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Ask Spinnaker: How Do I Recruit Talent in Today’s Tight Labor Market?

Nov 27, 2018

Written by: Hayley Sykes

Got questions about trends, insights, and challenges related to Spinnaker’s areas of expertise? In this regular blog, we’ll tap into our Spinnaker team of experts and do what we do best: Roll up our sleeves to find you the answers you need. In this installment of our “Ask Spinnaker” blog, we’re tackling a question that’s a challenge for all of us right now:

 Question: How do I recruit talent in today’s tough market? 

Hayley Sykes, Spinnaker Talent Acquisition Consultant:

This is an excellent question! Thanks to today’s tight labor market, it's a challenge we’re all dealing with right now, and one that doesn’t look to ease up anytime soon. Now, more than ever, we need to stick to common-sense best practices to recruit talent for our teams. Why? Because candidates can and will be choosier than they have been in the recent past. They’re in the driver’s seat. There are more jobs than people out of work.

To successfully recruit talent in a tough market, you need to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward 100 percent of the time. Everything you do well counts—and everything you don’t do well can and will be counted against you.

There are 5 key dos and don’ts in recruiting to keep in mind, to ensure a positive candidate experience and give you the best chance to recruit the best talent for your team:

  1. Do Be Transparent

Create clearly defined yet compelling job descriptions so candidates can “self-screen” their suitability and be ready to share relevant experience examples when you connect. If possible, go one step further and share your recruiting process, so they know what to expect and can get excited about that. Once we’re in a job, we typically forget what it’s like to be a candidate—and it’s not that much fun, to be honest. Most recruiting processes are opaque at best, so it can be frustrating, nerve wracking, and mostly disappointing. Anything you do to “humanize” your process to recruit talent will pay dividends in finding—and winning—the right fit for your team.

  1. Don’t Be Lazy

Follow up! If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a candidate complain about companies who never got back to them, I’d be rich! Chances are, a very small minority of the people you interview will be offered and accept a job. But—and this is a big but—they will go on to other organizations, and they will tell all of their friends and peers what a great or horrible experience they had interviewing at X company. You will become X company, so let’s make sure the candidate’s experience was a good one, even if they don’t get the job. Don’t be too busy to do the right thing. Send an email or pick up the phone, and don’t be afraid to say, “I have no news yet, but didn’t want to leave you hanging.” Courtesy counts!

  1. Do Be Consistent

Wherever possible, ensure all of your applicants, including internal candidates and referrals, go through a similar process when you recruit talent. Aside from providing valuable metrics for the future, it ensures all candidates have a fair shot at consideration, and it facilitates decisive yet informed hiring decisions—which is critical to beat out competition. It’s also the ethical and right thing to do.

  1. Don’t Do All the Talking

So many companies think interviews are their opportunity to “grill”—by varying degrees—prospective employees. Yes, of course you want to do your due diligence to make sure people can do what they say they can do. But you also need to make it personal. Make the effort to create a two-way conversation so you can learn about each other. You would be surprised to know how many candidates leave interviews not knowing if they want the job, or thinking there’s a next step, because all they did was answer questions. You can learn so much from the questions candidates ask as well as from how they respond to yours. It’s a critical component of every interview that can usually provide great insight into culture and job fit. And, honestly, it’s much more fun to talk with someone, rather than at them.

  1. Do Be Alert

It doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad day, you’re hungry, you’re tired, or you just plain have a zillion things to do. The candidate and the company deserve your full focus. There is a “sell” element to all interviews, so make sure you’re ready to sell! Down an espresso, do a few jumping jacks at your desk, or give yourself a pep talk—whatever you need to do to be 100 percent present for the time you spend with the candidate. When you’re on your game, you and your company will come off looking good, the candidate will appreciate the attention and take cues from your energy, and you will get so much more out of the interview. Think about that “sell.” Who would you rather work for: Someone who’s cranky and distracted, or someone who’s focused, professional, and on the ball? Which impression of your company do you want to create?

One more tip: Be yourself and enjoy the interview process. It’s OK to “go off script”—please use good judgment when you do!—in order to share your perspective on something the candidate asks about or says. Candidates like to feel they’re having a genuine interaction with you.

Bottom line: Using best practices to create a positive candidate experience when you recruit talent will make all the difference when converting offers to acceptances.