HR specialisms: Recruitment

Recruitment can be seen by some companies as a routine admin task carried
out by the most junior member of the HR team because it is seen as a relatively
easy task.

On the other hand, you may find people heading up whole teams of recruiters
likely to have specialist expertise in psychometric testing, selection, design
and interviewing and responsible for a significant budget. This is the reason
why recruitment managers are in demand and salaries are on the increase.

Widespread skills shortages mean that organisations now see employment as a
product that needs to be sold to prospective employees to make sure they
attract the best candidates and stay ahead of competitors. This environment
means that companies are always looking for innovative ways to compete in and
win the war for talent.

At this year’s AGR in Wales, Val Moore, joint MD of recruitment agency Aia,
told graduate recruiters that within four years they will all be recruiting via
text messaging, online video and webcam links.

United Biscuits currently recruits all of its graduate intake online, saving
85 per cent of its hiring costs and cutting the process in half. It is about to
embark on a pilot scheme to roll out website recruitment across the whole firm,
which it estimates will save 50 per cent in costs and time to hire.

Other large employers that recruit online include British Airways, Deutsche
Bank, Birmingham City Council, the Army, UCI and Vodafone. The CIPD’s fifth
annual recruitment survey found that more than 50 per cent of employers are
recruiting potential candidates via the Internet.

Some firms employ "web-spiders" or "e-cruisers",
technology specialists who search the Internet for passive candidates – people
not looking for employment but who have skills that may be ideal to fill a vacancy.

"Over the past two years, I have seen a change in the role of
recruitment. Before it used to be a ‘spray and pray’ approach, concerned with
just getting the number in and spreading your net as wide as you could to do
so," says James Darley, global team leader, graduate recruitment at
Deutsche Bank.

"Now recruitment is very strategic and my role is to make sure that we
are attracting quality employees."

Research conducted last year by Salary Survey Publications shows that the
number of experts in its sample rose from 158 in 1997 to 735 in 2001, an
increase of over 87 per cent.

The average salary had also risen by nearly £8,000, proving that employers
realise the benefits of a successful recruitment department. In 1997 the
average salary stood at £30,782 compared to £38,606 in 2001. But the report
also claims that recruitment managers can earn as much as £45,000.

One of the main reasons for the salary increase is because employers
recognise that recruitment is central to the success of the business.

"Results are tangible and success is easily seen in the short term.
Recruitment managers can also offer an input at a strategic business level and
aspects of business planning and budget management, which may not be accessible
in other areas of HR," says Sue Taunton, an independent HR consultant.

"If done well, it is an excellent way of providing results to the
business and, as a consequence, building a really good relationship with line
managers. This can also have a positive effect on other HR initiatives and
relationships."

Recruitment’s move to being a core business operation means managers are
often in dialogue with senior company employees, making the role a good
showcase for individuals with higher ambitions. Because of this, it can mean
long-hours, although it is often very diverse and challenging and not as
desk-bound as other HR areas.

Key to successful recruitment is knowing the company and the industry.
"I worked at United Biscuits for two years as a cocoa buyer before I
became the company’s European graduate recruitment manager. The fact that I had
a commercial understanding of the company as well as the industry’s concerns
was invaluable as it meant I had first-hand experience of the type of person we
needed to recruit," says Darley.

Case study: Michael Hunting, director of graduate recruitment at
Eversheds

"Recruitment is the fundamental HR role, as it is vital that you get
the right people in from the start. It doesn’t matter how good your training is
if you do not have the raw materials to work with," says Michael Hunting
at Eversheds.

For this reason, he jumped at the chance to move back in to recruitment from
his position as director of personnel for the law firm’s Birmingham office.

Before joining Eversheds, Hunting was a Major, corps recruitment liaison
officer in the Army.

He sees recruitment process as vital to the success of the law firm. The
biggest plus of working in that field, he says, is that he knows his work is
central to the business moving forward because he is hiring the employees who
are the company’s future.

Eversheds spends £125,000 recruiting 125 graduates every year. Hunting says,
"This is a serious investment, which is why recruitment has become such a
strategic part of any forward-thinking business."

Hunting’s "life as lawyer" game show is an initiative that he is
particularly proud of. The show goes into universities with the company’s
lawyers acting out workplace scenarios and asks the student audience what the
lawyer should recommend.

The game means the recruitment team is able to spend time on more strategic
recruitment matters instead of just shifting through large numbers of CVs, as
only students who feel they have the skills to become a solicitor apply.

"The reward of my role is seeing recruits successfully qualify as
solicitors and embarking on a very worthwhile career," he concluded.

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