More stories

  • in

    Why Organizations Need to Show an Empathetic Approach to Recruiting Post-pandemic

    Many industries were forced to halt their recruitment initiatives at the start of the pandemic and have since had to place existing employees on furlough or make redundancies. But as the UK economy is beginning to bounce back, so is employment, with record vacancies continuing to be reported in the UK. At Cognizant, for example, we are looking to hire more than 2,000 new recruits in the UK&I in 2021 alone.
    One of the key conversations to have come out of the pandemic is how it has fundamentally changed the workplace and the way we work – in many cases, for the better. The rise of remote working is the most obvious trend many of us have been talking about. Recent research shows that flexible working is now a basic expectation, with 66% of employees backing a hybrid approach to remote working.
    But this isn’t the only trend to have been sparked by the crisis. Businesses’ approaches to hiring are also changing – and if they’re not, then they need to if they are to reflect the changing attitudes towards work and culture. This needs to start by placing empathy at the core of the process.
    A new recruitment landscape:  Why we need a high level of candidate empathy
    The remote working boom enabled a private, digital window to open in employees’ and colleagues’ lives – as a result, we’re now all used to family members and pets making brief appearances on video calls. The psychology behind this is powerful, humanizing personnel in a way that has never been experienced before. This has created a drive to emphasize and improve the fickle work/life balance, highlighting the need for businesses to conform to employee and candidate needs, instead of expecting individuals to conform to the organization.
    At the same time, the pandemic brought with it a lot of anxiety and stress for individuals whose jobs were put at risk or lost altogether. It has left many wondering what the future of work will look like and reimagining their careers, making it even more crucial for companies to make a conscious effort every day to create the appropriate environment for everyone to thrive. So, while competitive salaries, benefits, and perks can be attractive, it’s also important that organizations consider a more empathetic approach to their recruitment processes to fall in line with this new landscape.
    This starts by demonstrating a clear effort to understand what each individual’s values and interests are right from the beginning of the interview process. Companies should also be making a proactive effort to involve employees in their culture as well as any extracurricular initiatives that are in place, to help create a more fulfilling and satisfying work experience.
    This will help organizations to take a step back and understand more about the individual and their circumstances and values, instead of just their qualifications, which will lead to better long-term results for staff retention.
    How to make the recruitment process more empathetic
    Business leaders need to demonstrate themselves to be inclusive leaders. This means being deeply aware of and empathetic towards others, with the courage to harness the power of diversity in everything they and their company does. Embracing this approach helps to elevate our work and create a powerful ripple effect on our teams, clients, and communities.
    In fact, empathy should be a key attribute in all organizations’ wider diversity and inclusion initiatives as well as their recruitment processes. There are a number of steps and considerations businesses can make to improve their recruitment processes and put empathy at their heart, including:

    A humble point of view: Interview assessors need to demonstrate throughout the recruitment process a humble point of view. If organizations seek to set a perfect environment, they won’t come across as authentic, but instead misleading – no company is perfect.
    Retrospect: It’s important to retrospectively refer to how organizations have supported people through the pandemic to demonstrate a company’s value for their employees. It’s a good litmus test to show where an organization has shown resilience and compassion.
    Never underestimate the value of listening: Understanding what a candidate’s career aspirations are can be achieved by having an open dialogue with them in the interview. This will help a business understand how they can support that individual with the right training to help them achieve their goals, which is incredibly important.
    Involve the candidate in the journey: Most successful organizations today know they must continuously evolve to maintain their success. Demonstrating how a business is doing this, for example implementing new digital tools or adopting updated ESG goals, in an interview can help build a picture for the candidate of the journey that they can be a part of, which aligns with their values.
    Demonstrate trust: Ultimately, people want to contribute to driving change and influence. It demonstrates cultural and social empathy. It also allows people to feel as if they can be a true representation of their authentic selves. With this in mind, candidates should be given the opportunity during the interview process to express their values and opinions.

