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Why businesses need a different approach to recruitment


The recruitment climate for each business will differ. Whilst we know generally throughout the UK, most, if not all businesses have encountered difficulties. However, each business will have its own circumstances that will affect recruitment, and to different extents. Challenges could be:

  • Time to hire
    • is it taking the business longer to fill vacancies?
  • Cost per hire
    • are your total costs for hiring increasing? Costs associated with advertising, or sourcing, resulting in the business limiting their options for sourcing the top talent?
  • Skill shortages
    • Some sectors have been experiencing significant skill shortages following changes made to UK immigration rules. With the ending of free movement between the UK and EU member states, it means that there is a smaller candidate pool, particularly for sectors such as hospitality, health and social care.
  • The rise of remote work
    • The pandemic has shown how effective and beneficial remote working can be. Consequently, this is now a big factor for people when finding employment. With hybrid working now becoming the norm, those businesses that don’t adopt it may struggle in attracting candidates.
  • Number of candidates
    • The employment context in which we now operate is considerably different to pre-pandemic. You either don’t have enough candidates because people want job security and remain with their employers, or those that are leaving are likely to be seeking better pay and benefits given the rising cost of living, and employers are struggling to meet pay demands.

Recruitment Costs

Recruitment is an expense and finding ways of recruiting that not only address the challenges but are cost efficient is tough. With the current climate businesses are operating in, and rising costs, creating innovative ideas for how you fill a vacancy is key.

Recruitment costs typically include:

  • advertising – cost of posting adverts, using agencies, running ads on social media costs
  • sourcing costs – costs involved in sourcing through networking, employee referrals and other methods
  • interviewing costs – travel expenses, indirect costs for time invested in interviewing and in the setting up of interviews
  • background checks – this can include the cost of running background checks on candidates, applying for sponsorship for recruiting from outside of the UK
  • onboarding – equipment, software, training, and management time and effort in onboarding
  • productivity – there will also be indirect costs involved through lost productivity whilst the vacancy exists, through to the new starter’s first few months of joining.

So, what are the challenges for your business?

Before identifying the measures you plan to introduce to help tackle your recruitment challenges, there needs to be an element of strategic planning because you need to know what it is that is affecting your ability to recruit.

Why strategic planning?

Employers need to work differently when it comes to recruiting. First, there needs to be a clear strategic direction for how the company approaches its recruitment processes. With the current challenges, the approach may need adapting, so reviewing what is currently in place would be recommended.
From a strategic perspective, it begins with having a clearly defined strategic people plan. You can read about how to create one, in our article ‘Creating a People Plan for 2023‘.  This article is supported with a template People Plan form, that you can also download on our Doc Shop.

Having an effective recruitment strategy

An effective strategic people plan should address all areas of the employment lifecycle, including recruitment. Having a standalone recruitment strategy though will be beneficial as this would provide the detail about what, when, and how. So, if you don’t currently have one, we would certainly recommend this being the starting point for addressing your recruitment challenges.

It is about defining your approach to how you will attract, hire and onboard the best talent. It will only become beneficial if you adapt it to meet your own organisation’s needs and goals, and once in place, should be kept under review and updated. This strategy must integrate into your overall people plan, which in turn must integrate into the overall business plan.

Having a clearly defined recruitment strategy can:

  • Increase efficiency
  • Achieve better results
  • Improve the candidate experience
  • Increase brand awareness

When developing your recruitment strategy, begin with defining your goals, consider your target audience, find out what your competitors are doing, define a timeline for what would be an acceptable timescale to fill a vacancy, and identify how you will measure your results.

Employee Value Proposition

The next action you can take is to consider the bigger picture by defining your Employee Value Proposition, also known as EVP. An EVP is the unique set of benefits that an employee receives in return for the skills, capabilities, and experiences they bring to the organisation.

The ability to accurately define your own organisation’s EVP, therefore, can enable you to effectively attract (and retain) the best talent.

So before considering the finer detail of a recruitment process, it is worth considering what your organisation’s EVP is.

Recruitment is just one important aspect of EVP. An effective recruitment process that clearly aligns with the organisation’s vision and values will help the company to stand out from its competitors. By communicating your organisation’s EVP throughout the recruitment process means you seek out the best candidates and talent.

EVP is a selling point and when there is a competitive labour market you want to do as much as you can to stand out. Here are just some ways in which you can translate your EVP through your recruitment processes to get the best:

  • Telling your full employer brand story – your origins, vision, and goals. This could be perhaps in any marketing materials you publish to applicants, or information contained on your webpage, or you share your story during the selection process
  • Understand why your organisation is unique and then share this
  • Showcase why your organisation is a great place to work such as through your website and social media
  • Showing your work by giving candidates a real view of how creative, interesting, or meaningful your work is, as this can resonate with the right candidate
  • Have a salary and rewards package that is competitive
  • Tell candidates about your commitment to training and development.

And how can your business address its recruitment challenges?

The strategic planning will hopefully identify several ways in which your business can address how it approaches recruitment to address the challenges that are relevant to its business. Noted below are options but may not be appropriate for all businesses.


Apprenticeships are Government backed training schemes that allow organisations to hire either someone new or upskill an existing employee to grow and develop talent.

For the individual, it enables them to earn whilst learning skills and are an effective way to encourage people to enter or return to work whilst gaining a qualification, with the potential to secure long-term employment.

