Recruiting Future Talent
It’s been a turbulent few weeks and clearly there are uncertain times ahead for UK employers.
John Salt, Group sales Director of totaljobs commented today: “In the wake of the EU Referendum, and the political, economic and social chaos that has ensued, it’s important that HR professionals, or anyone who looks after recruitment and HR issues, maintains a steady and pragmatic approach.
Totaljobs pre-Referendum research found that 87% of Europeans living in the UK were worried about the impact of a Brexit vote, with 49% fearing for their job security. With the UK’s economic health in doubt, and with many companies warning of potential job losses, businesses should be looking to reassure all of their employees, whether Europeans or UK nationals, of their job security, wherever these assurances can be guaranteed. This will be particularly important in industries such as travel and banking, which have been hit especially hard. Employers should now be doing all they can to keep up to date with legislation changes as negotiations progress, and communicate any changes transparently to their employees.”
The fact remains that at present, UK unemployment stands at just 5%, lower than it’s been for a decade according to the latest government statistics. Rosy employment figures mean that candidates now have more choice, and despite the impact of Brexit and the uncertainty this brings, recruiting and retaining top talent will continue to be a challenge. Indeed, it might be suggested that in the wake of Brexit, engaging young people with your brand as future employees is now more important than ever.
A recent totaljobs live event, run in partnership with The Firm, endeavoured to find out. A panel of leading recruiters from wide-ranging industry sectors were on hand to share their insights on how recruitment is changing (and will continue to change) and what employers can do to stay ahead of the curve.
Millennials will come to define the jobs market they are beginning to inhabit. Rebekah McVittie, Group Graduate Manager for energy company RWE npower, says it’s all about pace: “The millennials are still coming through so it will be interesting to see the impact they have. My feeling is they won’t sit around, so we’ll need to pick up the pace in recruitment. We need to be more innovative in how we recruit and we have to keep their interest. This will see the end of conventional careers fairs – millennials favour the online variety.”
Indeed, times are changing says Brian Sinclair, Student Recruitment Manager for professional services organisation EY. “We are finding ways beyond the conventional careers fair to engage with young school leavers and it’s an approach that works for us. We bypass the School and University-led conversations and engage with young people in other ways, including social media.”
Without wanting to sound like the uncool Uncle trying to be ‘down with the kidz’, it’s important to engage with millennials on social media and make sure you are across the channels they are using (where appropriate) to build an employer brand. Keep a close eye on the traffic you are seeing to each medium and get creative with the kind of content you are posting on social media: would a competition work? Or a case study, perhaps. Psychometric tests are a good way of testing candidates’ suitability for a job and can prevent cumbersome application processes, but they should only be used where appropriate and aren’t suited to all industries.
Too much focus on grads:
There is a balance to be struck when it comes to graduate recruitment, says Graham Eveleigh, Head of Skills Development at contract catering service BaxterStorey. “Our graduate and apprenticeship programmes impact on the wider business so we are ramping up our efforts and shouting about it – it’s at the heart of our talent attraction strategy. However, we don’t just focus on new talent, we also focus on our employee retention. We nurture the existing talent and put in the same effort internally.”
Have training programmes across the board – well, maybe not the board, but up to it. Everyone benefits from training and continual assessment. And grads shouldn’t feel like they’re falling off a metaphorical cliff when they come to the end of their grad scheme. Make sure it’s a smooth transition and have a clear progression structure. That’s how you’ll keep your talent when they’re all trained up.
Engaging with schools and parents:
Many schools and parents still need convincing when it comes to apprenticeships.
EY’s Sinclair says: “Schools are blocking us. In many cases they are the barrier. It can be very hard for employers to engage with school children because teachers are often judged by numbers of University entries.”
But it’s not just schools. “In the hospitality sector it’s often the parents who can be a barrier to entry-level roles. This is a challenge because hospitality is reliant on school leavers,” says BaxterStorey’s Eveleigh.
With the government’s Apprenticeship Levy stressing the value of school-leaver schemes, there is reason to believe that we will see the traditional university-bias wane in years to come.
The trick is to engage early, says Eveleigh. “For us, the approach is to plant and grow seeds early. In recent years we’ve been supporting Springboard and their Future Chef initiative to tackle head-on the challenges of recruiting and retaining young chefs. Reaching out to 11-16 year olds and talking to schools, young people and their parents helps challenge perceptions of the industry. Yes, you may start off as a pot washer but hospitality is a career of quick progression. What’s more, the scheme offers hospitality employers access to the best emerging talent at grass roots level.”
Misunderstanding is more common than you might think. Suggest to schools that you come in and educate children on the realities of working in a particular sector. This myth-busting exercise can sometimes be as educational to the staff as it is to the schoolchildren. And make sure it’s not a ‘one-off’, keep the lines of communication open and suggest regular events to ensure that students, parents and teachers see your offer as a viable alternative to university.
So there you have it. Recruiting future talent isn’t easy, not least because of the now radically changing market and the new demands it puts on employers and employees alike. But you can make your life easier as we navigate turbulent times, so that when matter settle you have an engaged existing and potential workforce supporting your business needs.