How to recruit in times of uncertainty

Fairfax’s head of talent acquisition explains how employers can remain appealing in times of extraordinary change.

Major change is inevitable in today’s fast-paced environment and employers must remain attractive if they want to succeed – but how do they do it? Here, one leading HR figure from a particularly agile industry explains how she keeps a steady focus on talent despite the pace of change.

“The need for continuous recruitment in today’s market is critical because every business is undergoing change,” says Kylie Goodwin, talent acquisition director for Fairfax Media.

“There is no business in the world which is not undergoing some sort of change or transformation in terms of keeping up with their audience, their customers, whoever they’re serving or whatever product they’re providing,” she continues.

According to Goodwin, communicating the company’s plan is one of the biggest hurdles employers have to overcome when recruiting in times of uncertainty.

“I think the difficulty that comes in quite often is being able to convey what your business is trying to achieve and where the business is going to a candidate who doesn’t know about your business and who doesn’t sit in the business every day,” she told HRM. “That can be quite challenging in how you communicate that and how you provide them with a level of understanding and comfort.”

The Sydney-based HR leader says employers in the situation are under more pressure than ever before because employees have more options when it comes to where and how they choose to work.

“There is such a variety of employers in the market now – gone are the days where you can be a big corporate with a really well-known brand and you attract people, you literally open the front door and candidates walk through it,” she told HRM.

“There is so much more opportunity now to be a freelancer or to join a big corporate or to join a start-up or do whatever you want so the traditional ways of recruiting, based on who you are as a business, have been completely wiped out as people have far more choice,” she continued.

Despite the challenges, Fairfax Media continues to attract valuable employees.

“I think it’s all about transparency,” says Goodwin, when asked how Fairfax remains appealing to jobseekers. “It’s about understanding that not every candidate it right for you and you’re not right for every candidate.

“There is a real level of awareness that leaders, leadership teams and recruitment teams need to have around the fact that they need to be transparent, open and honest about their business – the good and the bad.

“People like honesty, they know that not every business is going to be perfect so the amount of transparency you can put into that conversation, or into the messages you send out into the market when you are looking to hire new people, is quite critical.

“It’s really important that you can try and convey through your own people and through your business what it’s like to be here and again – good, bad and indifferent – it’s not for everybody and we know, as a media business, this business is not for everybody.”

Goodwin, who has been with Fairfax since 2012, says employers who find themselves hiring in times of uncertainty should never avoid the subject with candidates – no matter how tempting it might be.

“One of the things that I’m always really strong on – regardless of whether or not there is a significant piece of change or uncertainty – is that you need to be really honest with your candidate, you need to say to them; ‘This is what’s happening, this is how we’re dealing with it as a business, this is how I deal with it as a leader, and this is what it means for you.

“I think it’s also really valuable if the candidate comes in and meets the team – something we really strongly encourage at Fairfax  – to actually get the team to talk to them about how they feel about the change going on in the business and convey that feeling to the potential candidate.”

Kylie Goodwin will be discussing the difficulties of recruiting in times of uncertainty at the upcoming HRM Leaders Forum. Here, she will cover a range of strategies to ensure organisations not only remain attractive but also stand out from their competitors.

To find out more about the event, or to secure advance tickets, click here.

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