How do you get the timing right regarding when to hire new staff? What is the best time of year to get the finest talent? What are the trends in the market for when other companies in your industry hire? How do you get the timing right?
The Right Timing
First off, there is no right time to hire. That being said, the busiest points of the year for companies hiring staff tend to be during the second half of January, February, April, June, early July, September, October, November and the first half of December. That is at least from a hiring activity and job advertisements statistical perspective historically. And by historically, I mean the last 20 years worth of data for arguments sake.
But if you’re smart you don’t hire when it’s convenient for you. You should be constantly on the lookout for the best talent. We are experiencing a well-documented skills shortage. This skills shortage will only continue to escalate over the next few years certainly in the technical recruitment field anyway. And if your tactic is to only hire when it is convenient for your business to do so, you are making a mistake.
Hire for talent, not for convenience
If your business isn’t expanding or doing too well then obviously hiring may not be the best idea. Other priorities to change the course of your business may be better worth your time and investment. But if your business is doing well, but you just don’t feel it is the right time to hire in the now then this is where the mistake lies
It isn’t uncommon for companies to prioritise budgeting for different purposes. This tactic places recruitment as a slice of the budget pie for each quarter. However, placing recruitment as just a slice of the pie is like looking at the crust as if it should only cover a section of that pie. It’s undervaluing the importance of hiring in the grand scheme. Hiring should be a separate budgetary focus operated on a continual basis and removed from the normal quarterly budgeting process. Two separate groups. One continual, one optional.
Why hiring continually is so important
This here right now is a candidate led market in the technical recruitment sector. Companies do not control the labour market by picking and choosing who they want. We no longer have those options. Candidates pick us.
If you are a company who wants to be in control of choosing who to hire you have two ways of approaching this. Offer something that the best candidates want or go after the people that nobody else wants. You pick.
If you want the best people you need to offer what they want, and you need to be relentless. Hiring using a window of convenience to you is like waiting for a bus in a random part of the street. You need to go where the bus stops are to catch one. It’s the same principle with hiring.
Along with being realistic about the skills shortages you also need to be realistic about how you get the best people. If you are a good candidate and you know you are good, then what is it you want from a company? Put yourself in their shoes.
A good salary package is an obvious starting point. Yet, I’m shocked at how some companies approach how they budget for a salary. For example, small firms that are profitable and have a good potential larger market, know full well that in order to reach that market they need to expand. Yet they argue that they cannot offer top salaries like some competitors because they are smaller.
For most vacancies in companies the gap between the top and bottom ends of the potential salary bracket isn’t £100,000. It’s more like £10,000. But many smaller and some larger firms still offer nearer the bottom rates. Many will argue that they “can’t” afford to pay the extra £10,000 for that role. This part confuses me a little. I sometimes feel that it’d be more apt to replace the word “can’t”, with “won’t”. Because where would that money come from? In small firms who don’t have a war chest and investors where do you find that money? Ironically, it’s often found in the salary packages of the very people that would benefit the most from the ROI from that expansion.
If you’re the CEO of a small firm drawing an exorbitant package but know that in order to increase the companies and thus your own future salary package that expansion is the only way to achieve that, you have to firstly take a sacrifice yourself. Short term pain for long term gain. How many successful CEO’s took less money than their best employees for the first few years in order to make it? Many have.
One thing that we find incredibly successful but blindingly obvious is to make our job adverts sound interesting. Why would someone want the job? What’s great about it? Many recruiters and hiring managers feel that in order to attract candidates you need to approach them all of the time. And that adverts aren’t as important as they used to be. I personally see this as very short sighted.
A salary package is a flashing light to garner someone’s attention. Then you look at most job adverts. They’re a list of bullet points and matter of facts. In a client led market candidates are approaching you. Who cares if your advert is about as interesting as watching paint dry? But, in a candidate led market it is the candidates who are picking the clients. An interesting advert is key. I’m shocked at how bad most recruiters are at writing adverts though. They’re dull. No wonder they are doing all of the approach work all of the time.
It is interesting work that is the lasting legacy that stays with a candidate and keeps them interested. If you want retention the job needs to have an interesting element to it. For some jobs, admittedly this is easier said than done. But we operate in the technical recruitment sector. Most of the jobs in our markets are cool. Think robotics, capital projects, ground breaking design work, commissioning game changing equipment etc.
Routes for Candidate Attraction
If you are searching for buried treasure what do you need? I’m no treasure finding expert, but a good metal detector, a map, a shovel and some help would be a good start. So why go out with the intention of digging for talent and then scrimp on the costs for the tools you need?
How many companies set an absurdly low recruitment fee limit alienating any half decent agency from assisting them? “Well, I get so many calls and emails from firms saying they’ll work with us for 10%”. They’re 10% for a reason. Partner with a small number of committed, capable and dedicated specialists to deliver you results. They’ll cost more, but you get what you pay for. They’re your treasure map! And guess what; they’ll only charge you once they find you someone you want.
When is the right time to hire then?
Look at hiring like learning to walk. We walk so we can travel from one point to another. And we move forward. If your business has a good model, is profitable and will obviously benefit from growth start hiring. But go about hiring as a constant walk where you will see many faces and people, but only when you find the best people will you ask them to join you on your journey. Make it worth their while to come on that walk with you. Not just a payment to get them walking, but a purpose to keep them walking. Sounds corny right? Yes. It is a bit. But it illustrates the point.
If you are thinking objectively you need to act long term. That means getting real, making some sacrifices and building the foundations to grow to the next level.
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