It's clear that the skills gap seen nationally is evident in the South West, affecting many businesses that are challenged to recruit not only the right skills set, but also in competing for and winning the top talent to their business.
Our most recent local business survey reveals that 61% of businesses are finding it difficult to find suitable staff, impacting on a wide range of roles from professional and managerial positions to skilled manual or technical roles.
Many small businesses find recruitment to be a major challenge, often competing against larger organisations which can offer greater benefits and perceived security; and perhaps more so now than ever whilst the market is in favour of the job seeker.
Plus, with the recruitment landscape evolving, and a new generation joining the workforce with different ideas about what jobs are supposed to be, and how to apply to them, it is key that small businesses remain agile.
However, by thinking a little deeper about aspects such as competition, technology, employer branding and some of the alternatives to traditional routes, SMEs have an opportunity to approach recruitment more strategically.
1. Widen the net and go digital
If you are not doing so already, widen your reach by advertising nationally. And, if you are still recruiting primarily through print advertising, think again. There are significant stats supporting the fact that promoting your job digitally as a key channel will help you to reach and attract quality candidates.
- Millenials are changing the recruiting industry. An Aberdeen study found that 73% of 18-34 year olds found their last job through a social network. (Source:Aberdeen Group)
- 30% of all Google searches, about 300 million per month, are employment related. (Source: Unbridled Talent)
- 89% of all recruiters report having hired someone through LinkedIn. Facebook and Twitter trailed by a wide margin, reaching only 26% and 15% respectively. (Source: Herd Wisdom)
2. Encourage staff to make referrals
It is worth encouraging your colleagues to help drive recruitment. Ask them to make referrals. And, your top performers will very likely know other talented people who would fit with the company culture and contribute significantly to the business.
3. Upgrade your recruitment branding, positioning and communications
Many businesses are getting savvy to the benefits that properly deployed 'employer branding' can bring to the process.
There are many good agencies specialising in this area (read founder of “We Love 9am” Mark Bevans recent article on 'Recruiting the right candidates for your business') but small businesses with tight budgets can also look to improve their approach and candidate experience in-house as a good starting point.
- Improve or create a branded section on your website dedicated to career opportunities at your firm. Make it a compelling space by not only listing current job opportunities but also by providing valuable content such as staff stories, details about the company culture and why yourbusiness is a great place to work and develop.
- If you feel, as a small business, it is hard to compete with larger organisations in terms of a 'sell' then sell your firm's high-growth potential, innovative or entrepreneurial culture and assure potential employees of the impact that they will have on the growth of the organisation so that they can visualise their potential development.
- It is also worth selling the benefits of the area in which they will live, work and play and perhaps offer some tips and useful links for people who may be considering relocating to the region. In all your digital activity link back to this space on your website so that potential candidates may find out interesting facts about your business and the area, and what's in it for them! A very good example of how to do this well is the National Trust.
- Then, in your communications, especially through digital channels, you will have the chance to offer more information other than the role. You can cover some of the detail you have on your website to help your opportunity stand out from other adverts and to act as a teaser to attract the candidate to look at your career site pages and to apply.
- It is also worth considering how you detail the role itself, can you provide more detailed information? Think about it from the prospective employee perspective - what's in it for them?
- Don't stop there - consider the candidate experience of the application process, the invitation to interview, and the interview, appointment and induction experience itself - how can you improve or innovate the whole journey?
4. Other ways to build skills and innovate your business
- Attract young people to bring fresh ideas to your business. Consider alternative ways to attract and develop new skills into your teams. There are various schemes available, delivered through initiatives such as Graduate Talent SW and Apprenticeships. These often include funding incentives.
- Ensure a continual culture of learning within the business. If you have a skills gap, or anticipate certain skills will be needed in the future, an alternative to recruitment is to train an existing staff member. This is not only motivational for the individual but you can shape a skills set specific to your business' needs.
- Working with local Universities, Colleges and Schools - check out www.skillsjunction.co.uk if you're looking to train your staff or recruit individuals with a particular skill set.
These options will hopefully provide some ideas of how to become more strategic, competitive and innovative in your approach to recruitment and in turn attract and inspire like-minded individuals to join your workforce.
If you've got some tips on recruitment or your own valuable experiences to share with fellow businesses, please let us know.