We were working with a client recently who was having problems recruiting a senior role. They’d had trouble finding decent candidates and had had a few “false starts” offering the role to people they didn’t actually think were quite right, out of desperation. This rarely works out well!

So we took things back to basics and looked at the role and talked about the kind of person they were looking for. We asked them to describe the ideal person, and looked at the person specification they’d done, setting out the skills, qualifications and experience they were looking for, then we talked about which of the criteria they had listed on the person specification were absolutely crucial, and which were perhaps optional or not necessary at all.

As is frequently the case, especially in very small businesses, it turned out that for this role, the most crucial aspect was the personal attributes the person would have. They needed the skills for the role, but it was their approach to work, their personal characteristics and work values that would make the difference between a success in the role and someone who didn’t work out.

These are things that can’t be learned and don’t come with training, either the person has them or they don’t. Because they weren’t getting these candidates in the places they were looking, we needed to look somewhere else. They were looking in the traditional places for their sector, the places where people with lots of experience in that sector would look for roles. But although experience in the sector would obviously be good, it does not follow that people with experience in that sector would fit the profile of the person they needed.

Any good candidate can and will spend the first six months learning all about the sector and about the business they are working in. Lacking in this area is something that can be addressed relatively quickly, as long as the qualities and attributes that will fit in the organisation are right. If they are, this will happen quicker anyway.

So if you’re struggling to find good candidates for your role, consider the following:

You may need to compromise

But make sure you do this in the right way. Take a step back and think about what makes a success in the role. Don’t compromise on the things which are vital but can’t be learned, instead consider compromising on skills, experience and qualifications if this is possible in the role in question.

For example, sector expertise is something businesses often look for, as it feels ‘safe’. But actually in many cases this can be learned on the job relatively quickly, if the candidate has transferable skills, and the right attitude.

Review where you are looking for candidates

Those who have the qualities and attributes that are really essential may not be looking in the traditional places. They may have gained those skills in a different way but might be a huge asset to your business.

Don’t automatically always advertise in the same places, or on sector-specific websites. Open your mind and think where else someone with the key attributes you are looking for might be.

Social media

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of social media recruitment and make full use of LinkedIn, your Twitter account and Facebook if your business is on there. Many businesses still overlook social media when it comes to recruitment even if they use it effectively in marketing products and services.

Nobody is better than the wrong person

Don’t appoint out of desperation. It very rarely works out well, and the amount of time you’ll spend managing the person and being concerned about results could have been spent finding the right person, which you’ll have to do anyway.

If you’re struggling, review what you are doing and change it, don’t just give up and offer the job to someone who might ‘do’. They won’t. Short-term gain of getting someone in post can lead to long-term problems, re-recruitment and an enormous amount of management time.

 

If you’d like further advice to help you in the recruitment process to find the best person for the job do get in touch.