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Myth of shortage of skilled workers (Part 2)

After I pointed out in the last article about the danger of the self-fulfilling prophecy regarding the shortage of skilled workers belief, today, we look at how talents are won in a highly competitive market – despite the lack of skilled workers.

The good news is that while supply is tight, the willingness to switch remains high. According to EY’s job study, 48 percent of employees show interest in changing employers. To learn how to keep your best people from looking elsewhere, read the next blog post.
First, let’s look at how you attract the suitable candidates.

Basically, there are many channels and a seemingly endless list of measures. I am not talking about employer branding, benefits or process elements but about increasing the attractiveness of individual positions and ways to create capacity. I’m more about a general view here, especially for hard-to-find, highly skilled roles.

The intensive examination of the vacancy is the basis of all recruiting work

It is essential that the recruiting team is thoroughly aware of each function and the situation of the colleagues and makes sure that all backgrounds and challenges in the daily work of the role are known. If recruiters are only superficially familiar with the content aspects, recruiting will not add value and recruiting measures will fall flat. Generalities, truisms, and empty phrases are counterproductive and tend to scare people away.

Game Changer

Especially for "self-explanatory" roles, (tax consulting, certified scrum master or ophthalmologist, etc.) a differentiated job description can work wonders, because every new hire is different, as the context is constantly changing, e.g. strategic goals, company culture, team set-up. Those in these roles are explicitly looking for more advanced information to consider changing jobs and will turn to where it can be found.

I’m a big advocate of well-founded role profiles and thoughtful job descriptions. The more intensively the manager and recruiter engage with the opportunity, the more concise the USP becomes, i.e. what makes the job exciting for a specific target group. The energy invested here pays for itself many times over in the course of events. You find the right people faster, spend less time in unqualified interviews, get on a more personal level with the candidates, and shorten decision cycles. Employees find it easier to recommend colleagues if they have something more to go on than just buzzwords.

Based on a sophisticated job description, a convincing job advertisement can then be developed depending on the channel, e.g. for employee referral programs, active sourcing, headhunter briefings, social media, and the classic job portals.
Even if there are only a few potential candidates on the relevant platforms, it is advisable to roll out the red carpet for the “might be interested” and searchers and to make the application process as convenient as possible. After all, opportunity makes applicants. I’ve often seen people who weren’t even planning to look for a new job, but who, through a spontaneous “take a look,” came across a job posting that stood out from the general blah-blah so much that they just wanted to give it a try.

7 recruiting hacks to make individual roles more attractive

Here are a few tricks on how to make positions so fascinating that potential dream candidates can’t resist and how to attract the right professionals.

Recruiting Hack 1: Storytelling and Hero's Journey

Whether in a personal interview, on the career page, or in the job posting. Content is King; Context is Queen. And as most people know, the king needs the queen and vice versa; they belong together.

Context in this case means that each role is embedded in an overall construct. People like to be part of something meaningful and experience their self-efficacy. Not just something bigger, but something personally important to them. Some call it Purpose, but I don’t want to go that far. In a company, it is unlikely that everyone will be able to live out their life purpose. However, their own work should still generate visible added value.

Content means that both the description of the organization and the individual roles reflect meaningful content, not just the usual empty buzzwords.

I like to use the elements of Vogler’s Hero’s Journey when working out the story of the company along with the organization. Questions I ask myself are, for example, what adventure is ahead, what are challenges, who are companions and allies? Who (in business also often what) are the adversaries (e.g. lack of IT infrastructure), what are the mentors and role models? (We want to be like Spotify or we want to be like Amazon, but friendlier, ), what are the trials and crossroads? What weapons (methods and skills) are needed? What does the new world look like in the future?

Once these questions are answered for the overall company, this can be broken down to the individual roles. I am aware that creating job descriptions is a tedious and unpopular task. I don’t encounter a lot of love when I ask executives to revise them. Why invest time in something that’s already there? But by working on the meta-level with a practical connection to actual everyday life, different descriptions of what is factually needed often emerge. In the end, ultimately new aspects are brought to light that make the job unique and desirable – for the target group. Managers discover a new enthusiasm, as this work makes their leadership work much easier. The courageous develop a team task out of it, which has incredible team-building power. When creating role profiles for freshly minted colleagues, their own relevance in the team becomes clear. Team members learn that heroes and heroines look diverse and are all equally important. Each and everyone counts and winning can only be done together.

Questions that are answered are: Why is this one role so indispensable to the big picture? What would be missing if this position didn’t exist? I like to work with the Job Role Canvas.

Sometimes it takes looping through the works council, but they are usually pleasantly surprised and happy to agree to the changes. The job doesn’t change, but the context and in-depth content makes it more understandable and attractive.

Recruiting Hack 2: Concentrate on the essentials instead of a one fits all ("eierlegende Wollmilchsau")
When positions are cut for budget reasons, people often try to combine profiles: The technical expert, who should also do the admin and support. Of course, also the decision paper for the board may not be missing. Project management on a global level is of obvious importance. In German language we call this the egg milk wool producing pig. The actual expert, who would bring the appropriate qualifications, will not apply for it, because it is pretty clear that one cannot become successful in this job. Those who are available have not understood the job and the challenges and disqualify themselves from the outset.

