Good employment management practice starts at the recruitment level. We spoke with guru Jason Elias from Elias Recruitment about the importance of effective recruitment.
Jason joined the recruitment industry in 1999, having previously practiced as a lawyer in Sydney. Elias Recruitment focuses on professional legal placements across Australia and overseas for law firms, corporate and not-for-profit organisations. Jason is actively involved in the recruitment industry a fellow of peak recruitment industry body RCSA (Recruitment & Consulting Services Association and was elected to sit on the global board of directors of the world’s largest recruitment network – NPA Worldwide. He was also the 2014 recipient of the Chairman’s Award, which recognises an NPA owner, manager, recruiter, or staff member, whose contributions and service to NPA represent substantial and lasting benefit.
We spoke with Jason about how important effective recruitment is, and what makes it ‘effective’ in the first place.
How important is effective recruitment in terms of workplace relations?
Especially in a services industry like law, the people you recruit are of paramount importance. Your clients or customers will deal with you based on the people you have and the expertise and experience of your team. There are many horror stories of businesses hiring the wrong person and then losing customers or, worse still, good staff member because the workplace environment changes. You cannot underestimate the importance of culture in the workplace and it is often new recruits that affect that culture either positively or negatively.
What can employers do to ensure their interview questions meet legislative requirements?
Generally speaking, questions need to relate to the job at hand and that’s where a good position description can be invaluable. Avoid any questions that touches on the grounds of discrimination such as marital status, age, sexuality, race or religion. Even seemingly innocent questions like “what does your husband do?”, “do you have children?” or “do you speak any languages other than English at home?” can land you in hot water.
There are lots of traps that employers, especially small businesses, should be aware of. A good resource is to seek the advice of an employment lawyer or more generally the Commonwealth Government’s Fair Work website.
What advice would you give to prospective employers wanting to recruit effectively? What factors do you think make up ‘effective’ recruitment?
Effective recruitment can be summarised into 4 parts.
The key is to know in advance what you are looking for- what criteria are “must haves” (essential) and what ones “are nice to haves” (preferable). This will also depend whether it is a new/ growth role or simply replacing a departing employee. Articulate these needs in a position description.
Whilst it is tempting, avoid just placing an ad on an online jobs board. You will reach only a small part of the market and often not the best candidates. You will also get stuck dealing with endless queries, dealing with dozens of clearly unsuitable candidates and wasting time.
The key to getting the best person is to try a few channels including: asking your staff or network if they can refer someone; social media tools like Linked in; and of course if you have the budget engaging a trusted recruitment company with a good knowledge of your industry. We find candidates who are not actively looking for a job (passive candidates) are often of a higher quality and make better recruits.
Screening and Interviewing
It is very important to ask appropriate questions to sort through your candidates. Ask questions that reflect your position description and selection criteria. Where possible, try and have at least one other person at the interview, ideally someone with experience like an HR manager.
Offer and acceptance
This part of the process is often overlooked when clients recruit directly. They end up choosing a candidate and are surprised if the candidate knocks them back. Chances are, if you thought they were a “rock star”, so did others. If they are on the market and on jobs boards, they may have several opportunities simultaneously.
Ask throughout the process what other opportunities the candidate is looking at and what the timing is. There are few things more frustrating than arriving at the end of a process, deliberating and selecting a candidate to find out she has already taken a job with your competitor. A good recruiter or HR person will help you get more candidates over the line.
What should an employer do if there are no suitable applicants? Should they just take the best of a ‘bad bunch’?
This is a tough one question and it really depends on the situation. Hiring a lemon may lose you customers or disrupt the dynamic of your team and potentially lose you key personnel. Then again not hiring anyone and having your team burn out and potentially even quit is also undesirable.
A good plan, if there are no suitable applicants, is to explain to your existing team that rather than take a poor applicant you are going back to the market and thank them for taking up the slack until the right person comes along.
I would recommend looking at wider channels, especially passive candidates, to find the right person. I am naturally an advocate of specialist recruiters so recommend engaging a good recruiter if you have not done that already.
Jason specialises in legal recruitment but is more than happy to introduce recruiters who specialise in your industry. For more information or for any legal recruitment queries, please visit the Elias Recruitment website.