    A new approach to recruitment strategy post-pandemic
    Empathy is and should be considered by all a crucial attribute in today’s business leaders. This includes being proactive and persistent in working towards creating an environment where each and every employee feels welcome, heard, and equal. And this must start with the first step of an employee’s experience: the recruitment process.
    Organizations need talent to build themselves back up and make a success of the future. To do this, they must demonstrate themselves as a collaborative and supportive workforce – one that individuals want to be a part of. Putting empathy at the core of any recruitment process will not only help businesses attract the right talent, but it will help them to build honest and open relationships with new employees right from the start and ultimately improve retention.
    With remote working here to stay, it’s vital that recruiters and businesses as a whole find new ways to engage with their remote workforce. Adopting an empathetic approach shouldn’t just be applied to recruitment, but to all areas of business. It helps to ensure candidates and staff feels cared for, which keeps them engaged in their roles.
    By Rob Walker, Managing Director UK&I of Cognizant.
    Share this post: More

  • in

    A Renewed Focus on Candidates in the Ever-Changing Market 

    Change is afoot in the world of work. We are in the midst of a concentrated shift from a client-driven job market to a candidate-driven one, meaning recruiters and HR teams need to adopt a new stance when it comes to sourcing talent.
    The enormous upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic means candidates are in high demand. However, many companies are struggling to find the right people as the pool of suitable candidates is scarce. To add to the challenge, prospective employees also have a refreshed set of expectations around a more hybrid approach to working in this ultra-digital age.
    As such, striking a balance between recruiting the best talent for the job while quickly fulfilling businesses’ urgent need for staff is becoming a challenge, particularly when looking to maintain desirable levels of staff retention. Perhaps recruitment strategies need a rethink as the world changes?
    A striking set of statistics
    The latest figures from Reed and the ‘UK Report on Jobs’ survey by KPMG and REC lay out how the most recent lockdown developments and further reopening of the UK economy have impacted recruitment:

    Permanent placements have hit record growth
    An upturn in temp billings is the fastest it has been for six years
    May 2021 was Reed’s best month for job postings since before the 2008 financial crash
    The demand for workers has increased at the fastest rate for over 23 years
    The supply of permanent and temporary staff fell at the quickest rates on record.

    However, although these results may be good news for job seekers, they present new challenges to recruiters looking to help businesses hire, as the spike in demand brings the labor and skills shortages that already existed in the UK into sharper focus.
    With overall candidate availability declining at the quickest rate since May 2017, recruiters and HR teams must now pick out top talent from a rapidly shrinking pool. Plus, both starting salaries and temp pay are expanding at a sharp rate. Coupled with a growing desire for flexibility and a more hybrid approach to working, companies are under more pressure than ever to match up to candidates’ increasing expectations if they want to attract and retain the best staff.
    Leveraging the opportunity
    The shift from a client-driven market to a candidate-driven market means recruiters must adapt their approach to finding new talent by targeting passive candidates. When the demand outstrips supply, speed is of the essence, and consultants must move quickly if they want to snap up the best candidates for their clients.
    As a recruiter, top talent will rarely fall into your lap — particularly in a highly competitive job market. Plus, just because someone is not actively looking for a new role does not mean they are not open to discussing and learning more about new opportunities. So, it is essential to proactively search for candidates already in employment and reach out to them to capture their interest in vacant positions.
    Sourcing passive candidates, rather than waiting for them to come to you, has consistently garnered highly effective hiring success rates, with candidates sourced in this way proving to be more than twice as efficient as independent applicants.
    For this strategy to be effective, recruiters and HR teams must make the best use of the digital resources at their disposal — as well as their professional network. For example, there are a wealth of finance and accounting candidates on social media, and platforms like LinkedIn are ideal for ‘headhunting’ skilled and high-level talent.
    Step into the digital era
    Recruitment is more competitive than ever before. And now that the market has become increasingly driven by candidates and their desires, it is the employer (and, in turn, their recruitment specialist) that needs to stand out and impress.
    Candidates have come to expect more from prospective employers, and not just in terms of substantial pay packets and training programs — although these are also important to consider. After over a year of home working, many have come to enjoy a more flexible way of working and expect companies to offer it as a benefit. In fact, a recent survey by Barnett Waddingham found 34% of UK workers said they would resign from their current position if their employer failed to offer flexible working options.
    In a climate where unsatisfied staff may be approached for — or seek out — alternative employment, employee retention is also more crucial than ever. Benefits such as flexible working can greatly improve productivity and job satisfaction, meaning staff is more likely to stay at a company.
    Retaining new hires starts with the hiring process. The process must be tailored to employees’ new drive for a more remote and digitized experience while ensuring clear and consistent communication. To do this, recruiters need to make the most of the abundance of digital platforms available, using them in conjunction with more conventional hiring practices to provide the smoothest recruitment and onboarding experience possible.
    By Julie Mott, Managing Director at Howett Thorpe. Julie is a highly respected and well-connected recruitment individual with over 20 years of experience working in the ever-changing industry.
    Share this post: More

