How to Stop 'Firefighting' & Start Attracting Talent
I know a Managing Director who, about twice a year in a fit of desperation, would ring round some recruitment agencies and at rapid machine gun pace rattle off how he needs two Senior people urgently and ask them to get on it pronto, and find them asap.
However, his real problem was that he ran a small company. They had some great clients though. Not that you would know it, because they had never marketed themselves much. I mean there was a very boring website and the usual boring Linked In profiles – but no company page! They won business via word of mouth and reputation rather than marketing efforts. So, they thought they were doing enough…But they weren’t.
Their recruiting efforts amounted to entering full ‘fire-fighter’ mode, and calling recruitment agencies, every single time they needed to hire anyone. Their time to hire took months. The quality of the candidates was extremely unimpressive and not befitting of their great clients. And their direct hiring was non-existent. They were spending a whopping 18% of their turnover on agency fees. Yikes!
What were they doing wrong?
One of the great problems, a lot of small and mid-size companies have, is a lack of time and expertise to attend to marketing, let alone the more specialist - employer brand marketing. Most established companies think they don’t have an employer brand problem but Glassdoor and other Employer review sites, plus their agency spend, often tell another story.
The only way out of this mess was to bring us in and fix it fast. They needed us, as experts, to hit the ground running and not have to find our feet. We cut those agency fees in half after the first year and now ¾ of their hiring comes through direct hiring and referrals and we left the building long ago! That is the power of implementing an employer brand strategy, no matter what company size you have.
The trick is not to have to firefight at all and to reduce hiring fees.
Even if you only hire 100 people or just 5 people in a year you can do some really clever work and build your employer brand up in advance of when you expect to hire. I know some of you are going to say, ‘that’s all well and good but what if someone quits out of the blue?’ Well you can still plan for attrition.
Here’s how to plan for attrition:
Work out your attrition rate. Calculate the number of people who quit/or you fired in the last 12 months. So, if you have 500 employees and 50 have left that is a 10% attrition rate.
Now work out which departments have the highest attrition rate, go back over the figures for a couple of years. Maybe your Finance team has lost 8 people on average per year. Obviously, you need to address any team issues and set about improving retention (more on that in another post). But you need to proactively market your employment opportunities in Finance, before the need to hire comes around, and you don’t need a crystal ball to predict when to do this.
Here are some ideas to build your employer brand:
Get your Finance team (and any other team that you know is struggling or growing) to write some articles about their work and get some great pictures of the team and post these throughout the year on social media and your career pages.
Get some of your Subject Matter Experts to publish insights on Linked In and in relevant industry sites and magazines. See if you can get them interviewed by different media. People want to work for people they can learn from.
Get your career page looking great with interesting content, such as the above ideas and employer brand focussed video’s
Get some of your top clients to write a review of you have helped them, even better get them on film saying this
If you are not currently hiring in Finance, you can still invite applications on your career page.
Re write your most used job descriptions in advance so they are enticing, rather than a rush job
Set up a referral scheme and train your people in how to sell the opportunity at your company.
I am touching on the tip of the iceberg with these tips, there is more you can do, but if you put these into place for all your high attrition teams then it is a good start. When you need to hire, your employer brand will be much more positive, and you may even have candidates that have pre-applied. Your people can use the articles, videos to entice their referrals too, making life much easier for them.
But don’t be alarmed at the amount of work here, that is where we help lift the heavy load.
We are experts in talent attraction and employer branding. This work is what drives us, it’s not a chore! All this work will only require minimum input from your people. It won’t take us long and then, when you need to hire next, you will be a much more attractive employer and be able to increase hiring directly rather than depending on agencies.
Get in touch or set up a call.
'We help companies attract talented people and retain them.'