Hello PPMA members and Friends
This week our guest blogger is Jenny O’Neill, Workforce Management Manager at Buckinghamshire County Council and a member of the PPMA Board. Building on last month’s theme of developing, managing and retaining talent, Jenny is looking at Resourcing for Talent.
‘The ‘War for Talent’ has been banded about as a phrase for a few years now, and has probably meant different things at different times. I am conscious that the search for talent is still on, but I wonder whether we have moved on from the concept of a ‘fight’, to something a little more thoughtful. We still want to attract talent, but not at all costs. And also ‘talent’ comes in different shapes and forms. Finding new ways to overcome labour market challenges and matching the right people, to the right jobs is becoming a much more creative process, especially in local government where budgets are tight. As a result, the importance of the employer reputation and the employment proposition is ever more important. Perhaps part of the secret is just about the personal touch…
It is probably fair to say that money isn’t always the main attraction for working in local government, but lots of people come to work for reasons other than money. A sense of job satisfaction, working with great people and for a good team, performing a role that is making a difference, feeling valued and appreciated are all reasons why people choose to work for Buckinghamshire County Council.
When we re-introduced our graduate development programme in early 2013 we weren’t sure what sort of response we would get. We were out of synch with the normal milk round and we wondered whether a local government scheme would attract the quality of applicants we hoped for. We needn’t have worried. Our results delighted us. Candidates repeatedly told us that they were interested in us because they were looking for a career that offered more than just a pay cheque. They were excited by the challenge and variety local government offered. They appreciated the opportunity to work alongside Cabinet Members and the Chief Officer’s Management team at such an early stage in their career and recognised they wouldn’t get that sort of contact in many other organisations.
But not only that, the feedback we received about our recruitment process also told us that what we did really encouraged talented young people to want to come and work for us.
What we did wasn’t really complicated. We told a story about what it was like to work for the Council; and in the main, we did it through the voices and video clips of talented young people already working with us – helping to present a candid, friendly face of the organisation. Once we had pre-screened applicants, we quickly moved on to telephone interviews giving us an early opportunity to engage directly. We started a conversation and made the process personal. By the time applicants were invited to assessment centres we were already getting to know them and starting to share a story. By the time we offered jobs, we had an established trainee group with their own closed Facebook group, who were supporting each other before they even stared work.
This worked well for graduates who were all social media savvy and coming from the same starting point. Graduate recruitment is often seen as a ‘special project’ not quite the same as business usual recruitment. So how do we learn the lessons from that success, with something else, like experienced social worker recruitment?
The challenge for experienced social worker recruitment is a well-documented and there is no magic wand to wave at this – but the lessons around candidate engagement and employment proposition are just as important for experienced professionals. We need to ask ourselves whether we really tell the employment story as clearly, engage with candidates as effectively, on-board them as sensitively. The approaches may need to be a bit different – on line, telephone or face to face – but it’s the personal contact that’s important.
Making people feel valued and connected is a critical part of resourcing for talent. People want to work for organisations they respect, with people they like, doing a job they will enjoy. People will perform better when they are supported and valued. And people will join organisations where they believe these things happen.
This doesn’t take away the fact that employers need to assess whether candidates can do the job. But let’s remember that interviews are a two way process and candidates pick organisations as well as the other way round.’
We’d love to hear your views on this, as well as your experiences of resourcing for talent. As usual you can leave us a comment by clicking on the comment box underneath the headline at the top of this post.
Workforce Management Manager at Buckinghamshire County Council and PPMA Board member