Recruiting staff can be time-consuming and costly. Val Moore looks at one particular element of recruitment: advertising for staff.

Before placing any advertisement, it is necessary to review the requirements of the post and have a suitable job description, personal profile, application form and procedures list. Where to advertise needs consideration. Not every option is suitable for every vacancy, but consider the following.

Recruiting internally

There is a strong case for giving internal applicants the opportunity to apply for vacancies; not opening up a vacancy internally can result in loss of morale where employees are looking for career progression. The internal filling of vacancies has benefits both in cost and time savings for the employer: there is a shorter induction period, no expenditure on advertising or agency fees, and it is easier to set up interviews.

However, recruiting internally also has its disadvantages.

  • The field of candidates is limited: there may be better candidates available externally.

  • Promoting an internal employee who is competent in a given job does not necessarily mean that he or she will be good in a different role. The selection interview should not therefore be rushed, but should be as thorough and searching as it would be for an external candidate.

  • Organisations sometimes need new employees with fresh ideas and views to avoid complacency.

  • Employers may still need to recruit externally to fill the job that has been vacated as a result of the internal promotion.

Employee referrals

The obvious advantage of applicants recommended by existing employees is that they do not involve a cost for the employer, except that, where good-quality employees are hard to find, some employers positively encourage recommendations from existing employees by offering cash incentives as a reward for introductions.

The application and interview process should be the same, and seen to be the same, as for every other applicant, and if the applicant is not appointed to the post, this needs to be managed between the manager and the recommending employee.

Print advertisements

In order to attract suitable applicants, advertisements need to work. This does not equate just to attracting as many responses as possible. A well-written recruitment advertisement will help those readers who do not fit the bill to realise this, as well as encouraging those who do match the specification to apply.

Consider what motivates different types of candidate and what is likely to make them respond to an advertisement. As well as salary and job title, factors such as opportunities for career and personal development, flexible working practices and other benefits should be highlighted. The language used must also be appropriate for the target audience.

Press advertising can be divided into four separate categories: local, regional, national and trade press. Local press advertising can be highly effective for general and practitioner vacancies as it targets a given geographical area. It may be necessary to place insertions in papers serving surrounding commutable areas as well as the employer’s own area. Except for the most senior positions, regional press is rarely a consideration; national press even less so.

The trade press is the most highly targeted of all media. It may well be the most cost-effective option for many specialist disciplines, as well as for certain sector-specific recruitment campaigns. Like the internet and national press, it has both the advantages and disadvantages of being circulated to people who do not live within commuting distance of the employer, but there may be those who wish to relocate.

The internet

The greatest disadvantage of internet advertising is that, as it is so readily accessible, employers often receive large numbers of applications, many from unsuitable candidates. Screening and replying to these can be a major, and potentially costly, task. An advert on the organisation’s own website is cheap, but will not necessarily attract many applicants. The local authority’s website may offer an opportunity to advertise on the relevant section of its website, often free of charge.

Third-party websites can be faster than press advertising as jobs are posted virtually instantaneously. However, the advertisement may only reach a small audience unless the employer posts the vacancy on several sites. Advertising on social networking sites is commong, the main ones being LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Government services

Job Centre Plus offers a range of services to employers. Universal Job Match allows employers to advertise for staff and peruse those who have posted CVs online.

Agencies

Recruitment agencies attempt to match jobseekers on their registers with vacancies notified by employers. Employers often place vacancies with more than one agency.

Agencies operate by being paid only when the person they place starts work with the client. Agree in advance what services they will offer (eg specific advertising, vetting of CVs to ensure that applicants have the correct qualifications, preliminary interviewing, etc).

Networking

Staff and managers may well belong to various networking organisations. Put the word out that the organisation is recruiting; word-of-mouth advertising can be very effective.

Recruitment fairs

These are occasionally organised on a local or regional basis. The employer takes a stand, and potential employees and trainees are invited to attend.

Employers can also use applications from recent advertisements as a source of recruits for further vacant posts. Applicants who were not quite right for a previous position might be ideal for the new vacancy.

Take time and be thoughtful in the recruitment process. As the American business consultant Jim Collins says: “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”

Last reviewed 18 February 2014