Uncertainty is synonymous with transport and infrastructure.
Whatever sector you specialise in, everyone in infrastructure is subject to the same insecurity when it comes to securing a bid win, a franchise extension, mergers, acquisitions or if your projects will even materialise due to national and local politics.
If we look back at the last year alone we have had the ongoing political debate around the Heathrow third runway – even after the government backed the Davies commission recommendation, it is still undergoing one further consultation.
We’ve seen Atkins merge with SNC-Lavalin, CH2M merge with Jacobs, Toshiba selling the Moorside Nuclear scheme, Trenitalia buy out National Express subsidiary c2c and London City Airport under new ownership.
Five TOC franchises changed hands in 2017.
Contracting giant Carillion has been embattled with profit warnings.
And the government have stayed quiet on energy, with new nuclear and other major power projects absent from the budget.
Amid all of this turbulence, transport and infrastructure companies still need new talent. Schemes need to be prepared, projects need to be delivered and companies need leaders that can deal with the uncertainty that is part and parcel of the industries we work in.
Just this week the government unveiled its plans to “revolutionise British infrastructure” with a £600bn pipeline of infrastructure spend. That will mean more projects, more bids and more roles to fill.
So how do you find the best candidates and sell them a job that might not materialise?
1. Give them the facts
The candidates view of the risk associated with the opportunity will often be based on hearsay. They will have read things in the news and heard the gossip, but won’t necessarily know all the facts.
Give them the information straight from the horse’s mouth. The risk may not be as high as it is perceived in the press.
However, the goal is to reassure them, not to sell them a dream that isn’t going to happen. The best, most ambitious candidates will be open to a degree of uncertainty and will be able to deal with some level of ambiguity. So giving a realistic forecast will help you to whittle out the weaker candidates.
2. Have a plan B
Whether you are recruiting for a new initiative, a bid team, a project where approval hasn’t been finalised or where a contract is near the end of its term, have a back-up plan.
You are much more likely to sell the role to potential candidates if you can provide a potential alternative if plans fall through or are delayed.
Actively discuss this alternative with them at interview and give them plenty of assurance that, if they join the company, then a role is available no matter what the outcome might be.
3. Bring out the big guns
If it’s a critical role and carries a significant risk for candidates, you need to use every means at your disposal to secure them. Ensure they meet the CEO or other key figureheads at final interview to help sell the opportunity and reinforce its importance.
4. Make the offer worth the risk
If the role is particularly uncertain, for example if the company is due to be bought out imminently, then you need to make the rewards outweigh the risks.
This could be fast track career progression if all goes to plan, an upper quartile remuneration package or an additional bonus to help sweeten the deal.
If all else fails, then you may find that offering a fixed term contract or taking on someone on a freelance basis is the best course of action. You always have option of making the role permanent when plans are more secure.
With the New Year rapidly approaching you may be starting to think about your executive teams for 2018. Feel free to click HERE to get in touch and see how we can help.