I came across a quote from Tom Peters the other day saying, “There is a dire talent shortage…….unless you are a great place to work”
There is little doubt that companies with a strong reputation in the market are more successful in attracting the best people, but I do feel that there are too many companies who forget to “market“ their organisation’s key selling points. At worst, some companies have the somewhat arrogant assumption, that people will automatically want to work for them, and treat the interview process as tool for vetting the candidates, assuming that if an offer is made he/she will immensely grateful, and sign the contract there and then.
Of course, the whole recruitment process starts a long time before the interviews ever get under way. Good companies try to ensure that there is an active pool of talent; people who are aware of the company, understand the opportunities that may arise and see the company in a good light. As a leading Executive Search organisation, we try to help companies with that process, as we are only too aware of the challenges of persuading a top drawer candidate from a high quality organisation to join our client’s company. Here are some of the key issues that need to be addressed to prevent a contacted candidate from saying, “Thanks, but no thanks”.
The job content and on-going career development prospects
A person needs to fully understand what the job is all about, so ensure the role has been clearly defined and the key aspects of the role are clearly stated. This is where an assignment brief is very helpful; such things as job title, reporting structures and other relationships, financial responsibilities, location, and required experience should be included. The company can also be marketed in this document, but keep it pithy and to the point – ensure the potential candidate gets a good overview of the expected outcomes of the role.
The reputation of the company
When we make our initial calls to a potential candidate, there is no doubt that some company names are immediately attractive – possibly they have a very strong product pipeline, or they are a known expert in a particular therapeutic area or just have an excellent industry reputation that has been built up over many years. This isn’t always the case, however, as some companies may have been in the press for the wrong reasons or in the case of smaller companies, may not be well known to the potential candidates. Increasingly, people look at Glassdoor as a guide to a company’s suitability as a future employer. So if you have a good glassdoor rating, make sure people know about it; if you have a poor rating – do something about it! And don’t forget to let people know if you’ve had good press coverage or won an award etc.
If, however, the company has received some bad press or has a historic reputational problem, give some forethought how that will be managed with potential candidates.
The location of the company
A company has to be located somewhere, and it may just be that the particular location makes it impossible or undesirable for the candidate to take up a role in that particular country. Location is probably the biggest single issue when trying to attract talent , though there are certain things that can be done to address the problem – this was covered in an article I wrote last year Location; the biggest challenge to talent management
The remuneration package
This may sound simple, but when people are moving internationally, many issues will come into play. This can include things such as exchange rate fluctuations (e.g. in November 2015, a salary of £100,000 would have been equivalent to €142,000 – today, it would be €111,000), LTIs, company cars, bonus payments, contributory v non-contributory pensions. Then there are the different income tax rates (e.g. the top rate of tax in Denmark is 55.6% compared to 30% in Switzerland), and quite large variations in the cost of living (e.g. it is two and a half times more expensive to buy an apartment in Zurich than it is in Copenhagen). It is therefore important for a company to be able to present a candidate with a net/net calculation and to look at the impact of the cost of living. It is also important to look at the cost of living impact for the individual – for instance, will they require international schooling (and the consequent school fees) having had free schooling in their current country.
The overall recruitment process
This should be about slickness. Once you have a potential candidate hooked – don’t let them escape. I have seen examples when several months have passed between a highly regarded candidate being interviewed and an offer being made. This will often result in the candidate rejecting the offer.
I have also seen the process run very smoothly, with a company needing to attract a candidate from the UK into a Eurozone country – the candidate also had school aged children. The company help us to prepare a very attractive assignment brief, which immediately caught the candidate’s attention. We were able to interview him after a few days and make a recommendation to the company who invited him, and other candidates, to their site for a first interview.
Shortly after than a second interview was arranged, where the candidate was invited to bring his family with him. The company helped the family to look at housing, good neighbourhoods, schools and to answer questions about the cost of living and issues such as healthcare and travel. A salary comparison was prepared, and following the visit, a draft offer was made to the candidate. The candidate came back with a number of questions, which were answered within a few days. A final offer was then made – and the candidate accepted. The key things throughout the whole process was professionalism and speed, which gave the candidate a very good impression about the organisation.
My take home message from this article goes back to the quote from Tom Peters. Make sure you do everything in your power to ensure the candidates see your organisation in the best possible light.