Recruitment is the process of generating a pool of qualified candidates for a particular job. The firm must announce the job’s availability to the market (inside and outside the organization) and attract qualified candidates to apply.
To date most of the research conducted has addressed recruitment sources, recruiters, and realistic job previews. Once an employer has decided that external recruitment is necessary, a cost-effective and appropriate method of recruitment must be selected. There are a number of distinct recruitment sources to choose from, each of which is more or less appropriate in different circumstances. As a result, most employers use a wide variety of different recruitment sources at different times; the most prominent are the following (in many situations there is also a good case for using different sources in combination when looking to fill the same vacancy):
- Current employees. Internal job postings give current employees the opportunity to move into the organization’s more desirable jobs. Internal advertising has the advantage of providing maximum information to all employees, who might then act as recruiters. It also provides the opportunity for all internal employees to apply, and is speedy and cost-effective. Conversely, it is limited to a certain number of applicants, the internal candidates are not matched against those from outside, and it could be unlawful if it inserts indirect discrimination.
- Referrals from current employees. Studies have shown that employees who were hired through referrals from current employees tended to stay with the organization longer and displayed greater loyalty and job satisfaction than employees who were recruited by other means. Employee referrals can be an effective recruitment tool, because employees have a good sense of what it takes to be a successful worker and member of the organization.
- Former employees. An organization may decide to recruit employees who previously worked for the organization. Forming an online alumni network could be a simple and cost-effective way to maintain a hiring pool of competitive candidates. Moreover, a network of former employees can be a source of employee referrals, because they are familiar with the company, its culture, and its values.
- Print and radio advertisements. Advertisements can be used both for local recruitment efforts and for targeted searches. Advertising in the national press has the advantage of reaching large numbers and constitutes the accepted medium for search by those seeking particular posts. Conversely, the cost might be high and much of the cost could be wasted in reaching inappropriate people. Advertising in the technical and targeted press has the advantage of reaching a specific population with minimum waste, but it is inappropriate when a no specialist is needed or where the specialism has a choice of professional publications.
- Internet advertising and career sites. Employers are increasingly turning to the Web as a recruitment tool, because online ads are relatively cheap, are more dynamic, and can often produce faster results than newspaper ads. For employers the principal attraction is the way that the internet allows jobs to be advertised inexpensively to a very large audience. The cost of setting up a good Web site is quite low. The other big advantage is speed. People can respond within seconds of reading about a job opportunity by e-mailing their CV. Shortlisting can also be undertaken quickly with the use of CV-matching software or online application forms.
In practice, however, there are major problems. A key drawback is the way that employers advertising jobs tend to get bombarded with hundreds of applications. To prevent this, online shortlisting software that is able to screen out unsuitable applications must be used. Such technologies, however, are not wholly satisfactory. Those that work by looking for key words in CVs inevitably have a “hit and miss” character and can be criticized for being inherently unfair. The alternative is to require candidates to apply online by completing an application form or psychometric test. Other problems concern fears about security and confidentiality, which serve to deter people from submitting personal details over the Web. Criticisms have also been made about poor standards of ethicality on the part of cyber agencies.
- Employment agencies. Many organizations use external contractors to recruit and screen applicants for a position. Agencies can be particularly effective when the firm is looking for an employee with a specialized skill.
- University or college recruiting. Many organizations recognize that there is value in interacting with university or college students, developing relationships, and generating interest in the pool of candidates through activities such as company visits to college campuses, job fairs, and internships.
- Customers. An innovative recruitment source is the organization’s customers, who are already familiar with the organization and what it offers. Customers may bring more enthusiasm to the workplace than other applicants and, as the recipients of the firm’s product or service, may have valuable insights into how the organization could be improved.
With regard to recruitment sources, it is expected that different sources might be associated with different recruitment outcomes. Two main explanations have been offered that try to understand this association. The realistic information hypothesis proposes that persons recruited via certain sources are likely to have more accurate information about what a job entails. Possessing such information is thought to enable an applicant to make a more informed decision about whether to pursue a job. Lacking such information, the individuals are thought to be less likely to be able to self-select out of consideration for jobs that may not be a good fit in terms of their skills and interests. If hired, these less-informed individuals are more likely to be unhappy with their job choice and may be more likely to resign. The second explanation is known as the individual difference hypothesis. This explanation is based on the premise that sources differ in the types of individuals they reach and that these differences result in different outcomes.
