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The Way Business Is Moving

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Issue Date: May 2007

The pitfalls of DIY recruitment

31 May 2007
Isobel McAleenan

How hard can it be to find a great candidate to work in your company? Certainly there are any number of managers who tackle the task of recruitment with optimism and confidence, only to discover that this path is a veritable minefield of nasty surprises waiting to undermine the very best of intentions.
Companies that undertake their own recruitment face a number of challenges. Chief amongst these are the allocation of time for the process, the expertise required and the pitfalls of inexperience.
It is a common scenario that companies do not allocate sufficient time for recruitment. HR personnel and senior executives often do not have the time to allocate to this function, and frequently the task of selecting or sifting is passed on to a line manager or executive secretary.
The most common route in a search for candidates is via an online recruitment facility or through placing an ad in the media, which results in a huge number of applications to screen. The unwitting manager is likely to find himself swamped with CVs – most of them irrelevant. The sifting and screening of applicants, and then conducting background checks on the best candidates, is an arduous process. The reality is that the effort of placing a person is huge. It is a process that requires a major investment of time.
In the meantime, while the position remains unfilled, costs mount and others have to pick up the slack. This places a further burden on management. If there is pressure to make a quick appointment, there will certainly be plenty of leisure afterwards to repent! Choices made out of desperation too often result in an unsuitable appointment, with research showing that a fifth of all new recruits are not up to the job.
A good recruitment agency will relieve you of this burden. They will have the advantage of research staff and a network of suitable candidates already in place. They will have the resources and the capacity to find the best candidates, available far more quickly and efficiently than your own do-it-yourself process.
Expertise in assessment and selection procedures is also critical when looking for the best. Are the people in your firm who are doing the recruiting any good at it? In most cases they are not qualified to screen and interview, they have no knowledge of recruitment methodology and they are probably not using a consistent and structured approach to interviewing. Research has shown that most small business MDs do not have the expertise – but these are the companies most likely to undertake their own recruitment in order to cut costs. Sadly, they do not count the cost of making a bad appointment.
Here professional recruitment consultants can add real value. Their insight into candidates gained through initial screening and their knowledge of the recruitment market, along with their understanding of your company’s requirements and long-term strategy can guarantee that the best match will be found.
A current challenge now encountered in our competitive global market is that it is difficult to reach top calibre people through on line and print media advertising. The company that sets about looking for new personnel in this way is probably going to be very disappointed with the result. The reality is that the top candidates who are looking for a new appointment are using the services of a specialist consultant, or are already on a headhunter’s list, and are not responsive to traditional recruitment advertising. .
When a short list of candidates has finally been selected, and you are ready to embark on the process of interviewing, the challenges become even thornier for the inexperienced and unwary. Any number of inefficiencies or short-sighted decisions can lose you the preferred candidate.
Not asking the right questions is usually the first hiccup. Not taking the time to find out what the candidate is looking for, or failing to research market rates, or underestimating the candidate’s market value can cause you to make an inadequate offer which does not meet the candidate’s expectations in terms of a balance of career, benefits and salary.
Delays in paper work or dragging your feet on making a decision because you are too busy will alienate your candidate. Failing to really sell the job on offer can also give the candidate cold feet. Alternately, over-selling the job and creating unrealistic expectations is certainly going to result in problems down the line, as will a failure to communicate the culture of the company.
A good recruitment consultant will be thoroughly prepared for all these eventualities, and will be able to guide and advise during the interviewing process. He or she will have the required organisational capacity and knowledge of the market opportunities, and will be in a position to implement a strategic approach, ensuring that you are presented with the right individuals and are assisted in making the best decision.
Company managers might not have the resources and expertise to undertake the task of recruitment themselves, but they do know that the quality of the people they appoint impacts directly on their business success. It makes absolute sense to approach recruitment as part of your business strategy to gain competitive advantage. It would be short-sighted not to budget for this process. If your company does not have the capacity to do the job properly, outsource it to a professional (that is of course if you can find one).
Isobel McAleenan is MD of Ambit Recruitment and a recruitment training solutions provider for IM Training Solutions. Isobel can be contacted at (011) 886 8988.


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