The ball is in the worker's court: How firms can stand out to win the 'war for talent'

Employers must think outside the box to get real, lasting talent.

By Colin Donnery General manager, FRS Recruitment

WITH IRELAND’S ONGOING war for talent, it’s no secret that the onus to impress now lies firmly with the employer.

Foosball tables and free food are all great, but employers need to think outside the box to get real, lasting talent to join their organisations.

The UK’s brain drain on the back of Brexit is tipped to be Ireland’s gain, but with housing and infrastructural issues to the fore of the agenda, how can an Irish employer stand out from today’s crowded jobs market?

Candidates sentiment

Each year, we survey 300,000 job candidates to identify trends from the employee’s perspective.

What we have found over the last year or so is that job security has moved from being the number one driver to third position in the list of what drives a candidate to move jobs.

Most companies forget that it’s the job itself that will really entice most employees. They want to know that the new role will improve their career prospects over time. If the work isn’t stimulating, there will be a problem.

Location too plays a factor. What we’ve found is that employees who live in the regions are happy to travel farther distances, for shorter time commutes.

Those who live in urban areas want to be closer to their place of work, but don’t mind spending longer in the car – the average journey being about 45 minutes, with the maximum being 90 minutes.

This is a good way to assess if someone will still feel happy in your organisation several months after their start date.

Way further down the list of priorities is where you’ll find the additional perks – the sports and social facilities, subsidised meals and even healthcare and pensions, though these latter two will vary greatly in terms of importance for each employee.

Recruiters are now marketers

What this means for recruiters and HR managers is that they now have to become savvy marketers.

On a day-to-day basis, FRS recruiters spend their day searching for candidates, setting up interviews, researching specifics about their relevant sectors and scrolling LinkedIn.

But they also tailor job specs into job ads. Writing a targeted job ad is completely different to writing a good job spec. So, what’s the secret to writing a good job ad?

It should be short, snappy and to the point, but tailored and definitely not a copy-and-paste job from the job spec.

To entice your next employee away from their current role it’s key that you highlight what’s different from their current role – think about the main skills they will gain and how challenging the new role will be.

Of course, there are now technological supports for all aspects of the recruitment process – from spec writing to the assessment process itself – but be really critical of any quick fix, and ensure that it’s still going to serve its purpose and find you that new, skilled team member.

Future tech

That said, recruiters are now using all sorts of technology, from artificial intelligence (AI) assessment in video interviewing, to chatbots at the front end of the recruitment process.

Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular with recruiters and large corporations. Not only can they screen through the initial entry questions – years of experience, specific coding languages, and so on – but they can also store this data on file so when the right job comes along, it can let the suitable candidates know automatically.

New on the video interviewing scene are technologies like Hirevue, where the candidate can re-record their interview if they don’t like an answer they have given.

However, the true game changer is AI – it is now possible to read facial expressions and gauge how honestly a candidate gave a response.

Despite these technological advances, it is still hard to beat the face-to-face interview. No matter how good the software, the same issues will still arise – assessing if someone is good cultural fit and balancing the needs of the hiring manager versus the HR manager.

Jobs events

Even if a candidate is not specifically looking to move jobs, an event like Career Zoo West is a good way to see what is on the horizon for your sector and what skills you may need to get there.

It’s an excellent opportunity to see what the trends are out there and where an industry is going, so the candidates who attend will be some of the most pro-active you will meet.

One of the biggest advantages about a career event from an employee’s perspective is that you get to meet and speak to your peers. From a hiring perspective, you get to meet the candidate in a less formal setting and see how they interact with the team.

My advice to anyone attending a career event is to try and flip the conversation on its head and ask as many questions as possible. Put the recruiter on the spot and ask about their company’s culture and ask to speak to members of the team you could be potentially working on with?

Colin Donnery is general manager of FRS Recruitment, which sponsors today’s Career Zoo West in Galway. Fora is a media partner of the event.