Finders, seekers 2/2

Published:  23 August, 2011

“Recruitment is back on their radar,” Mr Smith states. If a merchant decides they want to use an employment agency, a headhunter or a consultant, they should give that organisation the time to gather all the information that they can, he points out. “Companies want more face-to-face meetings these days,” he says.

“Companies should take recruitment seriously,” says Mr Smith. “If you only give a recruitment consultant five minutes’ of you time, they will have to get really lucky to recruit the kind of people you want.

“Companies also need to make sure that their interview processes are thorough and that they allow enough time to explain their culture to a recruitment agency.

“Merchants need to emphasise their style, company culture, their plans and their objectives. That way, both the recruitment agency and the candidates can buy into the journey.”

“Candidates always have a choice,” he points out. “That is why the person who is representing your company in an interview needs to make sure that the interview is projecting the right image for the business and that it clearly explains the company’s culture and its future plans. Otherwise, an employer could be missing an opportunity to secure a candidate they might not want to lose.”

The biggest problem facing the employer, he stresses, is where to get their pool of candidates from. “There has been so much movement within the industry, the bar has been raised a few notches,” Mr Smith says.

Employers seeking to secure a good candidate should act quickly and they should ensure that the offer and documentation letters are signed, sealed and delivered promptly. “You also need to make sure that the exit meetings go through smoothly and that there are no counter offers,” he recommends. “The human resources department of an organisation should be on top of their game.”

“Merchants’ line managers and their HR departments should be working closely together.” Companies cannot afford to be complacent.

“Many companies are already aware of the shortages within the existing talent pool. They say they are willing to take people from outside of the merchant industry, provided that they have the right attributes, the hunger and the enthusiasm. This is the first time in many years that we have heard this particular message,” Mr Smith says. “The building industry doesn’t have a sexy image. It hasn’t held too much appeal for the high-flying graduates that the industry needs.”

The fact that employers are willing to cast their net into a wider area will bring new blood to the industry and that, says Mr Smith, offers a very healthy outlook for the market as a whole. The secret of getting a job in the construction sector these days lies in what you can do now, not what you have done in the past.

“There is finally a realisation that an individual does not have to come from a competitor in order to be successful in a new role,” says Steve Rogan, managing director of Pinnacle Consulting. This is the only way forward, he believes. “Unless people are prepared to acknowledge that it is all about the individual, rather than what they have done, the selection of candidates will come to a full stop.”

Candidates should be looking to learn new skills to meet the demands of the marketplace, he advises. “When the sector was booming, an individual could be very successful on the back of the buoyant market. These days, the individual must be prepared to adapt, to embrace change and a different way of working,” he says.

Like Jeff Hulme, Mr Rogan says the rise of renewables is playing an active part in the market. “It’s an area into which many companies are moving and they want to buy in the skilled people with which to take it forward. “Eighteen months ago, when people left a job, they were not automatically being replaced. That is starting to ease up now as more companies realise that although the marketplace may be tough, without people on the ground, it will be a lot tougher.”

Employers are changing their attitudes. “Good clients are prepared to be more flexible in terms of individuals’ backgrounds.” Mr Rogan states. “They are keen to bring in people with fresh ideas –not necessarily with specific market experience, as they may have insisted on in the past.”

Pinnacle, Mr Rogan says, prefers to interview all its candidates face-to-face. “A CV is one thing, but people come in all different shapes, sizes and back- grounds. And, many people these days have their CVs written professionally. So, someone who appears exceptional on paper, may be very different in the flesh.

“The building products recruitment sector is going to get a lot tougher,” Mr Rogan believes. “So many people have left the industry over the last two years that if employers are not prepared to take on new blood and to train then, we will find that we are all fishing in a dwindling pool.”

The article first appeared in the June issue of Builders' Merchants News.

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