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<Most successful recruitment source >

Most successful recruitment source

By Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., Managing Editor at HRinfodesk.com---Canadian Payroll and Employment Law News, August 2008

We recently asked employers What is your organization's most successful recruitment source? Out of 259 respondents, the majority agreed that Internet job boards (32.82%/85) and employee referrals (31.66%/82) were their most successful recruitment sources; which would indicate that businesses are moving away from the known traditional ways of recruiting, which are posting ads in the classifieds or careers section of a local or national newspaper (12.74%/33) and using recruiting firms (6.56%/17). Employers are increasingly turning to the Internet to seek out potential candidates.

In addition, contrary to what we read in the media, niche job websites (2.70%/7) and social networking sites (1.54%/4) have not gained great popularity with respondents to our poll.

In 2000, the picture was a bit different. A study by Duxbury and Higgins surveyed 103 Canadian small businesses and found the following: "Small businesses recruit employees by taking referrals (75 percent), placing ads in the newspaper (56 percent), asking friends and relatives if they know someone (40 percent), walk-ins (37 percent), and by going through private employment agencies (31 percent)." (Monica Beauregard and Maureen Fitzgerald. Hiring, Managing and Keeping the Best: The Complete Canadian Guide for Employers, Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2000.) With the growth of the Internet, recruiting online has increased in popularity as can be seen from the HRinfodesk poll.

Below is a breakdown of the results of the poll on the topic of recruiting. We are also providing an overview of the topic, the legal implications and the challenges of recruiting in an era of labour shortages and looming retirement of baby boomers.

Recruiting 101

Hiring and retaining employees remains one of the major concerns of businesses.

The hiring process begins even before the recruitment of a new employee has gotten underway. A number of steps are involved, and most need to be completed to hire someone successfully. The process begins when the hiring company tries to figure out what the job involves. It ends when a job offer is made and accepted.

The hiring process starts by developing a complete understanding of the position, with a well written job description. This job description also supports many other HR functions such as recruitment, selection, orientation, training, work plans, compensation, performance reviews and legal defence.

The job description explains the key responsibilities and required knowledge/skills of the actual position, as well as reporting relationships and the work environment. A job analysis (the study of the job) must be conducted before writing or rewriting the job description. In doing the analysis, you gather information about the job through interviewing employees who actually do the job, observing performance of certain tasks, asking employees to fill out questionnaires, and collecting information about a job from the National Occupational Classification system.

There are several different ways and thousands of different places where you can advertise a job opening. You must evaluate your options. Once you have identified the best places to advertise in order to fill your available position, you need to evaluate the different options available to you. Whatever the option you choose, you need to grab the attention of the best candidates and motivate them to spring into action. You want them to respond now, not set the ad aside.

Watch your wording. The skill requirements in your ad must reflect bona fide job requirements. The ad itself should highlight the qualifications applicants must have as well as the essential responsibilities of the job.

This forces the applicants to submit customized résumés that indicate how they meet each of the position's requirements. In turn, it makes the screening process easier for employers, because it promotes self-screening that leads underqualified and overqualified applicants to weed themselves out.

Although the grounds vary depending on the human rights legislation in your jurisdiction, employers are not permitted to place ads that declare preferences on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, physical disability, mental disability, or marital status. Ensure equal opportunity.

All your recruitment decisions should be based on valid, practical and measurable approaches that ensure hiring on the basis of merit. This means hiring the candidate whose qualifications best meet the requirements to do the job.

All applications received on or before the closing date should be screened and rated against the qualifications outlined in the job ad. Applicants whose résumé and cover letter best demonstrate how they meet the qualifications to do the job should be invited to continue in the hiring process (evaluation and selection of successful candidate).

Schedule interviews; prepare specific open-ended questions which will help to determine whether the applicant will be able to accomplish the duties of the position. During the interviews, discuss the duties, responsibilities and skills required; and describe the wages, benefits, advancement opportunities and other aspects of the job. According to human rights legislation in each jurisdiction, the questions an employer asks at an employment interview must be related to the candidate's qualifications and ability to perform the essential duties of the job. Questions that are directly or indirectly related to “prohibited grounds of discrimination”, such as age, family status, place of origin, religion, sexual identity, race, gender, and so forth, violate human rights legislation because they are irrelevant to the candidate's ability to do the work. However, it is appropriate (and advisable) to ask a candidate about his or her educational background and past employment, as long as the questions are directly related to his or her potential job performance.

Summarize the interviews in written reports and retain them in a file.

Check the candidate's references. Check the requisite documents to determine whether the new hire is a Canadian citizen or has the proper authority to work in Canada.