There’s a pinch of loving biting in here again. Nevertheless, it shows why the pipeline is not filling up with suitable candidates.

The most crucial thing in a job posting is coherence. Sometimes everything is described in just a few points because the rest follows from that. Again, the Hero’s Journey and the Role Design Canvas help here. What exactly is it about, what is to be achieved and why. What added value is to be achieved? Why is which competence necessary? What can someone with a university degree do better than someone with only an apprenticeship? Why exactly is team spirit needed? How are communication skills used? The fact that a salesperson should be good at selling doesn’t need to be mentioned. But what exactly does selling look like in this role? When does selling start and where does it end? How is quality measured in sales?

Recruiting Hack 3: Post expert roles with challenging objectives instead of rigid job descriptions
Job descriptions are a marketing tool, not a fact sheet, where every little thing has to be accounted for. Unfortunately, often job descriptions that are used for evaluation are advertised in precisely the same way.

Tasks are constantly changing and have no place in a job posting. What goals are set and how are these intentions related to the purposes of the team and the entire organization? What should be different after a year in the role or continue to be ensured under what conditions? How do you know you are successful in the job? What does a good result look like and what does a very good outcome look like? How do general conditions determine the scope?

The meta-level goals give meaning to the role. To be compelling, you need a concrete connection to everyday life. What is important is what is to be achieved. Instead of “create reports” instead “ensure transparency and decision basis through regular reporting”.

Recruiting Hack 4: Increase visibility of job potential
Beware of awkward wording and a dry list of tasks that no one likes. I've often seen the most fantastic jobs read like a punishment. Outdated, uncharitable, muddled. There is usually a focus on what is needed and the list of requirements is longer than the job description. Put the candidate in the center, not your own needs. Every job includes dream job components for the best match. By that I don't mean general benefits, but very explicitly, what makes the job a dream job.

Regardless of the channel, team leaders and recruiters are well served if they have specific job advantages down pat.

From the outside, it is often impossible to tell what opportunities and potential the job offers and for whom the job is suitable. Does it hold a stepping stone to a new career level (more than other jobs), does the job lead to high visibility in the company, How much self-realization and creativity is possible? What outstanding personalities are worked with? Does the job allow me to integrate family, hobby and horse well into my working life?
The answers are often not conscious, but explicit mentioning will increase the attractiveness and the willingness to change significantly.

Recruiting Hack 5: Part-time and job sharing

In the discussion about headcounts, team leaders are often put on the spot when part-time employees apply. A change in thinking is needed here.
Experienced professionals may prefer a relaxed routine, little overtime, without losing their importance. They bring immense added value to the company with their trained eye and confident manner.
The market is full of people who think along these lines and are willing to take on new challenges even at an advanced age. But under different conditions. Formulating this publicly opens up an unimagined market share.

In the next post, I’ll talk more about the internal opportunities of how to shape part-time jobs and generation-friendly structures.

Recruiting Hack 6: Peanuts and Monkeys

Salary is a hygiene factor and remains among the essential criteria for a new job. Salaries have changed drastically in recent years, whether you feel it is fair and reasonable or not. It is what it is. It’s an old adage, if you pay too little, you get poor quality. In simpler terms, if you buy cheap, you buy twice. Then not only one person is needed, but others have to compensate for the lack of fit.

I know that collective agreements often do not allow for more money or that existing team salary structures are being broken up. Consider that not just the salaries have changed, but also the roles themselves. They have generally either become much more complex (e.g., through an increased level of communication and coordination) or much simpler (e.g., through automation).

If a roll was last evaluated five years ago, it is certainly no longer up to date. Often, a new evaluation can change the tariff group to which the role belongs.
The team structure must also be re-evaluated in such cases. Fair employers also pay for an expanded role over the years, not just the usual 2% a year.

Those who lure whopping pay increases once you’re on board and acclimated usually pay a high price. Newcomers notice very quickly how the cat jumps and draw the appropriate consequences. Either they go straight to the competition or adjust their performance to the pay. If they stay with the company, cynicism and mistrust often spread, which has a negative impact on the entire team.

Recruiting Hack 7 : The right KPIs for better results.

The number of candidates in the pipeline is still one of the most popular metrics in recruiting. Unfortunately, it often only shows inefficiency, but not quality. Ideally, you have an application and a dream match and a decision that takes only a few days from receipt of the documents to signing the contract. A full pipeline is usually more indicative of a run-of-the-mill job posting, with everything and nothing applying, and an inefficient process where candidates bob along for too long.

But better metrics and valuable insights include Days in Workflow (as few as possible), When do most drop out and why, How many new hires are promoted over the next two years. How is the Candidate Experience, i.e. the satisfaction of the candidates in the process (e.g. through an automated survey).

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