Friday, 13 February 2009

Recruiting talent: how do we evolve ?

Do UK Employers Recruit Talent ?
I spoke this morning with a very well informed, amenable and approachable local recruitment agency manager, Steve Prichard of Adecco Harrow.

In the first instance I wanted to find out whether local employers had changed much in their recruitment practice. The hope is that UK plc moves away from the "I want 25 year-old dolly birds" or the "I only want people who have 10 years experience in this role" approach, to one where candidates are assessed on talent and their ability to make a significant contribution.

Employment Legislation Leads, Culture & Process Will Follow When ?
Cutting to the chase, it appears that UK law now prohibits recruitment on the basis of experience alone! This is great news, because an element of talent spotting must now take place. But as we know, corporate and high street culture can take years, decades even before change becomes real.

Testing for Talent
We've all seen the Alan Sugar high-visibility approach to talent recruitment on The Apprentice. Several weeks of in-depth testing seem a better test of a candidate than a "self-certified" CV and a silver-tongued candidate. It was fascinating to see, though, that MPs on Question Time still didn't get the reasons why people have to make claims on their CVs just to get past the gatekeepers and into contention. It is because so few companies give the opportunity for talent, hard work and commitment to shine through a lack of past experience in a particular role.

Employer Education & Change Programme
What is needed, in short order to accelerate the pace of cultural change, is government backing for an Employer Membership scheme, that showcases employers who adopt a "Talent Testing" approach to recruitment.

This can be a voluntary scheme, with self-certifiable elements, but with mandatory verification by candidates who both pass and fail employer recruitment procedures.

What "The Apprentice" highlights is the need for excellent decision making, and more often than not this is based on personal values. It is this aspect of each role that employers should test, either formally or informally.

Risk and Reward
Yes, this is a bigger overhead for recruiting processes, but are the rewards not worth it ? Recruitment satisfaction levels are, I understand, only at 42%. But it would appear that this is because employers only get what they are asking for, and it relates to the effort they put in (or don't) to finding talented staff.

The Law Has Changed, Who Will Seize the Opportunity ?
Changing the law always brings opportunities. Health & Safety personnel in this country have a product and knowledge set they can export anywhere in the world, and improve safety conditions wherever they go. Does UK plc have the talent who can seize on the opportunity to make real cultural change in employment practice, and improve the overall performance of UK plc ?

Business Innovation & Strategy Ltd plans talks with Harrow Council about the extent to which the council can adopt and support such schemes. A sister community site, Working World will shortly publish some of the guidelines that employers can sign up for.

Quiet Time is Time to Innovate, Who Will Be the Advocates ?
When turnover is quiet, it can often be a good time to decide how to bring in new practice which will take a lead in a particular market. There are opportunities here for employers and recruitment agencies to enhance their reputation, but numbers of advocates are needed to spread the word and to engage with local authorities.

Anyone who might want to be part of such a change can comment on this blog, leaving contact details. Constructive suggestions and comments are also always welcome !

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