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Getting Organisational Recruitment Right

Employee and workforce recruitment is one of the most important activities influencing organisational success. This means hiring the right people for the right roles at the right time. It is not about filling a vacancy immediately but about hiring for long term success of the business, using data to understand what skills are needed for organisational performance.

The duration and complexity of any hiring process depends not only on the organisation’s size and resources, but on the significance and importance of the role within the organisation. Its stages include defining the role, doing a job analysis, creating a job description, attracting applicants, managing the selection process, and, finally, making the employment offer.

We can divide these into the following four broad categories:

  • Defining the role.

  • Attracting applicants.

  • Managing the application and selection process.

  • Making the appointment.

Defining the role - job description

One of the most critical tools in the recruitment process, a job description explains the detailed job requirements and objectives of the role, provides a clear understanding of the role for all involved, and offers clarity during appointment, induction, and future performance management.

A well-written job description should:

  • Include the organisation’s activities and values.

  • Create a positive impression of the organisation (think about selling the organisation and the role).

  • Include an appropriate job title – make sure the target audience will understand it.

  • State the reporting lines that the job will have reporting into it, and the lines that the role holder will report to

  • Include the job tenure, e.g., permanent, or fixed term.

  • Include the remuneration and benefits package.

  • Include the job location.

  • Include details of flexible working, where applicable.

  • State a clear picture of responsibilities and expectations, neither overstating nor understating these

  • Have a clear person specification - if too vague, it will not assist the selection process, whilst if it is too prescriptive it will be difficult to find applicants who live up to exhaustive expectations.

  • State an accurate picture of the duties and level of seniority.

  • State a clear outline of the ideal applicant profile and experience sought.

  • Be pitched at the right level to attract the most suitable candidates.

  • Make it clear how candidates should apply.

  • State the application deadline.

  • Be honest and truthful.

  • Be clear and unambiguous, and avoid bias.

  • Avoid being discriminatory.

  • Be written in plain, conversational English.

  • Be personalised as much as possible as if addressing the candidate, e.g., “You will be responsible for…” or “You must have…”.

Attracting the right candidates

The recruitment process is not just about the employer identifying suitable employees; it is equally about the candidates choosing the organisation as the one they wish to work for. In the current market environment, where employee attrition is an expected but expensive expense (think not only of the cost of hiring a replacement but, perhaps more importantly, of the opportunity cost while the position remains unfilled and of the training period of the replacement employee), hiring for the long term is a consideration that cannot, and should not, be neglected.

First impressions matter: the recruitment process says a lot about the employer, and should be transparent, timely, and fair, regardless of whether a particular candidate is successful or not. In an era where candidates can share their recruitment experience on social media, a poorly designed or managed recruitment process can negatively influence the organisation’s employer brand and the ability to attract good candidates.

Another, equally important aspect of a good recruitment process, is to attract a wide range of candidates. Inclusion and diversity should be considered throughout the process, with systems, processes, and practices regularly reviewed to ensure that the process is inclusive and devoid of hidden bias.

Many organisations use external providers to help with search and selection and for services such as writing effective job descriptions, attracting candidates, managing candidate responses, screening and shortlisting, basic interviewing, etc. For this to be effective, it is critical that organisations provide the agencies or consultants with an excellent understanding of the organisation, its requirements, and details of the role and the of the desired candidate profile(s). Simply put, the better this understanding, the better will be the result.

Organisations and their leaders often overestimate the cost of getting these right, even if with the help and expertise of external consultants and agencies, and significantly underestimate the long term cost of inefficient or ineffectual hiring.

Managing the application and selection process.

  • All applications should be treated confidentially and circulated only to those individuals involved in the recruitment process.

  • Prompt acknowledgment of an application - whether successful or unsuccessful - is good practice and helps enhance the organisation’s employer brand.

  • It’s good practice to carry out equality monitoring in the recruitment and resourcing process. This includes monitoring the diversity of applicants, from the initial stages through to a person being appointed. Action should then be taken to address any issues.

Application forms or CVs and LinkedIn profiles?

Application forms standardise the presentation of information and make it consistent and easier to handle and assess. However, be wary of overly long or poorly designed application forms that may put off excellent candidates from applying.

CVs and LinkedIn profiles provide flexibility to candidates, but typically include surplus material and information in non-standard formats which may undermine consistent assessment.

Making the appointment

References are often sought after the applicant has been given a ‘provisional offer’. The organisation’s recruitment policy should clearly include details of the references will be used and what kind of references will be expected, e.g., social references from members of society or work references from previous employers. Candidates should always be informed of the procedure for taking up references.

Unsuccessful candidates should be notified promptly in writing and every effort should be made to provide feedback. If psychometric tests are used, feedback on the results, should also be offered.

Finally, a well-planned induction enables new employees to become productive within the shortest span of time, and should be integrated into the organisation's recruitment process.


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