Having been in recruitment for over 10 years now and over 7 years specifically recruiting for the User Experience sector, I’ve learnt some fairly frank points I’d like to share. The below doesn’t cater for every single scenario and there are plenty more points that could be made, but for the sake of not turning a blog post into War and Peace, I’ve kept it as succinct as I can…
In my opinion, if you as a company truly want to attract the best candidates, you need to excel in at least 2 of the 3 boxes below:
A: You USP
Box ticked if…
- You’re a household name who candidates will potentially be proud to say they work for or have listed on their CV.
- You’re not well known but the product or service you provide is genuinely innovative, ‘cool’ or meaningful.
- Known or unknown, you can offer actual training and development (the more tangible this is the better eg. subsidised budgets or an existing team to learn from), work flexibility or sponsorship.
- Good culture – tricky one this since am sure most clients think they have a great culture, so perhaps be mindful of things like Glassdoor reviews. But what else can you actually talk about that sets you apart from just going for drinks on the company every now and then or bringing in a cake from the local Tesco Express for peoples’ birthdays?
Not so much if…
- You’re a household name but within what could be seen as a pretty boring sector (open to interpretation but am just being frank) or perhaps harmful in some way to health or the environment.
- You’re not a well-known name (even though you truly think you will be eventually) and the product or service you provide, albeit unique perhaps, will only interest a niche market. Or just one of those products that does what it says on the tin very well but not exactly exciting (again, am thinking generally/frankly).
- You’re known for constantly looking for the same position. There could be a variety of good reasons for this to be fair, but perhaps be mindful of how many recruiters you’re using. If you are regularly looking and have multiple recruiters going to market for you tapping up all and sundry, the candidates you really want might lack the excitement of hearing your brand when it’s time for them to consider a move.
- Pretty obvious this one… the more you can pay the more candidates you’ll attract. Understandably, budgets can vary wildly for the same calibre of person (especially in UX these days), and many candidates will drop their salary expectation if they can see other values in the company either for their career path or for the sake of doing good. BUT, if you’re only ticking one of the other 2 boxes listed in this post, paying even average market rate will make things tough given the amount of competition out there.
- Ultimately if you really want the best you’re going to have to be prepared to pay for it. Especially with some of the more niche skill-sets. For example, we all know the UX market has become hugely saturated now, which has brought about some dilution too (inevitable really). But much of the market is made up of UX Designers. Finding good, thoroughbred UX Researchers or Service Designers are a harder find. So the supply and demand tends to go in their favour with regard to money sometimes. Time to face up to the fact that it’s a predominantly candidate driven market in digital and has been for a while now. The huge trend in contracting has also added to this.
C: Responsiveness (throughout hiring process)
- This point is SO vital but many clients can get complacent or perhaps just not list this as a priority amongst the 101 other things they have to do in their working weeks. But again, if you’re only ticking 1 of the other 2 boxes and it takes you a long time (more than 1-2 days) to provide feedback on profile submissions or interviews then you can expect to get left behind and possibly tarnish your brand name within the market.
- High pedigree permanent candidates looking for reasonable salaries are often marketed like contractors these days in terms of turnaround time because they’re in such high demand. They can literally be on and off the market within about 2 weeks (don’t feel bad however if you’re reading this as a candidate who’s been looking for a job for longer than that – am sure you will have at least had interview requests within that time).
- And I can say from a recruiter’s prospective, many of us are actually much more motivated to work hard for a client that has this box ticked over the other 2. Working for a giant brand with deep pockets won’t mean anything if it feels like profiles are being sent to a black hole. I’d much rather work with a lesser known client if I knew they were efficient to deal with. Time is a much more tangible asset to us than the promise of a big placement that never seems to actually progress.
Perhaps some food for thought if you’re hiring at the moment. I’d urge you to really be honest with yourself about what boxes you are or aren’t ticking. I know many start-up owners for example are hugely passionate about their service/product and can easily think everyone else should be too, when in fact it’s unlikely anyone currently outside the business will have the same excitement they do and therefore aren’t necessarily willing to drop their salary expectations or choose your company over a more recognised one.
Equally, if you’re a big player in the market, don’t expect all candidates and recruiters to wait patiently for your next instruction. There’s always another good client out there looking for exactly the same person you are!
Worth also mentioning much of the above applies to the contract market too. There are of course always exceptions depending on timing, personal perception and circumstance.