Recruiting

With the UK in the depths of a skills shortage, it’s harder than ever to find qualified staff to fill the specialist roles in your business. In fact, the government’s most recent UK Employer Skills Survey revealed that a massive 22% of all vacancies in 2015 went unfilled because employers couldn’t find an adequately skilled worker to fill them.

No matter what your industry, if your business requires staff with a specialist skill set to run efficiently and effectively, your success depends on hiring experts in their field.

Here’s my top tips to help you get this crucial element of your business right.

Getting the word out about a vacancy

If you have a vacancy that can only be filled by a specialist, it’s crucial that you put a lot of thought and effort into how you’re going to get word out to the right people. The more niche the skill set you require, the harder it is to find people that are fit for the role, and therefore the more effort you should put into spreading word about the vacancy.

  1. Word of mouth is an extremely effective way of getting the word out about a specialist vacancy, as the people who share those skills often know each other. The first step in getting your job advert in front of the right people should therefore be sharing it with anyone in your professional network that has the skills required for the role. While they might not be interested in the job themselves, they might know someone who is, making this an effective strategy for finding qualified people for the role.
  2. Your next step should be turning to LinkedIn. This website was designed to make it easy for like-minded professionals to network, and this free tool is often the most powerful at your disposal when it comes to hiring for those hard-to- fill vacancies. Searching this social platform is the often the easiest way to find people with the skills you need, and you can reach out to them straight away. Again, if they aren’t interest in the position, they might know a qualified person who is, so this approach offers a great return on investment.
  3. Lastly, when it comes to hiring for role that requires a specialist skill set, it’s well worth hiring a recruitment consultant to help you out. If you can find a reliable consultant that is willing to invest the time to learn all about your business and the role you’re looking to recruit for they can be an invaluable resource.

How to interview for a specialist role

Once you’ve found enough qualified candidates for the role you’re looking to fill using the approaches outlined above, it’s time to start the interview process.

In my experience, the more niche the role, the longer it takes to narrow it down to the perfect applicant. In our business, it’s taken as long as six months to find the right fit for a vacancy in the past. However, when you run a business that functions by having crafts people from different fields collaborating with one another, it’s important to find someone with the right personality to fit into your company culture as well as the requisite skills.

Our interviews for specialist roles are relatively informal. We try to make sure we give the candidate time to relax so we can get a sense of their true personality, so we usually only have one interviewer.

While assessing someone’s attitude isn’t an exact science, we’ve found the best way to get a feel for a candidate is to ask them questions about specific circumstances, finding out how they approached these in their own words. While the interviewer may not have a full grasp of everything that’s involved in the role you’re hiring for if it is particularly specialised, this will give you a good idea of the candidate’s character, which you can use alongside their portfolio to make the most informed decision on who to hire.

These steps should help you fill a specialist role within your business as quickly as possible, despite the UK’s skills shortage. Get this crucial part of your business right and you’ll put yourself in the strongest position possible going forward.

About the author: Matt Deighton is the Managing Director of Sofas by Saxon, a company that produces bespoke, handmade sofas in its Lancashire workshop that are shipped around the world.


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