Various human rights commissions suggest that these reports and any other documents related to the recruiting, interview and selection process should be retained for at least a year after the successful candidate has been hired. The documentation should include the ads and recruiting methods used, the number of applications or résumés received, the dates of the interviews, the names of the candidates, and brief notes on why the candidate was or was not selected. If the candidate later alleges discrimination, a record of the interview will help the employer demonstrate fair treatment.

Asking a job candidate to undergo a medical examination to determine his or her ability to perform the essential duties of the job does not violate human rights legislation if the examination is conducted after a written offer of employment has been made and the offer itself specifies that employment is conditional on the successful results of the examination. The condition cannot have any impact upon future performance or the job itself. The medical examination must be restricted in determining the candidate's ability to perform the essential duties of the job at the time of hiring.

Recruiting source

Your choice of recruiting services will depend on your overall recruiting strategy, budget, resources and changing business needs. Most likely, you will consider a flexible combination of options, including in-house promotions and referrals, or online job boards and recruiting firms. The results you can expect will depend on your priorities at the outset.

Online job boards

The Internet offers a range of opportunities and tools for employers to promote their companies and positions to potential employees.

Online job boards are useful tools to assist in the recruitment process. Whether they're general or specific to your industry, they can help promote your organization to job-seekers who may be around the corner or around the world.

With thousands of online job boards in North America—from broad-based sites such as Monster and Workopolis to industry-specific ones—employers may need to research the sites that best fit their recruitment needs.

One handy tool is a company's website, which can be used to feature and “sell” available positions to future employees. “Most websites focus on pitching their products or services to customers, but nowadays it's just as important to focus on employees,” says Bob Dodge, co-chair of the Human Resources Committee of the Canada West Ski Areas Association. “Companies need to use their websites to talk directly to potential employees about the advantages and benefits of working there, and to detail their commitment to employees.”

Niche job sites are specialized online job boards that enable employers to reach a narrowly focused base of potential hires. Catering to a particular niche, these sites can easily outperform more general boards if they have the necessary traffic.

In today's competitive labour market, it's extremely important to have an online presence. Internet job boards and company websites (including online communities) can be a very cost-effective way to advertise and promote your positions-and can have a huge reach, especially among young people.

Employee referrals

Employee referrals are a valuable resource for identifying new and talented applicants. Your satisfied employees are the best public relations representatives that your organization can have. If they like their work, they will readily share this information. Good employees tend to know and refer others that have a similar work ethic to their own. Often, specialized employees in one field know others who are looking for work. Employees prefer to work with people they know.

Many companies offer employees incentives in the form of bonus payments or finder's fees for successful referrals that are hired. Through employee referrals, the company is often more cost-effective in its ability to find qualified candidates. This approach also tends to improve employee retention and performance.

Recruiting firms

Recruiting firms generally specialize in particular industries or types of work. As a result, they will be able to identify a more focused pool of candidates to suit your needs. The most common categories are the following:

  • Executive search firms specializing in executive or senior-level managerial positions
  • Boutique firms specializing in particular industries or job categories
  • Generalist firms covering a broad spectrum of jobs and industries

These companies are paid on a retainer or per assignment basis. Executive recruiters are highly specialized; they are needed only when you have a critical management position to fill.

Social Networking sites

An increasing number of online communities—such as Linkedln, Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace—also offer unique recruitment opportunities. In addition to advertising on these sites (with their millions of hits daily), employers can creatively use these forums to court future employees. For example, Linkedln is a popular online network that offers numerous—and free—opportunities for recruitment through its community-oriented job board.

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE, www.naceweb.org) just 17 percent of employers responding reported plans to use social networking sites as part of their job candidate recruiting efforts, and two-thirds of those said their focus was on advertising on the sites, not viewing profiles. “It appears that many employers have yet to develop an effective presence and a strategy for identifying and connecting with potential employees,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.

Further, nearly 83 percent of the respondents to NACE's 2008 Graduating Student Survey have a profile on a social networking site, and more than half (51.1 percent) say they expect employers to take a look at that profile. Despite the expectation, just a handful—7.2 percent—report being contacted by an employer through a social networking site. And employers may be right to proceed with caution, according to Mackes.

“Our study shows that nearly half of students don't expect or are unsure about employers connecting with them on these sites. Consequently, employers are right to be wary about how communication might be perceived among many college students,” notes Mackes.

Advertising on the sites may also not be the best answer for employers seeking new college graduates for their workforces: Less than 15 percent of students taking part in the study said they “click” on employer ads on social networking sites.

