THE most common mistake companies make in recruitment is not creating a proper person specification to detail what skills or personal attributes you are looking for, how these can be demonstrated in the applicant, and how you are going to get this information.
My experience is that 80% of bad hires come back to the specification being wrong or not clear enough.
In sourcing candidates, it is particularly important to devote enough time, energy and money to finding appropriate applicants.
To be successful in a tight applicant market you need to cast a wide net, particularly in relation to hard to find skills areas such as engineers and toolmakers. If this is not done you can play around with insufficient efforts for a long time and in the end waste more money than you save.
A wide variety of search avenues is available including current employee contacts, which can be a rich source of candidates. Other avenues include relevant industry magazines, capital city dailies and local newspapers, and specialist recruitment websites.It is important to stay consistently in the market with advertising. To obtain the necessary skills in a tight labour market can easily require a minimum of four advertisements at selected intervals.
You should also be prepared to meet or slightly exceed the market price where there is a tight applicant field, and to devote sufficient time to the recruitment task to facilitate a successful outcome.
Once the person is on board the old rule about people making their mind up about a company on the first day is worth keeping in mind. Make the induction process interesting and welcoming, and allocate someone who can buddy them and look after them in their early days.
Ensuring a training program that meets current and projected needs requires careful thought about the company’s strategy for the future and what skills will be needed to assist in meeting objectives.
Once this is defined, the hard work needs to go into developing or sourcing training programs that can deliver these skills. For specific skills, this can often mean developing internal people as trainers because these skills could be difficult and/or expensive to source externally.
Time needs to be invested in this, which means an increase in direct hours, as both the trainer and the trainee will have reduced efficiency in the short term. This won’t happen unless the business accepts this requirement, budgets for it, and takes the time to justify the expense by identifying the reasons for undertaking an appropriate training program.
One or two day training courses offered for specific hard skills can be very useful, but similar training courses for soft skills are often a waste of time. Once back on the job, it is a very rare supervisor who is able to employ the new leadership technique that the guru was talking about on the second day after lunch.
Soft skills training requires changes in behaviour that are delivered through consistent training programs for both leaders and followers, backed up by coaching and reinforcement on the job to deliver real change.
Clever coaching can be more effective than training for soft skills. If facilitated well, a program involving small work area groups will often deliver as much in communication and teamwork skills as it will in efficiency-related outcomes.
Recruitment and training are areas that businesses often don’t allocate enough time or resources to. In both areas you can sometimes get away with a minimum level of expertise, activity and success. On the other hand, properly planned and managed recruitment and training activities can deliver a real competitive advantage.
* Greg Puttick is general manager of Sydney-based human resources service provider EL Blue.