What is your plan B?

What is your plan b?

Even after the interview process is finished, it’s a fact of recruitment life that recruiters won’t always find the right candidate for the job. However, if you have a good plan b in place for this scenario you can hit the ground running and still fill the vacancy.

A contingency plan or a ‘Plan B’ is always important in recruitment, because no matter how perfect the candidate, there are lots of variables that can come into play which can scupper the deal.

“Recruitment is all about people,” says Eleni Young, consultant at the Finance into Funds division of Morgan McKinley, “and whether you are dealing with an employer or a potential job seeker, people are never straightforward. As recruiters, we try so hard to control the recruitment process, but there are always spanners that can be thrown into the works.”

So let’s look at some disaster scenarios and consider what alternative strategies could help turn the situation around.


A candidate turns down an offer

Having gone through the whole recruitment and interview process, only for the candidate to pull out once the offer has been made is probably one of the most frustrating scenarios a recruiter, and recruiting company, can face. So what’s next?

“In this situation, I find it can be really useful to have briefed additional candidates in advance who were also suitable for the role,” says Young. “They can then be drafted in for interview, saving the time and energy for revisiting the entire recruitment process.”

Judith Armatage of Recruiter Hub says before doing anything in this scenario, it’s important to uncover the real reason behind the decision. “This information can prove critical in getting it right next time,” she says.


Lack of suitably skilled/experienced candidates

One of the key things to check here is whether the low response rate is because the person being sought does not actually exist. Is the amount of skill and experience being requested actually unrealistic? Are the requirements too stringent on non-mandatory qualifications? Is the manager from the recruiting company trying to recruit someone too much like themselves or the previous employee?

“Apart from asking if we are being realistic, we also need to look at perhaps widening the pool from which we recruit,” advises Armatage. “For example, do we need to look overseas or from an under-represented group? It’s also worth looking at some less used sources, such as using an employee referral scheme. If you are an in-house recruiter, then it may be time to bring in the services of a recruitment consultancy, whether that is on a contingency basis or search and selection. If you are a recruitment consultant, then perhaps you need to adopt a headhunting or selection approach.”

Another potential cause of poor calibre candidates is salary, according to Lisa Holmes, IT recruitment director at Assured Recruitment Solutions. “The many variables that influence the right salary can throw the recruitment plan out of the window,” she says.

Salary depends on a number of factors, such as location, while a minor change in market conditions or demand for a particular position can shift expectations: “Upon further research you may find the market is slightly different than first thought and it doesn’t quite align to what your client is expecting,” explains Holmes. “So go back to the client and talk it through, either correctly align the salary or realign the job spec as appropriate.”


New recruits leaving

This is one of the legendary recruitment nightmares. A few weeks into their new job, something goes wrong and the employer is back to square one, as is the candidate.

“In this kind of scenario we need to act quickly and review the whole process,” says Armatage. “We need to ask ourselves whether we under or over-sold the role, the opportunity and the company. How effective was induction? Did we deliver what we promised? Were we blinded by tunnel vision during interview and offer stage?

“I have seen one manager who has recruited and lost more staff over a six-year period than most of the other managers put together. Perhaps if they had taken the time to reflect on their recruiting decisions and acted with humility, they would have identified that there was a common denominator. Remember, getting recruitment wrong is bad for the company, staff, manager and the candidate.”

Having a strategy in place to identify any issues quickly will not only speed up the new drive for the perfect candidate, but also help to restore the faith and trust of the recruiter company, which is also essential to a successful outcome.

“A backup plan always relies on the age old cliche of ‘thinking outside of the box’ and being a bit different,”concludes Young. “But if you want to think outside the box, you need to take the lid off first!”

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