Why post-pandemic recruitment is likely to be harder, not easier

Post-pandemic, recruitment WILL change at your company.  You have no option but to consider what changes you will make to your approach to recruitment if you want to seize this as an opportunity.  Otherwise you will be on the back foot, responding to new problems you hadn’t yet considered.

If you aren’t considering making changes to your recruitment approach, you’ll need to buckle up for a bumpy ride. It’s not going to be pretty, and you won’t be able to simply opt-out and navigate around the fall out.

You have a window of opportunity right now. Look at it closely, and decide who you want to be as a company.

Do you want the BEST you can find, or the best you can find LOCALLY?

This is slightly disingenuous.  Considering what is best for your business has other pre-requisites, than the question above suggests.

If you are a business that is all about ‘being local’, it makes absolute sense to recruit from the local area.  This doesn’t mean all your staff have to come in to the office everyday though.  Remote working is a desirable option for people who have caring responsibilities, health issues or myriad other reasons that makes it preferable, even if they only live next door.

If you are a national, or global business though, my question is valid.  Do you want the best people, or the best people you can find within a commutable distance?  This is a fundamental question you need to answer before you next recruit for any role in your business.

For a start, on a practical level, your candidate will need to know under what conditions they would be working for you. You need to be clear, or you are wasting everyone’s time.

So: Are you going to continue to allow staff to remote work as a matter of course? 

If so, how is your recruitment strategy going to need to change? 

So what do you actually mean by ‘change’?

It means you can now choose to hire the best person for the job, rather than the best person within commuting distance.

Things around you have changed, which can be a boon or a burden to you and your company. Whether you want to change or not is irrelevant. 

Imagine for a moment that you choose to do what you have always done before, and try to recruit the best person within commuting distance.

  • How are you going to deal with the fact that lots of other people are after that ‘best person’ too? 
  • What is the offering at your company looking like if you place it next to an offer from your best competitor? – and note here, a “competitor” for the best staff is a much bigger pool than a competitor in your business domain. 

More forward-thinking competitors are going to lbe faced with the same question. i.e. the best people might not be in the local area, or within commutable distance to the office.    And whilst you might not have interest in candidates in their local area, they might not feel the same way about candidates in your local area. 

This one decision – to allow remote working – means they have now got the best member of staff they could get.   Potentially, this new member of staff  could  have above-average loyalty to their new employer as their needs are being met more fully. 

And you have missed out on the best, instead either recruiting someone less well-suited, or not being able to recruit at all.

It gets worse

Recruitment affects not just your potential new staff, but your existing staff too.

Your existing staff are someone else’s target recruitment candidate.  If you have excellent staff, you sure as hell want to keep them, right?

Do you think I’m over-reaching here?

I often remind hirers that tech people rarely work for the money. Of course, we all want to get paid, and money is often cited as the reason a person leaves a post. If you dig into it though, money is rarely the cause of a staff member leaving, nor a potential recruit declining your offer. For you, this is both good news and bad.

Good news: if money isn’t the main motivation, you can theoretically compete with other companies without breaking your budget. 

Bad news: theoretically, everyone else can compete with you now.  You’d better have a compelling brand as an employer to entice new staff into the fold, or to help existing staff know why they belong with you.

You need concrete reasons why working for you is a great career move for a tech talent looking for a new role. And we aren’t talking bean bags, pingpong tables and unlimited holiday allowance here.

Whether for existing or prospective employees, you need the following 4 things in place:

1) Clear company objectives. Not only clear to you, but clear to EVERYONE. Believe me, this is so much easier to think you have in place than it is to actually get it in place.

2) A management structure that listens and supports staff.  One that communicates clear behavioural expectations, and upholds them with consistency.

3) The ability and safety to challenge a management decision without repercussions. This is called psychological safety.  Psychological safety is a keystone behaviour for innovation-related behaviours too.

4) The ability to develop their skills and get better at what they do. This can be either with training (official, or unofficial) or by experience (being able to solve progressively more difficult problems in a psychologically safe environment).

Only 4 Things?

There is one other thing you will need if you want to recruit the very best people: speed of turn-around. If you find them, and like them as a great fit for your company, then they are likely a great fit for other companies too. On the other hand, if you can’t get the recruitment process wrapped up and an offer out to them quickly, some one else might.

If you’re thinking most companies have a similar recruitment process to you and speed of turnaround is a marginal gain, you might be right.

But This Is Competitive

A few companies have excellent recruitment processes. They get the first pick of staff. Always. They see a candidate and interview, assess, make a decision and make an offer to them as fast as possible.  And they do so before other companies have decided whether they might arrange for a second interview or not.

The candidate has an offer on the table and feels like the company values them.  Even if you get your offer of a second interview in to them a day or so later, you are still too late.  In their head, you don’t really want them – if you did, you’d have snapped them up…like these other lovely people have done. You see, from the moment they feel valued, they feel like they belong in that company.  You lost that candidate from that moment.

Once upon a time I went from an initial conversation with a recruiter on Monday to a contract couriered to my door by Saturday. I had 2 almost identical offers on my metaphorical table that Saturday morning. On Monday I took the offer from the company that turned it round within 1 week, rather than the one that took 3 weeks. And I never regretted that decision. 

This is an example from my experience as a candidate, but I have many, many more from my time as a recruiting manager. Not all of which ended happily ever after.

If you want to review your tech recruitment or staff management processes and tweak them, or even do across-the-board training developing tailor made processes for your company and your managers, give us a shout at fluidworking.co.uk.