Advertising Your Vacant Role

So you have a vacant role in your organisation which you need to fill.  But how do you make sure you get the right person to fill it, who can start to give you work of value as soon as possible and who will be loyal and want to stay with you for a while?

Do you really know what the role is?

This is your chance to really think about what role you need to be filled.

If someone has given their notice and is leaving a gap, do you want an exact replica of that person?  Can the role be tweaked – or even changed radically – to provide a better service for your client?  Does the process need to be streamlined, to provide a quicker or more productive result?  Do you even need to fill the role at all?

Do you need a Job Description?

You may have a very small workforce (even only one employee).  Or all of your employees may be doing pretty much the same role.   And anyway, you need to fill this vacancy quickly.  So why do you need to produce a job description?

The job description can be critical in attracting the right candidates to the role.  If they don’t clearly understand the job, or the title and job description don’t give the right message, then the ideal candidate may simply decide not to apply.

How to write a good Job Description

Tips are to keep it simple, to use a job title which actually describes the job.  If you attempt to use a modern cutting-edge title which misses the mark, then your candidates will miss it too.  So use familiar works which actually describe the job.  Try “supervisor” or “expert” instead of “tsar” or “ninja”.

It is really helpful to consult with the person who is currently doing the job, or who does something similar, to get an idea of what they consider the key skills and tasks are.  This could help you to update the job description correctly.  Or you could find they have been doing something completely different from your understanding!  Either way, it can really help you to describe what you need in your ideal candidate.

If you would like more help with writing Job Descriptions, then please contact us.

What can you offer in return?

Even if you are only small and budget is limited, then you need to show your Company in the best possible light to attract the right person.

Clearly you need to decide on salary and it is helpful if you can find out what the standard is for the type of role you have vacant.  You can scan recruitment advertisements online or in trade publications to get an idea.  If you belong to an advisory body for your industry, then they will be able to help as most will run regular salary surveys.  Recruitment Agencies can give a good idea of the current market place and what salaries are offered for your type of role.

Even though you may not be able to offer many financial benefits as an inducement to work for your Company, there may be other benefits you can offer at little or no cost.  What about flexible hours, or support for carers, or a mental health first aid plan?  Or you may have plenty of parking available, or be in the centre of town, or near a railway.  You may be able to offer remote working, or term-time only hours.

What next?

Once you have a realistic view of what role your vacancy is actually for, then you can use the Job Description to write the advertisement.   If you are putting the role out to a third party to conduct the recruitment for you, then they will probably want to write their own advert.  Either way, the Job Description you have produced will be key in getting the advert right and attracting the right person.

Make sure that you highlight the benefits of working for your organisation.  You may be struggling to think of any benefits you can offer.  If so, that in itself is an indication that you need to rethink your employment strategy.  People rarely come to work just for the love of it, so you need to offer other incentives.  Of course, salary is the initial consideration.  But even if the salary is really great , whilst it might draw them in initially, they are likely to want more from their employer once they start.

It helps if you can offer other things as part of the inducement to work with you. They may think they only come to work for the salary, but if you can offer love (or at least a feeling of being valued and respected) then that is more than many of your competitors and will put you head and shoulders above the rest.

If you think this article is useful and you would like more advice on dealing with this  – or any other people-related issue in your business – please join our mailing list, or contact us  for further guidance.


A Recruitment Strategy – Why Would I Need One?

We all get nervous about job interviews.  Even the most confident amongst us may feel slight anxiety about putting ourselves in the limelight, centre-stage, with a potential audience of several people. Our working lives, skills and experience are put under the spotlight and we may need to answer questions where we are unsure of the required answer.  It is a stressful process, even if you don’t consider the pressure about making sure you get offered the job.

We tend to forget, though, that it is also a nerve-wracking process for the person who is conducting the interview.  We are trying to show off the Company in its best light, to be sure of enticing the right applicant.  In all likelihood, we are anxious about making the “wrong” decision and offering the job to someone who then cannot do the job, or is a troublemaker of some kind.  Additionally, we know the cost of the whole process, and the additional cost if it all goes wrong.

Why do we leave such an important decision to chance?

Given the importance of getting the right person in to fill a vacancy, we should be making sure that the interview process is the very best it can be.  We then have a better chance of making the right choice.

Yet few interviewing managers have undergone any training in how to conduct an interview.  We don’t know  what type of questions to ask, or how to assess the candidates against each other. Sometimes we are not even very familiar with the role we are trying to fill.  So the interview process becomes a lottery and business suffers as a result.

Alternatively, we put the whole process out to a Recruitment Agency or third party.  This is fine and can work well, but they need to be properly briefed about the vacancy and the type of candidate who would fit in with our needs and ethos.

