When you’re in the tender phase of a bid, the focus is on winning the bid.
Loose plans might be made around how you will stand up and deliver if you win, but not too much time is spent considering it before the wet signature is on the page.
But once that signature is there, the scramble to move into the next stage and stand up the project team begins quickly.
How well you go in hiring the people you need when you need them and the level of stretch your current team will be under until you do will depend on your prior planning and recruitment execution.
It sounds easy, hire the people in line with the project plan and get to work. It rarely, if ever, works like that.
There have been many times, where we have swooped in to help our clients with their project recruitment when they are running behind schedule as well as others in the bid planning phase. Here are a few things you can do to set you, and your team up for success when you need to recruit a project team.
Before the Project is Signed Off
It’s a balancing act. How much time do you invest in planning for something that might not happen? It depends on how quickly you will need to commence work (and need the people onboard and inducted to commence the work).
Before the project is signed off, there are at least three things you need to be clear about.
1. Know what people you will need and when
Regardless of whether you need to stand up a team of 10, 30 or 70, knowing what jobs you will need to hire and in what order is critical. This Project Recruitment Planning Template can help you to define the roles, reporting line and the last possible date the role can start along with other important details to meet the project timeframes. This builds a picture of the order of hires needed.
2. Be clear on your priorities
When recruiting at pace or for volume, there are four interconnected priorities to consider. Your talent acquisition strategy will be informed by your needs around: –
Surety of recruitment outcomes
They are trade-offs – if you have a short timeline and you need surety of recruitment outcomes, it will come at a higher cost. That’s not necessarily external costs, it could be internal costs as effort is redirected to recruitment efforts.
3. Talent acquisition strategy
Define a loose talent acquisition strategy:
Who internally will take the lead?
What channels will you engage in for direct hiring?
Will you partner with a recruitment agency?
If yes, who is on the shortlist of companies and how will you engage them – what will you need help with?
Lewis Landau, Business Development Manager at Kinexus advises clients to start the recruitment process for project ramp-ups at least 10 - 12 weeks before they need people to start. “Too often clients approach me to assist with project recruitment when they need people to start the following month. Unless you have the most efficient recruitment process and are looking for a relatively easy to find skill set, it’s very unlikely you will meet this timeline”.
His top three tips in ramping up to commence project or volume recruitment are:
1. Prepare job descriptions
It’s surprising how often a company will attempt to commence recruitment with job titles and a few bullet points of details. If you are standing up a new project, you are also building the reputation of what it’s going to be like to work on the project. Prospective candidates will want to see job descriptions. Even if they are draft. Job descriptions force you to consider how roles work together and even in their draft form, they give candidates an idea of how they could fit in with what you’re planning.
2. Recruitment & onboarding process
Give thought to how you will run the recruitment and onboarding process.
How many interviews will you conduct?
Who will sit on them and be responsible for providing feedback after interviews?
When standing up a project team, the interviewing part of the process requires significant investment of time, usually from different departments. Even if you only need to recruit 10 people, that works out to be 80 - 100 hours simply sitting in interviews.
Not having a clear recruitment and offer management process will cost you good people as they find other opportunities. Aim for a process of a maximum of four weeks from CV review to offer paperwork sent.
3. Engage external partners
Work out what you can manage in-house and bring in external support to help where you need it. Recruiting for a project or at volume is different to business-as-usual recruitment due to the speed and number of roles being recruited concurrently. Whether it’s a talent acquisition contractor or outsourcing the whole project recruitment, bringing in expertise will keep your project and delivery on track.
Based on our experience having supported many project recruits in defence industry, there are some common pitfalls we see.
Candidate experience: When people are busy in the recruitment process, one of the first things that can slip is timely feedback to prospective candidates. People who have invested their time to apply, to interview. Project recruitment is an important exercise in employer branding and keeping the experience of your prospective employees front of mind through the process is essential.
Availability of hiring managers: Overseas travel, leave, conference attendance and general work can mean the hiring managers are not available to attend interviews or give feedback on preferences. Project recruitment needs to be prioritised or the timeline will slip.
Onboarding processes: When you’re growing the team quickly, having the IT, desk space and induction training facilitator available are all critical. Countless times we’ve seen this delay start dates.
Existing team stretch: Your existing team will be stretched until you get your project team hired, inducted and productive. Every delay in the recruitment process extends the stretch period for your existing team and puts them at risk of burnout.
Standing up your project team is your first step on your way to project delivery. Don’t underestimate the time needed to recruit at volume, even if that volume is 10. Like most things, a little early planning leads to greater success.
To learn more about the services that Kinexus offers and to explore whether your business could benefit from Project Recruitment or RPO, get in touch today.