6-step guide to the recruitment process
An effective recruitment process ensures that your company hires qualified and skilled individuals who can contribute to its success. Here’s how to set up an effective HR recruitment process in six steps:
Step 1. Plan the recruitment process
Clearly define the role you are seeking to fill, and the responsibilities it will entail.
Before you even consider posting a job advert, clarify your needs internally by outlining the basic information about the vacancy you are trying to fill. Include information on job title and reporting structure, as well as a list of tasks and duties that the new hire will be expected to perform.
After the ‘what’ comes the ‘why’. Summarise the thought process behind creating the position and how it will contribute towards the firm’s overall strategic plan. Do this by considering the needs of the existing team, the skills and experience required for the position, and the SMART objectives set for the department or company.
For example, let’s say a PR and marketing agency wants to start working with online influencers. A team leader might decide to hire a social media manager who has experience in this field of marketing, to ensure customer satisfaction and diversify their service offering. They will need to explain this reasoning before creating a job ad.
Step 2. Write job descriptions
Create a detailed job description to outline the duties, qualifications, and expectations for the role.
Remember: a job description is for the job seeker, not the recruiter. One of the most common mistakes when writing a job description is to waffle, and fail to clearly describe the role.
Most experts advise a job advert is no longer than 500 words, which means you only have space for the fundamentals. Leave out irrelevant details, such as your firm’s origin story. Any key information should be either in bullet points, bolded, or otherwise clearly signposted.
Avoid esoteric language. In some cases, it is appropriate to include technical language – particularly when hiring a specialist – but stay away from business jargon. Qualified job seekers might be put off from applying because of an unfamiliar acronym.
Decide also what you want to pay staff based not just on your budget, but also on the level of experience you want from a candidate. Use industry benchmarking to calculate what rival businesses might offer for a similar position and experience-level.
Step 3. Advertise the vacancy
Identify appropriate sourcing channels to advertise the position and attract qualified applicants, such as:
- Online job boards, like Indeed or Reed
- Professional networking sites, like LinkedIn
- Employee referrals, where staff put forward qualified friends or contacts
- Schemes such as the government’s Access to Work scheme for disabled adults
- Social media channels, such as TikTok.
- Using a third-party recruiter (more on this below)
Remember that today’s job seekers want to know more about a company than just its location. They’re after meaningful work that reflects their personal beliefs – to the extent that career marketplace LinkedIn unveiled a values-based search tool in May 2023.
Your job ad should include a compelling company biography that accurately represents the business and highlights its organisational culture. This sits below the job description so the candidate can instantly see if a role is the right fit before they start looking into the employer.
Step 4. Screen candidates
Identify candidates who meet the basic qualifications and requirements of the role and discard any who don’t.
Screening typically involves reviewing resumes, cover letters, and any additional application materials. It can be time-consuming, particularly for time-poor SMEs. That’s why many modern employers now deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) for recruitment.
In this initial stage, AI tools give human resource managers the ability to assess thousands of CVs at-pace. It can be immensely valuable as a way to efficiently cross-check a candidate’s skills and experience against the job description.
Depending on the recruitment resource you have available, you may also choose to organise an informal call with the job seeker during screening. This is to confirm basic details such as their location.
In any early communication, make sure you ask the applicant about salary expectations. This will help you to confirm that both sides are on the same page. If their figure is wildly different from what is being advertised, it can be an immediate conversation killer. This isn’t the kind of mismatch you want to identify only after a third-stage interview.
Step 5. Interview candidates
The most qualified candidates from the screening are then entered into a shortlist to be interviewed.
Interviews are a great opportunity to evaluate a candidates’ suitability for the role away from the constraints of a paper CV. That includes asking questions that may have arisen during the screening stage, such as:
- Why did you leave your previous role?
- How would you describe your preferred style of working?
- What interests you about working at this company?
On top of the traditional Q&A, various other assessments may be employed to test recruits in a way that reflects the unique traits of the job. For example, you might ask the candidate to complete a task to see how well they perform technical or professional competencies.
Other evaluation methods include psychometric tests. These provide insights into behavioural traits, work styles, and aptitude to help form a complete picture of the worker’s personality, and how they might complement existing temperaments within the team.
Remember that a job interview is a mutual exchange. Allow the candidate time to ask their own questions about the role and company so they can consider if it’s a place they want to work.
Before a job offer is given, a final round of interviews with key decision-makers within the organisation is typical. This is to confirm that the business owner or department head is happy with the talent available.
Step 6. Make job offers
Once the top candidate is identified, extend a timely job offer.
Usually taking place over the phone, your offer should include details of remuneration, notice period, and start date. Any information given should also be sent over email to ensure a written record of what was discussed.
Timing is important when extending a job offer. Waiting for a phone call can be incredibly stressful for the applicant. Offering the position in a timely and empathetic manner shows the organisation respects the candidate, and is genuinely interested in hiring them.
Smart job seekers will also have been interviewing for multiple roles to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket. Even those who are desperate to work for you may choose to pursue other opportunities if your own offer is unduly delayed.
Whatever the outcome, the candidate enters into employment only when a contract has been signed. Before this time, they are still entitled to reject the offer. Employers should suggest a deadline for the contract to be signed to discourage any drawn out dilly-dallying.
In the period between a person accepting a job offer with the company, and their signing the paperwork, be prepared for debate. It is common for applicants to challenge the salary or benefits being given at this stage, even if they seemed satisfied during screening.
In this era of flexible working, for instance, it’s not uncommon for a candidate to announce at the point of job offer that they’d prefer to work from home more days per week than your company may typically offer, for instance. You’ll have to think carefully about agreeing to such flexibility, if it isn’t being offered to existing employees.
The above six steps for effective recruitment might sound rather brief, given how influential new people can be to an organisation’s success. But, each phase comes with plenty of caveats and certain elements that businesses should tailor to their unique needs.
For example, a hospitality firm with high turnover might choose to forgo practical assessments during screening for faster onboarding (saving this instead for the probation period). On the employee side, a candidate might ask to work a flexible arrangement to fit professional commitments around childcare.
During both of these scenarios, it’s important for organisations to remain flexible with their recruitment. View the above steps as guidance, not instructions, to ensure you can still accommodate a diverse range of candidates with varying needs and developing skill sets.