Recruiting a new member of staff costs, on average, £4,000, rising toward the £10,000 mark for senior roles, so it’s important to get it right. Having recruited nine or ten sales and marketing people over the last few years, I’ve concluded that leaving the whole process to recruitment agencies is not the way to go.
General recruitment agencies charge between £3000 and £5000 but often don’t understand the intricacies of the role or the detailed requirements of the candidates. When that’s the case, they tend to push anyone who appears to be qualified and is prepared to accept the salary forward, which means the employer effectively has to screen the candidates for themselves. Specialist agencies for marketing recruitment can do the job, but they prefer to work with vacancies paying £40,000 or more and stay in touch with their recruits. As a consequence, they’ll push up the salary, and will charge £7,000 or more for the initial recruitment.
In an effort to cut the costs, I’ve tried recruiting over LinkedIn a couple of times – but the candidate flow was too random to be useful, and the quality was equally hit-and-miss. Social media can’t be counted on to supply the right people when they’re needed – so I’ve learned to recruit directly, with an eight-step process which takes four to six weeks.
- Write a great job description: short, concise and clear, under two sides of A4 in 12-point type. If it takes six pages of 8-point, there is no possibility that the candidate, or anyone else, will understand what you want.
- If you think there is a good number of potential candidates, advertise on Reed. They charge £200 for a six-week premium listing, and you’re not paying for a headhunting service that won’t serve you well.
- If you need to spread the net wider and build awareness of the role, use a consolidator who will ensure that the role is posted on all the job sites. My favourite is eRecruit Smart. They charge £600 per role, but they write the advert and will screen the candidates against agreed criteria.
- Spend a couple of hours screening CVs in the week after the ad is placed. If the job description is clear, this is easy: you have a checklist to work through.
Email interesting candidates with more details and a copy of the job description. Make sure they fully understand the downsides, limitations and challenges of the job – an undesirable location, antisocial hours, remote management, poor team morale or worse. Suggest a telephone conversation if they are still interested. About half of your candidates will drop out at this stage.
- Schedule a fifteen-minute phone conversation with each of the five most promising candidates. Make sure they genuinely understand the job, can communicate effectively, and have an accurate CV. Reduce your shortlist to three, based on those conversations.
- Meet those three for face to face interviews, and eliminate another one.
- Bring back the last, best pair of candidates to meet the end client – and they decide.
The outcome? A good candidate who genuinely fits and genuinely wants the role, fully knowing what it entails. You already know them, can trust them, and have a working relationship with them. This method can save several thousand on the cost of recruitment, and gets someone who’s proven their interest. Everyone wins – except the agencies.
While going through an agency may seem like the easiest option, it may not be the right route for you to find a candidate who fits your business. If you want more advice on how to find the right person for the job, have a look at our blog – or speak to us about working with one of our part-time marketing directors.
By Robert Stead