According to a poll I ran on LinkedIn recently, a massive 47% of procurement and supply chain professionals in the construction sector consider themselves to be poor at networking. Most of us acknowledge that networking is time well spent but, as happens with so many things that have a medium- to long-term payback, we then bump it down the list in favour of more immediate demands in our busy day-to-day roles.
So what are the benefits of networking? Is it important to your career development? And how can you efficiently and effectively build, manage and leverage your contacts?
Why networking matters for career development While prioritising activities with more immediate payback is always tempting, effective networking will have a huge impact on your career progression over time. Two core benefits are:
Operational effectiveness - Exposure to alternative techniques and perspectives makes all of us better and more efficient at our jobs.
A strong network can both help you stay abreast of the ever-evolving legislation and regulation that is ubiquitous in construction procurement and can be leveraged to reduce the legwork involved in identifying and sourcing products and suppliers.
Furthermore, while engaging with your network, not only will you often pick up on hidden risks and opportunities relating to different suppliers – for example timeliness, cost and quality but you will also be more likely to sense trends such as imbalances in material availability/demand earlier than you otherwise might.
Career development - While being good at your job makes career progress far easier, who you know is also a significant factor.
Tactical advice on different challenges – from career decisions to issues with managing colleagues, your network will likely have someone who has experienced a similar scenario and is willing to share their insights. The challenge is knowing who to approach and that tends to be a question of developing good personal relations. Many potential issues may not be specific to procurement and supply chain in the construction sector and so there is no harm in building as broad a network as possible.
Sanity and confidence – procurement can be a lonely place. Many teams are small, meaning there is little opportunity to validate how good a job you are doing given the circumstances. Building relationships with colleagues in similar situations with whom you can share experiences can give tremendous confidence.
Career opportunities (internal and external) – the better known you are, the more likely you are to be considered for relevant roles whether that is inside or outside your current organisation.
Different perspectives accelerate learning – even in larger recruitment teams, a group-think mentality can easily emerge. The broader your network, even beyond construction, procurement and supply chain, the more rounded and considered your insights are likely to be.
Does networking impact your career? Yes.
I know that’s a short answer, but it’s black and white. As outlined above, it makes you better at your job and leads to more career opportunities.
So how should you network…
How to network effectively The good news is that although it requires thought, networking isn’t rocket science. The ‘bad’ news is that it takes both time and discipline.
Start by creating a networking strategy and then create a plan to deliver it.
In terms of the strategy think about what you want from your network… mentoring, better information, access to new opportunities, advice on managing situations etc. Which individuals or types of people do you need in your network to achieve that? How are you going to build and maintain relationships with them? And then crucially, how much time can you realistically allocate to networking?
Having thought those ideas through, I suggest developing two parallel networking plans, one to maintain your existing network and the second to add new contacts to it.
Network maintenance– relationships that you nurture most over time will be the ones that you are able to call on most easily and productively. As such it makes sense to segment your contacts.
Grade your network into As, Bs and Cs. ‘A’s are relationships that you want to actively nurture, ‘B’s are ones that aren’t high priority but that you want to maintain, and ‘C’s are passive ones you want to maintain but with minimum effort.
Set yourself targets for each grade. For example, a target for ‘A’s might be at least one conversation per quarter; for ‘B’s one conversation every year plus an interim, personal email; and ‘C’s an email (largely generic but top and tailed) once a year or a generic update every six months. Be realistic about how long it will take to nurture the A & B relationships in particular.
Use broadcast and light touch techniques – LinkedIn and other social media platforms can provide a very effective, light touch approach to maintaining contact. When your post updates do so in a way that encourages your network to engage (for example, ask a question in the post). Make time to scan LinkedIn for content from your network that you can comment on – career moves, articles they’ve written or shared etc. Some of the best networkers also produce a newsletter or article on a regular basis that they share with their contacts – for example, a well written thought leadership or “how to” piece may take time to produce but it can then be shared with a large audience and so the time investment becomes efficient.
Schedule networking time. In my experience, professionals who don’t schedule regular slots for maintaining their networks don’t nurture them effectively. Your networking plan will take time to execute and that will only happen if you schedule it in a way that works for you. Strategies include: dedicating a day to networking every 2-4 weeks; scheduling 10-15 minutes a day in the diary; or having a dedicated networking evening once a week/month. The important thing is to make sure the time doesn’t get bumped.
Be patient. The impact of maintaining your networking won’t be immediately evident but it is an investment for your future that will pay off.
Network building – the broader your network, the more likely it is to support your career aspirations and needs. While your day-to-day work will naturally grow your network, being proactive about growing it may help you add more interesting, insightful, useful and influential people. Attending conferences, awards, drinks evenings, training courses etc can all be great ways of meeting people outside your direct circle.
Set objectives. While simply attending events etc will broaden your network, try to be more strategic by setting yourself the objective of meeting specific individuals, skill sets or experiences.
Plan your networking carefully. Time and money are finite and so consider which networking opportunities will deliver the best results. If you are attending an event, try to secure the attendee list before going to help you identify who you most want to meet. Having done so, research them and potentially message them before the event to try to arrange to meet.
Build your confidence. If you dread going to a room and being sociable with strangers you are not alone - many of us aren’t natural networkers. The good news is that networking is a skill you can learn and by feigning confidence, you will find that your confidence actually grows. Start by developing techniques that will enable you to encourage others to talk while you listen. One such technique is to memorise nine questions on subjects you’d be comfortable discussing before the event you’re attending. For example, three questions to do with the industry (e.g. “what do think is going to happen to prices of xxxxx over the next few years?” or “how are you preparing for xxxxx legislation?”, three to do with the news generally (e.g. “what do you think about [story]”; and three personal ones (e.g. “Have you any exciting holidays planned?”). Studies show that the more people talk about themselves and share their opinions, the more interesting they think you are.
Remember that the bigger and more active your network, the easier networking becomes. Not simply because you become used to it but also because the more events you will be invited to, the more people you will know at those events and the more your network will actively look to stay in touch with you (rather than you needing to contact them). The most successful individuals are great, strategic networkers and while it may look effortless from the outside, that is because they have worked hard to make it automatic.
Although recruitment processes are supposed to sort the wheat from the chaff, it will always be the case that some interviewees come across exceptionally well, while others struggle to give a fair account of themselves. Referencing is one of the most effective ways of getting a picture of a prospective employee’s likely cultural fit and to affirm (or otherwise) the impression of their skills and experience that comes from their CV and interviews.
However, referencing has fallen out of favour. To do it well not only requires time but also skill and experience. There is no doubt that, even with assurances of confidentiality, it is more difficult to persuade people to talk candidly about current and past colleagues than it was 20 years ago. It feels as though the spectre of litigation and social media shaming hangs over every conversation.
It is also unpopular with applicants who can be very jumpy about the idea of someone calling colleagues and asking what they are like to work with, either because the reports may be unfavourable or because they are concerned that it will become general knowledge that they are considering a move.
