Securing talent in a candidate-driven market

Advertising a great vacancy is only half the battle. Getting your preferred candidate to accept can be another story.

Securing talent in a candidate-driven market


By Rona Horsfall, Principal Consultant Recruitment, Peak Services 

Keep recruitment on track when candidates are receiving multiple offers

With job vacancies at their highest level in 12 years and with 10 months of steady increases, our approach to sourcing and attracting candidates, and the skills and processes required to ensure success have never been as critical as they are right now. This year will see or has already seen a rise in candidates accepting counter-offers, accepting multiple offers simultaneously, not turning up on the start date, or more frustratingly ‘going silent’ in the middle of a recruitment process.

Peak’s Recruitment team is comprised of experienced recruiters who will never make assumptions. In every conversation they are asking ‘has anything changed?’. They ask qualifying questions and understand the real drivers and motivation for a move and, if appropriate, how the ‘family’ feels about this if it requires a relocation. The list of questions is endless but if these questions are not being asked you could be wasting a lot of time you simply do not have, and importantly, putting the business under strain through a lack of critical people resources.

Hire with a sense of urgency and adapt the process where needed

A lot of top talent in today’s market is interviewing for multiple roles, so if you interview a person you like and want to hire — snap them up fast! Time kills every deal; every touch point a prospective candidate has with your council should be as efficient and speedy as possible. Perhaps complete your council’s application process as if you were a job candidate applying on your job board with a mobile device, scheduling an interview, reference checking, pre-employment checks through to a letter of offer/contract being emailed to see where any kinks are.

If this end-to-end process takes more than five weeks, it will start to have an adverse effect on hiring hard-to-find candidates. One simple change may be to make contracts subject to medicals, police check, etc. If candidates do not have a contract – or the process holds up an offer – they keep their options open, thereby adding to your risk of losing them.

In summary, having a robust process to hire, assess and develop staff has never been more critical. Having an efficient hiring processes and the ability to make a prompt offer are essential to securing a candidate’s interest in your council. In a recovering market, many candidates will often receive more than one job offer at a time, so time-to-hire and getting in ahead of your competitors is critical.

These sought-after candidates have options and you can be certain that if you have identified them, then so have several others.

Effective short-term solutions for hard-to-fill roles

Numerous councils are finding it extremely difficult to attract good candidates across several disciplines. Engineers whether civil, transport, water, wastewater, stormwater, or design are in short supply and with infrastructure spending a focus across the state, attracting and retaining good staff in these disciplines requires high-level expertise. It is not a case of placing an advertisement and not being able to choose from a raft of applicants. At Peak Recruitment, we have filled many roles in these difficult-to-fill categories using a targeted and strategic approach, but we need your assistance and understanding of the ‘need for speed’, to ensure your council is the one they join.

If, on the other hand, it is going to take you a little longer to find the right talent, it may be worth considering a short-term option to cover the gap. This might include bringing in an interim candidate/contractor. While a contractor might not be able to cover the role in its entirety, they may be able to take some of the pressure off to get you through. Conversely, many interim candidates bring more skills than you necessarily need and are used to ‘hitting the ground running’. Feedback from the many councils where Peak Recruitment supplies interim solutions is that a safe pair of hands has taken the pressure off and kept things moving, particularly with infrastructure projects, other community services and business-critical roles such as finance.

Adopt a risk management approach that includes HR

As Brian Jackson mentioned in last month’s ‘Risk management and human resources in local government’ article, it is vital to ensure your existing systems, processes, procedures, and practices are integrated into a discipline of risk management in a truly structured and integrated way. HR plays a vital role in this when candidate-short markets are upon us.

Recruiting in a candidate-short, job-rich market is not impossible; it simply requires a different strategy and game plan. Rolling out the traditional approach is probably not going to give you the success that you require, so be prepared to think a little differently.

Customer stories

“Operating in a remote area in North Queensland presents significant challenges in resources when a core position resigns. Recruitment often takes 3+ months, and at times longer for us, as candidates fulfil their notice period, and on top of that are required to relocate, which can add additional time and complexity to the process.

Over the course of this year, we have engaged Peak Services on two occasions to provide temporary relief for critical positions and on both occasions, we have received excellent outcomes. The candidates we have working for us are qualified for their roles, but more than that they are hardworking, committed people working alongside our permanent staff and have quickly become a valuable part of the team. Having these temporary placements with high quality candidates means we do not have to rush our permanent recruitment campaign. We can ensure we get the right person for the right job and are not forced to accept a placement which may not be quite right. We highly recommend Rona and Susan’s exceptional service!” (Remote North Queensland customer)

“It remains an ongoing challenge in rural and remote shires to recruit suitable and qualified staff for both short- and long-term positions. Peak Recruitment has been particularly invaluable in assisting Flinders Shire Council with professional and streamlined recruitment and selection of staff across a range of positions, including operational, administrative and management roles. Highly professional and skilled in this area, Peak Recruitment has made the recruitment process much easier for Council to manage and fill vacancies with suitable and qualified staff within a reasonable timeframe.” (Flinders Shire Council)

For further information regarding recruitment, please call Rona Horsfall Peak Recruitment and Organisational Performance on 0438 943 854

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