It’s undeniable that in the current recruitment landscape the power sits squarely in the hands of job seekers. As businesses struggle to find skilled individuals to help reach objectives and ride out challenges presented by the Covid pandemic, a shift in approach and perspective is required.

Today, if you want to stand out from the crowd and get the right people on your team, you must leave behind the notion that any job seeker would be lucky to join your organisation and consider instead that you must cater to what potential employees are looking for, and work to satisfy these demands. Read on to gain insight into how you can bridge the growing power gap and gain a competitive advantage in 2021 and beyond.

Demand for talent at an all-time high: No time like the present

What’s creating the power gap? As you’ve likely already heard, we’re experiencing the lowest unemployment rates in years. Recent Statistics New Zealand figures revealed that over the last three months, the number of people unemployed has dropped by 17,000 or 12.4%, to reach 117,000, making the largest percentage drop in 35 years.

As a result of talent shortages, many organisations are looking for new ways to retain staff and as a result are increasing pay rates. Stats NZ finds salary and wage rates increased 2.1% over the year to 2021 and puts the shift down to declining numbers of benefit recipients, increased job vacancies, labour shortages and skills mismatches. Looking at Randstad’s recent placements, we estimate this percentage is actually much higher, especially in the professional arena. However, we also know that in a talent stretched market, salary and benefits will only get you a seat at the negotiating table, and employees are also looking for more lifestyle-based benefits. 

With borders remaining closed, intermittent Covid lockdowns our reality and no net migration in sight, the pressure on the job market is not expected to ease anytime soon. In fact, the last lockdown period showed us that businesses shouldn’t cease recruitment during these times - if they do they risk losing strong talent to other organisations. During uncertain times, it’s important to ensure you have a strong remote based recruitment process in place in order to maintain continuity of hiring and onboarding talent.

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Gaining a competitive edge with recruitment etiquette

Sometimes we don’t see what’s right in front of us. It’s easy to assume that the job we’re offering is the most attractive one out there, and that all job seekers will do what it takes to be the chosen candidate. This isn’t always accurate, especially when jobs are plentiful and skilled candidates are few.

Recently, a LinkedIn post by Mike Conley about a specific recruitment experience went viral. In his post, Conley describes being asked to attend nine interviews for the role. He says he wanted the role, the pay was right, there were ample benefits and a mission that he could get behind, but in the end he felt the recruitment process reflected fear and he decided to take a stand for job hunters.

With extensive media coverage, including an article for BBC and one for Forbes, millions of views and thousands of comments, it’s clear that this is a wider trend that job hunters are experiencing and are no longer accepting.

In New Zealand it’s common to have 4-5 rounds of interviews. We encourage organisations to implement a recruitment process that includes a screening meeting, more in-depth interviews and final checks. The specifics of the process will look different for each organisation depending on their unique needs, but regardless there are core elements that must be considered. For instance, while we all know by now that interviews are a two way conversation, we have to bring this understanding into every step to ascertain whether each interview is truly necessary, keep communication lines flowing, and maintain a level of direct honesty. During lockdown periods it’s vital to remain flexible and adaptable, for instance completing what would have been face-to-face interviews over video chat.

To take a brief step back, before you even begin to call potential candidates and schedule interviews, you must have a clear online brand presence and job description that accurately reflects the role and your company culture. In an era of lockdowns and remote working, candidates are using the web as their window into your company, and you want to make sure they like what they see. This ties to a broader trend that employees are now not only looking at the role they’ll be stepping into, but the company culture and mission statement.

Our Randstad 2021 employer brand research found that when it comes to looking for new roles, the number one obstacle was not knowing what it’s like to work at an organisation. Employers need to be aware of this barrier and investing in a strong employer brand has a significant impact on an organisations’ ability to hire a great workforce.

On the whole, the recruitment process marks the initial contact between employer and employee, and will mark the start of this budding relationship. This is why it’s so crucial to have clear communication, set clear expectations around the process including when different stages will take place and when the potential hire can expect an outcome. A streamlined process will set you off on the right track and boost your competitive advantage.

Understanding what NZ job seekers are looking for

Randstad’s recent research, which investigated the primary motivating factors for 4,000 Kiwis, found that for the first time in 10 years the most important driver when choosing an employer has shifted from attractive salary and benefits to work-life balance.  

This significant change marks a shift in thinking about work, employers and what is most important to your potential team members. Following work-life balance, the most important drivers for employees are salary and benefits, job security, pleasant work atmosphere and good training. It’s no wonder there has been a shift in priorities, as the Covid-shaped working world looks very different from your average workplace of a couple of years ago. Organisations that can offer certainty in the midst of uncertainty, providing greater flexibility around hours, enabling employees to manage other commitments or family life as well as their role, and implementing additional incentives such as paid leave for wellbeing days, will be those that win over and retain top talent.

Having a keen understanding of what potential employees want from their employer, as well as having a clear and streamlined recruitment process, will help your organisation to stand out from the crowd and help to attract and retain the skilled people you need to meet your business goals.

After all, a business is only as strong as its people.

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about the author

katherine swan

Country Director Randstad