6 Ideas for Staffing in a Scarce Skills Market.

In spite of the fact that South Africa’s unemployment rate is expected to average at around 25% in 2012* and the fact that many companies downsized during the last few years due to the global recession, finding top talent especially in areas of scarce skills is more difficult than ever.  The reason is two fold.  Firstly, traditional methods of advertising a vacancy (whether in the media or online) often attract an avalanche of desperately seeking candidates and filtering these is a long and tedious process.  Secondly, the top candidates have their heads down and are so buried in what they are doing that they don’t have time to look at other opportunities.

So as a hiring manager, what can you do to make sure that your company has the best staff?  Here are 6 ideas.

  1. Look after your current
    Don’t wait until your key person resigns before you wake up to their needs and then scramble to buy them back.  Statistics show that 75% - 90% of employees who accept counter offers are looking again within 6 months**.  So if you do buy back an employee with a counter offer, the chances are you are just buying some time.  Better to put in the effort to keep them happy before they start looking around.  Find out what motivates your staff - you’d be surprised at how often it isn’t just money.
     
  2. When recruiting, look for the passive
    In a scarce skills environment, if a candidate is actively looking and has placed his or her CV on job boards, they are likely to be swamped by calls from recruiters and companies, usually for positions they aren’t qualified for or interested in.  These candidates are often the ones who take a job, and move again a few months later.   Passive talent, on the other hand, are likely to be buried in their work.  They aren’t actively looking for other opportunities, but when the right opportunity arrives, they will move.  Knowing where the best passive talent is camped out, and approaching them, often takes extra skill and a unique selling point, but more often leads to a better, more stable appointment. Finding passive candidates requires skill and time. Use a good 3rd party (eg. Search agent) if need be. The fee is negligible when compared to the value your dream candidate adds to your company.
     
  3. Sell the job in the Interview.
    So many times the interviewer forgets that the interview is a two way street.  The candidate is also deciding whether he or she would like to work for your company.  Show them what makes your company special.  You will regret it if after all your recruiting you identify the perfect candidate only to find they don’t want to work for you. Even if the candidate isn’t suitable and you decide not to hire them, they may end up working for your competitor - make them wish they were working for you.
     
  4. Be Flexible
    In a skills short market, you should be looking for potential.  Gone are the days when you went through a pile of CVs and systematically threw out all those who didn’t match each and every skill you have listed on your job specification.   Today, the right attitude and the ability to learn far outweigh the skill.  Knowing how to find out how to do something, and having the willingness to do it, is much more important than knowing how to do it.  So look past the skills and look at the potential. 
     
  5. Hurry up the Hire
    Nothing kills a deal more often than time.  In a skills scarce market, candidates don’t have the time or patience to sit through hours and hours of one interview after another.   Streamline this process.  If at all possible, get all the decision makers together in one interview.  If this isn’t possible, at least consider other options like Skype or Telephonic interviews to make it easier on the candidate.  Once you have identified the right candidate be decisive and make them an offer.
     
  6. Make an offer that is fair &Collaborative
    We are no longer in an employment age where the offer is negotiable after it has been made. Any salary negotiation needs to be done at the start of the process. Often perceived benefits for the employer are not for the potential employee. A good candidate will not move for less money than what they are earning. Regardless of where the job is located or who the company is. Top candidates need to know what the bottom line on their payslip is going to be. Reflect this in the offer. Know beyond a shadow of doubt the offer is going to be accepted. This, to an extent, negates the threat of the counter offer. The days of making an offer below what has been agreed upon in the hope that, based on fear of loss, the candidate will accept are gone. Even if it is accepted, the trust has flown out the window before the person has even started. There is only one offer and it needs to be fair to both parties.

 

Sources:
* www.tradingecconomics.com
** http://www.thewisdomjournal.com/Blog/10-reasons-i-wont-accept-a-job-counter-offer/

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