Is recruitment one of your biggest headaches? Many of the CEOs I coach say attracting the right people is a bottleneck that slows down revenue and growth. Their challenge isn’t finding new customers, it’s having the right employees to do the work in the first place. And yet, the whole topic of recruitment is often overlooked, under-resourced or left on the ‘too difficult’ pile.
If you’re serious about scaling up, you need to get recruitment right. This means investing time and energy into every stage of the process. Take an obsessive approach and you should be able to crack it. As MD of three fast-growing tech companies, I’ve faced similar challenges. Here are the things I’ve learned:
1. Build a great culture
I tend to bang on about great workspaces but they make a huge difference! Great cultures attract great people. If you’re choosing between a company that’s located in a boring, dull, box of an office and another that’s got a pool table, free coffee, pub, garden, lounge area, which would you be more excited to join? That’s what we had at Peer 1 in Southampton. We created a workplace that helped us hire the best people in the available market place.
Think about the social media ‘curb appeal’ of your company, like weekly work parties or get-togethers. These are all things that will draw in prospective employees.
I can’t underestimate the importance of cultural fit. A 2005 analysis revealed that employees who fit well with their organisation, co-workers, and supervisor had greater job satisfaction, were more likely to stay and showed superior job performance.
2. Monitor social media
What’s the first thing a candidate does if they’re thinking of applying for a job? They search for the company online. It means you have to make sure your online presence — especially social media — is appealing.
Get a handle on how you’re perceived as an employer. Look at Glassdoor reviews and your CEO approval rating. The latter needs to be at 85% or above ideally. Get your hiring managers to tidy up their profiles on LinkedIn. Make sure they include professionally taken photographs and well-written summaries saying who they are and how they manage their teams.
Be proactive rather than reactive. Encourage current staff to leave positive reviews on Glassdoor and make sure they are authentic and real. I helped one of my clients, Wirehive, with exactly this sort of work. They were finding it hard to attract good people and were stuck in a cycle of repetitive, boring job ads. So we took a load of photos of Christmas parties, events, happy times in the office and plastered them all over Pinterest, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Facebook etc. Whenever a prospective hire searched for WireHive, they immediately got a sense of positivity and fun.
3. Show off your reputation
If you build a great reputation, you’re more likely to attract better talent. Enter awards, like ‘Best Companies’ or ‘Great Place to Work’. Just being nominated gives you something to talk about. To show off. Get involved in outreach projects. If someone stumbles across your work, they’re more likely to research what you do. If you’ve got vacancies, they might be motivated to apply.
Again, back to Glassdoor – check to make sure your reputation isn’t getting hammered there by people who work/have worked for you. Candidates will be checking and will see that.
Here is how it’s done well – La Fosse Associates has a 3-star accreditation from Best Companies for the past five years. A consistently excellent place to work. The reputation for being a fantastic employer keeps the CVs coming for James and his team. In fact, La Fosse has consistently been the number one recruitment firm to work for the UK, that doesn’t happen by accident!
4. Appoint a Head of Talent
I can’t emphasise this one enough. If finding the right people is crucial to your success, then you need to invest in your own Head of Talent to help to achieve this. Certainly, if you’re going to hire more than 12 staff in a year, this is essential. Don’t rely on third-party recruiters to find you candidates – they won’t manage your brand as well as you can.
Your Head of Talent will need to live and breathe your company culture, taking responsibility for staff engagement, recruitment and onboarding.
5. Make job ads sparkle
Dull, dull, duller and even duller. That sums up most job adverts. Try writing the first paragraph to appeal to the marginal or passive candidate and show an understanding of their current frustrations and how you can fix them; shorter commute, better manager, appreciation, professional development or career progression.
Imagine your ideal candidate working at a competitor. Nail down the differences between working there and working for you. When organisations are struggling to hire, I often find it’s because they haven’t done this piece of work right at the beginning. They need to think about why they are better. What are they offering?
Here is the wording I used twice to hire the same role in two different firms:
‘If you lose patience with the people in the marketing meeting who talk about the “integrity of the design”. Or can’t wait to leave the meeting where the shade of blue is discussed for over an hour. Then you are probably frustrated with the current state of your marketing function. If you’d rather look at the customer journey and analyse conversion – or spend some time optimizing the lead funnel to reflect the new sources – and you LOVE, the idea of email lead nurturing – then start thinking about being our first Demand Generation Director.’
6. Treat recruitment like sales
What’s the interview process like at your firm? If I were to fill in a form online, how quickly would someone call me? Not email me but actually get on the phone. Why not do some mystery shopping of your own organisation — go on your own careers page and apply for a job! Do you have to upload a CV? Why? Could you instead ask for their name, phone number, email address and LinkedIn profile — what more do you need? It should tell you everything you need to know there.
How quickly do you get back to people? If someone applies for a job, you want to get back to them as soon as possible. It’s like a sales lead — within five minutes would be amazing, inside an hour pretty good. If you don’t get back to them inside 24 hours, you’re probably better off never ringing them again. By then they already know you’re rubbish and you’re just going to be ringing up and apologising!
Think about what you would want if you applied for a job and then go through your process to make sure it works. I bet a large number of business owners and managers reading this are unaware of just how difficult it is to apply for a job at their company. Or how the information requested is not right.
It’s also important to look at who will be interviewing the candidates. Great people will not join a company if they are interviewed by B or C players during the hiring process. They want to know your company hires the best, so put your best in front of them.
And if there isn’t a good range of candidates to choose from? Don’t accept second best. Recruitment may be laborious and time-consuming, but the cost of the wrong hire can be huge. Make sure every new recruit raises your average – which means they should be better than your existing staff or have the potential to be.
7. Beef up benefits
If you’re not able to pay top of the market for your talent, then make sure your benefits package is exceptional. This can make a big difference in the attraction of candidates. In fact, ICIMS found that, ‘92% of full-time employees believe that companies that offer non-traditional benefits are more likely to recruit top-tier talent.’
When I was MD at Peer 1, we were paying average rates. So we decided to take 5% of our entire payroll cost and turn it into benefits. We researched all the benefits available at competitors and put them together into one, knock-out package. It was amazing.
You could buy holiday, sell holiday, more pension or less pension, dental insurance, cycle to work scheme, childcare vouchers – the list was long. If you were young and didn’t want to pay into your pension, you didn’t have to (GOV has changed that now). If you were a coder and didn’t want to take holiday, we’d pay you more. Each member of staff had their own, bespoke set of benefits, making jobs at Peer 1 attractive to a wider range of potential recruits. It also had the added advantage of staff being remunerated differently depending on what they’d chosen, meaning roles weren’t directly comparable. We even worked out what the free parking, coffee, beer and ice cream added up to over the year.
Having designed this package, staff were given an annual Benefits Statement showing them clearly the monetary value of the package we offered. It made it much harder for them to find anything comparable amongst our competitors and gave us a real USP as an employer.
If you know recruitment is an issue in your organisation, put time and effort into sorting it now. Each of the ideas above will help you attract the best talent. You don’t need to do everything but ‘every little helps’, as Tesco would say. Keep aiming to create a consistent aura of amazingness around your company and you’ll find the attraction of top talent will be much easier.
Written by business growth coach Dom Monkhouse. Find out more about his work here.
Wirehive on Glassdoor https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Overview/Working-at-Wirehive-EI_IE1529259.11,19.htm
La Fosse Associates on Glassdoor https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Overview/Working-at-La-Fosse-Associates-EI_IE659891.11,30.htm
La Fosse Associates on Best Companies https://www.b.co.uk/company-profile/?la-fosse-associates-92100
Thomson On-line benefits https://www.thomsons.com/