Building a Talent Pipeline

When you’ve been hiring for as long as I have, you remember the days of newspaper ads and Rolodexes. Whether it be in HR or IT, the search for the right person started with some ink and a few phone calls. While this may sound dated now, the fact is that most Canadian businesses haven’t moved on from the “advertise and apply” model set decades ago. Canadian employees, particularly in the field of architecture, have changed their expectations but hiring strategies have remained anchored in the past, only experiencing gradual change over the years.

We are at the tipping point but most companies that are hiring will still place a job ad and wait for applications. It is not a particularly proactive process. They wait, create a short list, conduct interviews and then select the best candidate from a small group. This is common across all sectors of our economy. Even in the field of architecture half of Canadian employers are still relying on generic job boards as the first step in their hiring process. 50 per cent still go through the motions of posting a job on a generic job board despite a woeful five per cent success rate.

This reliance on job boards is particularly interesting when, compared with employees from other sectors, architecture professionals have the highest expectations around proactive outreach: 93 per cent want to be contacted directly about potential roles instead of having to search and apply. Networking reigns supreme in the field of architecture but 50 per cent of employers are still relying on job boards as their first step in the hiring process. Job boards may be cost effective in the short term but are they really delivering the best results?

I’m not surprised people are using job boards despite not seeing results. They are affordable, accessible and easy but, when 78 per cent of employees in architecture expect to get their next job through a relationship-based process such at networking, referral or recruitment, employers need to start fishing where the fish are. Employers who continue with the “advertise and apply” model will struggle to compete for talent.

“Job boards are one way to reach a larger audience but we have developed a process to deal with volume. We are a smaller, niche business competing for screen space against more well-known brands. We craft our posts to ensure our culture and workplace message is delivered. We have also established a strong screening process around culture before we ever ask about technical skills,” says Steve Titus, president and CEO of engineering firm Aerocoustics. “Being more strategic means we can immediately identify candidates in the pool that are actually interested in being part of our team rather than just responding to a job post.”

What can you do to stay ahead in your field?

#1. Build a “talent pipeline”

You wouldn’t start building a house without months of planning, design and permits. Likewise, you shouldn’t start hiring without first creating a solid foundation to build upon. Finding the best people for your company means looking and engaging, even when you aren’t in hiring mode. You need to create a talent pipeline, engaging with potential candidates on an ongoing basis. Historically, this was done on a one-to-one basis, but now social media and other tools can help a company build trusted relationships with large groups of potential candidates every day. This is particularly important in the field of architecture where 59 per cent of job seekers already have a target list of companies they want to work for. To get on that list, you need to stay top of mind and communicate your company’s advantages every opportunity you have. This way, when there is a job available, you have already grown your talent pipeline, nurturing your relationships with potential candidates along the way.

#2. Proactively connect with candidates

Today’s booming economy means that most employees are spoiled for choice in the job market. They recognize their value and are going to go with companies that are actively courting them. As our report reveals, this is particularly true in the field of architecture where 93 per cent of employees prefer to be contacted about roles.

They want you to come to them and, to do this you need to harness the most powerful resource you have: people. By establishing relationships and maintaining a network of potential talent, you ensure that you have an engaged talent pool to tap into when you are hiring. Whether this is accomplished internally or through a recruitment service, this needs to be at the core of your company’s approach to hiring. Being proactive will deliver stronger results.

#3. Increase success with technology

Technology has drastically changed the field of architecture over the years. Why hasn’t your recruiting strategy benefitted from the tech tools at your disposal as well? Adoption of updated tech is still the most overlooked method for making the recruitment process cheaper, faster, and more effective. The best companies see technology as a tool for sourcing, direct engagement, and intelligent screening. Those industry leaders are investing in updated hiring technologies to help with problem solving and improve efficiency.

#4. Reach the right people

Investing the time and expanding your approach to new sourcing channels and tools will ultimately lead to a larger, more engaged pool of candidates to pick from and better results. Employers tell us that the best candidates come from referrals and their own internal or external recruiters. Companies that want to find the best can diversity their hiring searches by reaching out to recruiters, advertising with membership associations in your field, and navigating niche job boards. General job boards will reach a lot of people, but they won’t give you the expert staff that you need.

“Finding the right people is the first challenge but keeping them long term is the second. Even though we are competing for talent against bigger companies, our investments in career and leadership development, coaching and generally empowering people to succeed not only attracts people but it retains them,” says Titus.

While the right job can change a person’s life, the opposite is equally true: the right person can transform a business. Pairing new technology with human interaction and proactive candidate sourcing is the best way to find the right person and to make your business competitive. Shortcuts can be shortsighted. The best candidate for your role has a wealth of job choice in this climate. They are going to go with who finds them first and who offers them the best option. Make sure it’s you.

Rowan O’Grady is president Hays Canada and has over 20 years of experience in the recruitment industry in Canada, the U.K. and Ireland. His in-depth and personal experience of permanent recruitment, contract staffing, MSP and RPO has been gained across industries including financial services, technology, engineering and construction. Rowan is a leading voice in the areas of recruitment, careers and the job market in Canada, regularly publishing market reports, whitepapers and thought leading insights. He comments regularly in the media on how to compete for and retain talent in today’s competitive marketplace.



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