A recruiter insider’s guide on how to nab the best talent

- March 30, 2023 3 MIN READ


Recruitment has never been tougher. As a recruiter of more than two decades, I have experienced many employment cycles, with this the hardest yet, writes recruitment expert Roxanne Calder, founder of EST 10 and author of Employable – 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future.

Sourcing talent in today’s post-COVID environment is confounding. Like the most complex problems, it demands broad intellectual enquiry, a full focus, all our ingenuity and wits, and then more again. Your faith and understanding of human behaviour is tested, and even your energy zapped.

There isn’t a magic answer, but there are some well-honed tips to navigate this cryptic talent problem we find ourselves with.

The skills shortage is real

The shortage of skilled workers is not just for the short-term. Don’t ponder when it might improve, for the answer is, ‘not any time soon’. This has been an ongoing issue in Australia, well before the pandemic.

The other reality is the need to compromise. There is no ‘perfect candidate’ anymore. Change your view and perspective on what ideal is. Rather, accept our new realities and move ahead with creative thinking for a solution-based strategy.

View talent through a different prism

What does your business really need? Retire the long wish-list and focus purely on critical needs, as well as the transferable and trainable skills. Cutting out the peripheral opens up your candidate pool and enables swift decision-making.

Consider an audit of your existing workforce. You may have hidden talent sitting right under your nose! Appraise their profiles and conduct reviews to uncover the skills, desires and aspirations of your team. Look to upskill, train, transfer, promote and second.

Let go of any bias and outdated beliefs. We all have them, but if you want to outwit this talent conundrum, have a fresh approach and forget what worked before. Consider ‘wildcard’ candidates – i.e. candidates with different backgrounds and experience from what you typically consider, but who can potentially do the job. The best candidate in today’s market will have transferable and enterprise skills, great attributes, and a winning attitude.

In removing bias, look to relatively untapped but talented market segments, such as the youth, our ageing population, students through internships, return to work mums with part-time work, and job shares. Even consider global pipelines – remote working has thrown open the international door for new hires. Time zones are only a barrier if you see it that way. Turn it to your advantage!

WATCH: Tips to combat the skills shortage on KBB TV:

Archaic practices

The days of asking your candidate ‘why they should be hired’ are long gone. Instead, ask why prospective new hires would want to work with your business? Sell your value proposition! Are you offering what employees are seeking?

Look to your processes; they should enable and improve businesses. If your recruitment processes no longer provide benefits, abandon them. For example, if your process is four interviews over two weeks, ask, ‘why?’. Your prolonged interviews could be costing you dearly; not just candidates, but brand reputation. If your process really needs more than one interview, ensure they are in sharp succession. It’s about speed and efficiency in today’s hyper-competitive candidate market.

When at offer stage, check the salary is at market. This is not the time to save a few dollars by lowballing the offer. Your potential new hire will have other job opportunities. Offer, ideally, on the same day as the last interview; or if you are brave, offer in the interview. Delaying an offer may undo all the hard work in getting your dream candidate this far. Have contracts on the ready and issued on the same day as your offer.

You have your new starter. Or do you?

The recruitment process is not over yet! This is the fine-tuning part.

Keep in touch throughout your new starter’s notice period. Despite resigning, people change their minds and accept counter-offers. Also, don’t discount other job offers from previous interviews coming through. The war for talent is fierce, and these are standard tactics. ‘It is not personal’, they will tell you!

And even after your new employee has started, it is still not a done deal! You can expect prospective employers to continue to contact your employee with an array of opportunities. This typically occurs within the first three months, when new employees are the most vulnerable. So, make sure your onboarding is on point.

Staff have always been the number one pain or gain for businesses. When you get it right, it is so good!

Today’s competitive workforce-sourcing world is more complicated, intricate, and unpredictable than we have ever known. Start with accepting the reality, and the rest will follow.

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Now read this:

Skills shortages: 5 tips to help your business now