3 tips for an effective recruitment strategy

Jo Barlow, head of HR at telephone answering specialist Moneypenny, shares her top 3 tips for an effective recruitment strategy.


Apprentice_202557112Recruitment is possibly the most important aspect of getting a small business off the ground and into growth, but so many business owners are at a loss for where to start and what to look for. Here are Jo’s tips to help you on your way to success:

1) Identifying – attracting new applicants

Firstly, be clear on what roles you need to fill based on your company’s proposed growth. Set targets and timeframes and work out a recruitment budget. You’ll need a person specification highlighting the qualities, skills and experiences required to fulfil the role(s). In our case qualifications aren’t critical – attitude is more important to us than aptitude. We believe you can teach skills but not personality.

Use this as the basis for tailored communications across appropriate channels. If you have marketing support, a collaborative approach to generating ideas is a good way to come up with activities that are most likely to work.

Think about a multi-hit approach – local radio, display advertising in key locations, local events/stunts for instance. This could be sponsoring a local charity, talking to local colleges and universities and/or social media (both paid and non-paid). Keep things simple with strong images and limited text – directing people to find out more from your website. Don’t forget the power of word of mouth too. Incentivise staff to recommend good, like-minded people.

2) Evaluating – when you have found them

Take your time screening and sifting CVs against your criteria and don’t be afraid to follow your gut instincts, which are usually right. Think about how an applicant may fit in. Our first interview for our PAs is conducted over the phone as their working day will be spent answering calls, so we need to assess how they come across. Skills testing can help you find out if a candidate is suitable for a particular role – for us good spelling and punctuation are essential. If you need a number of new people, group assessment days can identify strengths and weaknesses while allowing candidates to assess if you are right for them. It’s important to give people an early feel for the business and what the job entails so you’re not wasting time on unsuccessful appointments. Keeping face-to-face interviews informal relaxes candidates and means you are more like to see a person’s genuine character.

3) Action – getting them on board

Keep candidates informed at all times regarding the progression of their application and what you need from them – and provide feedback if a candidate is unsuccessful. Be organised and work ahead of yourself taking into account that candidates may have notice periods to work, coupled with a period of training when in their new job, so they may not be effective in the business for a number of weeks/months.

Devise a training plan so your new recruit is good to get started; getting a feel for the whole business, not just their job and communicate any new developments to existing staff to build teamwork. Track recruitment activity against targets and costs; monitoring recruitment marketing just as carefully as you do general marketing.