Published on Friday, May 25, 2018

Struggling to recruit good quality candidates? Here are some tips

Finding travel talent has never been more difficult - and it will get harder, says Philip Price, founder of employer review company

"I recently visited a well-known travel business in London that is struggling to recruit suitable candidates for good, permanent well-paid jobs.

They had been recruiting directly using LinkedIn and free job boards to find candidates. For two roles, they arranged nine interviews but only two candidates actually turned up.

Quite understandably, they wondered what exactly was going on.

Well, actually, quite a lot. We are currently in a period of very low unemployment and the recruitment market has been transformed over the past five years. Candidates do not behave in the way that you and I did when we were starting out in our careers.

Low unemployment
Simply put, it's a buyer's market. The number of adults in work as a proportion of the UK population is at its highest point since records began in 1971 (ONS).

The travel and leisure industry reportedly accounts for one in 10 jobs in the UK, so we are bound to be finding it harder to recruit than we did even five years ago.

Also, the travel industry is very reliant on EU workers and many have been reluctant to come here since the Brexit vote. We also know that when Brexit is finally completed, it will reduce the available market considerably. It's going to get even harder to attract talented people.

Transformed industry
Gone are the days of placing an advert in the recruitment pages of the travel journals or business magazines. Today, most business is online.

Job boards like LinkedIn and Reed, plus industry specialist boards, take the majority of all recruitment spend in the UK. Job seekers can search from thousands of ads, and unlike a press ad, online job posts get buried over time making it extremely hard for your role to stand out from the crowd.

Job seekers today see themselves, not the employer, as the most important part of the process. The entitled generation know that another similar role will always be available. If they have an interview booked and, for some reason, don't fancy attending, they do not feel the need to let the employer know.

Here are five simple tips to help you recruit positively in this challenging environment:

1. Recruit from within. Employee recommendations are an inexpensive and valuable source of talent. Currently only 9% of UK recruitment ad spend is allocated to staff recommendation schemes. If you don't have one, set up an incentive scheme to allow staff to easily recommend other staff members for a role. The average cost of recruitment ads in the UK is around £350 per role, while the average incentive scheme is £200 per successful hire.

2. Develop your employer brand. A recent WorkAdvisor study shows that for millennials, the most important factor in deciding whether to apply for a role is not salary or location, but the employer's reputation. So, offer a competitive benefits package and manage your reputation.
Workplace review sites like WorkAdvisor are increasingly becoming the first point of call in a candidate's journey, so encourage your staff to post positive reviews and address any issues from negative reviews. Also, create a brilliant careers page that describes your employer proposition and include staff testimonials.

3. Use a professional to advertise your roles. You need to be up- o-speed on the technical nature of the job boards and be able to write exceptional job descriptions and job ads that really sell your business and the role itself. There are companies that can do this for you and even filter CVs and load CVs to your system.

4. Nurture candidates. When you have a candidate, make sure you treat them with respect and as an individual. Many recruiters use email to arrange interviews, but I would advise against this. It is essential that you or your agency talk to candidates personally; this creates a bond, allows them to ask questions and significantly increases interview attendance rates.

5. Develop a pipeline of talent. Larger companies in our industry are slowly getting their heads round the Apprentice Levy and working with education providers to develop good industry schemes. But for small and medium-sized companies it's not so easy.
However, there are some reasonable travel agent and tourism apprentice schemes available and, as an employer, you can select your own candidates.

I also advise lobbying your local Further Education college to offer an existing travel and tourism scheme or develop your own. Most importantly, invest in training and development."

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