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If you’re a child of the 70’s then you’ll remember that alongside stories of giant pandas giving birth, unemployment figures were a regular feature on the Six O’ clock news (and sometimes – shock horror! – they even made it to Newsround on a bad day!) as they rose higher and higher reaching a peak of about 13% of the workforce in the early 80’s. Fast forward to today however and we start the year this year with record lows of under 4%. That’s right folks, even now – when we are in the early stages of recession – we have pretty much full employment right now and just the (approximate) 1.3 million roles in the UK to fill…..

And while that’s excellent news that people are keeping their jobs and we’re not seeing the kind of job losses witnessed previously, for those businesses who we see are still looking to hire critical skills to help fuel their growth or even keep things on an even keel when people exit their business, this still presents a major challenge in terms of the people available. Add into that the fact that the average time to hire has risen approximately 4 months (higher the more specialist the role is) and many are still struggling to fill the roles they desperately need to be successful in achieving their goals.

So far, no new-news. But what to do about it?

Recruiting is a mammoth area, covering at least a third of the employee life-cycle (before they’ve even stepped onto your payroll) so we’re going to break down the process into sections across the course of three posts and answer some of the more common questions we’ve been asked.

Part 1: Attracting ‘the one’

What gives me the best chance of finding the right person?

Big question. But step 1 in this is actually to ask a question which often gets skipped. And that is: Who am I looking for? Start with the end in mind and think about what you want this person to be doing and responsible for in your team. Then what would be your ideal ‘candidate’  (skills, knowledge and experience etc) would give them the best chance of success in your business.? It might sound tremendously simple, but sometimes many overlook this stage and rush to post an ad without even thinking about ‘who’ they are trying to find. Even with some of the more common roles out there in the market (I’m thinking Project Manager, Account Manager etc) the core functional responsibilities may be similar in each but the type of person who will be successful in your business may differ wildly to that of another one of the same title due to your client base, your industry and your culture. 

Which is the best recruitment channel to find candidates?

The short answer is that there is no one single ‘best’ route.  Advertising online is the most common method and therefore I would always say include this in your mix (definitely on your own site but possibly other sites) but I would personally never just rely on one channel. Some of the more successful hires I’ve made have included via referrals ( asking your own team, partners or even clients if they know of anyone who might be right for the role), targeting specific trade publications as well as accessing talent through a chosen recruitment agency. Many a CFO has paled at a recruiter’s invoice for a key hire and it can be tempting to avoid recruiters totally because of this, however a good recruiter is worth their weight in gold ( particularly those in specialist technologies) and in pretty much any market I would always look to partner with an agency  on a long term basis rather than just for a one hit hire.  The key is to have a blend: one channel and you become over reliant (referrals for example can often stay longer in your business but can on the flip side lead to a lack of diversity) and too many it becomes unwieldy.

How do I make my role standout above any others?

Whilst many may feel that ‘branding’ an area firmly placed in one of those ‘marketing type buckets’, you can’t afford to ignore the impact it has on how and who you attract. It’s the reason why Google rarely needs to advertise outside of its own site and networks and why other firms with a less strong brand need all the channels in the world to attract the right person into their recruitment ‘funnel’. And we’re not just talking glossy logos here. People want to have a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives and they increasingly look to work in businesses who align with their own. Think about what your company stands for & what will this person be contributing to as part of their work. Ask yourself: What is your reason for being in business? What will this person be contributing to? What do your company/ role have to offer? What’s the benefit of working for your business, aside from the salary? Then start to write it down in plain English what the person will be expected to do and be open about the opportunity for them (WIIFT). Oh and be clear on the job title – they matter (both in terms of attraction and Search Engine Optimization (see below).

Should I put the salary on the role when I advertise?

Research by (UK online job board) shows that roles which are clear on the salary will attract a third more applicants than those without. However many still shy away from this for a couple of reasons: how it might go down with internal teams and to test the market  to see what people are looking for. With the wealth of information out there online to check how much different roles play, it’s quite easy to see where people’s expectations may lie in terms of salary and so we would recommend publishing a band that allows for some scope depending on experience of the role which should satisfy all enquiring minds as well as help your diversity.

Next time we’ll be looking at the assessment part of the process and what you can do to fine tune yours. But for more help with skilling up for your hiring needs then our training sessions specifically aimed at Team Leaders and Managers can help raise the bar.

Drop us a line via, give us a call on 0203 6277048 or pop in a diary meeting in here to chat about your needs.