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How to stand out when recruiting new talent in 2021 and beyond?

4 min read

By Natalie Painter, Megan Berry

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If you are currently looking for new hires, you're probably finding yourself competing with numerous other employers for the best candidates. In October it was reported that the number of job vacancies hit a record at 1.1 million in the three months to September. It's fair to say that the market is pretty saturated with job vacancies, and there has been a flurry of individuals moving businesses or changing careers altogether. This has created a candidate-driven market and the ball is very much in the candidate's court. Businesses must, therefore, stand out if they wish to succeed in recruiting the best talent for their organisation.

To find the best employees, you might need to rethink how you approach recruitment. A good recruitment process will ensure that your employees have the relevant skills and abilities to meet the organisation's needs now, and in the future.

We look at some practical tips to improve your recruitment process from job descriptions through to offer letters.

Job descriptions

Before you advertise a new role, you should spend time gathering information about the role and ensure you really understand what you are offering. This should include considerations of the purpose of the role, the duties to be undertaken, how and where it should be carried out, ideal attributes of a candidate and how the roles fits into the overall structure of the organisation.

A job description should then clearly collate the above information to explain to candidates the job requirements and objectives of the role. Within the job description you should:

  • Use plain language.
  • Identify and use an appropriate job title.
  • Describe the duties and responsibilities of the post accurately. There should be sufficient information for a candidate to decide whether they will be able to perform the role to the standards required.
  • Focus on what outcomes need to be achieved from the role.
  • Try to avoid specifying any unnecessary working patterns. For example, if a job could be done  part-time, full-time or through any flexible working arrangement, this should be clearly stated.

A person specification should explain and describe skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience which would be considered necessary (or desired) in a candidate. Within the person specification you should:

  • Clearly define characteristics which can be easily evidenced.
  • Avoid including irrelevant or unnecessary criteria.
  • Avoid using bias wording.
Marketing strategies & advertising 

Recruiters should focus on attracting talent in the same way that businesses use marketing for their customers and really show prospective employees why they should join them above anyone else. Good marketing can ensure candidates are aware of your brand and your values as an employer and what differentiates you from your competitors.

What can you offer to make your business stand out? Are you able to offer remote, hybrid or flexible working? It is clear that the pandemic has changed and shaped our working habits (potentially forever). The flexibility that the pandemic provided has now become a priority for many workers.  Some jobs have to be carried out in the workplace but, where possible, ensure job adverts or job descriptions reflect a genuine encouragement of flexible working arrangements.

Similarly, the association between work and wellbeing is becoming increasingly stronger and greater emphasis is being placed on worker's mental health, particularly given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Consider offering mental health support packages, which have become increasingly popular and more widely available, as part of an effort to prioritise employee wellbeing. This will ensure that employees are aware from the outset that you are a supportive employer.

The selection process

You should think carefully about how you wish candidates to apply for available roles, ensuring that you can make reasonable adjustments to the process if required. Application forms allow information to be presented in a consistent format making it easier to collect information and assess a candidate's suitability. However, if they are too long or designed poorly they may put candidates off applying. In comparison, the use of CVs or linkedin profiles can mean that candidates are not restricted in the information they provide. The risk is, however, that it may include surplus information and make it difficult to assess candidates in a consistent manner.

The next step is to select preferred candidates from the group of people who have applied for the role.  A selection process may involve a number of steps depending on the nature of the role including: shortlisting, selection tests, assessment centres and interviews. Whichever process is used, it must be consistent and fairly applied ensuring that it results in the appointment of the best person for the role.

Things to consider when shortlisting:
  • Apply objective criteria to each application.
  • Use more than one person to reduce the risk of a single person taking a subjective decision about an applicant.
  • Agree in advance weighting to be given to each criterion and what constitutes a minimum score to qualify to the next stage.
Things to consider when holding selection tests:
  • Ensure that the tests are necessary and proportionate. They must be a reliable predictor of performance irrespective of a candidates protected characteristics.
  • These tests should not be the sole method of assessment.
  • Candidates should be informed in advanced if they will be required to undertake a test.
  • Ensure you can make reasonable adjustments to the tests as required.
Things to consider when conducting interviews:
  • Consider whether you will have an interview panel or whether you will have an individual manger conducting the interview alone.
  • Ensure all applicants are objectively assessed only on their ability to do the job satisfactorily.
  • Try to be flexible about interview arrangements and consider in advance where interviews should take place – will they be conducted face-to-face or remotely?
  • Avoid irrelevant questions at interview which may relate to a protected characteristic.

It is good practice to provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates if this is requested.

Once you have found a suitable candidate, you need to make a formal offer of employment and issue the candidate with a contract of employment. Hopefully, if you've followed the tips above, you will have found an outstanding and enthusiastic new recruit and your investment in good recruitment processes will pay off.