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Untapped gold: how to attract emerging talent

It’s hard to turn on the TV without seeing someone cooking. Whether it’s established chefs showcasing their skills or amateur cooks competing to see whose as yet undiscovered raw talent will win the day, the nation continues to be gripped by the preparation and consumption of food. But looking at the catering business as a whole, it’s clear that this continuous buzz doesn’t equate to enthusiastic new entrants into the industry.

Figures from the Employer Skills Survey 2015, produced by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), for example, show that 47% of vacancies for chefs are difficult to recruit for – most noticeably in London (66%) and the South East (46%).

While many of the reasons behind this skills shortage remain unclear, it means that the marketplace for businesses trying to find new staff is competitive. And that means that employers should maximise their appeal to the most promising talent.

Employer brand

Attracting and retaining the highest quality candidates is crucial for any business, and employer branding is important in this process. According to recruitment specialist Hinton Spencer: “A strong employer brand is highly attractive to potential candidates, ultimately creating an enticing workplace environment and encouraging them to apply for roles. This is particularly important when considering the ever-shrinking talent pool.”

A strong employer brand suggests to candidates that they will know exactly what the company is like – and that applies to everything, from the company ethos and vision, to its goals and the value it places on its employees. It is important to portray the brand message throughout the recruitment process, ensuring that the process is streamlined and that it lives and breathes the brand values. There are many ways a company can build on these initial concepts – for example, by clearly promoting business and employee success.

The right fit

The People 1st State of the Nation Report 2013 showed that almost two-thirds of difficult-to-fill vacancies in the sector (65%) are because applicants don’t have the skills required. But, increasingly, businesses are finding a way round this by placing an emphasis on the cultural fit between their organisation and a candidate.

When a candidate comes along with all the right qualifications on their CV, there is still more that employers should consider, says business author and specialist Minda Zetlin. “What about the right personality? Ignore cultural fit at your peril, for your new hire likely won’t last long,” she adds.

For businesses to find people who are the right fit for them, job adverts should be clear about the kind of company it is, its ethos and values which make it stand out from the others in the sector. Including a sentence or two that captures the real personality of the company makes it stand out from other recruiters.

Once a company starts to build a team of employees that it can really invest in – and vice versa –  it is more likely to grow organically as a business. This dedication and experience will give it the edge over competitors who are basing their search on those with the requisite qualifications.

Training future stars

While initiatives like Springboard’s FutureChef seek to tackle the skills shortage by encouraging 11 to 16 year-olds to consider a career in the industry, employers can help to plug the skills gap by developing the staff available, right now.

When businesses provide opportunities for employees to upskill, it shows that the organisation is investing in their future and this goes a long way towards improving staff retention. It of course also benefits the company by the fact that the potential an employee demonstrates can be utilised at higher levels or in other parts of the business. The best outcome of upskilling employees is that the company could have its perfect candidate already working for them.

Strong individuals can be ready to leap at any moment – probably to a competitor – so clever organisations can maintain the edge over their competitors by facilitating their employees’ growth potential.

Creating the ambassadors of tomorrow

People often change jobs for new opportunities: a promotion, a change of direction, to work in a different area of the business or relocation. In a sector that has a lot of natural wastage, making sure that outgoing employees are positive about the company they’re leaving is key. The biggest mistake that employers can make is for relationships with former staff to end negatively.

When, though, outgoing employees speak well of their former places of employment they are helping with future recruitment for those companies because everyone they talk to could be a future employee.

Which just goes to prove that building on talent is a sure way forward for successful recruitment.