  • in

    How Has the Recruitment Process Changed in the New ‘Virtual’ World?

    It is fair to say that 2020 shook recruitment (along with most other sectors) to its core. Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to the recruitment industry that were expected to take years have happened in mere months.
    But now that we are almost halfway through 2021, are these changes likely to stick around?
    Out of necessity, many employees were forced to work from home for the majority of last year. But this necessity has created new opportunity, with many companies realizing business can carry on, as usual, no matter where their teams are based. Now, many organizations are adopting an increasingly hybrid approach to the workplace.
    As such, the definition of ‘workplace’ has changed dramatically — a lasting change that will undoubtedly continue long after the pandemic is over.
    But what does this momentous shift mean for financial and accountancy recruitment going forward? In short — digitization.
    The rise of hybrid working
    Thanks to the pandemic, the traditional hiring process has been flipped on its head, with many recruiters (and clients and candidates) scrambling to adapt to a fully remote experience. But remote work has become the new norm for many, meaning virtual recruiting is not going anywhere.
    The past year has seen many companies take a haphazard approach to recruitment, attempting to hastily fill talent gaps in a panic. However, digital hiring solutions such as online assessments and video interviewing should not be seen as a short-term patch for the COVID-19 era. Instead, they should form part of a long-term hiring strategy. Virtual recruitment requires just as much care and attention as traditional hiring options, and retention should always be a top priority. The cost of a bad hire is monumental, so it is essential to get recruitment right the first time.
    With hybrid working on the rise, many firms are now also casting the net wider when recruiting new hires. As a result, recruiters must adopt hiring technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to enhance the recruitment process and improve efficiency when sifting through a larger candidate pool. For instance, algorithms and AI can automate the CV screening process to ensure all candidates are replied to and even schedule interviews. Candidates expect a smoother experience when applying online, and in 2021, there are no excuses for clunky application processes or not getting back to candidates.
    However, despite advances in technology, it is vital to keep recruitment personal. Attention to candidates makes for a lasting workforce, which is why an effective hiring process should still include people at both ends. Rather than replacing human connection, intelligent automation should supplement the recruitment process by filtering through data quickly, transparently, and without error.
    On-screen talent assessment and selection
    Although the recruitment world has changed dramatically over the past year, the hiring process itself still follows the same steps — albeit with some adjustments to ensure the caliber of hires when recruiting virtually.
    Social media and online job sites have long played a crucial role in sourcing candidates and will be instrumental in remote recruiting, opening up an entirely new world of finance and accounting candidates to consider. For senior positions which may not be advertised due to sensitivity, recruiters can also use social media platforms like LinkedIn to ‘headhunt’ talent, combining their connections and expertise to source the best candidates for the role.
    Given that new hires are now less likely than ever to engage with recruiters face-to-face before onboarding, post-2020 recruitment must also be able to assess and select talent effectively from a distance. As a result, there is a growing demand for online psychometric and aptitude assessments as recruitment tools. When recruiting remotely, it is also important to translate the organization’s culture and values into tests or surveys to determine whether a candidate is a good ‘fit’ and will stay with the company.
    Even with advancements in technology, this screening process can take a long time and requires close attention to detail to ensure only the best candidates with the relevant qualifications and skills for the role are put forward to the client.
    The final hurdle
    With remote hiring becoming the norm, we can expect to see in-person job interviews become a later stage of the recruitment process when both the recruiter and the candidate are sure the role is a good fit.
    It is, therefore, vital for recruiters to maximize new assessment tools available to facilitate virtual recruitment. Unlike email or telephone interviews, video interviews give the recruiter a more comprehensive perspective of potential candidates. With video conferencing now widely accepted, the interaction can still be personalized and used to establish a connection. As there is no travel involved with digital interviews, they are also easier to schedule and can be recorded and shared amongst relevant stakeholders (with the candidate’s permission) to enhance the selection process.
    Plus, everyone’s time is precious. From a candidate’s perspective, it is much easier to find the time for a virtual interview, meaning they can accommodate availability sooner than in person. With the traditional recruitment process, many hybrid candidates would discount themselves due to availability and having to come up with a plausible reason as to why they were not present at work. With virtual recruitment, this is no longer a problem.
    Taking the recruitment process further
    To ensure the quality of new hires, it is imperative that organizations take the time to adapt the traditional hiring process to the new, more digital way of working.
    But why stop once new hires have accepted the job offer? In order to retain these recruits, equal efforts should be put into post-hire talent acquisition as the pre-hire onboarding process.
    When done right, remote recruiting can not only save time, free up resources, lower hiring costs, and provide opportunities to broaden the pool of candidates — but it can also ensure companies RETAIN staff.
    After all, is that not what good recruitment is all about?
    With over 50 years of experience, Howett Thorpe has evolved to become one of the South East’s premier accounting and finance recruitment agencies — offering workforce solutions across multiple specialisms. The agency also has a strong foothold in practice and business support roles, such as office admin and HR.
    Share this post: More