The flip side is that appointing the wrong candidate can be a damaging, time consuming and expensive mistake. Furthermore, many of the candidates who get edgy about colleagues discovering they are being considered for another role are not serious about moving roles in any case.
If you approach referencing in the right way however the upsides outweigh the downsides. Here are some suggestions that may help:
Don’t rely on the references the candidate provides – candidates will naturally want to provide the strongest impression they can and so will cherry pick the names they give you. The better ones will then brief their references about what to say. Unsurprisingly these individuals are unlikely to offer up any meaningful insights into the candidate’s flaws. Instead identify your own targets.
Use your network and LinkedIn to identify potential references – the procurement and supply chain aspect of the construction industry is fairly niche and it is generally possible to quickly identify the colleagues of applicants who will know what that individual is like to work for, alongside and above. Getting them to answer any meaningful questions can be more challenging but there are techniques that can help (see below).
Manage prospective candidates –as mentioned above, the idea of a prospective employer (or a recruiter) calling a candidate’s contacts can make them (understandably) nervous about engaging with a process. Where possible I like to be upfront with candidates and explain that we often vet candidates by discreetly calling colleagues. I will sometimes offer to tell the candidate in advance who I intend to call and if they have any strong objections to names on the list they can explain what the issue is. Where appropriate I will also explain to the candidate that I will do my best to mask the true purpose of my call. For example, I might tell the reference that I am building a shortlist of candidates to approach for a role and would like their insights into two or three individuals that they’ve worked with. Alternatively, I will sound the reference out about their suitability for the role and then ask whether any of their (former) colleagues might be suitable. It doesn’t always work and sometimes a more direct approach is needed but it is worth trying.
Plan your referencing calls –you willoften only get one shot with each reference so make sure you have planned the call. If you are simply confirming where the candidate worked, when and what they were responsible for then this is a checkbox exercise that will often be referred to HR. However, with a carefully prepared call script, the reference can be used to better understand the candidate’s likely cultural fit, assess their management style, get a third party insight into their achievements etc. Try to phrase questions and conversations so that early in the call the reference gets into the habit of saying ‘yes’ and answering questions, so start with softball questions such as confirming the candidates job title. If the reference won’t talk on the record ask whether, if you were recruiting for them they would want you to qualify candidates in depth and then ask them to speak off the record.
One bad hire can quickly become very disruptive to a team reducing morale, creativity, communication and productivity as well as sowing the seeds of mistrust and division. That extra bit of research can make all the difference.
Some people change job more frequently than they buy a new phone, for others it is a stressful experience and last resort. But are there benefits to changing job that you are unlikely to get from staying put? What are the risks? And can you change jobs too often?
The rewards of changing job
The most obvious reward of changing job is the dramatic uplifts in salary that you can achieve. For example, according to our Salary Surveys of Construction, Infrastructure, FM & M&E Contractors in January 2023 and Housebuilders in July 2023 the average pay rise for those moving company is around 16%, while for those who stayed with their current employer that figure averaged just 6% if they received a pay rise at all (34% didn’t). Based on those averages, if you start on £30k and move jobs three times in six years, your salary rises to £57k, whereas if you stay with one employer and achieve a 6% per year rise that figure is more likely to be around £42.5k*.
The other important reward is career development. Moving company is more likely to result in exposure to new people and processes, and so can accelerate the breadth and depth of your experience compared with sticking with one employer. Furthermore, it is often easier to break free of existing perceptions and responsibilities by moving company as your existing employer may be reluctant to lose the knowledge of systems, structures and processes that make you so effective in your current role.
The risks of changing job
Moving company is, of course, a leap into the relative unknown and so carries a risk. In fact, in a Linkedin poll we ran with our network in July 37% said their biggest career regret was a move they made**. That is not to say that changing roles is unwisely risky – for example: had they not made the move they might have regretted that?; is it that they regretted accepting one offer over another?; and how many decisions to move have they made? 1 bad choice in 4 isn’t bad…
The statistic highlights an important fact though. Interview processes are designed to mitigate risk for the potential employee as well as the employer, so it is important candidates aren’t passive during the process. Don’t avoid asking interviewers difficult questions in the hope it will maximise your chances of securing an offer. Instead, candidates should use each process to interrogate whether the opportunity is the right one for them, an attitude that will also give the employer confidence the candidate is thorough in their approach and that they would be accepting the role with their eyes wide open.
Even with a thorough interview process there will still be unknowns. It may only be once you are immersed in the workplace that you really know if you’ll enjoy the culture and the work; or whether commitments about career progression and professional development are likely to materialise. However, there is also no way of knowing whether if you stay in your existing role promises of change will materialise and the atmosphere will stay as it currently is. In fact there is a commonly cited statistic that 90% of candidates who accept a counter offer from their existing employer leave within a few months in any case.
The next question that unsettles many candidates about moving roles is whether or not they will be up to the job. According to a LinkedIn poll of 162 of our network, 74% of procurement and supply chain professionals suffer from imposter syndrome at least some of the time in their existing role and so the prospect of starting a new role, with stretching career development opportunities and new colleagues has the potential to be terrifying.
In our experience, 95% of the time the person hired for a role is more than capable from day one and they will get better and better as they learn the ropes. The low failure rate of candidates appointed should give those considering a move confidence. Recruitment consultants and hiring managers won’t propose candidates for roles they aren’t suitable for as it damages their reputations. Having proposed them, modern recruitment processes are typically both considered and detailed, and not only sort the wheat from the chaff very effectively but also enable interviewers to compare you with other people considered potentially suitable for the role allowing direct benchmarking.
That is not to say that every job move works out perfectly. Issues of cultural fit, misunderstandings about the scope of roles and required expertise, changes to expected career paths etc do occur. But the majority of job moves work well for both parties and if they don’t, whereas 20 years ago changing job more than twice a decade was considered cause for concern, today two job changes in twelve months is almost never an issue.
Can you change jobs too often?!
Reading the arguments above, it may be tempting to move from company to company every six to eighteen months, however there are downsides to serial job hopping.
Top of the list is that a CV that reads like a directory of construction companies can damage your future ‘hirability’. Typically, it is months before an employee finds their feet and becomes a profit centre rather than a cost, so if an individual has a track record of moving on quickly then employers may question whether it is worth investing time, energy and money in them, especially if there are candidates available who appear to have greater stickability.
A lack of long-term commitment to any employer may also suggest to interviewers and recruiters that a candidate has an issue either delivering against what is asked of them or fitting in with colleagues. In either case hiring managers may start to question whether an individual is really going to be the asset the candidate’s abilities at interview suggest.
Furthermore, while exposure to a broad range of projects, approaches and colleagues can be very valuable, so can aspects associated with becoming embedded in companies and teams. For example, candidates who have spent several years with one employer are more likely to be able to show evidence of persistence when situations become challenging, seeing projects through from start to finish, being accountable for consequences etc.
There isn’t a formula for deciding whether or not to move, but if your current role isn’t making you happy, if you are undervalued or if you cannot see the progression that you feel you are capable of then give me a call.
