Wake up to recruitment

Recruiting and retaining the crème de la crème is a challenge for most
businesses. Firms seeking to attract high-calibre personnel need to apply
coherent, consistent policies to achieve their own human-resourcing goals.

Whether you want trainees at the start of their careers or experienced
personnel for more senior positions, following best practice in recruiting will
maximise your success rate. To recruit excellence, you must display excellence
in your recruitment processes.

Being skilled in recruitment is more important today than ever, given that
the modern employee has evolved into what could be described as a ‘career
mercenary’ – someone who will compare the advantages of different organisations
and who is willing to move frequently in search of better opportunities.

A key step towards developing improved, effective recruitment (and retention)
is to develop a strong employer brand. It encompasses your organisation’s
values, systems, policies and behaviours with a view to attracting, motivating
and retaining current and potential employees. It also tries to convey the
personality and character of the organisation so potential external candidates
develop a sense of what working there might be like.

Strengthening your employer brand involves presenting positive messages about
life inside your organisation. These messages need to be consistent, whether
they appear in job adverts, recruitment presentations, brochures and applicant
literature, during interviews or anywhere else within the recruitment process.
So if your firm claims to be a dynamic place, your recruitment process must
reflect that – it must be efficient, slick and involve interviewers and
assessors who present a suitably dynamic image and style of working.

Try to understand what individuals in your target candidate pool seek from
their working lives. Older workers may be focused on pension contributions and
financial security, whereas younger employees may be more concerned about
personal development, a healthy work/life balance and the organisation’s
external image. Your organisational structures, advertising, and pay and
benefits packages should reflect your target group’s needs.

If you advertise a vacancy, you must select the most appropriate media for
your target candidate pool. The advert should build on your employer brand, and
include the key information such as job title, salary, location and the
recruiting organisation’s name.

Provide candidates with the maximum number of ways to apply, giving fax
numbers and an email address as well as a postal address. If advertising online,
adjust the advert style: online ads are typically 25% shorter than paper-based

Once you reach the interview stage, don’t just expect your candidates to have
to impress you; it is essential that your organisation makes a good impression
on the interviewees.

There are three things in life that people generally refuse to admit they are
bad at: driving, making love and conducting an interview. A good interviewing
technique involves putting candidates at ease, effective listening, making an
effort not to talk too much, and offering to answer any questions. Interviewers
should receive training to help them develop effective interviewing skills.

Preparation is important, particularly reviewing CVs and application forms,
and identifying questions that can get at the heart of the candidate’s
experience and working style. Competency-based interviewing techniques –
questions that focus on examples of how a candidate behaved in a real-life
situation – can be helpful. This tends to give a better picture than simply
asking the interviewee’s opinion of how they might act in an imaginary

Assessment techniques such as personality questionnaires and aptitude and
skills tests provide additional information, but the assessment you choose
should be appropriate for the vacancy. For example, asking short-listed
candidates to prepare a presentation on a key issue facing the organisation can
give you information about their ability to research a topic and their
communication skills.

Once you have selected your candidate and they have accepted your offer, your
attention needs to move to retention. If you cannot keep them within your
organisation for a reasonable period, you have wasted your efforts.

You can reinforce your new recruit’s positive impressions of your
organisation by helping them to feel involved straight away. Keep in touch with
them in any interim period before they join and respond swiftly to any queries.

An effective induction process is essential to help new recruits settle in
fast. If assessments used in the recruitment process identified any immediate
training needs, these should be built into the induction programme.

The induction plan should also address issues such as who greets the new
joiner on day one, where they will sit, who will brief them on departmental
practices and processes, what initial work they will be given, how their
progress will be monitored and what their key priorities are, including any
specific objectives and early deadlines they will face.

Appointing a ‘buddy’ can assist the settling-in process, as can assigning the
new joiner a project to be completed during the induction period. This gives
them authority to approach other members of staff, an immediate sense of purpose
and the feeling they can make an impact on organisational performance.

The induction is a good opportunity to seek feedback from the new joiner on
the recruitment process.

Similarly, three months after joining, they could be asked for feedback on
the induction process. These actions reinforce the message that your
organisation cares about its recruitment and employment practices, creating a
positive impression early on in the employer-employee relationship.

High-quality candidates are attracted to organisations that reward talent and
don’t tolerate under-performance, so it is essential that your recruitment
process is seen as part of a human-resource strategy that encourages
performance. That strategy should include a rigorous selection process for new
applicants and an objective, transparent and on-going appraisal mechanism giving
regular feedback.

Performance-related pay and structures to deal with under-performance all
emphasise that your firm is a high-quality organisation, and one where talented
individuals will be rewarded for their efforts.

Jeff Grout and Sarah Perrin are authors of Recruiting excellence: An
insider’s guide to sourcing top talent, McGraw-Hill

If you are looking to recruit or to develop your career visit

From Starch to Cillit Bang

Industrial chemicals producer Benckiser was founded in 1823. Reckitt started
out as a starch mill in 1840, diversifying later into household products,
specifically polish. The two expanded over the subsequent century, merging in
2000 to form the current group.

Reckitt Benckiser may not mean much to the layman, but in consumer product
circles, it is a giant. With a market cap of over £10bn, it is not much smaller
than its better-known rival Unilever, currently valued at around £16bn.

What will mean something to the man on the Clapham omnibus are Reckitt’s
brands. Reckitt owns ‘surface cleaners’ including Cillit Bang, Harpic and

It sells ‘fabric care’ products, which include Calgon and Vanish. It produces
Finish for the dishwasher, Air Wick for the home, Lemsip, Gaviscon and Dettol in
the personal care field, and even some foods did you know that French’s Mustard
is a Reckitt brand?

That does not even take into account all of the international brands in its
portfolio including Lysol, Calgonit, Mortein and Cattleman’s BBQ sauce.
Today the company operates in 70 countries.

Colman’s mustard, one part of the business brand that was well known ­ albeit
as part of Reckitt and Colman ­ was sold off in 1995.

Would Reckitt ever consider developing the Reckitt Benckiser as a brand name
in itself? ‘We’ve toyed with it, but that’s as close as it has got,’ Day says.

‘At the end of the day the value is in the brand, not in Reckitt Benckiser.
SE Johnson do it ­ but we don’t believe having Reckitt Benckiser on the
advertising does anything for you.

‘The consumer buys the brand, they’re buying Harpic, Calgonit, Gaviscon,
Lemsip, Cillit Bang, not Reckitt.’

Apart from anything else, if a customer has a bad experience, that might stop
them buying other brands. By the same token, he says, you cannot capitalise on a
positive experience either.

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