  • in

    5 Ways to Prepare Yourself for a Job Market Bounce-back 

    Despite a lull in business for some agency recruiters over the past 12 months, the UK job market is expected to take off towards the middle of 2021, thanks to the vaccine rollout and easing COVID-19 restrictions. This means we can look forward to better, busier times ahead in recruitment! Here are a few actions you can take to ensure you’re fully prepared.
    Familiarize yourself with industry changes
    If you haven’t worked with clients within a particular industry over the past 12 months due to low hiring activity, now is the time to make sure you’re up-to-date on any industry-specific changes or new legislation. By reading up on sector publications and subscribing to newsletters from companies who work in that space, you’ll soon get up to speed on areas such as the sector’s unemployment rate, the impact of Brexit and competitor performance. It will also give you clarification on government policies, like furlough or other COVID-related schemes.
    Take advantage of the talent pool
    As we’re all aware, there has been an influx of fantastic candidates over the past 12 months. If you’re not as busy with live roles, it’s a great idea to register as many of these candidates as possible.  This will ensure you have access to a strong talent pool from which you can quickly pull candidates when jobs are called in. You can also take advantage of the people who are on your radar by communicating regularly with them. They can tell you how they’re finding their job search and where else they’re interviewing, giving you a better understanding of the market. It will help you to develop a relationship and a degree of loyalty among your candidates, which will be extremely important when the market improves.
    Showcase your expertise
    If you’ve always wanted to invest your time in developing your personal brand, take advantage of this opportunity and put yourself out there! As recruiters, we have a unique insight into the market, and our conversations with our clients mean we are well informed on workplace trends such as diversity and inclusion, wellbeing, and remote working. So, use your expertise and start producing your own content. Whether you want to try your hand at writing articles and publishing them via LinkedIn, or you want to start your own podcast or video series, the possibilities are endless.
    Prepare your candidates
    When talking to your candidates, it’s a good idea to give them an indication of when you expect the market to pick up, so they can prepare for it. Help them by working through their CV to ensure it’s up-to-date with no errors, and by practicing common interview questions. It’s also a good idea to go through any gaps on their CV, so they know how to explain them to an employer during the interview process.
    While we’re expecting an influx of new roles over the coming months, the competition for jobseekers is also likely to be fierce. As a result, you should prepare your candidates so they’re as responsive as possible. Let them know you will likely be moving very quickly from receiving a job spec to sending over a shortlist, so they need to jump on any opportunity they’re interested in.
    Keep your clients informed
    When reconnecting with your clients, remember that they may not have prioritized hiring lately. They’ll likely be interested in hiring trends in their industry, so prepare a handful of key points you can share. As many companies are likely to retain more flexible working practices moving forward, your clients may also have questions around remote hiring and onboarding processes. By preparing your best-practice tips, they will feel encouraged and supported as they tackle a new way of hiring while positioning you as a thought leader in your space.
    As recruiters, we can take advantage of quieter periods in hiring, allowing us to prepare ourselves for when activity picks up in our sector. If you know how to spend your time wisely, it will put you in good stead for the hiring boom to come.
    Share this post: More