** In a LinkedIn Poll in June 2023 we asked "What’s you biggest career move regret?”. Of the 176 responses, 37% said a move they’d made, 16% said not accepting a job offer, 11% regretted both making a move and not making one, while 36% have no career regrets.
Firstly, thank you to all the procurement and supply chain professionals who completed our House Builders Salary Survey last month. It shows a market that continues to be very active, with a workforce that is highly valued.
It’s worth noting that the housing market is currently facing tremendous challenges. Increasing interest rates, falling new orders and, more recently, increasing redundancies across procurement and commercial teams are all having a negative impact on the sector.
When considering this backdrop, our salary survey results make even more interesting reading.
The three most interesting statistics highlighted by the House Builders salary survey of procurement and supply chain professionals (PSCPs) were:
PSCPs in house building are better remunerated (salary, car allowance, bonuses, holiday) than those in equivalent roles with Construction, Infrastructure, FM & M&E Contractors. Often significantly!
Only 33% of procurement and supply chain candidates working for housebuilders aren’t considering a move in the year ahead reflecting the salary uplift (average 16%) a move generally triggers.
Flexibility (77%) and job security (50%) were the other two major ‘top 3 factors’ that influence a candidate’s decision whether or not to move in the year ahead. The very high flexibility figure reflects how limited working from home opportunities are in house building compared with those offered to those in the wider economy and even PSCPs working for contractors.
Further insight and analysis into the market
While 66% of respondents received a pay rise (average 6%) in the last twelve months, wage inflation continues to drive a game of musical chairs within the sector with candidates finding on average they can achieve salary increases of 16% by moving company.
Such significant salary increase are clearly a tempting proposition in the face of continuing cost of living increases and, according to our salary survey, only 33% of procurement and supply chain candidates in the housebuilding sector have no intention of looking for a move in the next 12 months (see table below). Comparing this with the contractor sector salary survey we did six months ago, it suggests candidates in housebuilding are more likely to move jobs in the year ahead.
House Builders(July 2023)
Construction, Infrastructure, FM & M&E Contractors(Jan 2023)
Candidates NOT looking for a move in the next 12 months
Candidates unsure if they will look for a move in the next 12 months
Candidates looking for a move in the next 12 months
Candidates citing job security as a top 3 factor when considering a move
Any move is likely to see them stay within the same sector however as buyers, senior buyers and procurement managers in the house building sector earn anywhere from 8% to 29% more than those working in equivalent roles for contractors. Furthermore, they benefit from: superior holiday allowances (32% receive at least 28 days holiday compared with 27% of contractors receiving at least 27 days); better car allowances; and bigger bonuses.
While basic salary is a top 3 factor for 69% of respondents when considering a move, the unsettled nature of the market and increasing occurrences of redundancies I commented on earlier, are likely the reasons 50% of respondents to the house builders survey also cited job security as a top 3 factor when considering a move. This suggests that employers who are able to instil confidence around their business may be able to attract and retain staff without paying the same premiums that less successful or more highly leveraged firms may need to offer.
One aspect of the contractors’ employment arrangements that housebuilders likely envy is the flexibility. “Commute, travel and flexible working” was a top 3 factor for 77% housebuilders considering a move, however 30% of respondents had no home working option, with a further 20% only able to work from home one day a week. In comparison only 16% of contractors had no home working and 7% were limited to a day per week. Employers in the housebuilding sector who are able to offer 2+ days of remote working per week will find it relatively easy to attract talent.
If you would like to discussion any issues relating to recruitment or retention of procurement and supply chain professionals in the construction related industries then please contact me:
My research has dug out surprisingly few robust studies into the impact of communications on the attraction and retention of staff, potentially because it is something that is highly subjective and difficult to measure. However, more than twenty years of recruitment leaves me in no doubt that the way companies communicate both internally and externally has a huge impact on both how easy (aka costly / time consuming) it is to attract new talent and staff turnover.
The importance of communication to attract new staff From the recruitment consultant’s perspective, communication significantly impacts how easy it is to get candidates to engage with an opportunity and then in the ongoing desire of candidates to pursue an opportunity.
Hearing a company’s name will automatically trigger a reaction in prospective candidates’ minds because of their past exposure to that brand from press coverage, word of mouth, advertising etc. This perception is known as the ‘employer brand’. A negative employer brand can make it hard to attract strong candidates to a role to the extent that recruiters will sometimes get the candidate as far through the process as possible before revealing the prospective employer’s name. Companies who nurture their employer brand and put it at the core of their communications typically find it comparatively easy to secure the interest of stronger candidates without paying a premium and recruiters will use the brand name to encourage candidates to engage if the brief allows it.
With candidates engaged, ongoing communication throughout the process becomes important. At the most basic level candidates need timely communication from prospective employers at every stage of the recruitment process. Not only do they need a clear brief about the role but they expect to be told in good time how many stages there will be, what dates interviews will be on, and what format they will take. They also expect timely and meaningful feedback after each interview, as well as ongoing communication until they start in the role if they are offered the position.
However, employers who repeatedly secure the better candidates go much further than this, often working alongside their recruiter(s) to do so. Proactively working on messaging that ‘sells’ both the company and each role to prospective employees can transform the quality of candidate you are able to secure and the compensation package needed to attract them. Think about the company’s strengths and weaknesses compared with competitors and ensure that the recruiter and/or interviewers are sharing how the company is moving forward on these. Listen to candidates’ concerns and ambitions and think about how the opportunity can fit with these.
The importance of communication to retain existing staff Much of this communication addressing organisational strengths and weaknesses, and listening to employees ambitions and concerns around working life and career progression, is also key to retaining staff. Speak with a recruiter and they will explain that if a prospective candidate has issues or doubts with aspects of their current role and there is no conversation with their current employer then, even if they are not already proactively looking for a new role, the door is open for a further conversation. Where the employer is communicating well, a recruiter’s job is much harder.
But communicating well even internally is difficult. Employees are constantly receiving messages from multiple sources (corporate, line manager, the water cooler etc) and what works for or is important to one employee may be entirely unsatisfactory to another.
What is obvious to recruiters is that employees are more likely to be happy when there is a consistent vision that is clearly communicated in a timely manner; when communication is two-way so that employees know that their ideas and opinions are being listened to; and, arguably most importantly, when communication is personalised so individuals have a clear understanding of their role and potential within the organisation. Of course, ironically, the time it is most important to communicate clearly and regularly is when circumstances are challenging, uncertain and fast moving…
Although excellent internal communication doesn’t mean that employees can’t be tempted away, it does make the bar for getting them to consider opportunities elsewhere much higher and mean that they will be open to counter-offers from their existing employer.
So, if you want: • to be attracting high quality candidates without paying a premium then think about your employer brand and help us to ‘sell’ both your company and the role. • us to be helping you to grow your team rather than replace churn then communicate regularly, make sure the messages are clear and consistent, ensure communications are two-ways and think about when to communicate.
