Knowledge Centre for recruitment

Finding the people you need to be successful

In this article we thought we would take a fairly typical forum question and supply an answer.

Question: We are a fairly small IT business looking to expand but are struggling to find people with the skills we need at the calibre that we need. We are not going to be able to pay at a very high level either. We are thinking that perhaps we should focus on the college leaver.

Answer: Some of the recruitment challenges you are facing can be resolved by taking a creative and imaginative approach. I have jotted down some thoughts, some of which, I hope will be helpful.

Be clear exactly what you are looking for and what you can offer. How can you make your opportunity more exciting than the other options particularly if you want to pay less! Think about development and growth - can they grow with the business, will you invest time in their training. From your own point of view think about how much you are prepared to invest in their training (and how you will protect this investment).

Then think about sources of job candidates - be as imaginative as you can since if you identify a source that is not obvious you may have an advantage on your competitors when trying to recruit from it: consider colleges, forums, competitors, etc

Given you have talked about students I have focused on this. You need to consider how you will both find and attract the best talent.

Try researching some of the courses run at colleges near you [assuming you want the person to be near you] or anywhere if you are happy with a remote employee. Find the ones you think give the best training in terms of what you are looking for. You can then try to get candidates through posters, the careers department and even flyers handed out to students after their lectures!. Consider the option of taking on someone doing a degree or masters on a part time basis - this gives them income and gives you a chance to keep initial costs down and you can always have 2-3 of them to provide enough resource. You can use the promise of a chance of a job at the end to retain and motivate them.

Another good way to attract and check out students is to run a competition - set a competition to develop something which in your opinion covers what you are looking for. This gives you a chance to see the work of people you might be interested in. If you want to only hire one person make one of the rules that entrants need to be individuals. You need to make the prize quite substantial and can say that in addition to the prize you will consider hiring the winner - but this is cheaper than running an advert and also if you set the competition parameters and rules correctly and you hire the person you can access the product.

Or you can run a free weekend school on a particular topic and get applicants to apply for this. Make it clear that they will all get useful training/new skills and that you are also looking to recruit so one or more may get a job as well! This way you get to see 10-12 people for a whole weekend which helps with your selection [school leavers are very hard to judge in a traditional interview and whilst graduates are a bit easier it is hard to judge people who have no work track record]. Your application process for the weekend end school can require them to provide examples of stuff they have done.

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