When is the best time to recruit?
This is not a trick question. Your immediate answer may be, “When I have a vacancy” but if you leave recruitment until you have a real, live vacancy – as most in the industry do – you’re setting yourself up for a hasty and potentially poor recruitment decision.
That’s because you’re painfully aware that every day the hole in your team goes unfilled you are losing money. Without a full team to drum up new instructions, conduct market appraisals, accompany viewings and negotiate sales, you will inevitably be missing opportunities.
It’s precisely because you’re aware of the urgent need to fill that vacancy, particularly in the current tough market, that recruitment mistakes can be made. With the clock ticking, there’s a temptation to choose “the best of a bad bunch”, even if you have niggling doubts that they are the right person for the job.
If these doubts prove correct, apart from having to waste time repeating the whole process a few months down the line, the cost of that hiring mistake can be costly (Read my January column on the cost of a bad hire).
That is why many recruiters (myself included) extol the virtues of ‘continuous recruitment’.
What this means in practice is that agency bosses should always be recruiting, whether there is a current vacancy or not. I recommend estate agency employers meet at least one person a week every week to build up a talent pipeline and keep in touch with these prospective employees. That way when a vacancy does arise, you have a readymade pool of potential candidates you already know are a good fit who are interested in a career with your company.
This approach has many benefits:
- Fill vacancies more quickly
As you’ve invested a little time upfront in building a network of receptive potential employees, you have a head start rather than starting from scratch. This means your vacancy should be filled more quickly, before productivity and sales take a hit.
- Keep existing staff motivated
When your team suddenly has to take on an increased workload to compensate for being a head down, morale can dive. Being able to hit the ground running when you have an unexpected vacancy can help you plug the hole more quickly and reduce the burden on remaining staff.
- More cost-efficient
With the traditional recruitment model, in Rayner Personnel’s experience, you have a roughly 60% chance of success. This is because as humans, we tend to rely largely on gut instinct and base decisions on appearance, speech or gravitas alone, often recruiting in our own image.
This subjective recruitment process often consists of some rudimentary CV screening and, at best, a couple of rushed face-to-face or Skype interviews with a time-poor branch manager or director.
In contrast, a strategy of continuous recruitment enables you to objectively assess potential candidates through psychometric testing that evaluates behavioural traits and competencies. This can bring the success rate up to 96%.
With the cost of a bad hire typically averaging 3.5 x salary, the cost-savings in terms of the recruiter’s fees, management time and training invested in an individual who is the wrong fit can be considerable. And that is without the human cost to the unfortunate employee.
- Raises your company’s profile
When you have time on your side, you can cast your net wider. Continuous recruitment can be carried out using social media channels, which apart from the staff time involved in managing your firm’s presence, are largely free.
This proactive approach boosts your firm’s visibility and reputation. By continually reaching out to individuals with the skills your business needs you’ll also be spreading awareness of your business as an employer to a wider audience.
The recruitment model hasn’t changed fundamentally for decades, but I firmly believe continuous recruitment is the future and will benefit clients and candidates alike.
* Joshua Rayner heads up Rayner Personnel