The last 18 months have put even the most experienced practice leaders under pressure, and many have found no alternative but to cut costs by downsizing their team through redundancy and ceasing contractor employment. Yet as we approach the end of 2021, brighter times have emerged and many practices find themselves in the predicament after downsizing, needing to rebuild their teams to meet their business goals.
This creates two big questions for practice leaders:
Deciding who to hire
Looking outside your practice is a great place to start. Auditing the market, doing competitor analysis and investing time in understanding industry trends is going to help you to reflect on what your team needs to look like moving forward. A mix of short and long-term thinking and planning here will be a great asset.
Recognising what your current customers' needs are will help you to understand what type of team you need to compete, deliver and succeed. Be clear on what your customers need right now, spend time reflecting on what you believe the future will bring and use these findings as part of your hiring decisions.
The market audit can be invaluable in establishing skill and experience gaps in your team, but hiring without focusing back on what your business goals are will lead to little success. Ensure you have clear business goals and think about the people you need to meet these.
Internal Skills Assessment
Looking at your current team, where are your skill and experience gaps? Is there potential to train people internally and upskill? Or has this been exhausted so that you must bring in new people? Keep looking at your current team, who shows good attributes of leadership? Who could help new junior staff in the business learn and grow? Or do you need more people with leadership qualities who can plug a skills gap in a more senior position? Looking at all levels of employees in your business will help you identify not only where skills gaps are but also where seniority is and isn’t required.
There is no denying that the pandemic has changed many of us. From the impact it has had on our careers, health, and personal lives to creating new skillsets in response to the crises.
Thinking about the future and the ‘human’ skills your practice will need, provides an opportunity to not only hire those with the technical skills you need to prosper but also those skills you need that you have not prioritised before.
One of the key work trends that have emerged in the pandemic is that people and practices have had to adapt. Looking for new hires that can demonstrate an agile mindset, and who can adapt to a changing market landscape, could prove a vital part of managing change and opening up new strategic business opportunities.
But let’s not forget other ‘human’ skills; empathy, communication, initiative, as well as a growth mindset, are all important skills that you could be looking out for.
Hire back stronger than before the pandemic.
Permanent or Contractor Hires
How quickly do you need your new hires? Often when people are needed immediately hiring contractors can be a great decision. Contractors can also be a notable way to attract very specialist skillsets. Forging great relationships with Contractors can also help you in the future, knowing who you can go back to when a specialist project comes in or when you require holiday or sickness cover or just ensuring a deadline is met.
Yet, if you are looking for long-term employees, permanent recruitment is going to be the way to go. Attracting people into the business on a long-term basis means you are going to need to think more about the scope of the role as well as how the person will be trained, developed and the career progression opportunities that might be open to them in the future.
Finding new hires
You are now confident in what your customers need, where your skill gaps lie internally as well as how long you need these people in your practice, so you need to move on to how you are going to find and attract these people.
Ensure you have established your employer value proposition
Are you clear on your value proposition for current and new hires? Being able to demonstrate this to new hires will make you stand out from the crowd. What are your values? Employees today are looking for employers whose values match their own. If you pride yourselves on hiring a diverse and inclusive team, tell people. If your practice supports the environment or a certain charity, make sure potential hires know. Do you promote internally first, make it clear to people.
The more confident you can be in the hiring market about who you are and what you stand for, the more attractive you will become to the right people and gain buy-in from the start.
Provide clear information about the job from the outset
Whatever medium you use to find and attract your new hires, providing clear information about the role and responsibilities, challenges, growth opportunities, perks and culture, are important for two key reasons. Firstly, you want to attract the best talent to apply for your job. Secondly, you will also want to deter those who are not suitable for the position or the culture of your practice too.
Being clear about what you are looking for and the opportunity on offer is an important part of attracting the right talent and the best talent.
Candidate experience is key
Thinking about the future is vital for the recruitment you are doing right now. How you treat candidates now will impact how they perceive you as an employer brand and affect their decision to work for you in the future.
Consider all points of contact during the hiring process including sourcing, the application process, interview process, assessment as well as onboarding. Communicating in a personalised, timely and informative manner will create a positive image of you as an employer. Providing a superior candidate experience can lead to more (and sometimes better) applications, hires and referrals. It can also lead to lower costs of recruiting.
Speak to your trusted recruitment partner
If your sole role is not as a recruiter in your business, you may find that the volume of applications you receive and the time it takes to process them becomes a full-time job. Establishing a relationship with a specialist architecture and design recruiter like FRAME can help you find the right candidate. They will save you time, have access to candidates you might not know of and work in partnership as an extension of your business.
Technology has been vital for practices to continue working during the pandemic and with hybrid working becoming more commonplace, it seems it is here to stay. You have already invested in tools such as Zoom and Teams and these can still have a significant impact on your recruitment processes.
Video interviews save travel time and costs, not just for you but also for your interviewees. It enables both sides to be more agile, to meet more quickly and speed the recruitment process up, this is especially important when you are in a time-poor recruitment drive.
Can we help?
I hope that you can use this guide to help rebuild your team stronger in the future, and if you would like to discuss any of this further, or if you have any recruitment questions, please get in touch.