Biggest Recruiting Challenges (and Solutions) for Search Consultants

Recruiting’s not easy, is it? Sigh. Of course not. If it was, then everybody would be doing it. But alas, this is not the case. The profession is replete with recruiting challenges.

What makes recruiting a challenge?

In fact, there are challenges faced by recruiters all throughout the recruitment and selection process. As if that weren’t enough, the challenges facing the recruitment industry change and shift with marketplace conditions. For example, recruiting challenges during a good economy are different than the recruiting challenges in a bad economy. (Anybody who recruited their way through the Great Recession and is also enjoying this current candidates’ market can attest to that.)

So what makes recruiting a challenge? Many things actually, starting with the state of the economy, which we just discussed. Then there’s the fact that recruiting is technically a sales profession, and sales is not easy. This is especially the case in recruitment, where are people on both ends of the sale. It’s difficult enough trying to sell something. It’s even more difficult when the thing that you’re trying to sell has the ability to object to the sale! Nobody has ever sold a car and then had the car object to being sold.

So perhaps a more appropriate question would be this one: what doesn’t make recruiting a challenge?

Top challenges of recruitment and selection

With this in mind, we’ll be tackling the recruiting challenges that currently exist. After all, we have to “Live in the now!” as Garth Algar would say.

Below are the top challenges of recruitment and selection:

Recruiting challenge #1—sourcing candidates

This one’s not surprising, is it? The National Unemployment Rate is at historically low levels. There’s a well-documented skills gap in the employment marketplace. Employers in just about every industry and niche are willing to hire. However, nobody can find enough quality candidates. As you might expect, grade-A candidates are particularly difficult to find in industries that require specialized skills.

Solutions: First, take advantage of candidate referrals. Nothing catches the attention of a candidate like a friend advising them to contact you. When you successfully place candidates, ask them to refer you. People often listen to those they know.

Second, consider membership in a split fee recruiting network. If you’re having difficulty finding the right candidates for your clients’ job orders, then perhaps another recruiter has them. That recruiter could share the candidates with you. Then you place that recruiter’s candidates in your client’s job orders. Then you split the placement fee with the other recruiter. Sure, it’s not a full fee. But then again, it’s better than no fee. And you’ve solved a hiring problem for your client and further gained their trust and loyalty. Win-win!

Recruiting challenge #2—Candidates receiving multiple offers

This one is not surprising, either. That’s because candidates, especially top candidates, have been receiving multiple offers for the past few years. That’s because, once again, we’re in a candidate market. Talent is scarce, and employers are competing for what talent is available. How many times during the past year has one of your candidates spurned your client’s offer in favor of a more attractive one? Probably more times than you’d like to count.

And this trend is not likely to stop anytime soon. As long as we’re in a candidate market, top candidates will continue to receive multiple offers.

Solutions: First, to stand out from the competition, create a great candidate experience. Start with writing an effective job description. Be sure to note the benefits, salary, and perks your client is willing to offer. Be clear about the necessary skills and job duties. Listen to your candidates throughout the recruitment process. If you extend an offer, be enthusiastic and explain the next steps.

Second, communicate thoroughly with the candidate during the recruitment and selection process and set expectations. Ask if they’re interviewing with more than one employer. Ask if they might be entertaining multiple offers. Sure, they might lie to you, but make them lie to you. Don’t make it easy for them. And while you’re at it, ask if they would accept a counter-offer from their current employers, should one be made. If they’re going to accept another offer (or a counter-offer), don’t make it easy for them. After all, why should you?

Recruiting challenge #3—Clients dragging out the hiring process

This is, without a doubt, one of the biggest mistakes that employers are making right now in terms of hiring. There are all sorts of reasons why employers do this. They include an inefficient recruitment process, miscommunication, and the insistence on hiring “the perfect candidate.” (And as we all know, such a candidate does not exist. However, the idea of such a candidate apparently lives in the hearts and minds of hiring managers forever and ever.)

Solutions: We’ve tackled this recruitment challenge before in the Top Echelon blog. Specifically, we’ve done so with the post “5 Ways to Speed Up the Recruiting Process.” According to that blog post, here are the five ways:

  1. Determine if the search is a priority.
  2. Identify the true decision maker.
  3. Educate the client about current market conditions.
  4. Secure a commitment.
  5. Set other expectations.

