Today’s professionals can afford to be picky about jobs. Demand is outstripping supply. Baby boomers are retiring and there are too few skilled workers to take their place. It’s the war for talent that Steven Hankin predicted in 1997 and a daily reality for today’s recruiters.
“In fact, it’s a war that’s been going on for 20 years,” says Arthur Meulman, general manager of the jobs.lu job board. “Companies are trying everything to get the right candidates. Sometimes they make their company sound a little bit more beautiful than it really is. The risk there, though, is that you promise things that in reality you can’t deliver.”
Such embellishments can leave the candidate disappointed, not because there is anything inherently wrong with the job, but because they expected something else. That’s why honesty is vital. The process starts with the job advert. Recruiters need to write a specific listing for each vacancy and consult the department concerned to determine the precise candidate requirements. The ad also needs to be attractive to the target candidates.
It’s a costly mistake as nonspecific ads draw more applications, most of which are unsuitable.
“If you’re writing an ad to attract salespeople, talk about the bonuses, talk about the car; if you are recruiting IT people, talk about specific projects they can work on, how they can develop themselves. That’s the mistake most companies make, they write a generic listing.”
It’s a costly mistake as nonspecific ads draw more applications, most of which are unsuitable. You don’t want thousands of CVs on your desk; you want the right ones. Time spent on the advert will reduce time spent filtering resumés.
At the same time, recruiters need to be realistic when specifying criteria. “That’s the thing: does the perfect candidate exist? In the Netherlands, where I come from, we call that the sheep with five legs. Some people want a candidate that has all you could wish for and then they want something more besides. These people want a sheep with five legs, but a sheep with five legs doesn’t exist.”
Instead, the general manager believes that companies should consider applicants with less experience, but who can be molded. It’s equally important to manage a candidate’s expectations. In part, that’s about avoiding embellishments in job ads – recruiters need to “promise what they write” as Meulman puts it.
It’s also important that employers follow up on their promises once the applicant is onboard.
It’s also about transparency and giving the candidate a fully rounded view of the company and position. For instance, recruiters would be well advised to use the interview stage to probe a candidate’s career aspirations. As part of the “Well-being of employees: what do the candidates think about?” survey conducted with Great Place To Work Luxembourg in 2018, jobs.lu recently polled candidates about why they quit jobs. Limited career advancement came out as the top reason. Therefore, to retain staff, it’s important to investigate whether the candidate’s ambitions tally with the opportunities on offer.
The same survey also revealed that most people stay in the same job because they like the atmosphere and team spirit. This is one of the reasons why Meulman advocates that companies invite promising candidates to spend a day alongside the team where they will work. It enables the applicant to meet the manager and their prospective colleagues – not just the recruiter – and see exactly what the job entails, experience the environment, ask questions.
“That way, there are no nasty surprises. What you see, is what you get. I don’t want the candidate to have unrealistic expectations. Both sides are investing a lot in the process, but if someone accepts the job, then after three months wants to leave because they are unhappy, we have all wasted that investment.”
You need to play to the strengths of your company and work on your brand’s social media presence.
It’s also important that employers follow up on their promises once the applicant is onboard. “If there’s a gap between what’s been promised during the interview and what is offered when they join the company that could sour the candidate’s opinion of the company and, long-term, that could affect their image.”
Any negative impact on the way a business is perceived is likely to make future recruiting even trickier. As the exclusive Luxembourgish representative of The Network – a strong & strategic alliance of 59 world-leading recruitment websites in more than 130 countries – jobs.lu took part in the Global Network study about European mobility of candidates, the largest survey of global work and employment conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network.
They found that Luxembourgish candidates prize a company’s financial stability and its corporate values above everything else as job preferences – even over having an interesting job. And in today’s world of mass social commentaries, any corporate failings are only a web search away.
“You need to play to the strengths of your company and work on your brand’s social media presence. Company image is essential in such a competitive market. Today, the best candidates can choose from many job offers – the power is with the candidates, not with the employers.”