The Art of Recruitment


Every business has to recruit, but the end to end process can become a serious burden if not well planned and diligently executed. Theprocess of creating the job description and advert, deciding where to advertise, reading applications, interviewing and selection can all take up valuable time and not every business has a HR department to help share the load.

Making sure that the successful candidate is really right for the role can often be a matter of old school interviewing techniques and gut feel, but profiling and objective tests can have their place too, even for smaller businesses. So what lies behind really successful recruitment and how do you avoid the pitfalls?

Group Marketing Director at 9, Mark Saunders, reflects on his 40 years of experience in searching for the right person.

What is your general approach to recruitment?

While always referring to HR for advice to make sure that I remain compliant and fair, I try to make sure that the job description and advert will make compelling reading for the type of person we are trying to attract.

The language, layout and tone of voice should be contemporary and engaging, as well as perhaps mildly disruptive and quirky, so it really will stand out from the crowd.

I look for equal levels of innovation and attention grabbing in any responses that I receive. Anodyne CVs and covering letters are far less likely to secure an interview with me these days, especially if they are grammatically suspect, but equally receiving a personal profile on a recreated cereal box for a role in Finance may raise alarm bells around the candidate’s creative leanings.

How do you conduct an interview and make a decision?

There is some truth to the tale that most decisions are made within the first ten seconds of meeting a candidate, with the remaining time being used to validate and justify first impressions. While impressions inevitably develop or change as the interview proceeds, I have always relied more on my gut feel and a view that if the candidate has a good “fit” with the organisation and the team that they will be working for. Competencies and experience cannot be ignored, but assuming those are at least on par, then preparation, personality and attitude works for me every time.

For a modern candidate’s perspective, we turned to Olivia Rawson, Senior Marketing Executive at 9 Group.

How do you adapt to a Millennial market?

Traditionally, the pressure in therecruitment process was all placed on the candidate, but now more people are asking, what’s in it for me?  Increasingly it’s not just about money either. There’s a growing demand for better work-life-balance and working somewhere with a wellbeing focussed culture. The Millennial generation in particular vote with their feet when it comes to happiness, over wealth. According to recent research, two in three workers (68%) would like to work flexibly in a way that’s not currently available*.
*CIPD UK Working Lives report

How important is transparency?

Very. To recruit and retain, it’s important that the recruiter is transparent with the candidate. Where promises are made for thelikes of beer Fridays, yoga time and incredible work-life-balance, it needs to be fulfilled. If there will be stressful days, occasional long hours and a little bit of replying to emails on a Sunday, recruiters should be transparent about that too. Establishing this trust from theoutset can cement loyalty between the employer and employee.

Recruitment or retention?

Notwithstanding the need to keep ideas and culture fresh and lively, every company should focus massively on staff satisfaction and react immediately to undue levels of churn. There is something amiss if people are so disgruntled that they are leaving your business, so find out why and fix it.

Richard Branson can usually be relied upon for an apposite quotation and his message to “take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business,” is even more relevant against the background of a Millennial and increasingly Generation Z employment pool.

Tell us what your biggest recruitment challenges are and we’ll see if any of our in-house experts have advice on how you may be able to fix them.

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