Four Ways to be More Progressive in Your Recruitment Practices

2016 has well and truly arrived now - and with the new year's resolutions well and truly, ...  ahem ...  ongoing, we thought it might be good to think about ways that you can introduce some forward-thinking into the way you go about employing new staff. We're all hoping that the economy's on the up, so we're taking a look at how you can get the most from the labour market this year.

Our key term for this year might just be 'progressive'. We're not just talking about gradual change here (although that's an element of it), but more about social reform. How can you use your recruitment practices to change the world in a positive way, and improve your business by making it a better, more friendly place to work? We look at four simple ways that you can help to create more opportunity and make people feel more at home in the workplace. 

Consider the impact of using social media as a recruitment tool

Whilst LinkedIn would seem to be fair game - being the 'shirt and tie' social network, going over the Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram of a prospective candidate may just be a step too far (unless of course they're applying for a role like Social Media Manager!).

What you have to consider is that these social networks represent part of that person's personal life. In today's rapidly evolving digital world, the line between where home ends and work begins has never been more blurred - and you could make your colleagues / employees feel much more at home by making it clear that these types of network are not considered to be part of their professional life in normal usage. 

Although 'e-stalking' candidates will almost certainly turn up some reasons that you may not want to employ people (seriously, those shoes with that top?), is there really that much of a difference between sifting over a year of someone's Facebook posts and standing outside of their local on a Friday night 'searching for intel'? At best, this is a bit unethical, and at worst, it's downright creepy.
 
The grey area here is of course Twitter - which has kept one foot on either side of the personal / professional fence over the years. The key with this one is to use your head. If someone is clearly using Twitter as part of their personal life and nothing more, then let it stay that way. But if they're using it as a platform to promote themselves in the professional arena, then go for it - because that's clearly the type of attention they're looking for.

Whilst a first-class degree is undoubtedly nice, these aren't all created equally, and don't necessarily equate to a well-rounded individual in the first place.



You could argue that a lot of people list their employer on personal sites like Facebook - meaning that your image could be tarnished by anything dubious that they post. Whilst this is a fair point, and social media scandals can spiral out of control very quickly, a simple way around this could be to request that colleagues do not make mention of their employer in their profile - and in turn state that you will not attempt to view it given that this is the case.

Or even go one step further and consider 'no-name' CVs

One thing that's been hitting headlines in the recruitment world recently is the concept of the 'no-name' CV. As the, erm ... name ...  suggests, a no-name CV is one which does not overtly identify a candidate - meaning that there's roughly zero chance of their being discriminated against through any form of 'namism'. Whilst it might sound funny, this is a real problem, and often takes on a racial or religious dimension as people doing recruitment let their prejudices (whether conscious or unconscious) get the better of them.

The no-name CV bypasses this entire problem, by ensuring that no one involved in the recruitment process will know the name of the candidate concerned. It also cuts out any risk that a candidate's social media profiles will be viewed before interview - because there would be no way to find them! 

No-name CVs are easy enough to implement in the workplace (assuming that there's more than one person in the company!). All you have to do is get a colleague to censor all reference to a candidate's name before you or the other people doing the recruitment get to look at their CV. The CVs would be assigned unique numbers, and any notes would then make reference to this, so you can work out who is who. 

Besides concentrating on working hours, you could also look at other more traditional forms of employment benefit - designed to attract and retain the talent you want in your firm. These could include company parties / events, free private medical care, car parking, or even gym membership. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce, after all. 



The only problem you might encounter by using this technique is that for certain types of job it's become popular to include a link to a blog or other type of portfolio where a candidate can show off their work. This is a really effective technique - for good reason - and it would be a shame to let all that work go to waste. Luckily, there are ways around this problem.

One of these is to state in the job advertisement that you'll be using an anonymous application process (because you take discrimination seriously) - and that any linked portfolios should acknowledge this by not including any names. Most candidates will be pleased at your forward-thinking outlook, and will have no problem with doing this. Whether or not they comply with your request would also be a good indicator of how much attention they paid to the job advert in the first place!