All too often I speak with candidates who are starting to despair because recruiters aren’t getting back to them. It could be because their applications appear to be dropping into a black hole; because having registered with one or more recruiters a deafening silence has ensued; or because having started a recruitment process they no longer know where they stand.
There are many possible reasons for these various scenarios but given how important this subject is to those who experience it, I think it’s important to explore the main ones. Part 1 examines what happens once a recruiter receives an application, how we respond at AR Resourcing, possible reasons recruiters aren’t engaging with your applications and things you can try in these scenarios. Part 2 explores what to do if you’re registered with recruiters but are hearing nothing, what to do when a recruitment process goes quiet.
What happens when a recruiter receives an application The process of reviewing applications varies from company to company, however once a recruiter (or a researcher working with them) receives an application they will typically review it to identify how closely it matches the brief. Candidates likely to be suitable for this role, or other roles the company recruits for, will then be added to the CMS (candidate management system – a database of candidates) or, if they are already in the system, their record will be reviewed and updated.
The recruiter will then ensure that the candidate’s profile on the CMS is correctly coded with their skills, experience and ambitions so they should appear for future relevant roles when the database is searched. If the application is promising for any roles that they, or their colleagues, are currently recruiting for then the recruitment consultant or researcher will typically call the applicant to discuss their suitability and ambitions before potentially putting them forward on a shortlist.
Shouldn’t every application get a response?! Each recruitment company has its own policy about responding to applications. Some set up an auto-respond to acknowledge receipt of every application, others may notify unsuccessful candidates once the shortlist has been finalised, others state on the application that if you haven’t heard anything by a certain date that you should assume the application has been unsuccessful, others only ever respond to the most relevant candidates etc.
Irrespective, for junior to mid-level roles, unless you reach interview stage the detail about why your application was unsuccessful is likely to be generic as the economics of recruitment simply do not allow a forensic discussion with every candidate.
AR Resourcing’s policy At AR Resourcing we reply to all candidate applications we receive that are even a moderate fit for the role. However, we will not reply to applications that are entirely unrealistic, for example, because the skills are so far removed from those specified in the job description or because a candidate early on in their career is applying for a director level role… If the pay rise is more than 30% then consider whether the application is a sensible one!
If you would like specific feedback on your application or suitability for a role you are thinking of applying for, then please call us or email the relevant consultant and they’ll be happy to help. While, sadly, the economics of recruitment simply do not allow us to proactively call every candidate and provide a forensic discussion of every application, it is our policy to reply to every call or email asking for more information. Full consultant contact details are provided on our website for each job.
How do you identify the problem if you can’t get feedback?!??!? If you aren’t getting feedback from your applications then it can be tempting to double down on the number of roles you are applying for. This is almost always a mistake. The chances are you will simply repeat any mistakes you might be making, resulting in the same outcome and, as your CV crosses a recruiter’s desk for the third or fourth time, they may start to subconsciously filter out your applications.
Instead, as a first step take some time to consider what you can change. The questions below are a good place to.
• Are you being realistic? A recruiter’s job is to identify the best candidates they can for a role and not, as some candidates think, to put every applicant forward for the role of their dreams irrespective of their suitability. There is also a reason that a job requirement states “10 years’ nuclear experience” or “large infrastructure experience” and recruiters will likely consider applications that don’t match the description as time wasters. Furthermore, if you have been wildly optimistic about your capabilities, recruiters may be concerned about the impact on their credibility of proposing you for roles that do meet your skillset or experience.
• Does your application do you justice? ‘Quality over quantity’ should be everyone’s job hunting mantra. Assuming six to eight candidates have tailored their applications to the job spec then you are unlikely to appear competitive if you submit a generic CV or covering letter, or your application is poorly written.
• Are you targeting the right recruitment companies? A big part of the reason that our clients value our service, is our inch wide, mile deep philosophy – we only recruit for procurement, supply chain and commercial roles for companies operating in construction related industries. Spending two minutes reviewing a recruitment company’s website should tell you if they are a good fit for your skills and aspirations. If they’re not, go to the jobs boards and identify a company that is before applying directly.
• Does the recruiter have a good prospect of placing you? In general, recruiters only get a fee if they successfully place a candidate. The more recruiters you are registered with, the lower their chances are of placing you. Rather than applying for every relevant role you see, identify 1-3 relevant recruiter(s) and send them each one targeted application, potentially referencing other roles they are advertising that interest you. Make them aware you are taking a selective approach and ask to speak with them.
• Is it worth applying speculatively? If your CV doesn’t directly relate to a role the recruitment company is actively working on then the team is unlikely to dedicate time to your job search at that moment. However, assuming your skills and experience are relevant to their specialism, they will likely add you to the CMS so that you will be on their radar for future opportunities. If you want feedback on your CV or the market generally, think about how you word your approach to them carefully, for example making it clear that you would appreciate a chance to discuss the current market and your skills.
• Would going exclusive make a difference? Candidates who offer themselves exclusively to one recruiter for a period of time can find it pays dividends. Exclusivity makes a big difference to that recruiter’s chances of securing the placement and so the recruiter will prioritise your job search. If you do consider this, then agree the length of the exclusivity with the recruiter and speak with them about what they will do in return – i.e. will they proactively contact certain companies? Will they provide a list every week of the companies they’ve approached about you? Etc.
This is the second part of my blog examining why candidates may experience the infuriating situation of recruiters not getting back to them. This part of the blog explores what to do if you’re registered with recruiters but are hearing nothing from them and what to do when a recruitment process goes quiet.
What if you’re registered but recruiters aren’t contacting you about roles If you have registered with a recruitment company but you are not getting opportunities then try a couple of things.
• Speak with one of the recruiters – arrange a call with a recruiter specialising in your sector to set your expectations. Before the call ensure you know what you want to ask – for example: are there many roles out there for your skillset and experience at the moment? is there anything you can do to strengthen your CV? how often should you get in touch with the recruiter going forward or how often will they contact you? when was the last time they placed a candidate with experience similar to yours? Etc
Don’t try to register with multiple recruiters at the same company as they will work as a team, keeping one another informed of active roles, reviewing all candidates on the company CMS and asking one another for recommendations about relevant candidates.
• Be aware of the market – for junior to mid-level roles, keeping an eye on the jobs boards will typically give a good indication of whether or not organisations are currently recruiting for your skillset or experience. If there is activity and you are not getting calls then contact the recruiter(s) you have registered with to ask where your profile is falling short - don’t be satisfied with an answer that there were stronger candidates but push for detail about where your CV was weak etc so that you can look to strengthen it accordingly. If the market is quiet or you are looking for a specialist or senior level role then it is worth emailing your contact at the recruitment company once a month to remind them that you are still looking.
