Despite continued improving market conditions for the recruitment of procurement professionals, there are many organisations still facing major challenges identifying the talent they need for their business. The very best candidates with specific category expertise are highly sought after in an increasingly competitive hiring marketplace. A common theme is hiring managers knowing the skills required and when they will need them, but not being in a position to a progress as quickly as they would ideally like.
Under what circumstances do clients face this problem?
The current economic climate is promoting a cautious approach to increasing staffing overhead. Therefore hiring managers can be waiting for headcount sign off and want do some forward planning because the new hire is urgently required to help meet business objectives.
Most businesses want to explore internal candidates before searching the external market for reasons of cost saving and creating opportunity for existing staff. However, this action can create delays spent conducting an internal process that isn’t always expected to be successful.
Consultancies and Procurement Service Providers need to increase capacity for forthcoming projects try to estimate when they will receive client approval to start at which point the need for extra staff becomes urgent. A hiring company has outsourced recruitment to generalist providers who lack the specialist procurement market knowledge to find the right people quickly.
It is also worth noting the amount of time it takes to to complete a recruitment campaign. If you wish to conduct a thorough selection process interviewing several candidates at first stage and then arranging second and third stage interviews with busy diaries, it can take several months from receiving CV’s of suitable candidates to formalising a job offer for the successful applicant. If you then factor in notice periods of successful candidates which with senior appointments are often three months, it can take as many as 5 to 6 months before the chosen candidate joins their new employer. Of course it’s possible to recruit in a much shorter time frame but this demands effective candidate sourcing and commitment to prioritise the process from both line management and HR.
Effective Talent Pipeline planning can help with candidate sourcing and get the recruitment process off to a flying start.
Challenges to be overcome
- Accurate forecasting of realistic timescales and achievable targets
- Management of candidate expectations on said timing
- Avoiding losing momentum when the recruitment process takes longer than desired.
- Loss of strong candidates who take other roles or lose interest.
- Competition for the best available talent
Our range of solutions
Our experience tells us that there is no one single solution to overcome these problems. It requires a range of recruitment tools to plan effectively for swift effective recruitment campaigns even as little as two or three months ahead. We have developed our capability in this area by working in all the potential scenarios mentioned above, particularly with the consultancy businesses seeking to staff anticipated new projects.
The first thing to note is that there needs to be a realistic understanding from all parties of what can be achieved so we begin with educating hiring managers about the definition of a candidate pipeline, and the processes required to develop them. We make sure that the hiring managers and relevant HR contacts are truly engaged in the process and understand the obstacles involved.
We then study the relevant market conditions to analyse the amount of time it takes to identify and engage with relevant candidates before designing an appropriate strategy to develop the pipeline required to meet customer demand. We combine most or all of the following techniques to build a Talent Pipeline of potentially suitable candidates:
- Assessment of both interim and permanent resource options
- Use of several Executive Search techniques including defining target areas to research for suitable candidates
- Talent Mapping in competitor organisations as agreed with the hiring manager.
- Constant networking to source candidates who are new to the market.
- Effective management of candidate and client expectations.
The crucial factor in delivering this service effectively is understanding the relevant market conditions and using that knowledge to combine the available tools effectively.
One of our clients, a leading multi disciplined management consultancy, has headcount restrictions across the business, yet the Procurement practice is at full capacity and has several new projects in the pipeline. The moment one of these projects is signed off by the client, so too will the required head count, but until then they can only plan for the resource they need.
We have assembled a pipeline of both interim and permanent candidates with the relevant skills for the clients requirements using the methods outlined above. In particular we have used talent mapping and extensive networking to identify the best available candidates in the permanent market. Interim resource has been identified through both networking and online advertising. We make contact with the candidates every time we receive an update from our client, managing candidate expectations on time scales and gaining an update on their own status.
We then inform the client of any significant changes of candidate availability every 1-2 weeks as agreed. The deadline has shifted on several occasions now through no fault of our client, however we still have a wide range of highly motivated candidates ready to attend interview with the client as soon as they are able to commence the process. We currently have eight excellent interim options for two or three roles, and up to eight permanent candidates for one or two full time appointments.