Get ahead of the game if you want to snap up the best talent- Hays careers advice

Get ahead of the game if you want to snap up the best talent

If you are reading this, then you could be midway through the recruiting process and you may even be thinking that you have already found the best talent for the job you are hiring for.

You are probably sat thinking that you don’t want to jump the gun and make this candidate an offer straight away because you have other people to interview. However, at the same time, you don’t want to leave them waiting, only for someone else to make them an offer and you to miss out. So what do you do?

The key to snapping up the best talent, whilst following standard recruitment practice, involves getting ahead of the game and planning your strategy well before decision time. But what should this strategy include?

Separate the “essentials” from the “nice to haves”

Too often I find people begin a hiring process without distinguishing the essential attributes from the “nice to haves”. What is critical to the success and delivery in the job? And what would be an advantage but can be taught on the job. Do you have the resource to do this?  Now consider which traits can’t really be taught, but are essential to this role, for example, soft traits like having high emotional intelligence or problem solving skills?

Be honest with yourself from the beginning about what you can and cannot compromise on. Having a clear snapshot of what you are looking for, but also knowing what you can be flexible on before you start interviewing, can definitely help you to identify the best talent for this particular opportunity.

Streamline your interview process

Even if it is too late to re-vamp your interview process this time round, think about it for next time. In job markets where there are skills shortages, it is so important that you don’t lose out to the competition, all because the best talent were left waiting in the dark for ages following a long and drawn out interview process.

Make sure you are clear about the interview process before a candidate has even walked through the door, so they know what to expect. Try not to let any timescales slip at all-candidates can lose interest or get other offers fast.

In some of the current job markets around the world, you really do need to think about how you can feasibly combine what may have historically been a first and second round interview process into one single combined interview.  This interview needs to provide both you and the candidate enough information and insight to be able to make a decision. Remember, it’s a two way street, and the candidate needs to have all of the right information in front of them. This brings me onto my next point.

Plan your “employer of choice” pitch

One of the main areas where some employers fall short, is their ability to “sell” the job and career opportunity to the candidate.

You may think you are prepared and ready to pitch your organisation as an employer of choice, but in my experience, only our best and most in demand clients will actually get the candidates excited about the possibility of working for that organisation. Bring the opportunity to life and enable to candidate to imagine themselves working for you by mentioning things like the company culture, progression opportunities, and your Employer Value Proposition.

Perhaps introduce some of your most driven and positive members of the team. Talk about what you enjoy most about working for this organisation, and overall, make sure the candidate is able to envisage themselves happily progressing their career within this company.

Trust your gut feeling

If you have interviewed against clearly defined criteria and done the early preparation work-you should know when the best talent walks through the door. This should of course form the main part of the decision, but don’t forget to trust your gut feeling.

If you know deep down that you can’t let the person in front of you pass you by, sometimes even if that means slightly adapting a few criteria in a job profile, then I advise that you follow your instincts. Don’t underestimate or indeed ignore this feeling. Recruitment is part science and part “feel”. After all, we are talking about procuring talent, procuring people assets, not your next stationary order!

Make contact quickly – and stay in contact

Once you think you have found the best person for the role, but you still have other people to interview, make contact quickly via your recruitment consultant and provide positive affirmation that the interview has gone well. Confirm your timescales again.  Keep the contact level high so that your organisation stays fresh in their mind, you could also send them a connection request on LinkedIn.

Manage expectations for when they can expect final feedback and a decision. As long as people know the timeframes, and these timeframes are reasonable, then they are usually prepared to hold on.

But – you must be ready to make an offer

If all of the above is in place and runs smoothly, you have to be ready to make an offer to your chosen candidate. Remember to plan the below in advance:

  • Have a process in place for conducting background checks and getting references.
  • Communicate your expected timeframes with HR.
  • Make sure you know how soon a written formal offer letter can be generated with a contract and how soon this can be with the candidate after making a verbal offer.

I have seen this administration stage of the process take far too long, only for another offer to come through in the meantime. Consequently, organisations lose out on the best talent, and on the basis of a seemingly small thing like paperwork. Don’t let this be you.

Make your offer, and have a back-up plan

Have an offer, a plan b and a plan c ready. Know how much you are willing to negotiate salary wise, plus the range of benefits on offer – this can even include discounts in a staff canteen, free car parking spaces, often things that people forget to mention as they don’t really consider them as “company benefits”. But they all count, financially and even emotively.

Doing this should avoid an unnecessarily prolonged negotiation phase, meaning you get your offer accepted and a signed contract back as soon as possible, and with a positive vibe for both employer and hopefully new employee.

Keep your new hire engaged

So the written documents are signed, but more importantly, an emotional “contract” should be made at this point. Staying in touch even on what you may consider minor details from thereon in can be really influential.

Talking to your new hire about any company equipment you may be providing as part of the job, for example what company mobile device they will be getting and when, can be effective. Small things maybe, but small things matter when it comes to keeping your new hire engaged and excited about their new role. For example, I was talking to someone the other day who was phoned over a month before the start date by their new employer to choose what colour car they wanted. This person told me that from this, they definitely felt involved and engaged and excited about starting their new job.

These action points all hinge upon how organised and strategic you plan to be from the very beginning of your hiring decision. Next time you are hiring, remember that attention to detail and planning your recruiting strategy from start to finish, will give you best chances of snapping up the best talent, as opposed to losing out to the competition.

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Karen is responsible for the UK finance recruitment business at Hays plc. With nearly 20 years of recruitment experience whilst working for this market leading global recruitment firm, Karen has a personal track record of recruiting top finance talent for business.

Her knowledge covers finance appointments across a wide range of industry sectors and she is an expert in tried and tested talent acquisition methods. Karen provides strategic leadership to a team of 400 accountancy and finance recruitment professionals across a network of 100 UK offices. Extremely passionate about helping people to find the right job, she is also a trusted industry voice on career planning and market insights.