Also, use an applicant tracking system (ATS) or recruiting software to streamline your process. You can enter and organize candidate data at every stage of the recruiting pipeline. You spend less time searching for information and more time talking with candidates. And, the software helps you stay in contact with clients, so the recruitment and selection process can move forward more quickly.

Recruiting challenge #4—Clients low-balling candidates

It’s almost difficult to conceive, but some employers are still trying to low-ball candidates during the offer stage of the hiring process. Yes, top talent is scarce. Yes, the best candidates are routinely entertaining multiple offers. However, that has not stopped hiring managers and company officials from trying low-ball candidates. And what is generally the reaction of those candidates? They turn the offer down, of course.

Salary, benefits, and work environment are all huge details in a candidate’s decision. If your client doesn’t offer a competitive package, then it’s not going to successfully hire top candidates. Then you’re not going to receive placement checks, and that is certainly not acceptable.

Solutions: First, continue to educate your clients about the state of the employment marketplace. Candidates are “in the driver’s seat,” so to speak. They have the leverage. Employers need them more than they need employers, and your clients must understand this reality. Even more importantly, they must accept it. They’re not shopping at Dollar General for their candidates, so they should stop trying to bring that mentality to the offer stage of the recruitment process.

Second, talk to your clients about the importance of offering attractive compensation. Show clients average salaries for their industry and location. Your client might need to get creative when it comes to employee perks. For example, they could offer flex time, team gatherings, or discounts at their business.

Recruiting challenge #5—Retention of your placed candidates

People are changing jobs more frequently than ever before. In fact, some members of the Millennial Generation change jobs every 18 months to two years. And that’s no big deal to them. Now, as a recruiter, you would just like the candidate to work beyond the guarantee period. That way, you keep your fee and there’s no fuss and no muss.

However, if you place a string of candidates who all happen to quit shortly after the guarantee period ends, then your clients might start asking questions. In fact, they might start questioning whether nor not you’re truly able to find the right person for the position. (Even though, you might point out, it’s up to your client to retain the employee’s services once it hires them.)

Employee retention issues can hurt your recruiter reputation. You may have to start the recruitment and selection process over. Or worse, the client doesn’t hire you to find another candidate. This can quickly become one of your biggest recruiting challenges. As if you didn’t have enough of them already.

Solutions: Okay, recruiters are not 100% at fault when a placed candidates is on the run again after only six months or so. However, who is the hiring manager going to blame? Themselves? Bwahahahahaha! That’s not likely. No, you have to be prepared as much as possible for this contingency. For better or for worse, how the candidate fares at their new employer—and how long they fare—is a direct reflection on you and your agency.

First, start by sourcing candidates with a high potential to be long-term employees. Ask behavioral questions during interviews to screen for loyalty. Also, make sure your client has a strong company culture and onboarding program. And, check in with the candidate once they begin work. Find out if they have any concerns, and resolve issues early on.

Second, stress to your clients that what they “sell” the candidate on during the hiring process should be accurate. In other words, what the hiring manager and other company officials tell them about the opportunity and the organization should be readily apparent starting on the candidate’s first day of work. If the candidate does not see all of the reasons they chose your client’s employment opportunity, then they’re going to start looking for another opportunity. Immediately.

Recruitment difficulties? Get more training!

The challenges faced by recruiters are numerous, even when the economy is on good terms and the employment marketplace is humming. This is why the profession requires people who can change and adapt with circumstances. Only those who can rise to the recruiting challenges they face and overcome them will experience long-term success in the profession.

One of the ways that you can consistently overcome recruiting challenges (including the ones that you don’t foresee) is through continuous training and education. Who offers that, you might be asking? You’re in luck! Top Echelon offers a free monthly webinar as part of its Recruiter Coaching Series. After the webinars are over, we post the recorded version of the webinars in our Recruiter Training Library.

These webinars touch upon a variety of recruiter-related topics, including those that deal with recruitment consultant challenges. As always, our goal with these webinars (and corresponding videos) is to help recruiters make more placements. Click here to access all of the videos available in our Recruiter Training Library.

In addition to training and webinars, Top Echelon offers other recruitment solutions. These solutions include the following:

For more information about Top Echelon and the products and services that it offers, visit the Top Echelon website by clicking here.

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