Before recruiting for a new or existing position, it is important to invest time in gathering information about the nature of the job. This means thinking not only about the content (such as the tasks) making up the job, but also the job’s purpose, the outputs required by the job holder and how it fits into the organisation’s structure. It is also important to consider the skills and personal attributes needed to perform the role effectively. Ways to gather this objective information include observation of the job-holder, questionnaires, interviews or work diaries. Where a new role is being created the use of expert panels is particularly helpful. This analysis should form the basis of a job description and person specification job profile.
The job description benefits the recruitment process by: providing information to potential applicants and recruitment agencies who may be recruiting on your behalf acting as an aid in devising job advertisements and employment contracts, choosing selection techniques and, for example, when designing assessment activities and making decisions between candidates minimising the extent to which recruiters allow subjective judgements to creep into their decision-making, helping to ensure that people are selected fairly. It can also be used to communicate expectations about performance to employees and managers to help ensure effective performance in the job.
A person specification or job profile states the necessary and desirable criteria for selection. Increasingly such specifications are based on a set of competencies identified as necessary for the performance of the job. In general, specifications should include details of: skills, aptitude, knowledge and experience qualifications (which should be only those necessary to do the job – unless candidates are recruited on the basis of future potential , for example graduates) personal qualities relevant to the job, such as ability to work as part of a team. Competency frameworks may be substituted for job or person specifications but these should include an indication of roles and responsibilities. See our factsheet on competence and competency frameworks for more information. Go to the Competence and competency frameworks factsheet The person specification job profile can then be used to inform the criteria you use to shortlist applicants.
The first stage is to generate interest from candidates and there is a range of ways of doing this. Internal methods It is important not to forget the internal talent pool when recruiting. Providing opportunities for development and career progression increases employee engagement and retention and supports succession planning. Our factsheets on development planning and succession planning contain advice on these topics. Go to the development planning factsheet Go to the succession planning factsheet Some organisations operate an employee referral scheme. These schemes usually offer an incentive to existing employees to assist in the recruitment of family or friends and they have been growing in popularity over the last few years. But employers should not rely on schemes such as these at the expense of attracting a diverse workforce. See our factsheet on diversity for more information. Go to the factsheet Diversity: an overview External methods There are many options available for generating interest from individuals outside the organisation. These include placing advertisements in trade press, newspapers, on commercial job boards and on your organisation’s websites. As the use of technology in recruitment increases, organisations are looking at how they can build databases or pools of ‘ready’ candidates who they can draw on to slot into positions in the organisation as they arise, without the need to re-advertise.
Some organisations have also tapped into virtual worlds such as Second Life to engage with candidates in a unique and powerful way, and our 2009 recruitment survey found that 7% of respondents (and 12% within the private sector) were using social networking sites as a mechanism for targeting potential job-seekers. See our factsheet on e-recruitment for more information. Go to our e-recruitment factsheet Advertisements should be clear and indicate the: outline requirements of the job necessary and the desirable criteria for job applicants (to limit the number of inappropriate applications received) nature of the organisation’s activities job location reward package job tenure (for example, contract length) details of how to apply. Advertisements should be genuine and relate to a job that actually exists. They need to appeal to all sections of the community using positive visual images and wording. External recruitment services Many organisations make use of external providers to assist with their recruitment. Widely known in the industry as recruitment agencies or recruitment consultants, they offer employers a range of services – attracting candidates, managing candidate responses, screening and shortlisting, or running assessment centres on the employer’s behalf. One growing trend to help reduce costs and become more efficient is recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), which involves having one provider to co-ordinate all recruitment needs across agencies. See our factsheet on HR outsourcing for more on this trend. Go to our factsheet on HR outsourcing In order to build and maintain effective working relationships with external providers, remember the following: Examine the market carefully before selecting an agency or consultancy. Different services are provided by different agencies. It is important that an organisation selects an agency which reflects its aims and objectives and has experience of its labour market. Be clear about what is required from an agency. Provide a brief in writing, ensure it is fully understood and that all information given is current and accurate. Always provide accurate, detailed and up-to-date job descriptions and or person specifications job profiles.
Agree, in writing, the responsibilities of the agency and the organisation (for example, who will be responsible for checking qualifications or handling references). Agree the selection tools to be used and the criteria against which applicants will be selected from the initial approaches, to the short-list stage. Ensure these are consistent with the organisation’s recruitment policy. Ensure equal opportunities standards are adhered to consistently and are in line with the requirements for in-house recruitment. It is important that agencies develop a good understanding of the organisation and its requirements. To ensure the agency is meeting the good practice requirements set out in this factsheet and adding value to the organisation’s recruitment activity, it is essential that they monitor agency performance. Those employers and agencies committed to collaborative partnerships are more likely to achieve positive results. See our productive partnerships guide on the relationship between HR and recruitment agencies for more advice. Go to our guide on relationships between HR and recruitment agencies Other ways to attract applications include building links with local colleges universities, working with the jobcentre and holding open days.
