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Winning the tussle for talent

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How do you make your practice attractive in an increasingly competitive jobs market? Lindsay Urquhart has some tips

Competition for talent has risen dramatically in the past 18 months and we are seeing experienced job seekers typically securing between five and six interviews, resulting in two or three offers. One overseas applicant arriving recently in London from Canada with advanced Revit skills managed to arrange no fewer than 20 interviews before he arrived in the UK, and his efforts resulted in eight offers.

As workload increases, so does the pressure to hire. It’s no secret that architects work long hours, and while this is generally accepted as part of the job when deadlines loom, if it becomes the norm there is a tendency for people to look elsewhere.

So, besides keeping a close eye on overtime, what else can you do to ensure that your business wins in the war for talent in this increasingly competitive market?

One overseas applicant arriving recently in London from Canada with advanced Revit skills managed to arrange no fewer than 20 interviews before he arrived in the UK

If your practice is a small or middling sized one then you are able to offer potential employees the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the business. Unlike their peers in larger organisations, successful candidates are likely to be given responsibility for delivering a number of projects in a relatively short timeframe. In terms of learning and development this is a fantastic opportunity, regardless of where you are in your career.

When writing job ads, conducting interviews and in the negotiation stages, ensure that you are promoting this aspect of what you have to offer. Explain what jobs they will be working on and what opportunities for learning this will provide. It may seem obvious, but it is a huge selling point and can have a big impact when potential employees are weighing up a position with you, versus one in a larger organisation.

At the other end of the scale, larger practices often lose out as a result of a cumbersome screening and interview process. Speed of response has never been more critical, and taking a week or so to respond to applicants or insisting on a two or three-stage interview process will inevitably result in disappointment as the best people will have already been snapped up.

Larger practices also tend to be less specific at interview stage about what project a potential employee will be working on. While it is understandable, since resourcing requirements can change on a weekly basis, it also has a huge impact on whether an applicant will be inclined to accept a position with you. If projects are uncertain it may pay to discuss in detail likely projects and the individual’s role in each.

Lindsay Urquhart is founder of Bespoke Careers

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