What if you started a process but it has gone quiet? Once you have been shortlisted for a role, you should expect detailed feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of your application, and if relevant, interview(s) as well as updates on progress with the process. Recruiters will typically update you regularly, however sometimes it can go frustratingly quiet all of a sudden. The most common reasons for this are:
• The client isn’t providing the recruiter with the information they need – while the obvious answer would be for the recruiter to tell you that they are waiting for news, sometimes they may not know when they will hear, they don’t want to start a conversation without more information or they don’t want to make the client look bad.
• The recruiter is juggling competing priorities – a recruiter will always be juggling multiple processes and this may mean that they are not able to respond with the detail that they need to provide you with immediately. If you have made contact and not heard anything after 48 hours then chase again. Chasing by phone is not always best – an email will typically trigger an autorespond if they are on holiday. If they are away, then they or a colleague should nonetheless get back to you in a timely fashion.
If you are looking for a new procurement, supply chain or commercial role in the built environment sector then please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 174 6801.
Together with being unrealistic about market rates, a poorly run recruitment process is one of the quickest ways to make your company unattractive to the best candidates. Think of it like inviting someone out on a date, choosing a dinghy bar, then turning up late and being stand-offish, and then not following up afterwards.
The good news is that, according to a Linkedin poll we did last month, if you want to make a good impression, the chances are your competitors are setting the bar low! Of 88 respondents to the question “What percentage of job applications where you've got to interview stage have been well run?”
a staggering 33% answered that fewer than a quarter of processes were well run;
a further 32% said between a quarter and half were well run;
22% said between 50-75% were well run; and
14% said at least three quarters of processes were well run.
10 Tips to run a Good Recruitment Process
Take time to scope the role – changing the job spec during a recruitment process will, at best, make the company look disorganised and indecisive. At worst, and all too commonly, it will end up with the whole process needing to be restarted. Make sure to involve all potential stakeholders in agreeing the required/desired skills and that there is budget ringfenced before starting the recruitment process. Then ensure the correct job description is shared with the recruitment consultant and candidates once it is signed off.
Brief your recruitment consultant thoroughly and listen to their questions and challenges – if your recruitment consultant is to consistently identify relevant candidates then they need to be well briefed. As part of that process, expect them to ask questions either because they want clarification about the role or because they think that the brief would benefit from some changes. For example, if the candidate profile is more prescriptive than necessary that limits the pool of talent unnecessarily. However, if the brief is too vague both you and the recruiter will likely spend hours filtering through irrelevant applications. Currently many hiring managers are finding ongoing wage inflation means they’re needing to either increase budgets or reduce their expectations of the candidate profile for new roles.
Plan your employer value proposition (EVP)and how to sell this opportunity to candidates – while salary is typically the most important consideration for candidates it is far from the only one. Hiring managers should carefully consider the wider benefits and opportunities around each role such as career progression, team culture, the company commitment to sustainability, remote working opportunities etc. When salaries are broadly aligned, as is often the case, the impact of these softer benefits and the way they are sold can make a huge difference to offer-acceptance rates.
Plan the application process – a disorganised or drawn-out recruitment process will often result in the best candidates accepting offers elsewhere before your process finishes. Plan the recruitment process from start to finish and try to keep it as condensed as possible - some companies are offering within two weeks of advertising a role. Key to running a condensed process is ensuring a clear timeline internally e.g. the date candidate approaches will start or the job advert will go live; the date applications will close; when interviewers will receive candidate applications to review prior to interview; time blocked out for first and second round interviews in the diaries of everyone who needs to be involved before an offer is made etc. Communicating time frames for initial responses, first round and second round interviews to applicants also helps to keep better candidates engaged.
Train staff on how to interview – a candidate’s rapport with interviewers is often the most important factor in their decision as to whether they want to progress with a process or not. And while some people are naturally good interviewers, others benefit significantly from training. When the roles they are interviewing for have a plentiful supply of candidates the way they reflect on the company may matter less but for roles where quality candidates are scarce it is an investment worth considering.
Brief the interviewers – investing time to ensure that each interview is structured and with clear objectives both makes it easier to identify the better candidates and reduces the need for additional interviews that draw out the recruitment process. Each interviewer should understand how their interview will dovetail with previous and future ones as well as having a brief detailing what they are supposed to be probing with the candidate, for example specific technical skills, cultural fit, ability to communicate under pressure etc. Ensuring that interviewers have the candidate’s CV in plenty of time and have been debriefed about previous interviews is also key. Hiring managers should also ensure that candidates, especially if they ask, know the format and expected content of the interview so they can prepare as much as possible and approach the session in the right mindset.
Prioritise debriefing – too often interviewers don’t prioritise debriefing colleagues thoroughly or in a timely manner after interviews. If debriefing isn’t done promptly, it can lead to interviewers’ memories becoming less clear but even more importantly it can slow down the interview process; result in interviews revisiting ground already covered with candidates; make it more likely the candidates aren’t challenged as thoroughly as they should be on their weaknesses; and lead to stronger candidates not standing out as much as they should.
Feedback to recruiters about each candidate after each interview – successful or not, candidates value and deserve feedback. Successful candidates will often have concerns about their fit for a role and feedback from the interview is often a crucial part in keeping them engaged in the process and encouraging discussion around any concerns to see if these can be resolved. For unsuccessful candidates, the feedback is important to help them understand how they can improve or where the fit wasn’t quite right. While there may appear to be little direct benefit to the employer in spending time providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates not only is it courteous to applicant who has invested time in the process, but also it can damage the company’s reputation as an employer if they don’t. There is a further benefit in that the feedback also helps the recruiter deliver you a better service going forward as they can assess how well they are matching the brief and targeting suitable candidates.
Offer promptlyand within the stated salary range for the role – there is rarely a good reason not to get a role signed off before the final interviews are complete. Being able to offer quickly after the final interview minimises the chances that a candidate is going to accept elsewhere and makes a considerable difference to securing your preferred candidate as they know you are confident, they are right for the role. When making the offer ensure that it’s in line with (or above) the figure originally advertised/ discussed, or the candidate is likely to feel insulted or deceived.
Keep in contact with the candidate – once the preferred candidate has accepted the recruitment process is NOT over. At graduate level, around two thirds of candidates would renege on an offer they’d already accepted if they found something better. At a more senior level those numbers are lower but it is nonetheless common. In order to minimise the chances of having to start a recruitment process again stay in touch with the successful candidate regularly between acceptance and their start date. It needn’t be time consuming. For example, drop them an email updating them on company performance, ask them if they have any further questions before they start, and/or invite them to join their team for drinks.
Running a good recruitment process isn’t rocket science but it takes planning and discipline and requires everyone involved to buy into the importance of sticking to the process. However, the benefits far outweigh the effort required.
If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: email@example.com or call 0330 174 6801.
From contractors to engineering giants, many businesses in the construction sector are feeling the squeeze as a result of rising material and labour costs. Some are even making redundancies as they anticipate cash flow issues or reduced demand ahead.
If you have already been made redundant, believe you may need to find a new job soon or are worried about your career progression then the good news is that the long term planning and delivery timescales which are fundamental to our industry mean there are still opportunities out there for those who set about their search in the right way.
