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Thursday, 8 September 2011

Guide to Recruitment Best Practice

Best Practice in Recruitment 

Recruitment is a tough and competitive market, leaving very little room for cowboys and recruitment businesses to offer an inferior quality of service.

The truth remains however that many recruiters still think that it is acceptable to offer their clients poor levels of service and blatantly flout the laws which regulate our profession – which in turn not only loses them business but in the long run also causes irreparable damage to the reputation of the recruitment industry as a whole.

Defining yourself as the best
In working out what best practice means for your company, you will make mistakes and your attitude towards what is critical will change. Any best practice expert will tell you, the best place to start is self-examination - look at your relationships with people, your finances and your business practices. If you don't take the time to really step back and look at your business, you run the risk of not keeping up with change.

Recruitment Business Solutions's Mentoring services and executive coaching services are key to this, and you can call us right now if you wish to discuss either of these in more detail on 07712 477342.

Have a Strategy
Having a best practice strategy can help your business to become more competitive, increase sales, develop new markets and reduce costs etc, meaning that you can respond more quickly to innovations in recruitment. The REC has also looked at best practice for recruitment relationships and has produced a number of publications to help. The REC has worked with CIPD to produce the Guide to Productive Recruitment Partnerships, which sets out what best practice actually looks like in client/recruiter relationship with case-studies and commentary.

Both of these products are useful tools to enable you to work with your clients in agreeing best practice together. To accompany these products the CIPD have provided an online self assessment toolkit for clients and recruiters which will help you understand exactly how your partnerships measure up against what is understood as best practice in recruitment relationships. Defining yourself as the best is something you have to work at – if you don’t know where to start, or you want to shake things up, we can help you be the best you can be.

Office Environment
Create the right Impression It is important that recruitment businesses portray the image that they wish their clients and candidates to have right throughout their business and this can often be reflected in their working environment. If you have a window or an A’ Board, make sure that it is constantly kept fresh and up to date and where possible always use consistent company branding throughout to maintain that professional feel. Remember – First impressions count!

Watch your Housekeeping
Keep your offices clean and tidy. Art work and plants add a nice touch but are not essential for the running of a successful recruitment office. Have a tidy desk policy, so all consultants must clear their desks each evening ready for the next day. All candidate packs and CV’s should be shut away in locked filing cabinets overnight anyway due to Data Protection Laws, so this should be a practice assumed by everyone in the building.

Dress Appropriately
Ensure that all consultants and management adopt a professional dress code. Always ready to go out and visit their best clients at a drop of a hat. You never know where you will need to go out to each day and certainly don’t know who’s going to walk in! Regardless of this, often a smart dress code can give consultants the air of feeling more professional and this will be reflected in their quality of work. If you don’t always wear a suit to the office, always make sure you keep a suit jacket in the office in case of emergencies.

Service with a smile
Always try to make candidates / clients feel welcomed – even if you are unable to help them. A great strategy to adopt is to try and make sure that everyone that walks into your office leaves felling happier than when they first entered. Applying for a job can be nerve racking for the best of us – so don’t forget that. Be available when required Endeavour to answer your company phones within a certain number of rings (usually 3 is a popular number) with the opportunity for clients to leave voicemails if they cannot reach anyone. It is also a good idea to have either an out of hours office number for candidates to call or some form of answer phone that can be accessed remotely in case of emergencies. Depending on the sector that you operate within, your offices may open any time between 07.00am through to 09.00am and close anytime from 17.30pm to 20.00 at night! If you offer your clients a service available between any of these times, it is vital to ensure that your have the phones covered (one way or another) between the times specified. If you are a new start up and are working alone currently, it may be worth investing in a mobile, blackberry or even look into virtual PA services or serviced offices.

Induct your staff properly
Make sure that all staff are fully trained before they are permitted to deal with the general public or clients. It is vital for the reputation of your company that all staff come across as competent in their roles at all times. Ensure that staff are provided with an induction to your company, best practice methods of recruitment, the REC Codes of Practice and / Codes of Ethics and most importantly the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 Inductions should also include every day practices such as; Client Account Management / Customer Services Business Development Database Management & Administration Time management Client Meeting Skills Interviewing Skills Essential Law / Legislation

Your company’s Business Processes
The REC offer mentoring sessions to help you to produce induction programmes for your staff, as well as an extensive programme of open training courses covering Administration, Sales, Client visits, Interviewing and Essential Business Law. We also have a Guide to Staff Inductions in the REC Business Toolkit – Ask for details.

