How to attract and retain candidates in the Great Resignation

Feb 16, 2022

The staffing sector is facing one of the greatest challenges to date with the Great Resignation.

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Or, perhaps more accurately, we should call it the Great Jobs Mismatch. Why? Because work is no longer working well for millions of people across the world. People are burnt out, they are re-assessing what they want from work, and they are pursuing new career adventures. The result is record numbers of job vacancies — 2.7 million in the UK in November 2021, and double the number of unemployed people in the U.S in December 2021.

Urgent changes ahead

So where does that leave the staffing sector? In a tough situation, clearly, with an urgency to uphaul the hiring process to meet new expectations, fill roles, and stop skill shortages from worsening. Another emerging trend that’s making this task more difficult is the fact that some candidates are going through the hiring process primarily to improve their deal at their current employer.  

The power of relationships  

This, ultimately, underpins the importance of recruiters building lasting relationships with their candidates. If they know each candidate’s preferences, aspirations, and goals, it becomes a lot easier to offer them work that they simply cannot refuse because of the significant benefits it brings to their careers.  

But that’s easier said than done. Screening and interviewing candidates for a position takes a lot of time, as does scanning for job orders and understanding a position’s requirements. With traditional staffing approaches and systems, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day for recruiters to meaningfully engage and get to know their candidates.  

Automation and AI to support

That’s where automation and artificial intelligence (AI) can do a lot of the legwork. If you automate a lot of the highly repeatable, easily computerized work, then your recruiters will have more time to focus on their candidate and client relationships. This is vital when the employer-employee proposition is changing to become more purpose-driven, with employees seeking out employers that align with their values, offer career progression, and allow them greater work/life balance and autonomy. More than ever, recruiters need time to understand what makes their candidates excited about work.

Increasing talent pools

Simultaneously, many staffing agencies are dealing with a plethora of open positions that they cannot find candidates for. Widening a talent pool to consider candidates from different backgrounds will help to increase the options for recruiters. For example, someone coming from a different industry may not have exactly the experience stated for a job role, however, their transferable skills from past jobs may be relevant to the role. Likewise, contingent talent can prove a valuable source of skills for roles that need urgent filling, for temporary assignments, and to cover someone who has recently left.  

Of course, in today’s workplace there is no room for bias — unconscious or not — and widening a talent pool to consider people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, gender identities, races, neurodiversities, and more, will ensure the best people are chosen to fill a vacancy. Core to this is taking a skills-based approach that reduces the likelihood of unconscious bias affecting a recruiter’s decision. In other words, matching people to work based on data on their skills, experience, availability, location, and interests will help to widen the talent pool and avoid biased hiring.  

Looking long-term

Although the current crisis feels like a short-term issue, it does highlight wider changes in the workforce that staffing and recruitment leaders need to prepare for. Reviewing your long-term talent attraction and management plan is a good idea given the current disruption. At this point, it’s also worth mentioning the Fourth Industrial Revolution that will impact all jobs and skill requirements. If you don’t have a plan in place that accounts for this, you are fast running out of time.

Again, data on your candidates’ skills, experiences, preferences, and more, should be analyzed to inform your long-term strategy. Additionally, look at wider trends in the type of roles your candidates are applying for, their skills and skill-building, and successful job and project completions. With this information, you can better adapt your talent strategy to meet changing expectations and build more purpose-driven careers for your candidates. In turn, this will help you become the first call for a candidate looking for new challenges.  

It’s not an understatement to say that the staffing sector changed forever in the wake of the pandemic and the many societal changes that it caused. To thrive in this new reality, an investment in new staffing processes and technology is needed, to will help recruiters meet evolving expectations.  

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