Keeping Selection Standards High in a Candidate-Scarce Labour Market

I was talking to the owner of a small Chartered Accounting business last week who told me that they were so desperately short staffed that they would “literally take on anybody” who applied for their vacant accountant role.

A few days before, a Practice Manager in a larger accounting firm asked for a refund on the Part/Non-Qualified Accountant test he had purchased as their candidate refused to complete it, citing the multiple job offers he had elsewhere from firms with lesser recruitment standards.

For those of us who have been around the block a few times and seen previous employment cycles where scarce candidates seem to call the shots, juggling a robust selection decision with choosy candidates is just another day in the challenges of management. However, for people less familiar or comfortable with a situation that’s showing no signs of changing anytime soon, here’s a guide for landing great selection decisions in a tough job market:

Remember – You’re a professional services business

In a world where your hard won clients increasingly expect your staff to be trusted business advisors, how do you suppose they would react to the news that you are dropping the standards of the professionals in your team?

The relief for you and your team of getting to fill that long-standing vacancy is likely to be short-lived once the time, cost and frustration of rework, unhappy clients, exasperated staff questioning your ability to hire and demotivated recruits failing in their first week on the job starts to take hold.

So, if you’re not willing to lower your professional standards, how do you sell candidate testing and assessment to scarce, choosy candidates?

Make the testing & assessment all about them

When candidates are weighing up which business they should accept an offer from, what are they likely to value?

Career progression? A salary that matches their skills and experience? Early opportunities to work with key clients and prove their worth? Training, coaching and development to address current shortfalls or concerns?

Isn’t that exactly what you can offer to candidates who complete your candidate assessment? How else will you identify how to make this next step on their career path a rewarding experience?

This is especially true of small/medium sized businesses which can be much more nimble in playing new recruits to their existing and emerging strengths than larger less agile businesses, so make sure you yell the opportunities from the rooftops in your job ads to get ahead of the pack.

If they don’t complete the assessment, it’s all going to be a drawn-out series of trial and error, rather than a targeted process that benefits the candidate as much as the business.

That’s why you want them to complete the personality questionnaire, ability, and skills tests.

If they still refuse, what don’t they want you to know? Are you better off with an empty chair for a while longer?

Article written by Steve Evans.