Hands up if you’ve ordered a takeaway in the past 18 months? You won’t be alone – Deliveroo’s business doubled during the course of the pandemic! But what does ordering fast food have to do with recruiting, I hear you ask…

When you order a takeaway, do you have your ‘go to’ dishes that you order on repeat?

As a consumer, we have our lists of likes and dislikes, we browse the menu, and order the dish that ticks our boxes. It arrives – and it’s delicious! Result. So the next time you get takeaway, you order the exact same dish, expecting it to be just as good as the last time.

This is exactly how we are recruiting.

We hire people like ourselves, from a similar background, expecting them to be an 80-90% fit to our ‘menus’ and work the way we work.

Let’s go back to fast food. Sometimes when you order that very same takeaway dish, it can leave you disappointed. Perhaps there was another chef on duty, or the produce wasn’t as fresh, or it just didn’t meet your cravings… This time, that exact same dish just didn’t meet your needs. Sound familiar?

The same happens with recruiting – because people are not fast food.

We can’t always eat takeaway. Sometimes, we need to eat a little more variety. We know that to fuel our bodies and be healthy, we need to ‘eat the rainbow’. And that means mixing it up, selecting fresh seasonal produce, and eating a wide range of ingredients. Cooking from scratch (sorry Deliveroo!) – taking fresh ingredients, preparing them in different ways, and putting them together in new combinations to create successful dishes.

It’s exactly the same when it comes to recruiting. We can’t always hire the same kind of people.

To fuel our teams most efficiently, we need to focus on variety – fresh people, different ideas and approaches, new combinations.

Brains that work in different ways. Eyes that see things differently. Ears that listen and hear differently.

Because here is the irony of the current ‘skills shortage’ that clients keep telling me about. There are plenty of innately talented candidates out there as a result of UK unemployment levels increasing due to the effects of a global pandemic. There may just not be a ‘ready made’ takeaway option on the menu.

What if we start deliberately selecting our takeaway, or our ingredients, from new sources – so we aren’t always buying from the same place? We are much more likely to find talented people who think and work differently if we open our eyes to talent of all races, ages, religions, genders, socio economic groups, abilities and so on.

Encouraging inclusivity and diversity in the workplace isn’t just a way to score points – it’s a way to score talent.

Let’s use the pandemic and Brexit, and the challenges they have thrown at us, to shake up the way we are recruiting.

It’s time to stop clicking our fingers and expecting the perfect candidate to be served to our door! We need to adapt, to get creative, to take some risks and learn new skills to become real talent spotters, not just place a repeat recruitment order…

How can we adapt our recruitment methods to recruit and retain top talent?

Let’s start at the beginning. What are the essential building blocks of decision making, lived and learnt experiences, approaches that the person doing the role will need?

Rather than a tick box exercise, think about the innate transferable skills needed to do the job.

Make sure these are what you are asking for in your job profile, rather than going with the default menu of listing learnt skills, qualifications, education, experience.

As a recruiter and people manager get to know yourself first – your strengths and the assumptions you hold about how a job should be done (which is likely just how you would do it or someone you know has done it). Know your limitations, and seek out colleagues or people who think differently to broaden your perspectives. I have been reluctant to use the Unconscious Bias phrase as, just like the word Covid, when we hear it too much we stop being sensitive to what it really means! But by accepting that every thought and action we have is likely to be one of 150 types of biases common in the workplace, we can reflect on our ‘usual order’ and question how valid your choices really are.

Would it be such a risk to order something different this time?

Change how much weight you give to a candidate’s CV. As we know from a menu in a restaurant – what you see is not what you often get! The key to spotting (and hiring) real potential, is to look beyond the surface of a CV. You need to look at the whole person – their interests, innate strengths and talents and how they approach what they do. Instead of asking for a CV, why not ask them to do something that your role demands?

Speaking to a recruiter friend of mine, Rosa, she said: “[Employers] have no choice now – they have to trust me, that I have identified the strengths a candidate has that might not be obvious on their CV. At last as a recruiter I am becoming a partner in the recruitment process. And it’s so motivating to be able to offer candidates their dream opportunities.”

Stepping into the candidate’s shoes, one client told me that he had applied for over 100 jobs. As a highly experienced business development manager, he found himself frustrated by the recruitment process: “Recruitment is broken. Companies do not want to engage – it’s a tick box exercise. Talent acquisition people are only focused on filling the role, they forget there is a human being at the end of the application who has put time, energy and hope into it.” He is even keeping a spreadsheet of recruiters and employers to avoid in future, based on their lack of communication!

So how can you appeal to the right candidates, avoid sifting through piles of irrelevant CVs from people who won’t be suited to the job, and find the perfect candidate fit for the next role you’re hiring?

If you are one of those organisations who are growing and have a number of roles to fill, you are going to have a hard time competing with the other 1 million job vacancies open in the UK. (This is double the amount of vacancies during the same time last year according to statistics from statista.com.) How can you stand out?

The key to hiring the right people right now, is knowing how to bridge the gap between jobs and candidates – and using a more sustainable approach to recruitment.

Here are my top three tips for recruiting in 2021:

1. Learn to think differently about what ‘good’ looks like in your organisation

2. Get creative – by becoming curious about people and their experiences we are putting the Person before the Thing that they will be doing

3. Ask for input, help and advice from a wide variety of people rather than just a select few

If you need a little help knowing how to identify true potential and find the right candidate for the job, please do get in touch. I am continuing to support my clients both face-to-face and via video and would love to get stuck in and fix this ‘broken recruitment’ problem…