Finding the right social housing professional is never easy. Competition for core skills remains unchanged and new legislation such as the Homelessness Reduction Act and the Housing & Planning Act is creating new demands. It is more important than ever for employers to streamline their applicant journey at every stage if they are to find talent for these hard-to-fill roles.
The insights from our latest Hays What Workers Want Report indicate that public and not-for-profit (PNFP) employers currently have much to celebrate when it comes to what influences people to apply for and accept new roles.
Applicants are more likely to have a positive experience at each stage of their applicant journey within the PNFP sector, who are more inclined to have a policy of hiring first via their website than their private sector counterparts. As a result their web portals tend to be easier to use; 51% of PNFP applicants report a positive experience applying via a career portal compared to 43% of private sector applicants.
Whilst there is currently much to commend within the PNFP application journey, improvements to processes and systems can still be made to give employers the best chance of securing the most talented and experienced social housing professionals. We outline our top three recommendations below:
1. Don’t prioritise job application functionality at the cost of speed
Despite being more user-friendly, the functionality of PNFP websites does tend to come at the expense of speed. 64% of PNFP employers say their online application takes over 15 minutes to complete, a major deterrent for the quarter of social housing professionals who say they would be put off by a process this long. Although the temptation can be to gather as much information as possible about a candidate in the initial application stage, asking succinct and relevant questions and keeping the process as short as possible can help reduce the risk of quality social housing applicants becoming disengaged and abandoning their application.
2. Reply to applicants within a week
One key area where PNFP employers could take a lesson from the private sector is the time they take to respond after an application has been submitted. 79% of social housing applicants believe any longer than a week is unacceptable when waiting to hear if they’ve reached the interview stage after submitting an online application. 58% of private sector employers respond within a week compared to only 51% of PNFP employers, so there are clear opportunities for improvement to ensure a quicker response time for applicants.
3. Always provide constructive post-interview feedback
PNFP sector applicants indicate a generally more positive interview experience than in the private sector. Over half (52%) rate it as good or excellent compared to 48% of their private sector counterparts. However, the majority of social housing applicants (58%) believe employers are not good at providing feedback post-interview, something that PNFP employers should address as a matter of priority, as positive interview experiences are key to securing top talent.
In light of the changes to legislation and the challenges to recruitment it is causing in certain areas of social housing, employers need to ensure they are closely matching candidate expectations, or risk losing the applicants they need for hard-to-fill roles due to slow processes.
For more detailed insights into how employers can hone their application process to attract top talent, you can request your copy of the Hays What Workers Want 2018 report here.