· 2 min read · Features

Seek and ye shall find: the in-house route to securing the right candidate


For the HR director who has recently made the decision to take their recruitment function in-house, the next question is likely to be – so what now?

How do you guarantee that the steady flow of good quality and well qualified candidates once supplied by your recruitment agency continues?

At this point, under pressure to fill a myriad of roles all with different specs, it would be tempting for an in-house team to fall back on the ever-faithful job board or display ad.

These methods certainly have their place. Reaching out to a large pool of potential candidates is no bad thing when filling certain roles. And nor should it be considered the easy option. Crafting an eye-catching and effective ad and targeting exactly the right place to put it is a skill in itself. Done well, online advertising enables you to reach out directly to the target audience, filtering and screening simply by using the right key words.

However, to be truly effective, the in-house team also needs to think and operate more creatively and strategically.

Looking within its own organisation is a good starting point. As Lew Platt, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, said: "If HP knew what HP knows it would be three times as profitable." This is certainly true for in-house recruiters, who could benefit hugely from plugging into the intelligence, networks and contacts within their own organisations. Getting out from behind their desks and hosting a series of informal intelligence-gathering sessions with key divisions to find out what trade magazines employees are reading, what newsletters, blogs and forums they log onto and what job boards they use would help build a clearer picture of how to target potential candidates.

The added benefit of a greater internal presence is the chance to get up to speed with the organisation's goals, ambitions and future skills requirements. Looking beyond the job spec and finding out what a role needs to deliver in the context of the organisation's current and future objectives will create a better informed and more confident recruiting strategy.

This approach can be taken a step further if in-house recruiters work on creating a greater presence within the industry or sector their organisation operates in. There is a tendency for HR professionals to limit networking to events targeted purely at the HR sector. By broadening this approach and attending a wide range of industry events, joining relevant industry bodies and contributing to online communities, in-house teams can build networks giving them access to a larger pool of potential candidates. It also offers the opportunity to promote the employer brand before a candidate has even made the decision to begin job-hunting.

Naturally, there are also more direct routes to targeting potential candidates. There are numerous recruitment management systems and databases available, which can help kick start the process. In-house teams could also follow the lead of recruitment agencies and make greater use of social media to identify candidates. Organisations are certainly becoming more switched onto the idea – research from social media monitoring service Reppler last year showed more than 90% of hirers had visited a potential candidate's profile online as part of the screening process. However, it is harder to find evidence of organisations using resources such as Twitter or Linkedin to proactively identify candidates or build up talent pipelines.

Adopting these strategies certainly requires a long-term commitment as well as a wholesale shift in the way in-house teams operate, internally and externally. But approached in the right way, the benefits are numerous. Cost-cutting is often the starting point for a move in-house, but at its best a good resourcing team is also hiring more effectively, planning more strategically and demonstrating its worth within its organisation – and ultimately, it would be hoped, achieving a greater sense of job satisfaction in the process.

Alastair Cartwright (pictured), director GR Online