Recruitment is the process used by an organization to locate and attract job applicants in order to fill a position. An effective approach to recruitment can help a company successfully compete for limited human resources. To maximize competitive advantage, a company must choose the recruiting method that produces the best pool of candidates quickly and cost effectively. There are five steps to the process.
This step would appear to be an easy one-just wait until an employee turns in a notice of resignation. Many job openings are, in fact, identified in this way. A major problem with this approach is that it may take the company a long time to fill the opening. For instance, it usually takes six to eight weeks to notify and screen applicants, and a week or more to make a decision regarding a job offer. After the decision is made, the selected candidate must give notice (usually about two weeks) to his or her previous employer. Thus, the job in question is likely to remain vacant for months, even if the process runs smoothly.
Ideally, organizations should attempt to identify job openings well in advance of an announced resignation. The HRM department should plan for future openings in both the short and long term. The projection of future openings provides organizations with the time needed to plan and implement recruitment strategies so that they do not fall prey to the "must-hire-by-last-week" syndrome. The HR plan should answer at least the following questions:
The first question to ask after determining that an opening exists is "Do we need to find a new person to fill the vacant position?" Sometimes it is unnecessary to staff a vacant position because the firm can rely on other alternatives. For instance, it may be more prudent to provide overtime opportunities to current workers to complete the needed work. Other alternatives include job elimination and job redesign (i.e., incorporating the tasks of the vacant position into currently existing positions). If the firm chooses to fill the vacancy, it must address two issues: (1) whether to outsource, and (2) in the absence of outsourcing, whether to recruit candidates internally or externally.
Now the organization must determine what types of individuals it is looking for to fill the vacant positions. To address this question, an organization must define its target population. Two issues arise here: (1) specifying worker requirements and (2) deciding whether to target a certain segment of the applicant population.
An organization must identify specific requirements of the job: the duties, reporting relationships, salary range for hiring, and competencies required of a new worker (e.g., education, experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities). Ideally, much of this information will have been gathered during a job analysis and thus be contained in the job description. If not, the recruiter should gather it from the hiring manager. An organization must also decide at this point whether to target all qualified applicants or to focus its recruitment efforts on certain segments of the qualified applicant population.
When recruiting internally, the issue is this: Should the company post the job so that all qualified employees can be considered? Or should the company select certain high-potential employees and groom them for the position? When recruiting externally, the company must decide whether to inform all potential applicants or target certain types. Companies may reap advantages when they target members of certain groups. Another strategy is to target graduates of specific schools that have exceptionally strong programs in the functional areas of concern. Additionally, some companies target top-performing employees working for other companies. Recruitment of such individuals poses some unique problems, however; these individuals may be difficult to reach because they are not actively seeking a new job. Moreover, the practice of pirating employees from other firms raises some serious ethical questions.
Once an applicant population has been targeted, the company must determine how to notify these individuals of the vacant position. A variety of recruitment methods may be used for communicating vacancies. A firm can benefit from both low-involvement and high-involvement strategies at this stage of the recruitment process. Low-involvement strategies are things such as corporate sponsorship or advertisements of the company's product or service may influence applicants' positive perceptions of that firm and therefore increase applicant attraction, but do not specifically identify a job opening. High-involvement recruitment strategies involve things such as detailed recruitment advertisements or employee endorsements, which occur when potential applicants meet with current employees to hear more about their experiences with that company. Both low-involvement and high-involvement strategies have a positive effect on the number of applicants who apply for jobs with an organization and on the quality of the applicants who apply.
When choosing a specific way to notify the target population, different recruitment methods may be used. Some popular options are internal job postings; newspaper, radio, and television advertisements; trade magazine advertisements; Internet job sites; college campus interviews; and current employee referrals. The choice of which to use depends on the number of positions to be filled, the cost of each recruitment method, the characteristics of the target audience, and economic conditions.
The more positions to be filled, the more widely the firm may choose to advertise, perhaps using a newspaper or radio advertisement. Costs differ for recruitment methods and a firm may be willing to invest more in recruitment when suitable applicants are difficult to find or when poor hiring decisions may be costly. The characteristics of the target audience influence recruitment method; for example, using an Internet posting would be fruitless if most of the applicant pool is unlikely to have access to a computer. Poor economic conditions, where unemployment is high, will result in higher numbers of job applicants and possibly a lower average level of quality of applicants. In this situation, to avoid spending an inordinate amount of time weeding through applications, firms must discourage all but the best applicants from applying.
Finally, the most qualified candidates are brought in for interviews and other assessment procedures. These serve both selection and recruitment purposes. From a selection perspective, they give the firm a chance to further assess the candidates' qualifications. From a recruitment perspective, they provide the candidates with an opportunity to learn more about the employment opportunity.
Candidates should be provided with information about the company and the job. Failure to provide a sufficient amount of information could be detrimental to the recruiting process. For example, it may be interpreted by the candidates as an attempt to evade discussion of unattractive job attributes, or it may be viewed as an indication of the recruiter's disinterest in them. Without specific information, applicants might accept a job offer without knowing about aspects of it that might affect their long-term job satisfaction, or they may refuse an offer without knowing about some of the job's attractive attributes.
Lawrence S. Kleiman
Revised by Marcia Simmering
Barber, A.E. Recruiting Employees: Individual and Organizational Perspectives. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 1998.
Collins, C.J., and J. Han. "Exploring Applicant Pool Quantity and Quality: The Effects of Early Recruitment Practice Strategies, Corporate Advertising, and Firm Reputation." Personnel Psychology 57 (2004): 684–717.
Kleiman, L.S. Human Resource Management: A Tool for Competitive Advantage. Cincinnati: South-Western College Publishing, 2000.