How to compete with London companies to hire staff in Hertfordshire

As a Letchworth recruitment agency we’re often asked this question by our clients – how to compete with London companies to hire staff in Hertfordshire? They’re not niche businesses, they don’t have pockets as deep as their London competition and some worry about competing with the cachet of a City office, so how can they win the best talent for their companies? The answer is simple to say, but difficult to action – be ‘different’.

As a local business in Hertfordshire you have one thing on your side to make you different, even better, that many in London simply don’t have the luxury of, and that’s flexibility. So, use it to make the prospect of working with you more attractive to the right candidate.

Know your enemy

When you involve the recruitment sector to find the talent your Hertfordshire firm needs to grow, you’ll often find that the best candidates are drawn to the bright lights of London, so it’s important to understand what attracts them. Know your enemy so you can know how to beat them.

  1. You may offer a fabulous package, but it will be tough to compete with City companies with larger recruitment budgets, and though travel costs will eat into earnings, you will find many will be seduced by higher salaries.
  2. City thrill. London, especially for those who have never worked there, looks like an exciting place to be, full of bright lights and bustle. The reality, of course, is pollution, congestion and overcrowding, which makes working there a complete nightmare for many, but still, the draw is strong.
  3. Career prospects. There are many large companies in Hertfordshire, but the perception you’re competing with is that if your candidate dreams of a household-name company for their CV as the secret to their success they’ll be determined to head for the big city.

And, how to beat them

We’ve been in the recruitment industry for many years and in that time we have been able to help many local firms hire staff in Hertfordshire to beat their London competition and gain the staffing talent they wished to employ. The reason these candidates were swayed came down to five simple differences that our local clients were able to offer them:

  1. Ditch that commute

Much of Hertfordshire may be within an hour of London, making the commute seem ‘doable’. However, wiser people will realise, once it’s discussed, that the 15 to 30-minute drive to work is so much better for their work-life balance than the long commute to London at the mercy of transport disputes, breakdowns and ‘leaves on the line’! You can’t change the location of your offices/warehouse, but have you ever considered that your location could well be an advantage for some, the very thing that attracts them to you so they can leave the nightmare of a commute behind them?

  1. Package precision

London firms have deep pockets, making them stiff competition for the best talent. So, if you are unable to match them financially, be innovative, be different, offer something else within your package that your ideal employee would want. This could be gym or club membership, health insurance, more holiday days, company car, a promise of equity down the line, greater seniority of position, greater responsibility, better career prospects or any of a multitude of elements that hit home at a deeper level than money for the individual you’re looking to attract.

  1. Flexible working

Do you know your ideal candidate’s priorities? If it’s spending time with the family, a rush hour-free journey to or from work, time off to see their kids’ sports days or school plays, more holiday days, or time working from home rather than the office, then flexible working or agile working could be the thing you can offer that means more than money to them.

  1. Environment

Many London firms have a reputation for being tough on their employees, to expect longer working hours, higher targets to be hit and to do so for a deeper hierarchy of management. But if your Hertfordshire-based company is looking to be different you might privatise environment and make it significantly different from your London competitors – friendly, inclusive, team-orientated, flatter hierarchy structure, involving staff in the decision-making process and so on. Create an environment your target candidates would love to work in.

  1. Prospects

Promotions, pay rises, titles and equity shares can all seem unattainable for most staff, impacting on their desire to work for your company and the effort they’d put in if they were accepted the position. However, with a little consideration and planning you could offer a view of the future, a potential pathway your ideal candidate could walk as an employee, that might make your position seem that much more desirable.

So, with less travel, clearer prospects, flexible working, a clever candidate-focused package and the right working environment, you stand a far better chance of beating your London competition to hire staff in Hertfordshire that your company needs to take it forward.

Emma Ellis is co-founder of Ellis Mason Letchworth recruitment agency, helping the small to medium sized business community across Hertfordshire to find the best people for exciting roles they can excel in. If you are looking for someone new for your office, contact us today on 01462 510 148.

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