I have heard from many of my friends how difficult they are finding it to engage with companies with job vacancies. Many organisations (particularly in the public sector) don’t even acknowledge applications and fail to provide feedback.

Obviously, I support the use of recruitment agencies, some of them are good but a whole industry has been set up around making it difficult to apply for a job and then never providing any information that might be useful to the applicant. Do we do this is our workplace? Do we make it difficult for people to perform well and then when they don’t, fail to give feedback that they can use so they don’t fail again?

I think some employees and some recruitment agencies think it is a buyers’ market. They don’t think that treating applicants well creates beneficial relationships and a good reputation that results in better applicants.

These organisations are so busy trying to find copies of themselves they forget that the world of business evolves every day and the once heralded derigueur methodologies like Prince 2 only work when you are building a power station. Finding someone who can bring Microsoft Project to life and understands risk mitigation and the difference between an assumption and an issue has gone beyond a template and has evolved a new skillset.

Forcing people to think inside the box will do you no good. Asking applicants to answer one challenging question is much better than using CVs. And while you are at it, who are you targeting? As I said above, copies of yourselves.

Competition for talent is a global challenge. We already know that there are more young Chinese with top IQs than there are American students. There are more game changers born into poor families in the Indian subcontinent than we have roles for.

If you want your business to be sustainably competitive you must change how and who you recruit.

1. Look at your hiring policy: are you encouraging out of the box thinkers or photocopies?

2. Who does your recruitment. Is it your HR department? If you want a successful culture, you need to pick the right people for reception, for your help desk as well as your senior team. Get the CEO or senior team involved. After all what is more important for sustainable success than having the right team.

3. Look where no one else is looking. Look for people who have had a tough life, who are looking for redemption or looking to prove themselves. Look for people who have been through hell. I can’t think of any roles that a woman can’t do and yet we let our prejudices get in the way. Our education system leaves a lot to be desired so why not look at foreign students. I know the Home Office and Brexit have created a hostile environment, but you don’t have to. Do you actively target the ex-military, ex-offenders, carers, minority groups, refugees and people with disabilities? You might be surprised. Talent comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. White, male, young, middle class is only one of them. Passion will never replace management skills but employing people who really care about their jobs will always make a difference.

Change your approach and change your long-term business success.


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