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How to make recruitment work

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It is interesting how issues seem to trend with clients – you hear one story related to a problem and it is followed by a number of similar stories in a short time.

At the moment, recruitment seems high on the agenda. Business clients I am working with are not lacking work; they are lacking the people to do it. Unfortunately, recruiting the right person for the job seems to becoming increasingly challenging.

Owner-managed businesses and SMEs often have limited experience in this area. The result is usually one or maybe two interviews, which may be not much more than a casual conversation, a cursory check of technical skills and hope for the best. After a few weeks or months of disruption, it is time to start again.

One underlying reason for this is the strong desire to fill the position and crack on with the work. This can lead to managers hearing only what they want to hear and interpreting the evidence to suit the outcome they want; position filled. When the inevitable happens, the manager will point to all the warning signs they ignored and acknowledge that deep down they knew it was the wrong appointment. Before repeating the mistake.

Setting aside the numerous legal bear traps in recruitment, like most things in business the answer is to have a defined process. This must start with a proper job description that identifies both the technical skills needed and the attitudinal competencies. A simple matrix of these attributes with weighting applied is a good start.

Once that is in place, it is easier to think about ways to test those requirements and that might be through questioning at interview, tests, checking qualifications, references and so on.

Even if interviewing only one candidate, it is a good idea to include minimum requirements against each criteria, even if that means that you have to conclude your candidate is not up to the role. It is better if two people conduct the interview to make matters less subjective.

Those simple steps can make a difference. But I would encourage you to reflect on the real costs, in time and money, of getting this wrong. I am not a fan of CV factory recruitment agencies, but there are employment specialists who will guide you through the whole process from putting the job description together to conducting interviews with you and then preparing the contract of employment. For many SMEs, it is a route well worth considering.

Will Abbott
Head of Business Advisory
Randall & Payne LLP
UK200 Group Members

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