In the coming time, companies will compete with each other in order to acquire the best possible staff, says Joost Fortuin, Managing Director at Page Personnel. This is a result of the recovering economy and the imminent threat of a talent shortage.

The time where applicants needed to impress a potential employer seems to be over: in many cases it is now up to the company to seduce the candidate. However, many companies lack the speed and flexibility required by the job market, and will miss out as a result. Fortuin: “Where just last year, employers could afford to sit back and let the candidate prove his or her suitability, the tables have now turned.” Now that the economy is recovering and scarcity is developing on the job market, candidates’ wishes are becoming increasingly important in recruiting talent. Companies now need to be bold and provide candidates with clarity about what they can actually achieve in the role on offer, says Fortuin. “The generation now entering the job market wants to know what their career path will be at a certain company, as well as their earning potential and opportunities for education. Many companies are still saying: join us first and we’ll see about those things later. But those days are over. The candidate sets the bar.”

Recruitment is all about speed and flexibility

Not only should companies listen to candidates’ wishes, their response time and flexibility are increasingly important, says Fortuin. “Things often start to go wrong as early as the job description,” he says. “For example, if you order candidates to respond before a certain date, you are not projecting the flexibility the market requires. If a suitable candidate needs a little time to think, you have to allow them to have it and not be too rigid. Or if a candidate is leaving on holiday next week, make sure you are decisive and can arrange matters before then. While candidates needed to show flexibility in the past, employers now need to meet their needs.”

The market is at boiling point

However, in this area employers move more slowly than the average candidate, says Fortuin. “I’m seeing a lot of companies taking the approach that worked last year, while the candidate is responding more directly to the available opportunities. The market is at boiling point and is changing on a monthly basis. Particularly the traditional, large players are adapting too slowly to adequately capitalise on these changes. In many cases there is no sound hiring policy, and application procedures take way too long. We deliberate on how to adapt to the market for a long time and then come up with processes to facilitate it all, but by the time we get there, the market has changed again. However, speed is crucial now that there is an imminent threat of talent scarcity. Make sure that your internal processes are in order, and that you’re well prepared when a new candidate turns up. The full application process should take no longer than two to three weeks, or the candidate will no longer be available.”

Hiring process essential

Much will depend on the way a company has designed its hiring process. “Employers who make their candidates feel like they are serious and valued contenders, will be better able to find a suitable professional than the one who promises to call and never does. A service-oriented attitude towards the applicant will become increasingly important. One problem, naturally, is that those in charge in corporate life are on average two generations removed from the new talent applying. So the art for these decision makers is to bridge the generation gap by listening carefully. The current generation really wants something different.”

Companies must be gutsy

Fortuin says the most important thing organisations can do is show some guts. “Job market trend setters are companies that dare to make quick decisions and are able to convert market feedback into action. If you know that a candidate is also in talks with three other employers, you should realise that they are your competition. And that means you have to offer something better. In the coming time, this battle will mainly be played out in the field of contract duration. We’re already increasingly seeing companies offering a six or even a twelve-month contract. When it comes down to it, recruitment is really no different from picking someone up at a party. If you see four other interested parties hanging around your crush, why not offer her a cocktail instead of a glass of wine? That will help you get ahead of your competition. If you don’t, you’re likely to spend the rest of your evening alone.”

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