4. Attracting Candidates

Finding the Right Candidates
It can be difficult to attract the right candidates, and you may need to consider using a few of the methods outlined below and using different methods for different positions. The methods you use will depend on your policy (and your budget). Here is an overview of some methods:

There are various methods of advertising including local press, national press, trade and professional publications, ‘in-store' (if you have premises that are visited by many people, e.g. a retail outlet), or even an A-frame outside your office. You can also advertise on local radio or use online recruitment sites.  You could also consider local colleges or universities if appropriate. 

When placing an advertisement, you should be careful not to discriminate (e.g. you should not ask for a warehouseman, but a warehouse person) and should give enough detail to attract candidates with the right qualifications/skills. You may also want to ask some qualifying questions at this very early stage. You also need to let the candidate know ‘what’s in it for them’, why would they want to work for the business (e.g. this could be career progression, the company cultures, flexibility, etc - see example advertisements).

Be clear about how you want candidates to apply for the position, (e.g. by telephone, by post only, request an application form, etc) and any deadline date to apply by.

Online Recruitment
There are lots of online recruitment sites. Some are free and others offer opportunities for you to purchase CV’s or pay to advertise your position. 

These can be more cost-effective that recruitment agencies but may require more time from you to manage the account. Some sites can provide a clear process with automated selection and automated responses.  

Recruitment Agencies
Placing a vacancy with a recruitment agency can be an ‘easier' method of recruitment, especially if the agency is fully briefed beforehand and knows only to present candidates that meet your criteria, i.e. the agency will be conducting the first line of screening for you. 

Agencies can save time but to make the most out of using agencies you should ensure they are clear about your needs and requirements. As well as providing the job description and person specification to the agency, you may also wish all candidates to complete your Company Application Form, which can be organised by the agency, and you may wish the agency to carry out some basic testing for you. 

Agencies will charge a placement fee, and you should be clear about all fees upfront. This will generally be a percentage of the candidate’s salary (e.g. 15% of a salary of £18k = £2700), so this is not a cheap method of recruitment. Most agencies will also have a rebate scale whereby if a candidate leaves your employment within a few weeks of commencement (e.g. they are not suitable), part of the fee is refunded. Rebate periods are generally not very long. It is always worth trying to negotiate with an agency with regards to both rates and rebate periods. Remember, the fee you are paying is for a service so stipulate what service you want. It is always advisable to meet with the agency (invite them to your office) to discuss these matters. Finally, make sure you are clear about any fees that you may be charged and when it will become due, and try to avoid those agencies that just send every CV they have - hoping one will stick! 

Job Centre
Placing advertisements with local job centres can be an effective way of finding candidates. It would be recommended that you visit your local job centre to discuss with them how they can assist you. They will generally be happy to ask candidates to complete your application form etc. 

Internal Vacancies (and Recommendations)
It is generally good practice to advertise any vacancies internally. This can promote internal career progression and help with retention. However, there may be situations whereby advertising internally is inappropriate, so you should ensure the company reserves the right to advertise internally at its discretion. 

Internal vacancies can also result in external applications from associates, friends or family of existing employees who have been told about the internal vacancy. Some organisations positively promote this type of recruitment, and it can be very successful. However, you should be aware of the potential for indirect discrimination if this is your only method of recruitment. For example, if your workforce profile is not diverse (sex, race etc), generally you will probably only attract the same sort of applicants (the family and friends of employees), which could indirectly discriminate against others. 

You should also be clear about your Company policy on relationships at work (e.g. family of existing employees) as this can cause problems and concern for some organisations (see the policy section and company standards).

Networking and Social Media
You can also use your own network of contacts. If you let relevant associates know about any vacancies, they may be able to 'recommend' someone. You can also use sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook to advertise your vacancy and even do searches. 

Your Website
You can also put any vacancies on your company website. 
You can also consider apprentices. You can generally work with local colleges or apprentice providers who will help source suitable apprentices and the work with you to support them with training. There is also funding available and apprentices can be taken on, on an apprentice rate for the first 12 months (see employment facts).
Apprenticeships can also be used to fund training for your existing staff (see Training and Development).
Other forms of attracting candidates
Other methods include: 
  • Word of mouth (networking etc.) 
  • Schools, colleges and universities (e.g. career fares)
  • Technical colleges or professional institutions 
  • Executive search consultants and head-hunters.
Responding to applicants and enquiries
Consideration should be given to response handling from candidates, and you should ensure that you have briefed people well. 

For example, even if you ask for applications to be in writing, some applicants will telephone. Make sure the reception or those answering calls know how to handle these and who to pass enquiries to. You may wish all applicants to complete a Company Application Form, and therefore they might phone to give their address, so an application form can be sent out. Ensure all enquires are handled politely and professionally. 

You can also consider making information available from your website so that they can download an application form or even fill in an application online. 

Contacting Applicants – even the unsuccessful ones
Even if a candidate is not successful, it is best practice to acknowledge their application and confirm that you will not be progressing this (at every stage). Some online platforms will do this automatically. 

Remember that everyone who applies for a position is a potential customer or knows someone who is a potential customer. Leave them with a positive impression of your organisation.