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Securing Your Perfect Candidate

In the search for specialist talent, in an ever-competitive candidate market, there is nothing more frustrating than losing out on the perfect candidate. So here are my top 6 tips to securing top notch talent:

  1. Understand your marketplace: It’s vital when setting out on the hunt for talent that you know what the marketplace looks like, how buoyant it is, salary expectations, geographical constraints, and just how niche is niche (i.e. are you looking for a purple unicorn… and if yes, are you happy to wait for said unicorn?). Incidentally, as consultants, this is something we’re always happy to advise on before you embark on the recruitment journey.
  2. Have a strategy: I can’t stress enough the importance of having a recruitment strategy, especially when it’s a piece of replacement recruitment. Whether it’s maternity cover or a full-time position, as soon as the signs are there that you might be looking to replace someone, get the wheels in motion; with notice periods varying from 4 to 12 weeks, there’s nothing worse than getting to the last few days and realising you face being under resourced. Have all your ‘ducks in a row’ - have you had the JD signed off; are the hiring managers going to be available to interview (or are there holidays in the way); do you know what the interview process will look like; Will you need options, or, if you find the ‘perfect’ candidate, will you be confident enough to go ahead and make an offer; Having all these things mapped out before you start make for a slicker process and a higher chance of securing your top candidate.
  3. Prioritise an interview: As mentioned, truly great candidates don’t hang around and, whilst they may well be bought-in to you as a client and the job role on offer, there may well be 2-3 other very appealing opportunities available to them. Prioritise getting them through the door and in front of the hiring manager! As recruiters, we will do our best to keep candidates ‘warm’ for clients, but often, the biggest reason we see clients missing out on top talent is that they didn’t get them in to interview quickly enough – this goes for the latter stages too! Just because 1st stage interview seemed to go well, if it’s then 2-3 weeks before you see them again (or at least get a date in the diary), you can guarantee someone else has dangled a job ‘carrot’ in front of them somewhere else!
  4. Make them feel wanted: We all know it’s nice to feel wanted, and as clients, of course you want the candidate to be bought-in to you. Equally, in a competitive marketplace, the ever-discerning candidate wants to feel wanted, so when they come in, if you feel it’s going well, and you like them, give them a little tour, show them the culture/environment on offer and be invested in them. Ask questions about their hobbies and what they do outside of work. All these things will result in a positive interview experience and a very keen candidate.
  5. Offer quickly! Much like point 3 – if you’re really keen on a candidate and you think that they could be ‘the one’, don’t ask them to jump through too many hoops. Of course, you need to do due diligence, and there’s no harm in psychometric tests, a presentation and an out of office ‘pub meet’ to assess ‘fit’, but after all that, don’t leave them hanging for 2–4 weeks (or longer... it’s been known!). You need to show them that you thought they were fabulous, and as soon as you have the relevant sign off, get that offer in! As a side note, we understand that for bigger companies there is an internal sign off process and, from experience, it’s well worth kicking that off after the 1st stage if you’re excited about the candidate.
  6. Prepare for a counter offer: I’ve touched on this before in other articles I’ve written, and counter offers are no fun for anyone. We will do our very best to manage expectations and handle these situations delicately. However, for very good, highly valued, individuals they do happen. Our best advice is to offer, at the initial offer stage, what you genuinely feel the value of this candidate is. Don’t lose out over £2k if you think a counter offer is likely; go in at the higher end and show them you really value them and want them on board. Articulate what a great opportunity it is that you have on offer and show them clear steps of progression where possible.

So, these are my top 6 tips. There are of course many other ‘trade secrets’ to securing top talent and I am more than happy to consult, steer, help and guide wherever needed. Hopefully you found this article useful and for any sector specific advice please reach out to any of the relevant consultants here at Beyond The Book who will be happy to help.

by Emma Simkiss