Creative thinking pays dividends

As the judges for this year’s RAD Awards draw up their shortlist of winners, Richard Staines reports on the judging process and what the judges thought of the general standard of entries

Employers will have to become increasingly creative to lure people into their companies in today’s hugely competitive recruitment market – that was the final verdict of judges at this year’s Recruitment Advertising Awards.

Some companies used multi-pronged advertising campaigns involving the Internet, mailshots and traditional press advertising, making them eligible for several categories.

Companies invested heavily in web sites, which reinforced company branding and values, rather than using single job adverts.

But some judges claimed corporate vanity is preventing companies realising their true recruitment potential. Tracey Yates, head of recruitment at One to One, said, “I think having creativity in recruitment adverts is critical, given the conditions in the industry.

“But sometimes this has been choked by corporate messages, which is a shame because more creativity would give them a better chance of winning an award – and, of course, recruiting more staff.”

This year there were 20 categories and more than 700 entries. The judges were particularly impressed by the Sales and Creative Marketing categories and the Professional Services category. The category for Best Campaign also proved to be a source of fresh and vibrant ideas.

But judges said they found many categories contained entries that were easily superior to those around them. Maxine Packer, graduate recruitment manager for Logica, said, “In many categories there were entries that stood out from the others by a very clear margin.

“There has been a great deal of creativity but it has been hard to differentiate between most adverts with only a few standing out as being really good.”

Packer said the intensity of the recruitment market has caused companies in the IT sector to become disenchanted with traditional single job adverts. The favoured approach is to use a web site to attract people with expertise in the field to contact the company directly, rather than through the traditional CV application process.

She said, “As we all know, the industry is facing a very severe skills shortage and is using more innovative techniques to find staff.

“Also, IT adverts don’t tend to quote salaries, and it seems much more common to sell the job rather than the pay package. You don’t see that so much in the sales category, where it is much more in your face, with single job adverts quoting salaries and benefits.”

Emma McCarthy, business partner at the Royal Bank of Scotland, said the standard has been patchy in places. “The standard has varied between categories. There have been some stars which have risen above the rest,” she said.

“What we have seen is a huge range of innovative schemes to recruit people. Companies are not just relying on traditional adverts – they are using post cards and delivering leaflets to try to recruit people.”

McCarthy urged companies to choose carefully if they decide not to have their recruitment process in-house.

She said, “It is important that, if you choose to use someone outside the organisation to do your recruiting, you choose an agency which is interested in results. It must take responsibility for its actions in getting people into the company.”

Simon Minty was judging adverts according to their portrayal of disabled people, and was slightly disappointed by some of the results. He said he found the representation of disabled people by a major car maker in its Internet campaign to be “patronising”.

He said, “I am looking for positives rather than negatives and I think that a lot of what I have seen is very good. There are a lot of companies who now take diversity very seriously but there is still work to be done.”

Carol Brown, resourcing manager at Connex Trains, said companies in the rail industry have borne the brunt of the skills shortage.

She said, “It is very difficult to recruit train drivers because there are only a few people who have the skills necessary to do the job. We are also having to put a lot of effort into looking at new ways of recruiting people.

“But we have managed to recruit more train drivers in the country, partly because of our training scheme and partly by raising the profile of the profession using adverts.”

Connex has used a series of adverts comparing the job of train driver to that of pilots to attract prospective candidates.

Sarah Jordan, recruitment services consultant for Virgin Atlantic, said the Internet has provided companies with new opportunities for creative advertising. “We have seen a huge increase in the number of companies using the Web to attract recruits and there has been a lot of innovation in this area,” she said.

The Judges

Chairman Pauline Edgar, Chairman, Scott Edgar Group

Colin Gilby, Client services director, TMP Worldwide

Sara Hornby, Director, Lawton Ware Advertising

Emma McCarthy, Business partner, The Royal Bank of Scotland

Maxine Packer, Graduate recruitment manager, Logica

Francesca Okosi, Director of human resources, London Borough of Brent

Gavin Anderson, Creative director, Thirty Three Limited

Mark Rice, Creative partner, And Advertising

Tracey Yates, Head of recruitment, One 2 One

Simon Minty, Diversity trainer and consultant

Bronwen Jones, Regional director, Barkers

Lesley Chalbot, Graphic designer, Computer Futures

Simon David, Design manager, Reed Creative

Neil Wiseman, Group account director, Stafford Long & Partners

Sarah Jordan, Recruitment services consultant, Virgin Atlantic

Carol Brown, Resourcing manager, Connex.

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