Now isn’t time to be complacent

Hays Recruitment
Akash Marwaha

By Akash Marwaha, managing director, Hays in Scotland

AT Hays, we’re experiencing a serious disconnect between employers’ expectations and the current reality when recruiting for construction positions.

There are skill shortages emerging across the board, in project management, quantity surveying, civil and mechanical engineering and architecture.

Construction and engineering projects that were previously mothballed are now being dusted off and reinstated. Scottish Government incentives are facilitating new growth in Scotland’s major cities. The Scottish construction market is buoyant.

This means – unlike six or seven years ago – that you’re not likely to be the only employer looking for skilled and experienced staff.

We’re finding that around a quarter of candidates who are offered a new construction position never start it. Why? Because, in no time at all, they’re made a counter offer, either by their existing employer enticing them to stay, or another employer making a better offer.

The market is moving very fast, which means employers need to move fast too to secure the people they need.

We find that many employers don’t sufficiently plan or prioritise the recruitment process. So by the time they get round to calling that very good candidate for a second interview, they find he or she has already been snapped up elsewhere, or persuaded to remain in their current post with an uplift in salary and benefits.

Take it for granted that, for the time being, counter offers will be made.

So what can you do to address this?

First, don’t assume anything. Allocate time to recruitment and make it a priority for this week, not next month. Set aside a couple of days in your diary and arrange up to five interviews on the same day so you can compare candidates. Take some time during the interview to ‘sell’ the company to them.

If you want to make an offer, make sure it’s the best and final offer first time round. Don’t low-ball the offer as back-tracking just makes the candidate think you were never serious about them in the first place, and that they might be undervalued.

Then, don’t wait two weeks for the written offer to be drawn up. All this does is lengthen the time between an offer being made and it being formally accepted, increasing the chances of a counter offer emerging.

If a candidate accepts your offer, call them to say how much you’re looking forward to working with them, and invite them to a ‘meet the team’ event.

Remember, one of the main reasons people remain in jobs is because they don’t want to leave their comfort zone, so help them meet their new colleagues and make new friends either in a social environment, in a one-to-one, or both.

Call them again a few days before their start date. In other words, keep a meaningful dialogue going during their four weeks’ (or more) notice period. During this time they’ll still have a better and more trusted relationship with their current employer, so continue to build the relationship and get them to ‘buy in’ to their new post.

Finally, make sure their office or work station is set up properly for them on their first day and that they get a proper induction period. Now the recession is over, good people are beginning to look around to see what else is out there. They’ll soon realise they can pick and choose. So be smart and fleet-footed to secure the best.