Recruitment methods: costs and effectiveness

Eight out of 10 employers have taken steps to cut their recruitment costs over the past 12 months, according to a survey by Personnel Today’s sister publication, Employment Review.

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Although the study found that many organisations were trying to save money by shifting the bulk of their recruitment activity from printed material to online media, ­substantial numbers have been spurred on by budget pressures to review the whole of their hiring process.

The study also found that many employers were continuing to place more emphasis on a range of activities that few rated as particularly effective.

However, based on detailed responses from 68 organisations, which together employ more than 317,000 people, the report found that moves to make greater use of online ­recruitment were both the most widespread change, introduced by 44% of organisations, as well as being the most effective.

Two other changes that had been widely adopted were the appointment of a dedicated recruitment manager or recruitment team (used by 42% of organisations) and a greater use of internal recruitment (used by 44% of employers).

Although more than four out of 10 organisations (42%) had stepped up efforts to promote their employer brand in the hope that this would attract job applicants, few HR practitioners rated this as a successful approach.

One in four organisations (25%) that took part in the survey had also introduced a bonus scheme for employees who referred successful ­candidates to the company.

This, too, was not widely considered to be an effective measure.

…and online job ads are most effective

The survey shows that the introduction of online job applications is regarded as the most effective way of improving recruitment while cutting costs.

Three-quarters of organisations (74%) said they were now doing this. They have introduced online applications as the next step from simply posting job ads online and expecting candidates to apply by post.

Far fewer organisations (14%) had gone to the next level by introducing online pre-screening to weed out those without the right qualifications, experience or work permits.

Rather more (49%) had introduced other elements of online selection.

At its most sophisticated, such an approach can include the use of online psychometric questionnaires, cutting the time and effort needed to administer tests as part of the selection process.

The most widely adopted online reform, however, was simply the introduction of e-mail as a means of communicating with candidates applying for jobs.

…but use of agencies is seen as too costly

While it is widely accepted that employment agencies are able to take much of the hard work out of finding suitable job applicants, especially where a post needs to be filled quickly, many employers see them as an expensive option.

The Employment Review survey found that 75% of employers had tried to cut employment agency costs over the past 12 months, and that this had been considered a highly effective tactic by most of them.

Smaller numbers (14%) had taken the more drastic option of stopping the use of all employment agencies.

However, those that had taken this approach appeared to be very happy with their decision.

Although other employers had turned to Jobcentres to search for candidates, or had introduced measures aimed at managing the relationship with agencies better, these tactics were not thought to be as effective in the search for talent as using employment agencies had been.

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