retain the best?

In a market devoid of candidates, how can you attract and retain the best?

As anyone in recruitment knows, now more than ever it’s more challenging to hire good candidates, as the pool of candidates gets scarcer and scarcer, with unemployment dropping despite or because of factors such as ongoing Brexit confusion. So, how can you attract the best candidates to work for you, and how can you retain them once you’ve hired them?

The obvious advice is to genuinely look after staff, going beyond usual market offerings; include perks such as flexible working, better salaries/bonuses, more generous resources to work with, top class training and generous holiday allowances. All of these will factor in to a candidate’s decision to accept your offer over a competitor’s.

One of the factors that can also affect how candidates perceive you is how quickly the whole process moves; if you’re slow to move forward, then someone else is more likely to snap up your top candidate. Another point of contention is differentiation – nearly every company says they are ‘unique’, but that is rarely the case. If you really want to show candidates that you are far beyond ordinary, emphasise things that you don’t usually see – an in-depth CSR scheme, work with related charities, 4-day working weeks for full-time pay or increased flexibility with start times. Having case studies of current employees on your website and offering insight days before the interview process begins are other ways to appeal to candidates and show them that you really do value your employees.

Another way to attract the best candidates is to widen your brief so you don’t rule out someone with less direct experience but a lot of transferrable skills from a past role in a different area, for example in-house or journalism. It may also be prudent to consider the issue of neurodiversity – this means that some candidates will have different approaches to problem solving. This can include issues such as autism and dyslexia; however, increasing the diversity in your workforce will not only be more attractive to potential applicants, but will also benefit the company itself.

Neurodiversity is an interesting and timely topic; it’s now estimated that up to 10% of the workforce is ‘neurodivergent’, and sometimes the typical recruitment process won’t reinforce their good qualities. While they might find a panel interview more difficult than someone who is ‘neurotypical’, giving them a task to complete at an early stage of the process will show you that you can’t afford to miss out on a more-than-competent candidate. Did you know that the youngest person to ever attend Oxford was only six years old? He now wants to become a neurosurgeon.


Should I stay or should I go?

Here are some dirty words in recruitment: counter offers. When you offer more money to a valuable employee who has just resigned in a bid to convince him or her to stay, even if it works, it is likely to be a temporary fix because it doesn’t address the root causes of why they wanted to leave in the first place. As a result, 80% of those who accept counter-offers leave anyway within six months and 90% will be gone within the year.

“Employers make counter offers reluctantly to get rid of an immediate problem for the business, not because an employee has suddenly become more valuable,” said Rupert Wallis, MD of Media Contacts. “The concerns that person had that made them look for another job will not have gone away and money is usually fairly low down the list of priorities.” Let’s face it, a long commute will still be a long commute, a toxic colleague won’t suddenly turn into a best friend and an employee who is bored will not be any less bored by being paid an extra £5,000.

On the other side of the coin, if you are worried about a counter offer being made to the person you want to hire, there are things you can do to mitigate against that. Start by making sure you really get to know and understand their motivations and career aspirations so that you can emphasise all the aspects of working for you that match their dreams. This might be because of the training you offer,  the career progression plan, flexible working hours or a supportive environment, for example. Another tip is to invite the person out for drinks so they can get to know their new team members before they join the company, to encourage them to feel valued and welcome. Money is rarely the sole driver in a career decision and if you can get under the skin of your potential employees to truly understand them, you will be better placed to encourage them to resist counter offers.

Julia Walton, Media Contacts