With the pandemic ushering in an era of hybrid working, organisations competing for top language professionals must consider revisiting their recruitment processes. And particularly at a time when candidates are not only far more selective when they apply for jobs but can also afford to weigh up different offers, both a strong employer brand and employee value proposition (EVP) is fundamental in attracting the best language candidates. Here, we examine the new hiring and work landscape, looking at some of the ways in which companies can steal an advantage in the talent stakes.
Recruiting language staff
While salary does still remain an important factor for language candidates looking to move jobs, especially with the cost-of-living crisis and energy prices affecting household incomes, work-life balance is set to play an even more important part in the future. The vast majority of language professionals will expect a hybrid model of working, one which will typically allow them to spend two or three days working from home to better accommodate their personal life commitments. Indeed, 4 in 5 hiring managers say that staff turnover will increase and they will lose talent if this is not granted.
While flexible working and monetary benefits (salaries, pensions, bonuses etc.) are all key parts of any rewards package, there are many other things they can offer potential employees to entice them to join their companies. The mental wellbeing of staff having difficulties coping with greater workloads and also being unable to switch off when working remotely has underscored the need for employee assistance programmes (EAPs) that include counselling services, for example. There has also been an increased focus on financial wellbeing for those dealing with money pressures as well as physical wellbeing and coaching programmes, such as fitness classes and dietary advice.
Unearthing the legions of ‘hidden workers’
But to source top language candidates, organisations must look beyond traditional talent pools and turn their attention to the many millions of a demographic that the Harvard Business Review (HBR) referred to as ‘hidden workers’ – the people who have somehow been marginalised from the workforce. This rich talent pool includes army veterans, carers, ex-offenders, those with mental and physical issues as well as immigrants. HBR research estimated that there were over 28 million such workers in the US who had slipped through the net with similar scenarios in the UK and Germany.
Among this cohort are older workers who have perhaps been more likely to suffer the middle management cost-cutting consequences brought on by the pandemic. Yet these individuals bring many years’ knowledge and experience, which is subsequently lost, with many also giving up on the idea of looking for work. Evidence also suggests that over-50s are much less likely to be re-employed than their younger colleagues – negative age stereotypes are seemingly very prevalent.
Therefore, it is imperative that employers revisit their job descriptions and abandon the notion of the perfect candidate while being careful with the language they use in job ads. For example, how would an older worker react to words such as ‘dynamic’ or ‘digital native’? Not everyone is a Zoomer so the text must be inclusive. Job ads with masculine coded words such as ‘driven’, ‘ambitious’ and ‘individual’ will likely attract fewer women as they will be more drawn to roles that are ‘collaborative’.
This untapped talent pool provides organisations with a golden opportunity to refresh their hiring and recruitment processes so that they can break down certain barriers, for example by participating in programmes that specifically seek to enable the homeless and those with disabilities to enter the workforce. Particularly effective for entry level roles, organisations can adopt ‘open hiring’ practices which do not require CVs to apply for jobs. Those with criminal backgrounds or without the right qualifications will not be excluded as this process focuses on hiring for potential and attitude.
Office vs. homeworking – a balancing act
Despite the changes to the way we work, the office will still play an important role for staff and future talent. Many language graduates embarking on their careers will want to spend time in the office, not just for the social dynamics but also to learn from their more experienced colleagues. A lack of training opportunities will turn language candidates away and let’s face it, there is only so much you can do virtually – in person and on-the-job training are key to development. Too much remote working can also cause burnout, so it’s important to reach a healthy middle ground.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) continues to be a major business imperative for language candidates who want to join companies that encourage diversity of thought and cultural differences. But they also want to part of inclusive environments where they can be themselves and access equal opportunities for promotions. And while many feel that it is a priority in their organisation, almost a third of workers would like to see more done, particularly breaking the glass ceiling for women and under-represented groups, such as ethnic minorities and the neuro-diverse.
Recruiting language talent in the new world of work
Top language professionals will not only expect competitive salaries, they will also want to join progressive, diverse and inclusive organisations that will allow them to work flexibly so that they can achieve a more optimal work-life balance. And in a jobs market where candidates are in short supply, employers must get more creative and dip into the pool of ‘hidden workers’ to plug those skills gaps. Those that don’t modernise their recruitment processes and offerings will miss out on the best language talent. The notion of recruitment and talent attraction as we knew it has changed forever.
Find out more about Top Language Jobs and how we can help you find the talent you need here.