In a new regular series, Lisette Howlett provides expert thought and opinion on recruitment and retention in today’s business landscape. This month, she looks at how HR departments can implement cost-effective recruitment methods.
Finding the courage
- Ensure you have a good career portal on your company website. Display it strongly on your homepage and ensure that the whole site is in keeping with the values you are seeking to portray as an employer.
- Develop and maintain a strong and consistent employment brand – congruence is critical. Decide what it is that will distinguish yourself in the recruitment market and make you attractive to the candidates you want and use this in all of your online presence.
- Build and nurture your pipeline through:
- Targeting schools and universities – including things like free skills workshops, works shadowing, competitions etc. Not only does this raise your profile generally but it also lets you identify talent and keep track of it. In one of my past jobs we ran a ‘summer school’ between the second and third year for top students in our target universities. This had been going on for years when I arrived and whilst it was working as brand awareness it was not converting into recruits. I introduced the idea that at the end of the two-week school we would make offers of employment to the top talent we had spotted. This meant that we caught people before they had even started to think about looking for a job and met our competitors.
- Keeping in touch with your leavers via alumni programmes.
- Ensuring that when any employees go to a conference or external course they provide you a list of the 3-5 best people they met. I have done this and it is a great way to build a list of top external talent which you can then approach if you have vacancies. I used independent consultants who were experts in the relevant fields to approach them on our behalf and paid very little compared to a headhunting firm.
- Introduce reward schemes which pay existing employees for bringing in new recruits. As it happens I personally dislike this approach – I think the organisation culture should foster these referrals without paying a bounty on each head. I recognise, however, that in some circumstances they may be appropriate and therefore if you do this ensure that it includes a retention requirement – i.e. that it is only paid out if the person remains for at least a year, plus consider a buddy system whereby the recommender helps them settle in.
- Think about alternative sources of people who will have the attributes you are looking for. So if you are looking for call centre staff, think about handing flyers out to supermarket checkout staff leaving at the end of a shift. Or target parents of school children at a local school who might be interested in working school hours.
- Make sure you have a really good – ideally online and automated – way to collect applications (including speculative ones) and acknowledge candidates and keep them informed of what is happening to their application.