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Look For Best Talent Outside The Box

Rookie Recruits chief executive Jason Murray says employers must work to solve the talent crisis. Picture: Alan Pryke Source: The Australian


THE Australian economy is in a strong position following the effects of the global financial crisis. However, as it continues to strengthen, the skills shortage is placing more strain than ever on businesses across the country. While full employment looms, employers will find it increasingly difficult to attract and maintain quality candidates – and many are unable to offer inflated salaries and persuasive benefits packages.

Jason Murray, CEO of recruitment company Rookie Recruits, believes the solution is to look outside the box. His company has recently released Tackling the Talent Crisis, a report which aims to inspire employers to re-evaluate the way they recruit and look outside the traditional criteria of experience and qualifications in favour of natural talent, what Murray calls an “absolutely awesome attitude” and the aptitude to learn on the job.

“Employers are looking for talent in the same place that everyone else is looking – they’re not thinking outside the square at all. They may brief a recruiter or advertise online and specify that they’re looking for someone with three to five years’ experience, but they don’t advertise for attitude, they’re not prepared to take people with less experience and train them – so they end up in this hamster wheel situation where they still can’t find someone.

“Three, four or five months down the track they could have already upskilled somebody,” Murray says.

“We’ve laid out some of the impacts of maintaining that mindset. We want to show people that it doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t need to cost a huge amount of money or take up large amounts of your time.”

According to the report, organisations must change the way they recruit to keep up with the changing face of the global workforce. “Triple threat” candidates – with appropriate experience, a winning attitude and realistic salary expectations – are becoming increasingly difficult to find. This means that in order to fill roles, employers have to start compromising. Candidates who lack experience but have what the report refers to as “the Core 4” (enthusiastic, ambitious, hardworking and determined to develop and grow) can be every bit as valuable to a company as an employee with vast experience but perhaps less verve. Employers also have to work at bridging the generation gap as the younger generations enter the market.

“It’s the natural course of events that the generations entering the workforce are the back-end of generation Y and, in a few years, generation Z. Employers need to get their heads around employing gen Y. They get such a bad rap – but attitude will override generational differences every time,” Murray says. “If they have a bad attitude, it doesn’t matter what generation they’re from. As long as you have the Core 4 – and an absolutely awesome attitude – then you’re going to be a superstar. I absolutely think that managers and employers need to get their heads round bringing in greener talent if they are to solve this talent crisis or we’re going to limit the ability for the Australian economy to grow.”

The paper offers a detailed rundown of how to attract Core 4 candidates, and the emphasis should be on personality and attitude rather than experience.

“If you’re trying to attract a certain type of person rather than a skills set, you need to advertise and market for that attitude. Talk about the type of personality, qualities and attributes that person will bring to the role, not just the length of their experience or whether they have certain qualifications. If you advertise for a certain type of person, you’ll get a better response than if you put up an ad that simply lists the job description,” Murray says.

“It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. If they don’t rethink the way they’re going to market for candidates and start training for skill, they’re going to end up in trouble further down the track. That trouble may be that they just can’t get people, or that they’re having to pay way too much for the people that they do get.”

Sonia Johnson, head of marketing at Inside Info, has had success following the report. She recently used Rookie Recruits to help her fill a BDM role with a candidate who had transferable skills and an aptitude for on-the-job learning.

“Sales-related roles and particularly enterprise sales are very well-paid professions to be in from a sales perspective, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to how good you are at the job,” Johnson says. “What we decided to do was look for someone who had one or two years’ experience within IT. They didn’t necessarily have to have sales experience – but they had the aptitude. So they had what we believe were the right transferable skills sets, but also the drive and that hunger and good communication skills that we thought we could train and develop over time,” she says.

“You do need to be careful when recruiting this way because the candidate has to have the aptitude. They may have the right attitude and be a great cultural fit, but they need to have the ability to be able to trained and moulded.

It comes down to the candidate at the end of the day – someone who possesses the ability to be trained to where you want to take them to,” Johnson says.

* * *

ACCORDING to the Tackling the Talent Crisis report, Australia is in a strong position economically, but the growth of the job market means employers are struggling more than ever to attract and retain talent.

As of last March unemployment was down to 4.9 per cent, with a monthly increase in the job market of 4.57 per cent. Job vacancies are at a record 179,000 and the federal budget forecast an additional 500,000 jobs would be created in the next two years, bringing unemployment down to 4.5 per cent.

Employing someone based on their strong work ethic, positive attitude and drive to succeed means skill and experience can be picked up very quickly. Generally, those with less experience but a hunger for success put in a lot of discretionary effort – which means they go above and beyond the requirements of their role.

The report notes that “discretionary effort only occurs when an employee has an incredible attitude, the natural talent to do the role, and a clear understanding of what their contributions are to achieving the overall vision of the company”.

In the Auckland Chamber of Commerce Professional Journal, top HR professional Andrea Needham states, “It is estimated that a full-time employee who chooses to go above and beyond in their role can contribute 20 per cent to 40 per cent more work than their job description requires. Consequently, discretionary effort represents an unmanaged and unrealised resource for successful as well as troubled organisations.”

Having the ability to identify potential employees that possess Core 4 attributes means that they will demonstrate discretionary effort, resulting in a return on investment from day one.

Behavioural profiling techniques can give employers an insight into an individuals’ innate talents, while left-field interview questions such as, “If money were no object, what would you do with your life?” and “What is your life purpose?” can reveal a great deal about a potential new employee’s attitude to work and life in general.

Cecily-Anna Bennett

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