A bit of planning can work wonders

Often the problem is that someone has resigned and there is a need to fill their shoes very quickly.  So we rush to get an advert out there and try and fit interviews in as quickly as possible.  Otherwise the work doesn’t get done, or the team are put under pressure to cover the work of the vacant position as well as their own work.

Resignations always come at a bad time (there is never a good time!).  As a result,  the recruitment process is always done in a bit of a rush and in addition to the day job.  It is always an inconvenience.  This is never a good environment in which to make a critical decision which may reverberate in the company for years to come.  We may be lucky and recruit the best employee we have ever had.  Or we may end up trying to pick up the pieces from the tornado we have unleashed.  More often, reality is somewhere between these two extremes.

The obvious way to avoid some of this angst is to have a Recruitment Strategy, which you review regularly to make sure it still works for you.  You do financial planning and marketing planning regularly.  So why not review your recruitment process?

What does a Recruitment Strategy look like?

There is no set way to plan your recruitment, but there are some things you need to consider when setting your strategy.  It is not a good time to do this when you are desperately rushing to fill a vacancy.

Some things you may want to consider in your Recruitment Strategy:

  • What are the key roles, which must happen even if the current incumbent leaves or is ill?
  • How can those roles be covered in the short-term, while you are recruiting a permanent replacement?
  • Have you got up-to-date Job Descriptions for all of your roles? How are they kept updated?  Are they realistic, or are you looking for the impossible?
  • Do you use a Recruitment Agency? If so, how well do they know you and your business?  Do you keep in regular contact with them?
  • What sources will you use to find potential candidates? See my recent article about this issue.
  • Have you got a template advert, which includes the benefits of working for your organisation?
  • Have all of your recruiting managers had training in carrying out interviews?

Once you have a Recruitment Strategy, it is much easier to keep it up to date.  You should review it regularly (at least annually, depending on your business).  It can become an invaluable tool in helping you to manage those unexpected vacancies so that you can recruit the best and most loyal employees.

If you think this article is useful and you would like more advice on dealing with this  – or any other people-related issue in your business – please join our mailing list, or contact us for further guidance.

Thinking (and Recruiting) Outside the Box

The problems that I hear most often from employers are to do with recruitment.   Many employers have raised recruitment issues with me.  These range from things like “it’s difficult to recruit decent people”  to “we employ a large number of youngsters, but they don’t stay and it is difficult to recruit more”. I have even heard “it is difficult to recruit people who get on with their colleagues”.  Some employers are frightened of making the “wrong decision” when they are recruiting.  They are worried they will take on “the wrong person”.

Many of these issues and fears are blamed on recruitment.  But the problems actually come after the new employee has started in the job.  They are more about retaining people and engaging with them, rather than the difficulty of recruiting them in the first place.

But let’s stick with recruitment for the moment.  The news (in the UK, at least) is full of skills shortages, low unemployment rates, a fall in the number of migrant workers in the light of Brexit.  Additionally, market salary rates are rising in response to the growing difficulty in recruitment.

So are employers being too picky? 

Employers are reluctant to take on staff who have not worked in the right sector.  Public sector employees can’t get private sector jobs; non-academic staff can’t move into the academic sector; retail sector only want people who have retail experience; etc.  There might be some justification for such a preference. But most skills, experience and aptitudes are not sector specific.  Specifying experience in a given sector as an essential criterion seems to me to be a lazy way of drawing up a shortlist.  And it might be doing the employer a disservice.  They might be ruling out a raft of people who would otherwise be entirely suitable for the role.

Hiring managers always want the very best person they can get.  They look for someone who meets as many as possible of the criteria and even can offer something that the employer had never even realised they needed.  This is an unrealistic and expensive approach to recruitment when “good enough” should be adequate.  It will be easier to find someone who may not be a high-flyer, but who is steady and reliable and can do the job.  They will also be more willing to work for a realistic salary and more loyal in the long run.

Where can I find a pool of potential employees?

Employers like to recruit in their own image and are unwilling to take a punt on someone who does not fit their picture of the ideal employee.  With some notable exceptions, there is a reluctance to give an offender a second chance.  How sad that this is the exception and not the norm.

Or what about the long-term unemployed?  What about women returners, who are looking to get back into the workplace once they have started a family?  Employers seem to be scared that they will need training, or will want to work shorter hours. People with disabilities or health problems are often overlooked.  There are myriad others who fall into a minority of some kind.  So they fall into the “too difficult” category. They might need more time or money invested in them to “make it work”.

All of these groups of people are willing and able to provide good work, if only they get the chance.  In these days of difficulty in recruitment, it may be that they will be given that chance.

So the next time you need to fill a vacancy in your organisation, why not think outside the box and offer the chance to someone who is not an exact fit?

You may be agreeably surprised.


If you think this article is useful and you would like more advice on dealing with this  -or any other people-related issue in your business – please join our mailing list, or contact us for further guidance.