  • in

    [Webinar] “State of Software Engineers: Using Data Insights to Meet Your 2021 Recruiting Goals”

    In our recent panel-style webinar, “State of Software Engineers: Using Data Insights to Meet Your 2021 Recruiting Goals,” we featured industry leaders from Amazon and General Assembly, and Hired. During the webinar, Rob Stevenson, Head of Hired’s podcast Talk Talent to Me, spoke with Erin Ford, Sr. Manager, Student Experience & Career Services at General Assembly, about the importance of hiring for skills, not labels, and how this broadens your talent pool and promotes diversity in your pipeline. The webinar also featured exclusive advice and recruiting tips from  Jonathan Kidder, Technical Recruiter II at Amazon (and creator of Wizard Sourcer) as well as insights from the hiring manager perspective from Dave Walters, Hired’s very own CTO. The panelists shared valuable strategies on how to use data from our 2021 State of Software Engineers Report to define and attract the most in-demand tech talent in 2021.
    Discussion Topics
    Industry trends and insights from our SoSE Report   
    What engineers want in their next role
    The power of skills-based hiring 
    How to leverage data in your hiring processes
    Watch the recording here More

  • in

    How to Smash Lockdown Recruiting and Retention

    For all of us involved in scaling a business, having the right team is an essential ingredient.  The second half of that is to retain them.  When lockdown first hit businesses, many people looked with horror at both those challenges.  Some are still struggling.  I set out to find the expert secrets of the people who are triumphing.
    Finding people to recruit
    Jimmy Williams is the CEO of the Urban Jungle, which provides insurance to generation rent and millennials.  They doubled their team in 2020 and anticipate doing the same this year. Jimmy finds they are swamped with applications, but not necessarily people with the right qualifications, so they plan to improve their filtering.  They find Zoom works for interviewing, but they like to do practical tests, so they also plan to develop these in exploding formats to prevent sharing between applicants.
    Jimmy says that it is “harder is getting to someone’s personality, so we often ask more direct questions about that. It’s not like anyone has any out of work interests at the moment, so we have to get it out of them!”
    Donald Lindsay is People Operations Director at the hugely successful FreeAgent, which makes award-winning cloud accounting software for small businesses and their accountants. While FreeAgent has had low turnover, when Donald has needed to recruit, he too found a great pool of motivated talent in the market last year and expects to see much the same this.
    Natalie Lewis of Dynamic HR Services also feels that with so many good people who will be made redundant, the talent pool will be large in 2021, but the key will be in the selection.  The choice is even more comprehensive than before. Entrepreneurs worldwide are no longer restricted to employing people locally or even nationally.  A global company in San Francisco might be hiring someone who lives in a remote Cornish cottage.  But pulling precisely the right fish out of a worldwide ocean will challenge everyone in the business of recruitment in 2021.
    Integration post recruiting:
    Both Jimmy and Natalie agree, the biggest challenge is often not the recruitment but integrating them remotely.  “It’s not like it can happen by osmosis or down the pub,” Jimmy points out.  Urban Jungle encourages everyone in their team to bring their personality to work, but Jimmy admits it is hard to do.
    Companies have to create that crucial buy-in to vision, mission, and culture, and this has the crux of the lockdown challenge, which Natalie describes as behavior onboarding.  “Previously, with people in an office together, it was much easier for newbies to pick it the culture and internalize it from the people around them, what they hear and see, embodied in the physical room.”  Without it happening naturally, leaders have to create it.
    Natalie believes it is the companies that have been open to change and adapting that are thriving and cites Gitlab as a perfect example.  They have a flat structure, high accountability, and responsibility.  Natalie believes that even post-pandemic, companies like this will retain hybrid working.
    FreeAgent moved the whole company to remote work in March last year and quickly adapted to virtual recruitment.  Donald says this meant both updating their range of interview guides and processes so they cover online settings and upskilling their staff so they could properly manage and lead this work.
