Recruiting good staff – the number 1 headache

Why is it so difficult? Many of our customers complain of poor service from recruitment agencies, low volumes of applications to adverts and a need to fill that space NOW rather than leave a vacancy open in the hope of a better candidate coming along. Sometimes they might drop lucky, sometimes they’ll waste a colossal amount of time training an unsuitable person.

The fact is that even for smaller businesses recruitment needs to be:

1. Partly strategic and long term

2. Partly reactive

Because we’re an HR company at heart, we work with our clients on both of these areas, with the aim of minimising the second, but acknowledging that unexpected vacancies will remain a fact of life.

Strategic and long term

Recruitment is about succession planning – having the right people in the right roles at the right time, with a plan already in place to replace them should they move on.

Larger companies will have more progression routes than smaller ones, and so if we run small companies we have to be creative with succession plans. A non-strategic business owner will run with the structure and hope that no one leaves. A strategic owner will identify succession risks and take actions to minimise them. Actions could vary from paying above market rate to lock a key player in (‘golden handcuffs’); using long term incentive plans; reviewing overall reward strategies; cross skilling other employees to be able to fill the gap; or looking at inexpensive ways of bringing in additional new talent before they’re actually needed, through an apprenticeship scheme or using graduate or undergraduate internships for example.

What works will ultimately depend on the business and that’s where having a strategic recruitment relationship with an HR company (rather than a narrower ‘recruitment company’) can help.


Despite our best intentions, sometimes we’re going to have to go to market. The market has changed dramatically in the last few years – that’s why adverts in the local papers don’t work as well as they used to.

The start point is always the job description and making sure that the person specification is defined in terms of experience necessary, the objectives and the skills (‘competences’) needed to deliver the objectives. Too many employers don’t spend enough time on this – as HR partner to our client businesses we help make sure this classic (and often enlightening) step is given the time it needs. During this phase we often identify alternative solutions and opportunities for solving the recruitment problem, and it helps us to form a long term plan for the business too.

Recruitment is a time consuming and increasingly specialist business. We differ from recruitment agencies, because for us if recruitment goes wrong there are consequences. We are after all the HR partner for the businesses we recruit for, and a botched recruitment means that we will have to sort out the problem and cope with the embarrassment (and relationship damage) of that. Actually we’d rather spend more time to help our clients build the best people platform possible, than using our HR expertise to dispense with an unwanted employee who shouldn’t have been recruited in the first place.

The problem with recruitment agencies

Here are some of the problems our clients have come across when using recruitment agencies:

  • Send batches of CVs over or candidates without interviewing them and assessing their capabilities (the ‘hope’ approach)
  • Insist on exclusivity and advance fees but then don’t advertise the position effectively (a fee in the hand….)
  • Larger recruiters may pool vacancies rather than give personal service so you don’t get to speak to the same recruiter when you call, or the ‘recruiter’ may be very inexperienced and have no knowledge of the business sector or culture
  • Send 3 candidates for interview only one of which partly matches the requirements, the other two are just there to plump up the numbers and make the main candidate look better
  • No knowledge of the job spec means lack of focus on candidates with a relevant track record
  • No recruitment brief to ‘sell’ positions to candidates – an essential part of the process – means candidates interest is flaky and they often withdraw having already wasted some of the recruiting managers time.

Why are we different?

myHRdept are a well-established HR consultancy with a wide range of clients from different industries. We’ve been partnering companies in London and the Thames Valley for 14 years, dealing with employment law & HR issues and helping our clients solve their hiring, retention, performance management, organisation structure, conduct and exit issues.

We take a holistic approach to recruitment and our core intention is to build a long term developmental and advisory relationship with our client base. This means we will work towards BOTH the long term strategic succession planning goals and reactive recruitment. When it comes to reactive recruitment though, we currently only recruit for our retained client base and take a great deal of care to search for and find candidates who will actually add value to their businesses, not merely the best available candidate at the time. This requires care and attention from our point of view and patience from our clients. If a need for a person is urgent, an agency temp may suffice for junior positions or an interim manager for more senior.

Why should our clients use us for recruiting instead of recruitment agencies?

1. We know our clients and their business

Unlike recruiters, we work on a collaborative approach to recruitment and will try a variety of methods to see what works best for a particular client. We already know the business, culture, environment and ethics and thus are in a better position to find a good match. We will challenge roles to identify what is actually needed and then help write the job marketing brief, job description and person specification. All promising candidates will receive a copy of these to ensure clarity for them, to make sure it is a role they really do want to go for.

2. We employ only skilled highly experienced recruitment consultants

Clients will have a single dedicated person recruiting for them. We have experience of search (‘headhunt’), advertised and social media based recruitment and we can offer a combination of all these methods for any particular campaign.

3. We care about the candidates and applicants too

We recognise how hard it is job searching and/or choosing when to move employers. Our wider HR background means we often enter a coaching relationship with candidates to help them think through and make good decisions. We also make sure that every candidate gets a response from us be it negative or positive. Many candidates (even those we haven’t yet placed) have commented on the professionalism of our job briefing packs and overall approach.

4. We genuinely do thoroughly screen every candidate

We assess the candidates in 3 stages before sending them across to clients. Initially we shortlist the applications against several key criteria, then we carry out telephone interviews of the shortlisted candidates. At the third stage, we further assess the candidates by meeting them in person and carrying out a thorough competence based interview. Only after all of these stages will a candidate be sent to the client, with an accompanying report.

5. We will work with clients to prepare for their own final stage interviews

This might involve constructing interview templates for them, attending site to assist with interviews or training managers in competence based interview techniques.

6. We provide on-going services

Our goal is not just to fill the vacancy but to improve the recruitment process and succession plan overall (and the induction process) and make it hassle free and smooth for both the employers as well as the candidates.

We remain in contact with the new joiners for the first few months of their new employment and will use information to help clients and appointees develop their relationship during the critical first 6 months of a new person’s role.

If you're thinking of outsourcing your HR or recruitment requirements why not contact With full service Premium Plus packages for medium sized companies typically from only a few hundred per month (and from only £100 per month for smaller companies and start-ups) and fixed price HR support options available for one-off issues, we believe we offer the best combination of quality and price available in the UK. Call us on 01628 820515 to discuss your requirements email us here and we’ll call you back.