How can your hiring plans get derailed?

It appears that employers across all industry sectors are regaining the confidence to hire, as the economy improves and opportunities for growth emerge. At the same time, 49 per cent of HR directors say voluntary turnover is increasing - with professionals applying for new jobs at different organisations.

Seemingly, employees are responding to increased role availability by targeting new jobs - a recent study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 24 per cent of employees in the private and voluntary sectors, and 23 per cent in the public sector are looking for a new role.

Employers are actively looking for new recruits, and professionals are applying for these advertised roles. So what exactly is the problem? Alas, the hiring process does not always run smoothly. One of any number of issues has the potential to hamper organisations' attempts to take on new employees - here are some of the common barriers to recruiting a candidate with the requisite skills and experience:

  • Budget constraints

The economy may be growing again, but some business leaders are adopting a wait-and-see approach as far as recruitment goes, particularly those running small enterprises. As the British Chambers of Commerce reported recently, many start-up businesses and small enterprises are still struggling to access the credit they need to commit to expansion plans - and naturally this is impacting on recruitment activity.

According to a Robert Half study, 67 per cent of finance leaders within small and medium-sized enterprises would increase their company headcount if they had improved access to lending. Some 86 per cent of respondents thought the increased availability of finance would help reduce unemployment levels overall in the UK.

  • Lack of skilled candidates

In a study conducted by Sage, 12 per cent of European employers (eight per cent in the UK) said a shortage of suitably skilled candidates was hampering their hiring plans. But in some industries - such as financial services - this problem is particularly acute. Some 89 per cent of Robert Half survey respondents said it was either 'very challenging' or 'somewhat challenging' to find people with the level of competence required by their organisation.

Meanwhile, a separate CIPD study found that 75 per cent of organisations had experienced difficulties recruiting suitably-equipped employees. In 72 per cent of cases, this was due to a lack of specialist or technical skills in their immediate locality.

  • Too many unsuitable applicants

Employers may be receiving applications from people who can add value to their organisation, but it can be difficult to 'sort the wheat from the chaff'. This is because of the sheer volume of applications employers receive for some jobs - particularly during periods of high general unemployment. If an employer receives hundreds of CVs for every position, how can they give each and every one the attention it requires.

In the CIPD's Resourcing and Talent Planning survey, almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of employers surveyed said they had seen a rise in the number of applications from people who are clearly not equipped to perform in the advertised role. The upshot is that HR professionals are wasting valuable time looking through their applications.

  • Selecting the best candidate

Sometimes it can be difficult to choose the right candidate - as in the person who is the best-fit for the organisation and job in question. Being the best performer at interview certainly helps when applying for a role, but this can be misleading in some situations - hiring managers sometimes need to look beyond the fancy presentation.

When candidates deliver super-polished, prepared answers to interview questions, is it simply because they are impressive in the interview scenario? Or is there substance to back up the style. Equally, hiring managers must consider whether other viable candidates - who performed less well under the spotlight - simply had an off-day at interview, or seemingly have difficulties coping under pressure.

  • Delays in the process

In some instances, employers take so long to get to the interview stage that the candidates they invite have already found employment with another organisation. Ultimately, this means the hiring manager is left with a smaller pool of potential candidates to choose from or in some cases, may have to go back to square one to identify additional contenders.

To mitigate this risk, employers should ensure they are fully organised and ready to recruit before they advertise the role. A hiring manager should have been identified to oversee the recruitment, and key decision makers within the organisation should be involved form the outset. Hiring budgets need to be approved at the start, and the employer must have a clear idea of what they are looking for in the chosen candidate.

  • Preferred candidate rejects role

Sometimes, after deciding upon a preferred candidate, the job offer will be rejected. This could be because the individual is unhappy with the terms of employment proposed by the hiring manager, or because their existing employer has made an attractive counter-offer in a bid to keep them on board. With the majority of UK firms concerned about losing top performers, the prevalence of counter-offers is anticipated to remain steady, if not increase.

Research suggests pay remains a key issue for employers, with salary frequently cited as being the main reason professionals look for a new job. However, other factors such as working hours, location, and benefits could lead an applicant to change their mind. For instance, they may be eager to take the job, but having spoken to their family, decide they are unwilling to relocate.

  • Using recruiters to improve your chances

Partnering with a recruitment agency may improve an organisation's chances of hiring someone with the necessary skills and experience, at an appropriate rate of pay. Recruiters have specialist knowledge of the national and local jobs market, and benefit from being an intermediary between employers and candidates.

Agencies have access to the right candidates - including those who are not actively looking for jobs - and this ensures employers have more suitable individuals to select from. They can also short-list potential hires, conduct initial interviews and carry out background checking - saving the hiring manager from sifting through hundreds of CVs and then verifying the records of the chosen few.

Another advantage is that recruiters can advise on the level of pay required to acquire the right individual, ensuring middle ground can be found between the employer and potential hire. Agencies can also provide interim staffing solutions to ensure organisations have sufficient manpower while the search for a permanent employee is ongoing.

In summary, using a recruiter to assist with the hiring process can save organisations time and money. It ensures employers appoint suitable individuals, in an appropriate timeframe, within the confines of the wage structure.