There are two main formats in which applications are likely to be received: the curriculum vitae (CV) or the application form. It is possible that these could be submitted either on paper or electronically and the use of e-applications (Internet, intranet and email) is now part of mainstream recruitment practices. See our factsheet on e-recruitment for more information. Go to our factsheet on e-recruitment As the use of technology in recruitment increases, organisations are looking at how they can build databases or pools of ‘ready’ candidates who they can draw on to slot into positions in the organisation as they arise, without the need to re-advertise. Application forms Application forms allow for information to be presented in a consistent format, and therefore make it easier to collect information from job applicants in a systematic way and assess objectively the candidate’s suitability for the job. They should be appropriate to the level of the job.
A typical application form includes questions on basic biographical information (but not detailed personal information unless relevant to the job), previous work experience, educational background and work-related training. For any particular job, it can be helpful to tailor the design of the organisation’s general application form as it is unlikely the recruiter will want the same kind of information from a customer services assistant as, say, a senior manager. This also gives employers the opportunity to ask some more involved questions, for example questions which link with the competencies required for the job. Application forms can also be used to collect sensitive information, for example a candidate’s medical history and for equal opportunities monitoring. Any such information should be used only for this purpose and be kept separate from information on which selection decisions will be based (for example using a separate piece of paper or detachable slip from the main application form). Application form design and language is also important – a poorly designed application form can mean applications from some good candidates are overlooked, or that candidates are put off applying. For example, devoting lots of space to present employment disadvantages a candidate who is not currently working. Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, it may be necessary to offer application forms in different formats.
The advantage of CVs is that they give candidates the opportunity to sell themselves in their own way and don’t restrict the fitting of information into boxes which often happens on application forms. However, CVs make it possible for candidates to include lots of additional, irrelevant material which may make them harder to assess consistently. Dealing with applications All applications should be treated confidentially and circulated only to those individuals involved in the recruitment process. All solicited applications (such as responses to advertisements) should also be acknowledged, and where possible, so should all unsolicited applications. Prompt acknowledgment is good practice and presents a positive image of the organisation. Increasingly candidates are being treated as customers – a bad recruitment experience will fail to entice talented individuals into the organisation and is likely to damage the employer brand. The ‘candidate experience’ The recruitment process is not just about employers identifying suitable employees for the future, it’s also about candidates finding out more about the business, and considering whether the organisation is one where they would like to work for. The experience of candidates (both successful and unsuccessful) at each stage of the recruitment process will impact on their view of the organisation. This could be both from the perspective of a potential employee and, depending on the nature of the business, as a customer. With an upsurge in interest in the idea of ’employer branding’, more employers are giving thought to ensuring a positive candidate experience and the kind of company material and communications received by individuals as part of the recruitment process. See our employer branding factsheet for more information. Go to our Employer brand factsheet
Selecting candidates involves two main processes: shortlisting and assessing applicants to decide who should be offered a job. Selection decisions should be made after using a range of tools appropriate to the time and resources available. Care should be taken to use techniques which are relevant to the job and the business objectives of the organisation. All tools used should be validated and constantly reviewed to ensure their fairness and reliability. More information on this stage of the process can be found in our factsheets Selecting candidates and Selection interviewing. Go to our Selecting candidates factsheet Go to our Selection interviewing factsheet
Before making an offer of employment, employers have responsibility for checking that applicants have the right to work in the UK, and to see and take copies of relevant documentation – a list of acceptable documents demonstrating the right to work in the UK is available from the Home Office. For more guidance, see our factsheet on employing workers from overseas. Go to our factsheet on Employing overseas workers Offers of employment should always be made in writing. But it is important to be aware that an verbal offer of employment made in an interview is as legally binding as a letter to the candidate. Employers must also be aware of the legal requirements of and what information should be given in the written statement of particulars of employment – see our factsheet on employment contracts. Go to our factsheet on Contracts of employment More information about terms and conditions of employment is available to CIPD members in our Terms and conditions of employment FAQ in the Employment Law at Work area of our website. Go to our Terms and condition of employment FAQ
Well-planned induction enables new employees to become fully operational quickly and should be integrated into the recruitment process. For further information on this important phase see our factsheet on induction.
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