The human resource manager needs to monitor the effectiveness of the recruitment sources, first to ensure value for money, and second, to ensure that the pool of applicants produced by the various sources is suitable. Researchers have suggested four numbers to collect to monitor the effectiveness of the recruiting:
(1) number of initial inquiries received that resulted in completed application forms; (2) number of candidates at various stages in the recruitment and selection process, especially those shortlisted; (3) number of candidates recruited; and (4) number of candidates retained in the organization after six months. There is also a good case for monitoring the numbers of men and women who are successful at each stage of the process and the numbers of people from different ethnic minorities. Where an imbalance becomes apparent, the organization can then take remedial action.
Recruiters And Job Previews
In addition, recruiters play a central role in the recruitment process, because applicants’ perceptions of recruiters’ behaviors (e.g., their willingness to provide information) and attitudes (e.g., their interest in the candidate) are associated with applicants’ expectations of receiving a job offer and their reported probability of accepting the offer. In terms of recruiter demographic characteristics, there is a weak relationship between demographic characteristics and applicant reactions. However, it could be argued that similarity on certain dimensions with the recruiters might be important to job applicants, especially for variables such as job attractiveness. Finally, the evidence regarding the effect of recruiter experience, training, and functional area on applicants’ reactions remains quite inconclusive.
Recruiters might have an effect on job candidates because they serve a key role in directly communicating information about a position and an organization to applicants. To carry out this communication role effectively, a recruiter needs to have both the ability to communicate effectively and personal credibility. Moreover, recruiters could be seen by applicants as signals of unknown aspects of the organization, especially when the applicants lack detailed knowledge of the hiring organization and when the recruiter is from their functional area.
Finally, realistic job previews play a crucial role in the recruitment process. A realistic job preview refers to the presentation by an organization of both favorable and unfavorable job-related information to job candidates. Most realistic job preview models hypothesize that providing realistic job information to applicants results in their having their job expectations met. It is further assumed that providing realistic job previews influences job clarity and individuals’ perceptions that the organization is honest with them. Given that candidates perceive alternatives to accepting an undesirable job, providing a realistic job preview results in applicant self-selection, which, in turn, results in a higher level of job satisfaction, a lower level of voluntary turnover, and a higher level of performance.
In addition to the above-mentioned traditional sources of recruitment, many companies recruit from nontraditional labor pools and use innovative methods to attract new employees. Nontraditional labor pools can include prisoners, welfare recipients, senior citizens, and workers from foreign countries.
An integral part of many organizations’ recruitment efforts, both externally and internally, is attracting women, minorities, people with disabilities, and other employees in the protected groups. Many private sector employers believe that policies such as affirmative action make good business sense for them. A good rule of thumb is to target potential recruits through media or recruitment methods that focus on minorities. However, when a company puts too much emphasis on hiring of minorities in ads, candidates may feel resentful or believe they are being hired simply to fill a quota. Thus, recruitment experts say that minority candidates should be addressed the same way all candidates are.
It is also important to provide certain types of documentation to recruits as a means of focusing their minds on whether the job will suit them or not. Documents that are commonly provided for applicants are the following: a copy of the relevant job description and personnel specification, a copy of the advertisement for reference purposes, a copy of any general recruitment brochure produced by the organization, the staff handbook or details of a collective agreement, details of any occupational pension agreements, and general information about the organization. It is also essential to have some method of tracking recruitment, so that an immediate and helpful response can be given to applicants inquiring about the stage their application has reached. It is also necessary to ensure that all applicants are informed about the outcome of their application. This will reduce the number of inquiries that have to be handled, but it is also an important aspect of public relations, as the organization dealing with job applicants may also be dealing with prospective customers.
Finally, it is useful and far more satisfactory to have in place a fair and objective system for shortlisting candidates that produces the best group of alternative candidates to move forward to the interview stage. This can be achieved by using a panel of managers to undertake shortlisting, reducing the likelihood that individual prejudices will influence the process. Another way is by employing a scoring system with which to score each CV or application form received against the key shortlisting criteria identified at the start of the process.
- Irving H. Buchen, Partnership HR: New Norms for Effective Recruitment, Performance, and Training of Today’s Workforce (Davies-Black, 2007);
- Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLC, Recruiting, Retaining, and Terminating Employees (Ceridian, 2008);
- Margaret Foot and Caroline Hook, Introducing Human Resource Management (Prentice Hall Financial Times, 2008);
- Niamh Gallagher and Duncan O’Leary, Recruitment 2020: How Recruitment Is Changing and Why It Matters (Demos, 2007);
- Marloes De Graaf-Zijl and Ernest E. Berkhout, “Temporary Agency Work and the Business Cycle,” International Journal of Manpower (v.28/7, 2007).
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