Here are our top tips for finding a role in a job market that is somewhat slower than it was a year ago.
Start looking early – the good news is that hiring managers across the construction sector are, for the moment, complaining of a shortage of good procurement and commercial candidates. However, with fewer roles available than a year ago there is more competition and the earlier you start your job hunt, the more selective you can afford to be about which opportunities to pursue and the less pressure you are likely to feel at interview.
Be targeted - don’t panic apply! – this is probably the most important point in this blog. Faced with the prospect of being jobless or with dwindling cash reserves it can be tempting to start applying for any vaguely suitable role advertised. DON’T. A bulk-application approach to job hunting will generally actually reduce your chances of getting a job so take a quality over quantity approach. Here’s why:
Most candidates who go on an application blitz don’t make the effort to tailor their CV and covering letter for each opportunity. Applications tailored to a specific job are far more likely to be shortlisted by the recruiter or hiring manager as they generally fit the job description more obviously and better than a generic CV used to apply for multiple roles.
The second issue with bulk applications is that the more recruiters/ employers you are involved with, the lower their chances of being the person who places you and so the less interesting you will be to each of them.
The most successful approach for the majority of candidates is to select between one and three recruitment companies that specialise in relevant roles and then run your job hunt exclusively through them. Choose wisely and the company/ies you choose will cover a significant proportion of roles on the market and the recruiter(s) will work proactively on your behalf.
Focus on your responsibilities AND achievements – on your CV further to listing your responsibilities you should articulate the impact you made in each role i.e. your achievements. At interview you will be expected to explain how you approached various challenges, why you chose your approach, the impact you made and any lessons you learned.
Redundancy – if you are made redundant then make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities. There are plenty of useful resources available, for example: https://www.gov.uk/redundancy-your-rights but don’t forget to review the detail of your contract, the redundancy process and any settlement agreement your employer offers. For example, some settlement agreements may be dependent on you not having an alternative offer of employment at that time or may try to preclude you from working for certain other employers for a period after you leave. Get it right and you may get paid twice! Get it wrong and it is easy to end up with a headache.
Don’t apply if you don’t have the skills – while there may be a shortage of candidates in many of the construction related industries it is important to be realistic when applying for roles. Recruiters are not going to risk their relationships with their clients by putting forward overly-optimistic candidates and one speculative application can taint perceptions of a candidate with that recruitment company.
If there is a role you are particularly interested in and your application would have some merit without being an ideal fit, then call the recruiter directly to discuss your potential.
Be patient and stay positive – it is important to be realistic about how long it takes to find a new job, the number of unsuccessful applications you are likely to make before you get an offer and how much time you are likely to need to invest in your job hunt.
Even at the best of times it takes anywhere from a few weeks to six months to find a new role according to different surveys. Many applications will get no feedback, some may not even be acknowledged. There will be gaps between being shortlisted and interviews, between first and second rounds etc.
And the process is likely to involve plenty of rejection. After all, for each candidate hired there will likely be a further five candidates who were interviewed but unsuccessful, and potentially dozens more who applied and didn’t even get an interview. Working with a recruitment company can help you get feedback on your applications and give you the confidence not to panic apply.
To keep your confidence high, keep a note of your greatest career achievements and your testimonials. To keep a sense of control over the job hunt make sure you keep a note of each job you apply for, when you applied, how you applied and the date of the next stage.
Don’t limit your options unnecessarily –with the market tighter than it was 12 months ago, the less prescriptive you are in your search the more likely you are to find something. Similarly, think hard before turning down a role because in the hope that an alternative role may materialise.
If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 174 6801.
This year we will be publishing four Salary Surveys and two Industry Moves Trends reports analysing remuneration for procurement and supply chain roles across the construction related industries.
While the Salary Surveys can be used on their own as a tool to benchmark salaries and improve retention, when that information is combined with our new Industry Moves Trends report, companies have a valuable tool to help them understand the cost of hiring new talent.
The publication schedule for these reports is:
Industry Move Trends report
Salary Survey focusing on Construction, Infrastructure, FM & ME Contractors
Salary Survey focusing on House Builders
Industry Move Trends report
Salary Survey focusing on Engineering
Salary Survey focusing on Public Sector
About our Salary Surveys – an excellent retention tool
Our salary surveys are conducted online and are open to any UK employee currently working in the UK in the relevant industry, i.e. for this Construction, Infrastructure, FM & ME Contractors report we had 196 respondents all working for Construction, Infrastructure, FM & ME Contractors in the UK.
Each of the salary surveys will be divided into five sections: Basic Salary, Car & Car Allowance, Performance Bonus, Other Benefits, and Future Plans. The basic salary figures are broken down into lower quartile, median and upper quartile salaries by job title for the specific sector of the industry covered.
Employers will find the survey an exceptionally useful tool when working out how much they need to pay staff to retain them in a market where there is a shortage of talent.
About our Industry Move Trends Report – understand your hiring costs
The purpose of the Industry Move Trends Report is to understand how much a prospective employer is likely to have to offer above an employee’s existing basic salary in order to persuade them to make a move. We do this by analysing placements we have made in recent months. The report is divided into two sections looking at our:
5 most recent placements for Procurement Managers and Supply Chain Managers; and
10 most recent placements for Senior Buyers and Buyers.
NB - All placements detailed in this report are from permanently employed candidates moving from one industry competitor to another between July 2022 and December 2022.
A summary analysis of the results from the Q1 Salary Survey and Industry Moves Trends reports
As hiring managers across the country will tell you, there remains a shortage of qualified, experienced procurement and supply chain candidates in the UK construction related industries and this is driving up salaries across the board.
According to the Q1 salary survey covering construction, infrastructure and FM & M&E contractors, 66% or respondents had received a pay rise in the last 12 months. Depending on the role that rise was typically between 5% and 7%.
While these rises may seem significant and be applying pressure to company wage bills, they are nonetheless falling short of inflation. They are also very modest compared with the rises we have seen achieved by procurement and supply chain managers in the construction industries who have moved role in the last six months. The average rise in basic (calculated using the last five procurement, supply chain, category managers we placed with new employers) was a massive 21% compared with their previous role. For the last ten buyers, senior buyers, category buyers we placed that figure was 17%.
We expect wage inflation to be more modest in the year ahead, however companies will continue to find back filling roles with like-for-like candidates an expensive exercise. As such, employers who want to manage their wage bills should focus on three things:
be realistic about the calibre of candidate needed for individual roles – not every role needs a top quartile candidate for the company to thrive. The difference in basic salary between a lower quartile and upper quartile candidate can be over 25%;
proactively deliver the strongest possible Employee Value Proposition – while salary matters other factors that impact quality of life and career prospects continue to grow in importance so ensure prospective candidates know your strengths; and
consider taking on less experienced but high potential candidates – while unproven individuals may require more rigorous interviewing and, initially, a little more mentoring, they will also typically be ambitious, hard-working, grateful for the opportunity you give them and comparatively cheap. They can also be a good way of pushing your internal high performers to achieve their potential.
