Graham Birkenhead, August 12 2021

Why would anyone ever work for YOU?

Unemployment figures continue to improve; we have a little way to go before we are back to pre-pandemic levels, but we are moving in the right direction.   Currently, unemployment in Canada is 7.5% (1.5m) and in the US it is 5.4% (10m).  These figures will include people who are ‘looking’ for work; they won’t include the people who could work but for various reasons have chosen not to – and that includes the disillusioned, the early (than originally planned) retirees; it also excludes part-time or underemployed. 

In theory, there should be more than enough people to fill the vacant positions - in Canada 7.9% (553,500) of jobs are unfilled and in US the figure is 6% (9million). 

If only it were straight forward to put the people looking for work in the work that was available.  The reasons why that doesn't happen are many and complex.  And, a recent Business Insider report indicated that only 10% of ‘unemployed’ are urgently looking for work, with 2 of the major contributors to hesitation to return to the workplace being cited as fear of covid, and childcare costs. 

We are hearing a frequent call from many companies that “we can't find people”; but also we hear from potential employees about how difficult it is to find work and how demoralising the job application process is. Many of the issues that people and companies are experiencing existed before the pandemic, but seem to be exacerbated now. 

When I look at job ads, it is apparent that many companies are really not helping themselves.  So, here are a few thoughts that you might like to build into your recruiting process: 

Have a recruiting process. Recruiting (in general) is not quick and it’s not easy.  Identifying a person who is going to become a crucial and valuable member of your team takes an investment of time, energy, and emotion - for both parties.  Commit to it and do it well and thoroughly – let your applicants feel that recruitment is important to you and that you are not just making it up as you go along.

Remember you are recruiting a person - not a resource. Interact with them accordingly - the response you get will reflect that. Many candidates don't even get a simple acknowledgement when they send in an application - other communication doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the company; so why would they want to work there anyway - or be a customer in future!

Be clear about what you are asking of them - it's not just a job, it is a place where they will invest a considerable chunk of their lives.  What will they be helping to build?  What responsibilities will they assume? What challenges will they face?   How will they give their best?

Be clear about what you are offering them - not just the salary, beyond a certain point that becomes less important.  Do you have an inspiring vision of what you are doing and where you are going as a company?  What's important to you - your values, your ethics?  What will you do for the person rather than what you want them to do for you:  personal and professional development, challenge and reward, fun.

Give them an opportunity to explain or demonstrate why they are the best candidate, or at least to show their potential.  If you give people a checklist, they will check off the items on the list.   If you want hundreds of half-hearted applications that all look the same that people have sent in because they have to play the numbers game, then go ahead and create a job ad that looks like all the others. And, you will have hundreds of resumes to work through spending a matter of seconds on each because that is all you can afford - or you may even get a computer to do it for you.  You may miss many good people in the noise. Many applicants don't do themselves any favours either - but that is a topic for another blog.

 A good recruitment and application process brings out the best in candidates and brings in the best candidates. 


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Written by

Graham Birkenhead


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