Register and interview candidates with care
Whenever possible always try and conduct a full face to face candidate interview. If you are unable to conduct face to face interviews, ensure that you still give the candidate a full telephone interview and take up all reference checks and qualification checks where appropriate In the event that you have not been able to meet the candidate personally or have not been able to acquire references or qualification certificates back before sending your client the candidate – this is acceptable but make sure that you inform your client of the situation, so they can see what you have at least taken reasonable steps to ensure best practice. Never take up formal or informal references for the candidate until they have given their permission and referees have been agreed. Gain the relevant candidate Permissions When you register a candidate they should always be presented with a candidate declaration and data protection statement to sign. By doing this you are ensuring that they know that you will be acting as an agency, charging your clients a fee for placing them and that you will be storing their personal data and sharing that information with third parties. It is essential and a legal obligation to ensure that you do this. In addition to this it is essential that you always reach a clear understanding with the candidate on the procedure for submission of their CV, and to obtain the candidate’s agreement as to which companies their CV should be sent before forwarding their CV to those companies.

Look after your candidates!
Through your own discretion it is always best practice to ensure the strictness of confidentiality to your candidates and clients. This means that you must not disclose any information regarding either party without their express permission. Do not send a candidate’s CV to clients without the candidate’s prior agreement to send to that specific company for that specific role. Brief your candidates thoroughly Before any candidate is sent for either an interview or a temporary or contract assignment it is vital that you always provide the candidate with full and relevant information regarding job requirements and client company information prior to any interview with that client. This takes us back to the basics of “no surprises recruitment” which does exactly what it says on the can. Make sure that the candidate knows all that there is to know about the job role, their daily duties, who they will be seeing, where they need to do, the venue (car parking etc), make sure that they have a map of their route, train times if necessary, a full job description and have been given a full phone briefing from you on the company before attending. It is also extremely important never to use bullying or high-pressure tactics or mislead candidates in order for them to leave their current position of work.

Account Manage your Clients and your Candidates with care
One of the biggest complaints that clients and have candidates have with regards to recruitment businesses is the regularity of phone contact. Client’s generally say there’s too much and candidates generally feel there is too little! Make sure that you maintain communication with all clients and candidates and in particular remember to notify candidates when they are no longer under consideration for a vacancy with a specific client.

Make sure that candidates know when to expect contact from you or that it is their responsibility to call you and not the other way around. Where clients are concerned keep your calls relevant and necessary with a valid reason for calling on each occasion and advise them of when you will next be calling at the end of each call and stick to it!

Ensure each client and candidate knows which individual within the consultancy is their main contact and to notify them of any changes thus maintaining continuity and standards of service. Make sure your clients are well-informed Prior to accepting an assignment, to provide each client with a full, written explanation of the relevant consultancy services provided, together with costs, including expenses, where applicable and terms of business.

These terms must include details on rebates for clients if the occasion arises that a candidate decides to leave their post after a short period of time (length of period to be agreed on an individual basis by client and recruitment consultancy). Inclusion of payment terms and penalties for not paying on time should also be included in this correspondence to avoid any confusion later on.

Visit wherever possible
Visit your clients and Prospects whenever possible Wherever possible always visit your clients before starting work on any positions. This way you can start to build your relationships early and develop a genuine understanding of their business and working environment to ensure the best possible fit of staff through your introduction. Only ever advertise a genuine vacancy that they have been asked to fill. Only ever undertake assignments / vacancies where the client’s requirements are genuine and clearly understood by your business. Observe the law when placing advertisements If you are going to advertise your vacancy or assignment be sure to check that you have all of the legally required information included on the advertisement, including whether or not you will be acting as an employment business or employment vacancy for the placement of that role. Go the extra mile Always be seen to go the extra mile – Visiting clients, running down job specs to them, dropping candidates off for assignments, collecting timesheets from the workers on a Friday – it’s the little things that count!

Place your candidates with confidence
Advise your client again in writing of the final fee for the placement of the candidate within their organisation, with another copy of Your Terms of Business, to ensure there are no surprises. Congratulate your candidates Why not send out an email or confirmation letter to your candidate too, congratulating them on their newly secured post and re-confirming the details of their offer – just to ensure there are no nasty surprises or a sudden change of heart from your candidate on their start date.

Keep in touch
Follow up placements with a courtesy call to both the candidate and client within the first month of employment to ensure that the candidate is settling into their role well and the client is pleased with the services you have provided. This is also a fantastic opportunity to ask your clients for their next vacancy!

Keep yourselves ethical
It is unethical for you to ever approach any employee of an existing client – unless previously agreed with that client – for the purpose of securing that employee as a candidate to fulfil another client brief.

To find out more about best practice why not book a mentoring session or a personal coaching session with one of our mentors from Recruitment Business Solutions Ltd. For more information contact Alison Kennedy, Director on 07712 477342 or email us at

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