While the spectre of COVID-19 still lingers, UK businesses have settled into a “new normal” and, as was the case pre-2020, there is an expectation from the overwhelming majority of employers in the construction industries that candidates will interview in person either throughout or at some point during the hiring process.
Comments from employers in recent months suggest that some less experienced candidates feel ill at ease interviewing in person compared with via Teams while even some experienced candidates are a touch rusty as a result of reduced face-to-face contact over the last couple of years. So here are our “five ‘P’s and two ‘Q’s of face-to-face interviewing” to help you show the best of yourself and really understand whether you will be a good fit with the potential employer.
Punctuality – there is more scope for being late when interviewing face-to-face compared with logging into a virtual interview room. Prepare your route, read any notes the recruiter or employer has given you and allow a margin of error considering the possibilities of road works, train strikes, peak traffic hours, parking restrictions, even finding the right office in an industrial estate of identical looking units...
It sounds obvious but it is happening more often than you would imagine both to experienced candidates and those starting out in their careers. Arriving late not only looks bad but also typically results in the candidate starting the interview stressed and underperforming as a result.
Practice –following two years of restricted face-to-face contact not only have some people unconsciously developed new mannerisms, behaviours and traits but many of us are simply not quite as at ease as we were in a formal setting such as an interview. Particularly if you have been working remotely a lot, then a dummy interview with a friend or recruiter can go a long way to helping candidates enter the interview room with confidence.
Presentation – first impressions count so don’t leave it to the morning of your interview to check your favoured outfit still fits and is clean. Stand tall on arrival and, being mindful of COVID, offer a firm handshake. During the interview sit up straight, keep your hands on your lap or on the desk without fidgeting and maintain eye contact with the interviewer(s). Feel free to take time to consider your answers before responding but make sure that you answer clearly, concisely and in a way that relates to the question.
Preparation – investing time preparing for each interview makes a dramatic impact to the likelihood of getting an offer. Start by reviewing the job description, then read up about the company (browse their website and recent news articles). Next review your covering letter, CV and LinkedIn profile thinking how the skills, experience and responsibilities the company is looking for dovetail with your experience. Employers will expect you to talk about not only what you have done but also the impact you made personally. If you have gaps on your CV or discrepancies between your CV and LinkedIn profile then expect the interviewer to ask you about them.
Good recruiters (and we include ourselves in that category) will prepare every candidate for every interview often by video or telephone. Make sure you prepare for this call and challenge your recruiter’s knowledge about the role, company, attendees, and interview process - they should be able to offer more specific insights than you will glean from the company’s website or a generic job description… This call can also be a good opportunity to practice a dummy interview as mentioned above.
Priorities – while demonstrating that you are the most capable person for the role is the most important goal, be prepared to discuss your salary expectations, flexible working, career progression etc. should the interviewer ask you about your priorities. Remember it is called a “salary negotiation” for a reason and so consider trade-offs you would be happy to make and as well as your red lines.
Questions from your interviewer(s) –further to the traditional questions interviewers have been asking for years, in recent months many have started asking questions relating to candidate perceptions of remote and flexible working as well as the issue of staff returning / not returning to offices. The interviewer may be looking to understand whether your vision dovetails with the company’s, or for ideas about how to manage these going forward as companies are often still finding their ways on such issues.
Questions for your interviewer(s) – interviewing is a two-way process and you should take the opportunity to ensure the company and role are the right fit for you as well as you being the right fit for them. While some of your list of questions will doubtless relate to your priorities (as discussed) above, you should also think of less transactional ones that will help you understand the company’s culture, corporate aspirations and vision, management style, current financial performance etc. If these issues come up naturally during the conversation or it feels inappropriate to ask them at the time then skip over them, however when candidates do not have any questions it can make them appear unprepared and generally less interested than they are in reality either making them less attractive to potential employers, or weakening their negotiating position.
We’ve created three candidate guides (“Starting your search”, “Managing your interview”, and “Managing your resignation”) to support you through your job hunt from start to finish. To download these guides please visit: https://www.arresourcing.com/insights/
Since 2015, demand for skills across the construction sectors has exceeded the availability of qualified candidates and driven rampant salary inflation. Even comparing placements we made during the last six months with the previous six months, like for like basic salaries are up anywhere from 8% to 37% with an average of 18%.
Unsurprisingly many candidates want to ensure that they realise their value while the market is hot and the game of musical chairs continues. For employers this undoubtedly provides a headache but here are some thoughts on how to approach the challenge.
Make the decision to leave tough!
Employee value proposition has become a buzz phrase in HR circles in recent years, highlighting that companies have a range of tools beyond money to attract and retain staff. While financial remuneration is often a central factor in a candidate’s decision to stay or to move, it is not the only one. Job satisfaction, happiness at work and work-life balance also have significant impacts.
Improved technologies and the remote working ‘experiment’ enforced by the pandemic have reimagined what is possible in terms of flexible working. As a result employees’ work-life balance hopes and expectations have also shifted. Many assign a significant premium to roles that are able to accommodate working patterns that dovetail around their lifestyles and other commitments. Listening to which aspects of flexible working really matter to each employee and prospective employee can make a huge difference both to attraction and retention.
While flexible working policies have changed significantly in recent years, most companies have long recognised the importance job satisfaction plays in retaining staff. Employers providing employees with a defined career path, clear performance metrics and support to assist their professional growth certainly experience less attrition than their competitors. However, a factor that many employers undervalue is the role that a forward-thinking social and environmental commitment can make. In the battle between conscience and wallet, ethics are in the ascendancy.
Employees who are happy at work, are far less likely to move companies and while a strong company purpose and sense of job satisfaction contribute to this so do positive relationships and friendships with colleagues. A clearly defined and proactively nurtured company culture often make a tremendous impact to improving these social bonds.
In short, the happier and more satisfied employees are at work, the greater the gap will need to be between what they are currently paid and what they are being offered for competitors to successfully attract staff away. However, salaries continue to change fast and so it is important to benchmark them annually if not every six months.
However good a company’s employee value proposition, some attrition is inevitable and losing a team member always causes a degree of disruption. While this may normally be an inconvenience, the amount of time spent recruiting and training up new staff as a result of the current volumes of resignations can cause genuine problems as can the loss of tacit knowledge.
Counter-offers can be used to help spread out the resignations and so dilute the challenges that the great resignation may otherwise create. Successful counter-offering is an article in itself, however the key is to understand the full range of reasons why an employee wants to leave and to convince them that you will address those issues better than their other suitor(s). It can also be useful to highlight aspects of their current position that they enjoy but which the new role might not be able to match.
Plan for their exit
Irrespective of whether or not a counter-offer is successfully made if the employee is important to the smooth and effective running of their team then plan for their exit. The need to do this even if they decide to stay is reflected in the fact that 90% of employees who accept a counter-offer leave within 12 months in any case.
