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Top tips if you’re hiring or looking to be hired

There is no shortage of talent, but often there is a disconnect between jobseekers and those hiring. Claire Mathieson speaks to a human resources expert, Helen van Eeden, about her personal experiences on both sides of the table, as jobseeker and recruiter. She shares her top tips for closing the gap.  

For jobseekers the job market appears aggressive. They feel that they are either overqualified or terribly under qualified. For recruiters, the talent pool seems slim, but this does not need to be the case. Often, the mismatch is the result of unrealistic expectations and poor communication on both sides. Sometimes, neither knows exactly what they’re looking for.

“I have found that recruitment appears to have become a numbers game. Companies are setting out a checklist by which to dwindle down CVs to proceed with; there doesn't appear to be much use of pre-selection questionnaires to get more information from candidates before deciding,” explains van Eeden. “If you don't fit their square box, you won't fit.” And while “fit” is clearly very important for the work front, van Eeden believes that employers are not looking beyond checklists, trying to gauge the character of the person and transferable skills they may have. Someone with a diversity of experiences on their CV would simply not fit the checklist, but may very well suit the company. The use of check boxes benefits neither the recruiter nor the job-seeker.

Another mistake that many employers make is not including the salary bracket. While a negotiation may still take place, managing expectations can help to avoid unnecessary surprises or wasting the time of someone qualified – or “over-qualified” as employers may say when the salary expectation is too high. Furthermore, jobseekers may lose out on an opportunity by stating their desired figure when they might have been happy to negotiate. “It saves a lot of time for everyone,” says van Eeden. Companies receive numerous applications and a good half of those will not be relevant, says van Eeden who once had an upholsterer apply for a job as a technical manager for a software development company. The skills were simply not transferable. People are also not staying in jobs as long as they used to, even more so with the newer generations moving into the labour market. This leads to an increased and sustained turnover of staff and volumes of applicants – all of which is a big challenge for employers. “This is even more reason for getting your hiring process finely tuned” adds van Eeden.

What about recruitment agencies? It’s often not clear whether recruiters are selling jobseekers any more than a direct application. Head-hunting is less common due to the various online platforms job advertising and job seeking. Increasingly it is less likely that recruiters will meet with jobseekers in order to form a solid profile. As such, employers should be very clear about the role they want recruiters to play. “If you’re going to use an agency in assisting you finding the ideal candidate, work closely with them and ensure they understand the role to be filled and the ethos of the company to help them identify a suitable candidate.” And when you have found the ideal candidate, how should companies proceed?

Van Eeden says that communication is key to assimilation and to getting the new team member on board quickly. “Emails explaining how the first few days are going to look and what to expect on their first day are important and should include some fun as well as learning. Make sure you include in a starter email what expected attire is and what people normally do about lunch and drinks so they can come prepared.”

It’s important not to move too quickly at first. “Don't overwhelm the new employee with information on the first day, it won't stick. Make sure they have a buddy who will keep an eye on them and show them around, answer questions and generally just be there as much or as little as they need.”

She also suggests having the new employee start later on their first day, giving you a chance to get into your day first. “Show you care about the human you've hired.” Indeed, taking a more human approach to the job hunt or search could result in many more happy teams.

Images: Lukas from Pexels

This article forms part of a new series on unemployment issues. 

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.