Recruiting for a different Mindset

By Mervyn Dinnen
Businesses in all sectors are starting to recruit people with a different mindset from those they have hired previously. Workplaces are digital, customer and client expectations are heightened by personalised technology and instant communication, and many of the traditional HR processes now place a higher emphasis on the individual to take ownership of their personal and professional development..


For the public sector too, commercial thinking and digital literacy are now key behaviours that recruiters need to identify. Hiring managers used to recruiting people similar to those they've taken on before, and preferring to use past performance as their yardstick, are finding that a lot is beginning to change. They are being encouraged to take more ownership for their talent management processes, and responsibility for their unsuccessful hires.

No longer are candidates only looking at public sector organisations when they apply. Their skills are also wanted in the private sector, where companies are now more likely to accommodate their working preferences for flexibility and self-determination too. It's become a competitive environment, which means that employer brand is more important than ever when looking to attract talent. Hiring managers need to be able to personify and communicate the employment experience. Long recruitment processes, with many stages and interview rounds, are unlikely to send the right message. Shifts in demographics also mean that many of the previous attractions that public sector roles held for older workers are unlikely to resonate with younger job seekers.

New starters will already know something about the organisation. They will have read reviews on employment sites, checked over social media feeds, looked up mutual connections on networking platforms, and read blogs and other content on your career sites. They will have an expectation of the type of employer you are, and of what they think it will be like working for you. 

So how should hiring managers now prepare themselves for a recruitment campaign? Here are 5 steps for starting the search for a different mindset:

Understand How Roles are Changing
Much change happens incrementally so it's not always easy to see how a role is developing. The first thing the manager needs to do is break it down and work out what needs to be achieved, the purpose that the role serves, which tools are available and the resources now needed. And try to understand the type of person who might be able to what needs to be done now, which is unlikely to be the same as the person who was doing it before. 

Create a New Job Profile
Once the purpose of the role is established, there's no point dusting down the job description of the last incumbent. The role has changed and a new candidate will want to understand how they can contribute to your mission, what influence they can have and how they may develop. They won't want to know what the last person did, nor read a checklist of duties. Job descriptions and profiles need to be revamped to illustrate the key behaviours and purpose of the role, and how the role fits in with the wider organisational goals. 

Understand the Culture
As roles change, and people with varied skill-sets from different backgrounds join, so the culture is likely to be changing too. Is your manager looking for people who would have been a culture fit in the past? If so then they need to try and understand how it has evolved. Customers, clients and supporters are engaging with us in different ways and have expectations of a different kind of service. We need to respond to that and be hiring the people they would choose. This creates a different set of values and these are the ones that candidates need to be assessed for. People hired because they fit the culture are more like to stay and develop new skills.

Rigorous Interviewing
Conversational based interviews based on past performance and achievements, with future potential taken on trust, may no longer be enough to establish whether the applicant is ready to adopt a different mind-set in a new business. As the scope of different roles changes so managers need to probe for commerciality, problem solving, self-development, collaborative working and drive. This calls for a mix of interviewing styles including competency and behavioural questions, skills testing and problem solving. Interviewees are likely to be locationally diverse, and not always available to attend meetings at short notice, so other options such as video interviewing and online assessments should also be considered.

Look for Adaptability
Many of the skills the organisation will need over the coming years, and the new roles that might be created, are as yet unidentified so adaptability is a key behaviour. The key to future talent management is fluidity, with individuals progressing laterally into different projects and sectors that offer new experiences and skill enhancements, so managers need to be searching for individuals who can move around a business and take on new challenges.  

Hiring managers in the public sector are facing many of the same challenges as the private sector counterparts. With some skills in short supply it means a recruitment shift to finding people with a commercial, digital and flexible attitude is crucial to future success. For recruiters it will take a different mentality to find a different mentality. 

Mervyn Dinnen is an award winning blogger and a content & social engagement strategist. He specialises in the Recruitment and HR sectors and is a regular speaker and panelist at industry conferences. By Mervyn Dinnen | September 21, 2015


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