If the counter-offer was successful then consider how to minimise disruption should the employee decide to leave in the coming months. This will likely be a two pronged approach. The first element should be to encourage them to share their tacit knowledge and involve colleagues in their key relationships to maximise continuity should they later leave. The second element will be succession planning. For example, identifying and grooming internal candidates ready to step into the position and also scoping the market externally so that there is a longlist of candidates ready to approach should they resign again.
If the company chooses not to try to keep the individual or the counter-offer is unsuccessful, then start to recruit their replacement immediately to minimise the period of disruption, condensing normal timeframes to reflect how critical their role is. Assuming that there isn’t an internal candidate suitable to step into their shoes, then consider dividing the role among other members of the team while the employee is still in place. Not only will this help to retain their tacit knowledge but by identifying which internal and external stakeholders are likely to be most affected by the individual leaving it may be possible to transition those relationships before the employee departs.
If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: email@example.com or call 07795 148 182.
The challenge of finding good staff has consistently been a ‘top three issue’ for pretty much every CEO in the construction sector for the last 20 years or more. Unsurprisingly management and HR teams are constantly wondering whether they can and should be recruiting better. But what does ‘better’ mean? How can recruitment success be evaluated? What are the pros and cons of different metrics? And given the shortcomings of recruitment evaluation is it even worth doing? (The answer is ‘yes’ and I will explain why at the end of this article)
What does ‘better recruitment’ mean?
‘Better recruitment’ will mean different things to different companies – some will want to reduce cost, others will want vacancies filled faster and others will want to attract ‘better’ candidates (an even more subjective concept). Whatever the company’s recruitment objectives, the first steps to improving performance are 1) to agree targets, 2) to determine metrics to enable you to measure against those targets, and then 3) to understand current levels of performance.
How is recruitment success measured?
Metrics used to measure recruitment success can generally be divided into three categories: cost, efficiency and quality. However, simply measuring one aspect of recruitment performance is likely to be counter-productive and companies will typically build a dashboard of metrics covering all three areas.
Sadly, there is no one size fits all answer to measuring recruitment. Not only will the most appropriate metrics to use vary depending on the role, but what may constitute a good score or ratio for one role may be quite different to the next depending on seniority, function, location etc.
In other words evaluating recruitment isn’t a science that should dictate recruitment strategy. Instead, a considered dashboard of metrics applied to the right roles and then analysed with judgement, typically delivers the best results.
‘Cost per hire’ is probably the easiest and most common way to evaluate recruitment. The metric can be as simple as simply identifying all financial costs (recruiter fees, advertising fees, applicant tracking software costs, psychometric testing costs, referral checks, vetting costs etc) and dividing that by the total number of hires for the same period. Most companies will also attribute a cost to the internal time spent on the recruitment process as well as adding in training and onboarding cost to get a more accurate figure of the true cost.
At an organisational level, and especially for small to mid-size companies, cost per hire can feel like a blunt tool due to the number of variables involved and the likelihood of a single role distorting the wider picture. However, using ‘cost per hire’ in a more targeted manner can be very informative, for example calculating cost per hire for graduate intakes can be helpful as you will be comparing like for like, year on year and very often there will be specific costs attributable to the graduate intake programme such as university careers fairs.
The most important aspects of using ‘cost per hire’ are consistently including/excluding the same costs, and then comparing like for like, for example counting, or not, contractors as hires.
There are various metrics that can be used to assess the efficiency of hiring processes. For example, ratios of ‘applications to interview’ (number of applications % number of interviews), ‘interviews to hire’ (number of candidates a hiring manager needs to interview to make a hire) and ‘offer to acceptance’ (percentage of candidates who accept a formal offer) all help build up a picture of how efficient and effective the recruitment process is. Typically, so long as the candidate quality at the end of the process is high the company should be looking to minimise the ‘offer to acceptance’ and ‘interviews to hire ratios’. Ideally the ‘applications to interview’ ratio should also be low, however it may be necessary to increase it if the quality of the candidates is low.
One interesting exercise is to identify where candidates drop out of the process. Starting with the ‘application drop-off rate’ (used to compare the number of candidates that complete the application form compared to the number who start the process) identify pinch-points in the process through to offer acceptance or even candidates starting to understand where candidates decide to leave the process.
Counter intuitive as it might seem so long as the quality of the candidates making it to interview is high then a ‘high application drop-off rate’ is often good as less time is spent filtering applications to decide who to interview. As the process progresses however, the company should be aware of the number of candidates that it deems suitable who drop out of their own accord, for example because they have accepted an offer elsewhere, as this may indicate bottlenecks in the recruitment process.
‘Time to hire’ is another useful ratio but again can be calculated in different ways. Most employers calculate it as days from the moment the job is advertised but the end date may be when an offer is made, accepted or the person starts. From the candidate’s perspective what matters is the time between submitting their application and the offer or start date. Either way the longer companies draw-out application and interview processes, the fewer strong candidates are likely to remain available by the end of the process resulting in lost talent, wasted time and, in all likelihood, a weaker applicant being appointed.
Quality of hire
Quality of hire is in many ways the Holy Grail for recruitment evaluation – most companies would happily swallow a 10% increase in recruitment costs if all their hires were as good as the top 25% of employees. But how can you measure quality?
Performance reviews: while measuring ‘quality of hire’ through performance reviews would seem an easy and obvious solution it is highly subjective. For example, some managers are much harder to please than others so will consistently score recruitment success lower. Hiring manager satisfaction suffers from the same subjectivity. Furthermore, it typically takes 3+ years before employees are fully embedded into a company and know the systems, processes and people well enough to achieve their full potential.
Ranking scores for employees: asking colleagues to score one another can smooth over some of the subjectivity that come from performance reviews, however it can also be a measure of popularity rather than effectiveness. For example, a candidate who is brought in to implement a restructuring programme may be very effective but not score highly.
Length of tenure: assessing how long an employee stays with the company can also provide an insight into whether or not they were a good hire. Certainly, the money spent on an employee who stays with the company for ten years is going to appear a better investment than one who stays less than twelve months. However, not only can this metric only be calculated retrospectively but length of tenure may be the result of the employee value proposition more than the result of the recruitment process or the result of the candidate being unable to find a job elsewhere.
Even if a company successfully measures quality of hire, it is then hard to untangle what makes those hires stand out and replicate the success… a recruiter’s skills of persuasion? identification of a specific talent pool? the thought hiring managers put into their interviews? speed or professionalism of the hiring process? Specific training or experience the candidate had? The answer is likely to be an indecipherable combination of factors.
What is the point in evaluating recruitment success?
There is no magic bullet that will drive ‘better’ recruitment but by measuring what we perceive to be key steps through the recruitment process, companies are at least able to compare performance either historically or against expectations and to adjust, refine and replicate processes appropriately. Furthermore, using the right metrics will make sure that the hidden costs of recruitment don’t get forgotten or brushed over.
In short evaluating recruitment success is crucial not only to having confidence in how well the function is performing but also to setting budgets and strategy.
If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 174 6801.
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