The Government supports apprenticeships by giving businesses access to the apprenticeship levy. Large organisations with a pay bill of over £3 million pay into the levy a set rate of 0.5% of their total annual pay bill. Employers with a total annual pay bill of £3 million pay only 5% of the cost of their apprenticeship training with the Government paying the rest. The funds that this levy generates can be accessed by other employers to help them take on an apprentice.

Apprentices are normally employed on fixed-term apprentice contracts, with either a specified end date or termination upon reaching a set level of qualification. Generally, an apprenticeship should include an appropriate work-based qualification (such as an NVQ), a technical qualification (linked to the role), key skills (as such problem solving or communication) as well as any other qualifications the employer feels are relevant.

Quiet hiring

‘Quiet hiring’ is a new term used to refer to an organisation leveraging the capabilities of its current workforce to acquire new skills and therefore avoid the need to recruit externally.

It can be a more efficient way to recruit and can help you to identify qualified candidates from a pool, who already have a good understanding of the business.

You would want to have in place a framework for how you would approach this method, to ensure fair, ethical, and transparent treatment of all employees. If you have an appraisal process in place, with personal development plans, then the business will already have an idea as to potential talent for new opportunities. If not, then it is about finding a fair and reasonable way in which to identify talent and then a screening process in order to recruit.

Management development

Management development focuses on the performance and potential of leaders and on enhancing management capability throughout the business. Rather than ‘training’, which is more about specific knowledge (such as recruitment procedures or how the IT systems work), management development is about ensuring that those managing others develop a strategic approach to the business and manage their staff in a way which ensures they are clear about what they are there to do and are inspired to do it to the best of their abilities.

Importantly, management development is not just about attending courses. Although these may contribute, it can be as much about learning from experiences that occur every day at work and outside work, watching other people operate, reflecting on their own style in relation to that and being able to adjust accordingly.

Invest in technology

Introducing technological solutions into your recruitment processes can streamline and automate processes and help you to reach a wider candidate pool.

Introduce data driven recruitment

Data is fundamental to business operations. It can provide you with meaningful management information which can then be used in decision making regarding where improvements need to be made. Data gathered could be key recruitment metrics like time to hire, cost per hire, and quality. Using management information can help identify where to put resource into improvements in overcoming recruitment challenges.

Partnership recruitment agency

Whilst there are costs associated with using a recruitment agency to fill a vacancy, they do bring many benefits.

  • They have access to a wider pool of candidates
  • They have expertise in the whole recruitment process and know how to find the right candidates for the job
  • It saves you business time, by leaving the agency to manage the aspects of the process, freeing you time to focus on other business tasks
  • They can reduce the chances of hiring the wrong candidate, if they have a full understanding of your business and role and are experienced at screening candidates
  • In some cases, it can be a cost saving. Although there is a cost associated with hiring someone via an agency, it could be offset by the time and money saved having used an agency.

Having a preferred supplier or narrowing down agencies to the top 3 for your business, will strengthen your chances of ensuring you are able to recruit the best talent. Take time researching the agencies, invite them on site to answer questions and to explain how they source candidates. This will give you confidence that you are using the best agency for your business, and your roles. It may be, that you use different agencies across different areas of the business.

We offer a Fixed-Fee Recruitment service, to help find you the best candidates for your organisation. Our service is £850+ VAT regardless of role seniority, and the number of positions available for that role.

Hybrid working

Remote, and hybrid working is now a big factor when people are looking for new employment. Of course, not all businesses, or job roles can support it, but where it can, it can be a great tool for attracting candidates to your organisation. A survey carried out in 2022, reported in People Management, but conducted by CIPHR, found:

  • Employers who could offer remote or hybrid working were more successful at recruitment than those that couldn’t/didn’t.
  • Employers with staff working 100% remotely were three times more likely to report finding it easier than usual to recruit when compared to employers who required staff to work onsite only.

Reward and benefit

When did the business review its reward and benefits package? Remember, reward and benefits don’t always have to be financial, even during a cost-of-living crisis.

Looking into how the business can access discounted rates with other local / national employers is a good way of helping you to attract candidates. It could be money off holidays, or access to a free will writing service, or discounted childcare. Even though these may seem small, every little helps, especially when we’re seeing costs rise.

We are also seeing some employers provide every employee with a hot meal, on the back of the current cost of living crisis.
Another consideration is whether your employees want the benefits you offer. Since the pandemic, research has shown that what people want from their benefits has changed. For example, could you enhance the level of life assurance you offer staff? Could you offer health insurance? Do you have an Employee Assistance Programme? There are lots of creative ways to manage rewards and benefits and they don’t have to be a huge expense.

You also have other options to make your business more attractive to candidates:

  • Offering development programmes, and professional development
  • Offering flexible working, so adjusting the hours not just the location
  • ‘Staff referral schemes’ to encourage existing employees to recommend the business to their friends and family
  • Use social media and utilise as many platforms to reach out
  • Introduce ‘a day in the life off’, where current employees record or write an article describing what they do, what they like about the company, and what they get out from working with the business
  • Partner with local colleges and universities
  • Introduce work experience
  • Attend industry events
  • Create a video about your company culture
  • Host a virtual job fair
  • Create a blog or podcast about your industry
  • Secondments – allowing employees to trial a role before permanently accepting.


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