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How should I approach hiring?

This article is part of
Guide to succession planning

How should I approach hiring?

It is easy to overlook your hiring strategy when you start succession planning. But a methodical approach to bringing on board new employees is as important now as it was before.

Sara Barrett, partner at national law firm Mills & Reeve, says any hiring strategy should start with pinning down the skill set you require for the specific role. She says: "Traditionally that would take the form of a “person specification” but it is the substance that matters."

She say many employers find it helpful to consider what are the “core skills” and then highlight additional “preferred skills” which might set an applicant apart from another. 

"Once you have this clear then you need to consider the best process to test objectively for those skills.

"Some employers apply the same process across the board on recruitment without considering whether it really gives an applicant an opportunity to demonstrate the skills needed for that role or for the employer to best assess those skills. 

"The ideal approach to hiring from both a business and diversity perspective will focus on the widest possible range of talent, and putting candidates through a selection process which is both transparent and tailored to the demands of the role you are looking to fill.

"This is how you ensure that you are hiring the people who will drive your business forward over the coming years."

David Murphy, managing director of Talent Acumen, said an adviser’s approach to hiring should be insight driven. He explains that this means gaining a thorough knowledge of your preferred search parameters to make an informed decision regarding key talent.

He also urges employers to look outside their own industry as well as within it. According to Mr Murphy, this is because: "This can break down talent boundaries and provide new candidate pools that have cross-transferable skills and can pollinate a business with fresh ideas and different thinking."

Key points to help you formulate a successful hiring strategy:

  • Create a strong talent pipeline. The earlier you can identify talent towards future workforce planning, the quicker your time-to-hire will be and you will reduce external fees. Proactive engagement via a qualified 3rd party will provide a pre-assessed talent pool against future requirements. You will know and have pre-qualified potential employees, knowing there is a talent pool interested in your organisation, who are a good fit with its brand and culture, having already bought into your Employer Value Proposition.
  • Use an external party to deliver this process.  An intermediary can often uncover things you never would such as candidate motivations and any barriers to future recruitment, as well as being able to objectively review if there is a true culture fit. Added value insight in terms of employer strategies and innovations usually also transpire from this thorough process.
  • Understanding the different routes to recruitment so you can appreciate the different methods used. They all have their place and it comes down to what’s right for your circumstances. Agencies and sector specialists can introduce individuals very quickly through having an up to date network of active individuals, while a research and insight-driven approach can provide more context and have a further reaching impact on the business overall.

If you are using agency recruiters they have access to the active audience - people openly looking for work, having registered CVs and been active in promoting themselves. The downside to this is that it often means regurgitated candidate pools as the same people are being accessed multiple times. 

A head-hunter's search is often shrouded with mystery. This approach may still rely on the mythical ‘little black book’, it’s often not very transparent in terms of the processes used, and can often provide a limited candidate pool.

Fees are comparatively high for this service. So sector specialists are well worth considering as they may be well networked and have several years’ industry experience.

Mr Murphy also urges employers to give themselves real-life scenarios. He says: "Imagine you have just received a resignation or decide you want to grow your business, stop first and have a think about what you want and need.

Take time to define the job description, along with what knowledge, skills, qualifications and experience are essential. You will need to decide on a salary and package for the new hire; benchmarking what’s out in the market first will ensure you’re competitive and attract the best talent."