Thoughts from Singapore #16 – Peter Mills, Country Manager, McCall Asia
Candidate & Client Attraction
Last month in Singapore figures published by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) in its annual Population in Brief report showed that Singapore’s population grew to 5.54 Million rising 1.2% for the last 12 months. The number of non-residents (Expats and their families) rose by only 2.1 per cent to 1.63 million - a slowdown from the 2.9 per cent growth the previous year and is generally attributed to the dropping numbers of foreigners looking to move to the country. In 2011 foreign employment growth excluding domestic helpers hit a high of 77,000, It fell to 60,000 in 2012-2013 then declined further to 33,000 a year later and now to 23,000 in 2014-2015 - a significant drop indeed.
With the dwindling numbers of skilled workers coming to Singapore, instead choosing to look at other developing countries in the region along with the growing skills gap & ageing population in Singapore now more than ever companies are needing to up their game in the Talent attraction and Talent retention business. Failure to do this now versus later will affect many businesses over the coming years hence immediate focus needed.
So what do companies need to do to attract the best talent in the market today when the choices for todays candidates is growing rapidly? Personally I believe there is a number of pretty straight forward answers to the questions that quite frankly every Manager, Country manager, MD, CEO etc should already know; the problem most companies have is that they do not apply the simple strategies we see every day from successful companies in a wide range of fields: Candidates today in Singapore when looking for a new role have a wide range of options with different sizes and cultures of agencies - so they can be very choosy when making decisions re a new role. It is in my view imperative to get the basics right which include your own companies website and social media presence as a package, partnering with an ethical recruitment to recruitment firm to spread positive news on your company and proactively work on your behalf, selling your company at every interview (even if the candidate is not able to be hired at that time) but generally making sure your brand is visible as much as possible. These are simply steps in today’s business world - yet it is still amazing to me how many companies and managers overlook at least one of these essential areas.
Every interview will generally have the standard question thrown in at some point- tell me what you know about our company. Nowadays candidates and clients have the option of checking a websites, facebook / Twitter / Linkedin / Google+ etc pages where they should be able to find out all the information they need to answer this question and ultimately make an initial favourable opinion on the company for themselves. Unfortunately daily we see a huge number of company pages on all these sites which have only very basic information, or even out of date news, some even have the wrong company addresses on them, some have literally no information on their company’s culture, their staff, their areas of expertise… As we all know, first impressions count! When candidates have a number of different opportunities to choose from, or are looking for companies to approach, then this can be the one reason that they narrow the list down to consider solely those that look and promote a professional organisation and brand.
I think we would all agree that nowadays we all need to have a progressive social media strategy that sets us apart from the competition where possible, this should definitely look the part, be interactive and as well as advertising vacancies, also advertise the company, the culture and expertise/specialisations. New staff, clients and current employees should all be impressed by the company’s online profile and presence, as lets be honest, it can make the difference in many ways - it is a great selling tool for all. Having mistakes on your sites, having out of date information and having very little company information to sell a company shows a distinct lack of understanding of the digital market place today - and that covers all industries and verticals.
Partnering with a reputable recruitment to recruitment company like McCall is also an essential tool for helping to build your brand, promote your culture and attract top talent to your business. If you are not partnered you should be aware of running the risk of losing staff – after all who wants to become a source of candidates. More importantly you lose out on a second voice singing your companies praises which in turn gets the word out to many many more recruiters and clients whom they in turn network with, plus you lose out on hearing updated market information. Finally, your vacancies will gain far greater exposure with a wider audience than you could ever reach yourself – we can all do with some brand advocates!
Selling and promoting your company brand should not just come from you or your rec to rec though - it should come from all your staff and ideally your clients. Every interview you do or client you meet should walk away having had an enjoyable and professional experience irrespective of the final outcome and in my view that’s the easiest thing to do - also one of the best selling and advertising tools we possess. Obviously doing a great job on every level and representing your candidates to the best of your ability will always be what sets your business apart from your competition - nonetheless social media and the perception of your business from employees, interviewees and clients will help no end to boost your business plus help to attract the next generation of top talent.
With technology having become such a major part of business - and more and more talent coming from the digital age, branding is another key area which will set your business ahead of the competition. Utilizing the internet is for the most part free and the more your adverts, company information, company updates etc are shown on these sites providing ofcourse the content is interesting and pertinent!) then more people will take notice and before long your brand will be one people look at firstly.
People will always buy from people – that’s our industry - but in 215 and going forwards you have to be at the top of your game to attract the best talent - which will in turn see your business grow the way you want it to. Getting the basics right helps to make sure that the top talent doesn’t pass you by...
- Company Website
- Social media
- Rec to rec
- Brand awareness
- Selling your company at every turn
The year of the sheep is now well into quarter two in Singapore and already we are seeing some trends pan out for the recruitment industry. The recruitment market according to most is pretty buoyant across all sectors with the exception of the oil and gas market still being in a state of flux and construction and real estate not hitting the levels of previous years. The positive sectors, as with last year, seem to be the banking industry which despite rumours of possible movement away from Singapore continues to hit the high notes, along with the pharmaceutical industry which is growing rapidly across Asia.
