As good quality talent becomes scarcer in the Australian Construction and Engineering sectors, employers are coming under ever-increasing pressure to source and secure the people their business needs to continue being successful. One of the major risks that has surfaced as a result of this talent-short market and internal pressure is a degree of desperation creeping into talent sourcing strategies. We’re increasingly seeing organisations choose to take an ad-hoc/unplanned approach to this, with invariably negative results short and long term. This leads to the question: employers, who is telling your brand story?
Recruitment Options Explained
There are a number of ways in which you can source talent and for your business, and there is no right or wrong approach. A combination of two or more of the following strategies is also not uncommon. In reality, a lot depends on the internal resources that are available, the nature of your business, and the external suppliers that are available. Typical strategies include:
– most common and also often the most successful. Low volume, generally high quality.
– advertising on the company website and one or more of the most common job boards to target people who are actively seeking employment.
– sharing the same recruitment brief with multiple recruitment providers.
– working in partnership with one recruitment provider.
– engaging a recruitment provider not only exclusively but also providing the added commitment of an up-front retainer.
Master Service Provider (MSP) or Recruitment Process Outsourcing
– engaging a single provider to oversee all or part of the company’s on-going recruitment or entire recruitment processes.
MSP relationships have long been a best-kept-secret of larger organisations. They are different from hiring an internal recruiter and in a lot of ways ideal in the Engineering and Construction space, because recruitment is generally project-based with peaks and troughs. An MSP agreement allows for the tap to be turned off and on quickly. An additional benefit for regional and national organisations, is that by selecting an MSP partner with a similar footprint, it provides access to talent pools in each focus area. For example, at RobLawMax we have offices in both Australia and New Zealand as well as in London, so you can easily access talent networks on both sides of the Tasman, or from the United Kingdom and Ireland.
A Case for Changing Recruitment Strategy
With so many avenues available to recruit from and talent markets increasingly tightening, the most common default scenario by far is organisations mixing referrals, direct advertising and multi-agency. This approach might strike gold once, or even twice in a row, with strong candidates somehow finding their way through. However, in the bigger picture, these short-term talent wins are likely doing more harm than good.
The most significant single issue is the impact this default approach will likely have on your organisation’s employment brand (in short, an employment brand is the external perception of your business as an employer in the core talent sectors from which you recruit). Out-of-touch management of the hiring process can result in dents to your company’s reputation that you might not even know about. If this isn’t dealt with immediately, it can get to a point where an organisation has a red flag against their name in their niche talent community, even if it’s as specific as, for example, Quantity Surveyors in Brisbane for a PQS firm.
There are a couple of ways in which employment brand issues can arise from the various approaches, but it all comes back to the control, or lack of control, over the process. With direct advertising for example, a high volume of applications will result in slower levels of response, especially if there isn’t a dedicated person to manage responding to applicants. It’s only the people who are active (as opposed to the large volume of passive job seekers) in the job market who will actually get any visibility of the role. It’s also hard to convey the company culture and benefits of the role exclusively in a written ad.
Brand control is also a risky element when using a multi-agency approach. Generally, less time is given to each agency when the same message needs to be communicated to multiple parties. This often results in situations where many agencies are touting the benefits of a specific employer (sometimes to the same candidates) without truly understanding the culture of the company. With candidates hearing information about a company or vacancy from many different agencies, whilst at the same time not being provided a significant amount of information, there is a significant loss of brand control and real risk of leaving a bad impression on potential employees.
A good hint if you find yourself in this situation is to review the adverts that your recruitment partners have written. Do they accurately reflect your brand and make you want to work for your business? Are they going to attract the people that you want to attract? If not, are you sure they understand the brief and are committed to filling your role?
The Value of a Recruitment Partner
Exclusive and retained recruitment agreements do significantly help to control how your brand story is told. When in an exclusive or reoccurring relationship, recruiters prioritise working on these positions as there is greater certainty of being successful. This means that they’ll have more time to understand your brand and get to know your culture, as well as more time to explain this accurately to prospective candidates.
As there is a strong understanding between employer and recruitment partner, it also ensures timely and thorough feedback, which is one element that not only helps convert prospective applicants into employees, but also helps to paint a strong brand image with all candidates that apply with you. Working with one provider often streamlines this process.
The real benefit comes when these relationships are long-term, either under an MSP/RPO model, informal main supplier agreement, or a tight supplier group of 2-3 who each provide recognised strengths. Over time, you’ll notice that your partners become active brand advocates who know and understand the intricacies of your organisation. This can come in many forms, as hands on or hands off as you like. Although at corporate level this can be formal and involve permanent on-site headcount, it doesn’t need to be this complicated for most organisations. It’s as simple as making the active choice to prioritise working with one trusted partner, at the potential expense of a few short-term wins. A bonus here is that other suppliers can still be utilised too; either directly, or under the umbrella of an MSP.
If you’re currently reviewing your recruitment strategy and would like to discuss the best mix for your organisation or specific situation, please feel free to get in touch with me or anyone else in the RobLawMax team.
* RobLawMax offer a variety of recruitment options and have no preference for how we engage. Our focus is always on finding you the best talent. If we feel a particular strategy isn’t going to achieve this objective, we’ll feed this back and work with you to find the right solution.