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Recruiting in a Challenging Environment

2 Apr 2015
Lindsey Boxall

Recruitment Challenges

Recruiting high calibre candidates can be challenging. For some vacancies, there may be a shortage of skills. For others, there may simply be a lack of active candidates looking for work.

So how you can address these recruitment challenges? I recently held a talk at the CIPD West of Scotland for the Voluntary Sector Special Interest Group where I shared shared some practical suggestions on how to recruit new employees in a challenging environment.

The statistics in the following article are based on the results from a survey of 104 public and voluntary sector professionals who have experience

Recruitment Challenges

The majority of hiring managers (60%) felt that there was a significant lack of candidates in the market. This was followed by salary and benefits and budget constraints.

Method Versus Success

Recruitment Issues


There is a huge amount of press advertising being used and only 20% results.

Key to Successful Recruitment

When going at it alone, recruiting can be timely and costly. In order to get the most return from your efforts, and to secure the best person for the role, you need to develop a strategy to reach relevant talent.

Determine the sector, skill set, personality and experience of the individual you are looking to recruit and tailor your strategy for that role. Do not fall into routine or habit, especially if you recruit regularly, as there really isn't a white label recruitment solution. For example, press advertising can be great to raise awareness and reach a wider talent pool, however it can be expensive and ineffective for niche roles.

Tools to utilise during the recruitment process are:

  • Job boards (S1 Jobs, Gumtree, Indeed, Jobsite
  • Press advertising
  • Social media
  • Job Centre
  • Recruitment consultancy
  • Referrals and recommendations
  • Job fairs/ open days
  • Own website
  • Training/ upskilling
  • Assessment centres
  • Employer branding

What are Candidates Looking For?

Candidates have a variety of choice when looking for a role, and will typically select a role based on the following factors:

  • Stability
  • Location
  • Working environment
  • Challenge
  • Reputation
  • Opportunity to learn and develop
  • Flexibility between professional and personal
  • Benefits and salary

Employer Brand

55% of respondents don’t have an employer brand strategy, whilst 80% have a marketing and communications department, and no-one thought that contributed to their difficulty in getting good staff.

Consider how you are viewed in your sector? Is there enough a pull to draw in new talent? Are you a desirable company to work for?

To raise awareness of your employer brand, you want to tackle the careers section of your website. Are you showcasing the company's culture and existing employees to encourage people to apply?

70% of candidates will investigate a company on social media before submitting their CV. With that in mind, speak with your marketing department to highlight the opportunities available within your organisation and the benefits to working there. Consider how and what you communicate. Select the right images and use a tone of voice that encourages trust and respect. Whilst you should engage, it's important that it suits your business type and sector. Be as open and transparent as you can possibly be.

People should want to work for you, not just apply because you have a vacancy.

Ask these questions when outlining your employer strategy:

  • What makes the business a unique workplace?
  • Is your company a good employer?
  • What is important to potential and existing employees?
  • How are your competitors perceived?

Remember, your employer brand is not your corporate brand.


  • Assess your recruitment needs on an individual basis
  • Engage in the most effective method available, but make it work for you
  • Ensure maximum exposure of your organisation
  • Outline the good benefits you have work/ life balance, flexible working
  • Professional process - interview/ up to date job specification/ provision of information
  • Employee testimonials on your website
  • Specific career pages on your website
  • Most importantly - to get the return, you need to set aside the time investment


Lindsey Boxall
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