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The modern recruiter: part coach, part athlete

Written by: Katrina Whitby is a senior consultant at West Midlands Employers
Published on: 26 Oct 2023

As we work with councils in the West Midlands to revolutionise the perception of local government, our conversations have turned to explore the skills our recruiting stakeholders need to have in order to attract and retain future talent.   

Recruitment is a team sport and requires all stakeholders within the process to work collaboratively to recruit and retain the best people to our organisations. The reality is that hiring managers are busy with their day job, recruiters are swamped with administration tasks, candidates are applying for multiple roles and likely to take the first offer that comes their way rather than holding out for your organisation. So speed and agility are of the essence.

This isn’t just a local government recruiting issue, but rather, conversations on this are happening in a range of industries around the world. There isn’t a silver bullet solution but we can continue to take steps to achieve tangible outcomes.  

The modern day recruiter is required to be both a coach (data analyst, technical expert, talent spotter) and be an athlete, (deliver results, inspire, be resilient, influence others and be a team player). It’s not an easy task, particularly when compounded with managing a wider portfolio across HR and when working reactively to respond to a new role or project.

Within local government we serve our communities and people are at the heart of what we do. When it comes to recruitment and retention, the same principle applies and we need to put our candidates at the heart of what we do, to achieve hiring success.  

We all know the candidate experience is important, so when thinking about this consider your ideal candidate profile. One size doesn’t fit all, so be specific in the experiences you want to create for different candidate pools. For example, apprenticeships, technical roles, finance roles and executives will all benefit from a different experience and processes.

Research shows candidates now expect:  

  • A mobile optimised experience
  • SMS notifications and real time updates
  • Easy to search and find opportunities
  • Clear and concise job adverts
  • Quick decisions/prompt responses
  • Close the feedback loop 
  • Different experience for internal vs external hiring
  • ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you’ – passive candidate market is significant  
  • Flexibility and hybrid working
  • Trust and confidence in there prospective employer
  • Development and progression roadmap
  • Social impact
  • Benefits and a need to understand the ‘total package’ including pension
  • A human connection and personal touch

The skills that recruiters need to attract, nurture and grow talent in light of the ever changing public sector landscape has been a topic high on the agenda for our West Midlands strategic resourcing board.   

Rebecca Davis, chief executive of West Midlands Employers (WME) says: ‘Having a recruitment team that is highly skilled, adaptive and credible is essential to delivering a high quality talent acquisition strategy internally. To help develop recruitment teams in the region, we are developing a recruiting framework with supporting materials, tools and templates that recruiters can use to adapt and tailor to the organisation.’

The WME Modern Recruiter Toolkit will help councils answer the following questions;.

  • Do my recruiters have the support, training, and space to understand the market trends and recruitment landscape?  
  • Does our recruitment strategy continuously invest in the recruiter, hiring manager skills to achieve our resourcing goals?
  • Do hiring managers understand the importance of their role in the recruitment process to elevate the employee brand and value proposition we have invested in?  

What is the role of generative AI in our recruitment practices and how we continuously learn to stay ahead of the game?

Measuring success is also an important factor. We do phenomenal work in the public sector, working under economic and financial pressures, and how we measure initiatives and promote success is a key theme in parallel to this to make sure we’re measuring the right statistics. It’s not always easy to quantify however, but defining our hiring success criteria and using data is key to understanding the impact that has been made. Do you have less candidate withdrawals/offers declined? Is your time to offer faster? Has the candidate experience improved? Has hiring manager experience improved? Are you receiving more quality applicants?

We then want to use the data and results to help our organisations share this internally and externally to continuously improve.

Katrina Whitby is a senior consultant at West Midlands Employers