Employment (placement) agencies

Employment agencies can save you precious time if you need to fill a job vacancy right away. They do all the preliminary legwork in finding potential candidates: advertising, screening, interviewing, reference checking, and so on. Agencies can also provide candidates that are difficult to find independently. Employment agencies maintain databanks of potential candidates. As a result, the recruitment process gets started right away.

Initially, you will have to provide a lot of information about your company and detailed job descriptions for the positions you need filled. This process ensures that the agency has a complete picture of your business. The quantity of information they require from you is a good indicator of the quality of the company. A thorough understanding of your company and its needs is fundamental to competently screening and referring appropriate candidates.

When a successful candidate is hired through such an agency, you (the employer) pay a fee based on the type and level of the position. Usually the fee represents a percentage (anywhere from 10–30 percent) of the annual base salary of the successful candidate.

There are also temporary help agencies. Temporary help agencies can be found in a variety of industries including accounting, health services, trades, information technology and sales. They usually charge a markup of anywhere from 40 to 100 percent or higher than the rate paid to the temporary employee. Assignments vary from one day to a year.

Challenges in recruiting

In this era of labour shortages, international trade and the aging of the baby boomer generation, employers and human resources professionals—including recruiters—are facing a number of new challenges in the war for top talent. According to the Conference Board of Canada, in 2006, 74 percent of employers reported difficulty attracting and retaining talent.

The baby boom generation, defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, are reaching retirement age and beginning to leave the workforce. Since there are fewer numbers behind them, there will be a gap which companies need to address with long-term strategies or risk the dire consequences of talent shortages.

Another issue in the changing demographic landscape is the increase in ethnic diversity, with a large percentage entering the country and labour market through immigration.

Companies of all types and sizes in various studies have indicated that their most challenging and time-consuming task is identifying candidates who are both qualified and meet the necessary job requirements. The problem is that traditional recruitment strategies do not effectively reach the qualified candidates coming through immigration or aging baby boomers, among other shifting demographics and psychographics.

Successful employers will recognize the implications of shifting demographics and psychographics, and respond to them in the context of their own organizations.

Successful employers must also understand their organization and conduct workforce planning to anticipate where shortages will occur. They will develop a solid talent management strategy aligned with their business plan. Strategic workforce planning is a key element and essential tool for organizations looking to be more proactive about how they manage their workforce, and offers solutions to some of the key challenges businesses experience.

Strategic workforce planning is the “analytic, forecasting, and planning process that connects and directs talent management activities to ensure an organization has the right people in the right places at the right time and at the right price to execute its business strategy”. Strategic workforce planning differs from traditional workforce planning in that the former is a proactive approach to identifying the skills an organization needs to achieve its goals. These skills are then brought into the organization through internal staff development and recruitment of new employees. It is also a strategic approach. This means that workforce planning tools are aligned with an organization's strategic plan and targeted to those segments of the workforce that have the greatest impact on the organization. This approach requires communication and integration between departments within the organization. Workforce planning issues can no longer be viewed as the exclusive domain of the human resources department. (The Conference Board of Canada, Strategic Workforce Planning: Forecasting Human Capital Needs to Execute Business Strategy (2006).)

With strategic workforce planning, all leaders within an organization come together to discuss the organization's goals, the environment within which it operates, workforce trends and other influencing factors. This systems-based understanding of the organization provides a solid foundation on which to make decisions about current and future workforce needs.

Solutions also include:

  • Defining and enhancing your employment brand (promise), image and perceptions
  • Learning more about your segment of the market and being strategic in how and where you reach potential recruits (going where they are); speaking their language
  • Rethinking and improving your recruiting processes; for example, instead of talent acquisition, move to recruiting courting
  • Removing barriers to the full participation and advancement of underutilized pools of talent (i.e., aging workforce, disabled candidates, minorities and immigrants)
  • Using your current employees in the recruitment process (referrals)
  • Improving the orientation process
  • Delivering on promises
  • Reviewing your company's culture; moving to a business culture that embraces and encourages creativity, innovation, risk taking, trust and diversity
  • Training and supporting your managers; recognizing and rewarding them for desired behaviours
  • Changing the work environment to achieve enhanced productivity, greater innovation and improved workplace health and employee engagement
  • Holding people accountable

In addition, according to Mike Martone, ADP's chief operating officer in the U.S., “Recruitment experts who have embraced technology are now able to quickly analyze and identify the best people ahead of the competition, while staying in compliance with hiring regulations.” (ADP's The Current State of Recruitment Technology study.)