One of the main areas we are seeing growing in the wrong direction is the countries skill shortages - but this has become more apparent within the recruitment sector in Singapore over the last year and unfortunately looks like continuing in the future. With the Singapore government halving the amount of PR applications being approved and some would say the seemingly continued prejudice against foreign workers moving into Singapore, the race to grab good talent is intensifying. The recruitment sector in Singapore today is now more highly regulated than anywhere in the world and is now having to contend with more and more barriers in place before talent can enter.
I agree with the Singapore government's policy in putting Singaporean workers first - however I think the tightening of foreign talent has happened too early as all we are seeing and hearing now across all areas is that companies are struggling to hire the talent and experience they need to grow and in some cases even just to remain on an even level. More and more foreign workers are having their employment passes refused despite the experience they bring with them - even more worryingly for the country in my view, is that the majority of start up companies who used to choose Singapore as their Asian base are now choosing other Asian locations, in part perhaps due to the ease of hiring local and external talent elsewhere.
Despite the growing shortage of talent there are still over 2400 licensed (non domestic worker agencies) recruitment agencies in Singapore and with a population of just over five million competition is very high. Hopefully with the reducing number of recruiters the potential of increased competition will hep keep up standards in the Singapore recruitment industry so that candidates and clients alike receive a continuing high standard of service. As an industry it is essential to continue to rise - away from the view of our industry from the murky depths of many years ago, when even investment bankers were thought of as having more morals! Unfortunately on the other side of the coin this may cause some of the less ethical agencies out there, and sadly there are still a few, continuing to reduce their service levels and worst of all their ethical barriers.
The obvious initial path is to provide continual relevant training to staff to improve them as recruiters - which also makes them feel more valued as an employee and more experienced to boot. Partnering with an experienced ethical Rec 2 Rec such as McCall is essential in my view as then you do not only get quality candidates you also get their experience, and free consultation on how to grow your business and reputation, not to mention the PR they are passing out to the marketplace on your behalf. Sometimes companies need to build up and improve their market reputation after a poor or even just a quieter year, a previous ineffectual manager, or large staff turnover - many issues affect perception, but as we know, perception is reality. One spiteful employee unfortunately can do a lot of damage to a company and brand so it is essential nowadays that companies try to make sure the staff, even when leaving, have had a good overall experience which their colleagues can also note and respect.
One of the mistakes I believe too many agencies make after interviewing potential members of staff who are not going to make the grade for the company, is that they quickly usher them out the door leaving the candidate with a poor feeling of the organisation. To me every candidate who walks through your door should walk out of your office with a positive professional view of your company even if they have not been hired, similarly you are building your rapport with your supplier to avoid repeat unsuccessful interviews. We all interview more people who we don't hire than those we do hire - so if everyone leaves with a positive impression it goes a long way to helping build your reputation as a business as people talk, especially in an incestuous market like Singapore! Spending time and selling your business even with candidates who will not make the grade is free advertising and when more and more people are talking positively about your business the easier it is to see your reputation spiral and attract the candidates you want to work within your company. The best candidates often want to be represented by a well-established and successful rec 2 rec agency - so it is vital to source your relations well when you want to hire, or you may miss some of the precious few that are out there!
Increasing breadth and improving the amount and quality of your company's social media is another essential tool moving forwards - LinkedIn, Facebook, Google +, About me etc. are all free; if used properly they can really boost your company's profile which in turn leads to more volume and better calibre enquiries.
In previous blogs I have covered graduate hiring which many agencies in Asia are turning to as the Singapore Government as part of there treating Singapore workers fairly policy are providing subsidised wages and this is an excellent way to get cheaper labour but the recruitment industry does struggle with strong competiotion from the banking industry, also engineering, IT - who also want to attract the best talent.
There are many ways to get ahead in the game and nowadays in Asia it is very quickly becoming a necessity to go above and beyond the norm - to place your company as high as it can go - so that in going forward you are not left behind. Testing times are ahead for Singapore with the skills gap, talent gap but most of all the actual personnel gap becoming a major worry for so many industries. I wonder how easy the Singapore government finds it to hire staff?
McCall is pleased to announce that Norris and Partners, a major Australian recruitment to recruitment firm is merging with McCall.
Nick Bancroft, Joint MD commented "We are delighted to announce that McCall has merged its Australian business with Norris and Partners to form McCall Norris. Lisa Norris is very well known and respected in the Australian recruitment to recruitment market and the coming together of the two key recruitment to recruitment businesses generates a global platform for clients to attract candidates from both networks and for candidates to be given opportunities, alongside our Singapore office, from most parts of the world. This is a really important and key expansion for McCall and we look forward to a long and profitable relationship."
Lisa Norris, Director of Norris and Partners commented "this was a natural progression for us having developed a strong brand in Australia. This merger will provide our client and candidate base global scope and leverage. I am extremely confident of what McCall Norris will achieve locally, providing our clients and candidates with even greater talent access and global opportunities. Having known the directors at McCall for over 15 years I am also confident of the collaboration between both companies that will benefit our client base."
If you need staffing in Australia or you are a candidate looking to relocate please contact any of the below - we also have an office in Singapore focusing on the Asian market - we have a strong International presence.
Office: 01992 643884
Julie O'Neill (Joint MD) M: 07713643761 E: Julie@mccall.co.uk
Nick Bancroft (Joint MD) M: 07811250055 E: email@example.com
Peter Mills (Country Manager - Asia) M: +6593582668 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Norris (Director McCall Norris) M: +61411182024 E: email@example.com