What colour unicorn would you like?

The first 4 months of 2021 (yes, we are now entering MAY, how insane is that!) have thrown up some of the most unbelievable and incredible circumstances of any job market that I’ve been involved in. Although my recruitment career only started in 2011, I’ve still managed to see quite a few ups and downs, changes and challenges along the way but nothing like this!

2020 challenged everyone, not only people in the recruitment industry. I distinctly remember pacing around my backyard on the phone speaking with candidates and clients about what was happening in the world with no one having any answers.

Fast forward 12-months and the Brisbane job market is going gang-busters – at least the areas that we seem to be working in, at the moment.

One of the biggest changes that I have seen over the past several months has been how competitive it is out there for good talent. Suddenly, candidates are juggling multiple job offers on top of counteroffers, and in a lot of cases are spoilt for choice. Employers are finding their unicorns but are soon realising that they are not the only people out there tracking down these mythical beasts!

So how do businesses and hiring managers take advantage of this market and capture the talent that they want?

One key piece of the puzzle is to make sure you are certain on what you are after and have all stakeholders on board with that decision i.e. Know what colour unicorn you want!

Hiring managers need to be clear in their mind on the type of person and skill set that they need in their team/organisation BEFORE they go to market. Have a checklist if you need, whiteboard a bunch of traits with other key stakeholders, or pick up the phone to an experienced recruitment consultant and speak with them about your situation and what problem you are trying to solve.

One way that we at Optimum help is by breaking it down into 2 lots of 3 traits (the amount of each could vary depending on your preferences/needs):

Key Technical Skills (KTS) and Core Behavioural Competencies (CBC)

KTS: What are three skills specific to this role, that the applicant absolutely needs to have.

The trick here is to be specific and be at a reasonably high level. You don’t want to list the first three skills that come to mind for the role which means everyone who applies ticks those boxes – some base level assumptions need to be made. In my opinion, this part of the exercise should also remain specific to the position itself. Don’t necessarily look at the team as a whole; turnover happens, and restructures occur, what is it about this role that you need to be able to depend on day-in-day-out to deliver.

CBC: Here is where you look at the wider team, the organisation as a whole and at yourself as a leader.

If you had 2 or 3 or 4 applicants with the same qualifications and very similar technical skill sets, what personality traits and behavioural competencies are going to add the most value? Again, try to be a little specific, don’t use wishy-washy terms like “friendly” or “nice”, try to use something that is tangible and is related to this position. Perhaps they need strong resilience? Prioritisation skills? Initiative?

Here is where diversity is key! Diversity in thought process, demographics, attitudes etc. all of which when mixed well can produce a super high-performing team.

At the end of all of the planning, discussions, interviews, medical, psychometric assessments and references you should find yourself at a point where you have identified a unicorn who fits the role better than the rest (a pink one even!). You may even be lucky enough to have 2 unicorns in front of you who could each do the job and fit the team, then it’s just a choice of whether you like the pink or the purple one!

The other important piece of the equation is then to be clear on your organisation’s EVP and make sure that you make your decision quickly once you’ve identified the successful applicant…. But those are topics for another blog!

Executive Consultant – Group Solutions

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