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How to recruit staff: attracting the best candidates

This is Chris Smith’s second piece on how to recruit staff. Make sure you also read his first piece, “How to recruit staff: write a good job description”.

Now that you have your job description nailed down and you know exactly what you’re looking for, the hard work starts. The first thing to remember is that from here, you start to pay.

Free exposure

Before you get the cheque book out, ensure you give your job the utmost exposure through any and all free means you have at your disposal.

A quick checklist here should include:

  1. Communicating to the people in your business that you’re in the market for new staff and be clear on what you’re looking for. This could be through a staff meeting, a noticeboard or the intranet. Make sure you have your company on the lookout for you, as you’ll be surprised at how many of your employees know people who are looking for work, but unless prompted to, won’t prompt their connections to apply.
  2. Using any and all social media channels that your company employs to get the message out – put it out on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and any other network you engage in. Don’t forget that if you do use these channels, keep them updated as you progress – there is nothing worse for a candidate than applying for a job that has already been filled. And remember that if this happens, then the next time you’re looking they might not apply even though they might just be perfect.
  3. Obviously (but often forgotten) using your own website and, if appropriate, any other external communications you have (eg: newsletters, expos, etc.)

With these boxed off, you may want (if timescales permit) to draw breath for a while and see what traffic comes through. But if you’re not lucky enough to have relevant responses from the above, then the next step you need to take is to go externa.

External consultants

Before hiring anyone, it is key that you think about what your budget is to recruit, as this is where simple mistakes can prove costly.

When you’re deciding on where to feature the advert, what should you think about?

Firstly, look at the job description that you’ve written. Where is the ideal candidate most likely to look for a job   If you’re advertising for a marketing director, it’s probably not the best idea to advertise in your local newspaper. Likewise, if you want a part-time receptionist, advertising in the Guardian might be over-the-top!

Think also about job boards, but take time to research them properly, as most will promise much and deliver little. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some really great job boards out there, but they’re only going to be as good as the candidate traffic they deliver to you, so do your homework. You’ll be better off with ten well-qualified responses than a hundred responses from people who “just liked the look of the job”.

It is also worth thinking about recruitment agencies. If you choose this route, go for a specialist and look at their track record. Again, hidden costs hide down this route include the time spent agreeing terms of business, educating them as to your needs, etc. Unless you have experience of using an agency, it’s all too easy to accept the first deal offered by them – make sure you NEGOTIATE. Never, ever accept their first offer on a fee, and aim to pay on success only – the market is still very much in your favour.  

Finally, there are also recruitment marketplaces. The benefits of these services are numerous and include engaging with multiple agencies on a single contract, you pay a fee your budget can afford, and they are generally free to use and you pay only ever pay on success. The downside is that even though you’re paying a lower fee to an agency, you’re obviously still paying a fee to recruit someone.

Be ready

No matter which channels you use, remember that this is just one component of your overall recruitmennt process – you must ensure that you’re set up and ready to deal with candidate traffic. This is simply common courtesy and the minimum you’d expect yourself if you applied for a job.

If a great candidate has applied to you, then the odds are that their CV will also be with your competitors: be ready to act fast.

Blended approach

The most successful companies tend to take a blended approach from the above. Remember that the more organised you are in terms of your resource plans, the more likely you are to find people at the lower price points.

You’re the one who will be writing the cheque at the end of the process, so remember that whichever channel/s you use (be it the local paper or a boutique head hunter) you’re entitled to demand satisfaction!

This is the second in a series of “common sense” recruitment tips. Next time we’ll be looking at the CV review and interview stage. Chris Smith is the founder of recruitment marketplace Before this, Chris was joint founder of ecrmpeople, which he grew into a £12m company over seven years.

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