The Challenges of Recruiting in the Scottish Public and Not for Profit Sectors

Douglas Adam, head of  our Public and Not for Profit practice, shares his thoughts on the challenges of recruiting for the public and not for profit sectors with employment at a record high…

The latest ONS figures show that employment in Scotland is at a record high.  Whilst this is positive for the Scottish economy as a whole, with fewer people actively looking for work it does pose a challenge for organisations looking to hire. This is particularly true for the PSEC sector where the need to ‘do more with less’ is an everyday reality.

Recruiting in the Public and Not for Profit Sectors offers a unique challenge in attracting external candidates, so this reduced talent pool is a particular matter that needs to be addressed.  At Livingston James our focus is on finding the best person for the role by understanding the complexities facing the organisation. This means we can target potential candidates through both rigorous research and extensive networks.

We frequently find that the highest calibre candidates are what we refer to as ‘passive’, i.e. those in employment and not actively seeking new opportunities. These candidates are unlikely to choose to apply for advertised roles, hence the need for a robust, research based process.

What does this look like?

Be Clear About What’s On Offer

A well written job description or ‘position profile’ provides potential candidates with information on the responsibilities and scope of the role. A detailed position profile can also challenge any miss-conceptions associated with the Public and Not for Profit sector regarding commerciality, speed of change, and future career development.

Challenge Perceptions

During initial discussions on desired candidate profile, the normal ‘status quo’ should be challenged.  For example for senior and board roles, what should be deemed more important; industry knowledge or a proven track in delivering change and results? An effective executive search consultant should challenge on these points whilst developing the profile, and influence appropriately to deliver the most accurate outline of the role.

Widen the Search

With social networking offering access to candidates from various localities and backgrounds, it is important that a recruiter begins each assignment with a blank piece of paper, rather than relying on traditional networks.

Using robust search methodology and social media, the challenge in any recruitment process is often not the identification of potential candidates but in the capture and conversion into formal applications. Not as easy as it seems. Experienced consultants use research to identify potential triggers e.g. returning to a location, securing a promoted post, or working with an organisation linked to the candidate’s background or interests.

Be Transparent

Within the Public and Not for Profit Sectors robust and transparent assessment is crucial, especially if internal candidates are involved.  All candidates should undergo a consistent process ensuring the opportunity is truly made available to all, with an evidence based approach essential. For internal candidates not progressed, such evidence can be utilised in individual development plans

An advantage to working with a recruitment partner is to ensure the opportunity is marketed to the widest audience and made available to those who offer best fit rather than availability. For every assignment, adopting a robust research and evidence based approach providing the client value for money and the best possible person for the role.

Douglas Adam is head of Public Sector and Not for Profit at Livingston James, with a 100% success rate on retained roles.  For a confidential discussion with Douglas, email [email protected]

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