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Is your Recruitment Process your own worst enemy?

No one can deny that the global economic slow-down has had quite wide-ranging effects in South Africa over the past couple of years, particularly when you look at the recruitment market. Indeed, many recruitment companies themselves have fallen by the way-side while others have had to consolidate. If I were cynical I would say that this has probably had a positive effect on our recruitment industry in so much as the agencies who shouldn’t have been recruiting in the first place may have closed their doors thereby leaving the recruitment market less cluttered for those of us that take what we do very seriously and certainly try to deliver an ethical and professional service to our clients.

Combine this scenario with the current skills-shortage and it certainly doesn’t paint a pretty picture. However, what it does mean is that companies that want to attract the very best talent into their organisations need to have good relationships with the recruitment companies that have access to that talent. It also means that those same organisations need to ensure that their internal recruitment processes are in order.

In a recent informal survey we found that on average, corporate companies were taking between two and six months to fill external vacancies. In some cases the process was taking up to 9 months +. This is clearly far too long! Whilst recruiters and recruitment companies understand that their clients have certain internal procedures which need to be followed, it is also important for the clients themselves to understand that if you want to attract the best talent and appear to be an “employer of choice” that they need to move quickly, thoroughly and professionally to secure themselves the best candidates available.

It’s a given that the candidates themselves need to have the necessary experience, qualifications, skills and cultural fit in order to secure themselves an interview in the first place, but from there it is the companies that should be going out of their way to ensure all internal stakeholders are “on-board” with the recruitment process. This means that line management should make themselves available, be well briefed and if necessary, trained in recruitment skills to ensure the process flows smoothly. Efficient and speedy decision making is also critical to securing the right candidate for the job. Ideally the entire recruitment process should be mapped out with strict time lines attached. If for whatever reason an interview needs to be re-scheduled then a Plan B should be prepared for, ie: all stakeholders should have given a couple of alternative times that they would be available. After all, what could be more important than having the right people employed within your organisation? Remember, in the 21st Century it is your staff that make your business. Without the right people, you have no business!

Another factor that contributes to a drawn-out recruitment process would be that companies that are often looking for an unrealistic skills set. As a recruitment company, we often get what I like to call a “shopping list” of requirements from a client. Again, we understand that every job has inherent job requirements, but all too often we receive a job specification that is simply not realistic. In the same way that an organisation needs to have their recruitment process clearly mapped out, it also needs to have every job clearly defined ie: evaluated & graded to ensure all stakeholders in the recruitment process are 100% clear as to what it actually takes to perform and excel in that role.

BEE is here to stay, and rightly so! However, BEE should not be used as a scapegoat NOT to fill critical vacancies! In the South African context, BEE should be seen as a strategic imperative within any organisation, If implemented correctly, BEE does = good business sense – Period! However, organizations have to be realistic in terms of what is available in the BEE skills pool. Recruitment companies are often given strict instructions to source only BEE applicants! To make our jobs even more challenging we are then given even more specific instructions as to the actual racial demographic. The bottom line is that all organizations in South Africa are fishing in the same pond and unfortunately this all too often leads to the qualified and experienced EE applicant being head-hunted prematurely, not fulfilling the role that they were initially employed to perform. Organisations themselves should refrain from recruiting / head hunting EE applicants that are clearly “job hopping” and only interview the applicants that have been with their companies for a certain period of time and have proven track records.

So what is the alternative to the scenario above? Training & Development!! Organisations need to spend more time identifying the talent and developing it as opposed to going for the quick-fix. Sure, the work still needs to get done….. so look at alternatives like Contract staff or recently retired staff who have all the experience in the world while you are getting your identified EE talent up to speed! The bottom line is that if organizations really want the very best talent that the country has to offer then they need to ensure that their recruitment, development and retention strategies are all in place. Recruitment agencies should be seen a strategic partner to the organisation and not a “necessary evil”! Get to know your preferred suppliers and ensure they know you, your corporate culture, your vision and values.

In conclusion ask yourself the question – Is your organisation ready to attract, recruit and retain the skills that are critical in order to grow your business?, Are you “really” an Employer of Choice?

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