    “Even before the pandemic,” Donald adds, “we were looking at how we could strengthen the employee experience at FreeAgent. 2021 will see us building on these strong foundations.”
    Creating culture and retention from day one
    I asked all three of my experts for their top tips, practices that they find work best to build and retain great teams in new times:
    Jimmy’s top tips:
    Jimmy says that they work “very hard to keep the team both productive and happy.  “We’re trying to maintain our usual levels of transparency, despite being in a physically different space, which makes that difficult.”  One thing they do to maintain transparency is that some of their senior team members now have ‘open 1-2-1s’ with their direct reports so that more junior team members can eavesdrop on what is going on like they would in the office.”
    The second Wednesday in the month is “Workmate Wednesday,” which is just to have non-work chats with colleagues.
    They also use their social budget to send people little treats in the post and include some remote socials. “Remote cocktail making for the Christmas party was brilliant,” Jimmy adds.  In addition, having found that around 20% of their team were suffering from their mental health after lockdowns started in 2020, they replaced their social budget for a mental health fund, offering counseling and yoga session in place of after-work drinks. This does seem to have helped and the team is coping better with this lockdown.”
    Donald’s top tips are:
    Donald believes that “flexible working arrangements will become the new normal going forward when it comes to future recruitment with fewer roles requiring to be based full-time in our HQ.   There will be more of a hybrid split between office-based and remote working from home.”  He believes this kind of flexibility is likely to be an important factor for many applicants in the future, so it’s vital to adapt and meet these expectations as quickly as possible.
    Donald also plans to strengthen FreeAgent’s progression and personal development.  They will offer people the chance to upskill and also to explore other careers within FreeAgent.
    They will also aim to improve things like salary bands, inter-departmental movement, flexible working arrangements, and succession planning “so that employees feel properly valued and nurtured.”
    FreeAgent is also continually reviewing staff benefits packages to ensure they are as strong as possible.  Donald believes that “if our people don’t feel they have a voice or are valued, we simply won’t be able to retain the amazing talent we have here.”
    Natalie’s top tips are:
    For Natalie, it is all about building culture.  One tip is that everyone on a remote team to have google hangouts open all day.  People being able to see each other makes a crucial difference to isolation.  They can always mute for an important call.
    She recommends enforcing virtual coffee meetings a couple of times a day.  Her experience is that people embrace it at first and then lose interest, so you need to really encourage it until they see the benefits – which are huge.
    Natalie says that to retain teams, a culture of compassion and flexibility will be the absolute key in the future.   Many people have to juggle work and family responsibilities in these lockdowns, and they need understanding and flexibility to remain committed and happy.
    Guided by the experts, I conclude that selecting the right talent will be the challenge for 2021 from a vast global pool.  Integration is critical for culture.  And when it comes to retention, the keywords are flexibility, transparency, compassion, and showing you value your team in every way possible.  Just as they have always been, but much more so.
    Jan Cavelle has several decades of founding micro and SME’s behind her and is now a freelance writer and author. Throughout her career, she has worked on various campaigns to support and encourage other entrepreneurs.   Her first book is Scale for Success: Expert Insights into Growing Your Business, Bloomsbury Business, 2021.

    Share this post: More

  • in

    5 Messaging Mistakes Tech Recruiters Cannot Afford to Make (+ How to Prevent Them)

    Without strong communication skills, recruiters, especially those in tech, don’t stand a chance when it comes to capturing the attention of in-demand candidates. The tech industry remains highly competitive, making recruiters’ job of attracting top tech talent all the more complicated and communication all the more critical.
    When it comes to connecting with top tech talent, sometimes you only get one shot to shoot – and it better be a good one. To help it stick, we’ve put together a list of what you should – and shouldn’t do – when communicating with these candidates.
    Want to learn the top messaging mistakes tech recruiters make and how to prevent them?
    Download the guide. More