This problem will only crop up for a minority of jobs anyway - because the vast majority of applications won't include a link to an online portfolio. Whilst these are great for roles such as Graphic Designer or Software Engineer, they aren't so useful for Quantity Surveyors or Call Centre Agents.

Augment salaries with other benefits

It's a fact of business that not every firm can afford to pay top-dollar for the services they require. If you represent a smaller firm that's perhaps just starting out, then you may find yourself in the situation where the salaries you can pay just won't attract the talent you need. One way around this is to consider the other types of benefits you can provide for employees in order to attract them to your firm - and the good news is that this needn't be as expensive as you might think.

In the news recently, we've been hearing a lot about how millennials are more driven by a desire for a healthy work-life balance than anything else. This generation - also known as Generation Y - was born between the 1980s and early 2000s, and almost certainly represents a large chunk of the labour force available to you, no matter what industry you are in.

If you read our recent article on shorter working hours, you'll know that (however counterintuitive it might be), cutting working hours in some job roles can actually help people to work faster and harder - increasing productivity whilst improving the lives of your employees. 

By being more progressive in your recruitment, not only will you potentially have a larger field of potential employees to choose from, but when you do hire new staff, you'll probably find that they're more loyal too.



Far from bringing in just lazy employees, shorter working hours are almost universally attractive - so if you're in an industry where there's a degree of flexibility around the hours you keep, this is one way to attract a better caliber of employee for less - and still get more done! This could also be done by means of flexitime (which is great news for working parents) or by giving employees more holidays than simply the bare legal minimum (perhaps by using an annual escalator system).

Besides concentrating on working hours, you could also look at other more traditional forms of employment benefit - designed to attract and retain the talent you want in your firm. These could include company parties / events, free private medical care, car parking, or even gym membership. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce, after all. 

Consider looking beyond qualifications if they're not directly applicable

What's worth more? A first-class honours degree from a lesser-known university, or a lower grade from more prestigious institution? Do you even need a degree to perform a certain role, or is life experience more important? Is two years' on-the-job experience really required, or could skills easily be transferred from another role? These are the questions that you need to ask yourself when considering if your strategy is right where candidates' qualifications are concerned.

Whilst a first-class degree is undoubtedly nice, these aren't all created equally, and don't necessarily equate to a well-rounded individual in the first place. In a business climate that seems obsessed with rags-to-riches tales of top execs pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, it seems odd that we often don't seem inclined to give people a bit of a break when their ambition for a job role perhaps outweighs their on-paper qualifications a bit.

Similar logic can be applied here to candidates who are 'overqualified' - which is often a shorthand way of saying 'too old' or ' too likely to leave'. But with a combination of well-rounded life experience and subject knowledge, 'overqualified' candidates can very often be worth a second look - and combined with an attractive package of benefits, might be a lot easier to retain than you'd think. 

The moral of the story here is to think about candidates beyond how they simply look on paper. You wouldn't buy a car based solely on its maximum speed, or a house on its number of rooms, and whilst you're obviously not 'purchasing' candidates applying for a job, the same principle can be applied here.

What this means for your business in 2016

The proposals above won't turn your business into some kind of utopian model society overnight. But what they should do is provide an effective, low-cost way to take a step in that direction. Utopia is of course purely imaginary. It's something that's always chased rather than achieved - but still, it's better to chase perfection than to stagnate and never even come close. Some of these proposals might seem strange - or even pointless - putting your business at a perceived disadvantage - but in the long run, we're pretty confident that this won't be the case. 

By being more progressive in your recruitment, not only will you potentially have a larger field of potential employees to choose from, but when you do hire new staff, you'll probably find that they're more loyal too - so they might just end up staying with you for a long time. Then there are the benefits of having happy, well-rested staff working for you - increased productivity and higher-quality work to name just two.

Likewise, as well as looking at how you could better bring staff into your business, you should also consider what could potentially be driving them away - with silly rules and bureaucracy being two of the main culprits. 

As we said at the beginning, progressive business practices are all about small steps - but in this case they really might add up to something big. 

By Matt Atkinson