How to recruit in 2024

How to recruit in 2024

While 2023 had been tough for many businesses, there is cause for optimism in 2024. Here’s what you need to know.

The story of 2023 actually really began in 2020, when many ambitious people were cooped up in a stagnant Covid lockdown, unable to properly execute their plans. In 2021, when restrictions loosened, we entered a period of great optimism, big plans and, as a result, growth in businesses both large and small.

There was huge demand for talent. But, by and large, this demand was offset by a workforce that was less optimistic and actually quite nervous about moving anywhere. Many potential candidates were less inclined to take risks, choosing instead to stay within their existing roles as we came out of lockdown.

Fast forward to the end of 2022 and businesses were once again dealing with a series of macroeconomic issues — the Covid hangover, Brexit, the conflict in Ukraine — which were all having an adverse impact on the marketing sector.

The big tech platforms, so long in “expansion mode”, saw an opportunity to restructure and streamline. This trend has now filtered down to the rest of the media marketplace, with lay-offs and redundancies commonplace. Having “over-hired”, the market was now “over-firing”.

Now, while 2023 had been an incredibly tough year, especially at the senior end of the market, there are signs of cautious optimism around how businesses are looking at talent and the skillsets that will be required moving forward.

The reality for 2024: kindness required

There is no doubt that in the current economic climate, this is an employer’s market. Competition for roles is fierce and it’s important for employers to remain mindful of the situation jobseekers find themselves in.

Jobseekers have a core challenge: the ease of applying for a job online. It’s too easy to post a job, too easy to apply. Four Stars Recruitment recently posted a role on a headline business platform and received 60 CVs. Not one of those applications was sent to a client; they just were not relevant at all. It was people from different industries hitting the “easy apply” button.

We frequently speak to frustrated candidates who think they are losing at the outset, when they are fighting in a tide of erroneous applications alongside fierce competition from legitimate candidates, because employers and recruiters are not taking the time to pipeline candidates or showing the basic courtesy of feedback.

A best-practice checklist for employers

What can employers do to help the industry continue moving forward and present itself in the best possible light in these more challenging times?

>> Quick, clear feedback can help candidates understand, adapt and improve.

>> Enable candidates to manage multiple conversations effectively and realise where their best endeavours may lie for future applications.

>> Transparency over salary ranges can help streamline the candidate pool.

>> If using automation to screen CVs, automate a polite decline and be clear that the CV hasn’t passed.

>> Feedback and updates during the interview process — don’t leave candidates without responses.

>> Encourage candidates who qualify for an interview to come to the office at every opportunity. Quick video calls rarely give people enough time to build a relationship and bond.

While recognising all businesses are striving to work harder in this area and protect their company reputation, several posts from eminent personalities in the recruitment industry have alluded to substandard behaviour from employers. For example, leaving applicants in the lurch (“ghosting”) at sometimes significantly advanced stages of the process. It tends to always come back to companies going silent when they decide to end an interview process or not even acknowledging an initial application.

The recruitment process is an ad for your business

Finding a job can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. Whether as recruiters or employers, it is our duty to make the experience as positive as possible. Treating candidates with kindness and respect should be our top priority.

From the initial application through to interviews and decisions, every interaction presents an opportunity to reassure and support. Although the hiring process demands efficiency, simple actions such as active listening, words of encouragement and empathetic responses remind candidates of their inherent worth.

The rewards of consideration are immense. Not only does it build goodwill, but it fosters an environment where candidates can perform at their best, leading to better hiring outcomes. By infusing individualism and compassion into recruiting, we uplift promising talent and affirm our shared humanity.

Steve Doyle is director at Four Stars Recruitment

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