Recruitment top tips

Attracting top talent for your business requires clever strategic thinking and an effective recruitment plan. David Jackson shares his best tips to help you secure the right candidates. 

Choosing who works for you is perhaps the most important type of decision you will ever make. Whilst larger employers can accept a percentage of mistakes or ‘bad hires’, for SMEs, the cost of making a hiring mistake bites immediately and bites hard. To help you avoid making a mistake by hiring the wrong person, or missing out on the right person, these five top tips should come in handy when you have a vacancy to fill.

  1. Ask yourself what you really need

    It can be tempting to think in general terms or stereotypes when trying to fill a vacancy. Although it might feel ‘obvious’ for example that an applicant would need a detailed knowledge of your sector, is that really the case when you already have a number of experts on the team? What about the need for people to have a degree or ‘significant’ experience? Remember, every requirement you list potentially narrows the field of applicants and might be making your job harder rather than easier. The old adage of hiring for attitude and training for skills often rings true, and to base your decisions on that, you need to attract people in the first place. 

  2. Think carefully about where to advertise

    Different advertising platforms have different advantages. Online tends to be cheap, but adverts can get overlooked when listed alongside hundreds of others. Conversely, traditional print press might seem redundant but still works effectively in many cases and initial quotes can often be haggled down. Don’t forget to also make use of free social media and leverage your network to help promote your vacancy even further. 

  3. Language matters in your advert – keep it reasonable and ‘open’

    Requiring candidates to have ‘exceptional communication skills’, ‘cutting edge IT knowledge’ or ‘sophisticated business savvy’ for a minimum wage administrator role is not going to do anything to help you get the right candidate. Avoid vague and potentially gendered language such as ‘gravitas’, ‘bubbly personality’ or ‘energetic’. If you keep the language simple, factual and clear you will avoid people misinterpreting what you are looking for. Attempting to narrow the field at the advertising stage is a blunt tool, and, frankly, just too hard. It is far better to get as many applications as you can and then use the shortlisting and interview stage to narrow the candidates down.

  4. Poaching is fair game in the war for talent

    Don’t be embarrassed about approaching people you have been impressed with who currently work for other employers. This might simply involve forwarding on a copy of a job advert or connecting with people on LinkedIn who might be interested. Remember, many of the best hires were not actively looking for a new job when they were approached. 

  5. Every contact with a potential candidate is an opportunity to promote your business and develop your brand

    Even if somebody isn’t going to be right for you, make a point of treating them well and thanking them for the time they have taken. A candidate who has a bad experience of your hiring process could share that with as many as 20 or 30 other people. Make a point of giving everybody who has taken the time to express an interest in working for you as good an experience as you can and make them want to apply to work for you again in the future or even become a customer.

There is no magic formula to get hiring decisions right, and the truth is that luck plays a role. By following these tips though you should be able to avoid some of the more common mistakes and load the odds of getting a great hire in your favour.

Author: David Jackson is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Twin Kingdom Consulting

Explore related resources

These areas of the People Skills Hub will help you to address some of the issues covered in this blog:

  • Recruitment: Find out what you need to do to take on staff: from job adverts to interviews and inductions
  • Contracts and employment status: Find out what you need to know about contracts and determining the employment status of your staff members
  • Performance management: Learn how to improve and develop your employees’ performance and how to align their goals with your business objectives