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How do employers expand their talent pool?

09 May 2019

Conor Bannon

With the war for talent increasing all the time, employers are having to re-evaluate their own parameters of the perfect candidate. Fortunately for many, adjusting their expectations can mean getting the perfect candidate that was there all along.

The best advice I can give employers who are finding it a struggle to hire the right people for their organisation, is to be flexible. Consider people who may not tick all the boxes that are in the job specification but who share your ethos and work ethic. You need to find people who can and want to add value to your organisation. This is difficult to see from a CV alone but don’t discard their application simply because they don’t hit all the bullet points on your “perfect candidate” checklist.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the “Future In Pharmaceuticals Ireland - Driven By Sustainability” event in the Aviva Stadium. The event covered themes such as innovation in the sector, waste treatment, water management, energy efficiency, lean management and commercial efficiencies. The talks were interesting and the guest speakers were hugely insightful but it was one of the exhibitors (an existing client) whose words were ringing in my head as I returned to the office.

We were having a general conversation with another exhibitor about the recruitment market. One of them mentioned that they were forced to adjust their own expectations and as a result they’re much happier with the people they did finally hire. They had to change tack in their usual recruitment methods as they realised that they couldn’t compete in the graduate engineering marketing, not so much on the salaries but on the candidates’ own expectations of the job. So they now look for “people with experience” which in recruitment speak, is code for age 45 and over.

That approach seems eminently sensible to me and as a recruiter, I’m constantly advising clients not to discount potential hires on age alone. There is a thought process out there that if you are over a certain age, you suddenly start to lose value in the jobs market. This would be a mistake for various reasons.

  1. There is significant value in the market where people have taken redundancy (forced or voluntary). Theyare a long way from retiring and they are experienced in the day to day trials of the workplace
  2. The country of Ireland is going to change when Brexit happens. Has a young engineer or tech ever had to declare goods going through a border? In the world of pharmaceuticals and engineering, there are quite a lot of goods coming in and out of the country and so will need experienced and commercial people to run the process
  3. They understand (but ignore) office politics, get involved in mentoring / training others and tend to

My client was eager to share his experience. He pointed out that one of his most successful hires last year was a woman who assisted with scheduling engineering works. She is in her 50s, a qualified engineer who raised her family and wanted to return to work but on a 3 day week basis. Her work is impeccable. Every ‘I’ dotted every ‘T” is crossed. The engineers on site love her and the clients love her. She prioritises like a sergeant in the trenches and gets the job done in a diplomatic fashion.  He would happily have her 5 days a week but this is what she wants and in order to get the right person for the job, he had to compromise on part-time / full-time. The irony is that she gets more done in the 3 days than the previous incumbent did in a full week.

I’m using these examples simply to illustrate how adjusting the parameters of your usual talent pool can help employers find the perfect hire. Employers, particularly those in an already limited market, need to use a more enlightened approach with candidates who are not their usual target market.  Be more flexible in your hiring and you may be pleasantly surprised.

For more information on the engineering / pharmaceutical jobs market, please contact Conor Bannon on (01) 6621000 or [email protected]