By Lukas Vanterpool, founder and co-owner of The Sterling Choice
Like any sector, recruitment teams in the food industry need to attract and, importantly, retain the absolute best people. But hiring the “right” person is not always as easy as it sounds, especially post pandemic and in a time of increasingly hybrid working styles.
Outlined below are some key points recruitment professionals might consider to enable them to both attract and hire the right people in 2023.
1. Do you deserve the best candidates?
When it comes to attracting talent, you get what you deserve. Many companies say they want the best and have a type of person and certain skill sets in mind when they pull a job ad together. But why should the best people consider joining you if you’re not the best employer?
So many companies are getting this very simple part so wrong, and it’s wasting time and money. Look at your company. How do you really compare? We’re not talking about who makes the most money. What do you offer your hard-working staff in terms of great benefits, competitive salaries, training, and progression opportunities? Do you offer a warm, accepting and diverse culture that recognises the importance of work/life balance?
Next, take a look at the vacancy you’re trying to fill. What does the best candidate actually look like? You need to understand that this will change with every vacancy. You need to look at matching candidate ambition with the opportunity you’re offering. Get this bit right and you’ll start hiring the right talent. Not to mention, you’ll improve retention across your team massively!
If as a business, your company is not doing all it can to attract and then retain the right people, you will find that the right people simply won’t come to you. You cannot expect to secure the best talent if you aren’t striving to be the best employer you can be. A sub-standard employer will attract sub-standard applicants.
High-ranking candidates with the right experience, industry reputation, and successes on their resumes will be looking for high-ranking food and beverage businesses to continue their career with.
If you want top class talent you may need to take steps to ensure your company, together with your managers and leaders, deserves to and therefore is able to, attract the very best of the best.
2. Neurodiverse vs neurotypical – is your hiring process accessible to all?
Diversity of thought process, creative style, project approach, and perspective can only make a team or business stronger. So, you might be surprised to find your hiring processes are inaccessible to neurodiverse candidates, the people who could bring a missing approach or skill set to your business.
Neurodiversity doesn’t have an official definition, but it refers to variation that exists in the human brain with regards to mood, attention, learning, and sociability. Indeed.com states, “while the term was initially coined to describe autism to avoid labelling the condition as a disability, it’s generally accepted that it also includes people with ADHD, Tourette’s syndrome, dyslexia, and dyspraxia.”
ND people can have unique strengths, ranging from data-driven thinking to sustained focus over long periods, an ability to spot patterns and trends, and the capacity to process information at extraordinary speeds – all useful skills within the food manufacturing and food engineering industries.
Also, if the hiring process is not prohibitive for ND people, the unique skill sets they often display can make it easier to attract and retain skilled workers in hard-to-fill positions.
The way a job ad is presented, the interview process, feedback procedures, and job offer communications could all be prohibitive to ND candidates, seeing them drop out of the process, or not apply at all in the first place.
2023 might be the right time to review your entire recruitment process and ensure it is accessible to both neurotypical and neurodiverse applicants, so your business does not miss out on the right candidate for a hard to fill role.
3. Company red flags – what does your hiring process convey to candidates?
When advertising a role, it is important to remember that potential candidates are scrutinising your business and its practices. From deciphering job ads, submitting applications, and navigating the sometimes-lengthy interview process, to waiting to hear if they have progressed to the next stage and understanding the ins and outs of any offer they might receive – candidates will have plenty of opportunity to get a feel of your company and the way you do business.
Take the job ad itself. Is there transparent information about the salary? Is the description littered with vague buzz words, like “fast paced” and “self-starter”? This vagueness of detail can misrepresent employers’ expectations, set candidates up for failure, and give a false impression of a company’s culture. Try to focus on job descriptions that communicate the specific reality of a role and company.
As an interviewer if you turn up late or are unprepared it shows a lack of respect for the candidate and their time. This goes for rescheduling numerous times too.
If an interview team lets slip negative or potentially inappropriate comments about the company, teams, or even specific team members during the interview (and it does happen!!), candidates may decide to reconsider the opportunity.
It’s worthwhile considering an outside perspective, putting yourself in the shoes of an applicant, and troubleshooting any potential pain points that could make the right person discount your company as a potential employer.
4. Value your values
Value-based recruitment (VBR) previously tended to be common in education, care, and support industries. But more and more industries are now realizing the long-term productivity and job satisfaction benefits of VBR and are implementing it in their own recruitment practices.
In a nutshell, VBR refers to an approach that attracts talent on the basis that an individual’s values and behaviors align with the values of a particular company or organization.
Michael Blakeley argues, “companies are now doubling down on values-based recruitment to try and hire people who want something more than just a paycheck every month; they want candidates who believe in their purpose and have a similar overlap in values.”
Google is one of the most well-known advocates of a values-based approach. It says, “if we hire you based on your skills, we’ll get a skilled employee. If we hire you based on your skills, and your enduring passions, and your distinct experiences and perspectives, we’ll get a Googler. That’s what we want.”
As we all enter an increasingly hybrid working environment, where some team members are rarely physically in the same room as each other, a shared culture and set of values are more important than ever.
It works both ways too, as, if a newly hired employee’s value preferences align with the values or environment of a company, they will be happy in their role and perform better.
If VBR isn’t part of your hiring team’s recruitment process, you might just be missing out on attracting and, importantly, retaining the very best candidates the food industry has to offer.
5. Recruitment agility is key
Finally, both managers and hiring teams need to be more agile when it comes to recruiting – especially for hard-to-find skill sets.
Employers need to be more open around engaging in conversations regarding reduced, condensed, or part-time hours to secure the necessary skill sets, and hiring teams need to be more flexible in their role requirements. What is often stopping recruiters from finding the person they need is the full-time nature of the hours. There are more and more people out there who would excel in a role but want something other than a standard working week.
For example, if there is a particular skills gap, companies should be asking themselves how much of that skill makes up the job and can they extract that skill and distill it into a part-time role, then share out the more generic elements of the role across other positions or build another separate part-time position.
Don’t discount a candidate who ticks all your boxes but wants a more creatively styled working week.
Food industry hiring teams may need to reconsider their “usual” approaches and look to not only embrace recruitment agility, but also interrogate their application processes from an exterior viewpoint to ensure they are inclusive for all and not prohibitive for those perfect candidates in 2023.
Lukas Vanterpool is founder and co-owner of The Sterling Choice, a recruitment firm specializing in the food, engineering and FMCG industries across the UK and US. He is currently on a mission to accelerate the growth of the “chilled” food industry across the US. by challenging how companies approach recruitment.