Avoiding the pitfalls of recruitment

So, you’ve finally decided you need to recruit someone. You might be a one man band looking to hire your first employee, or you might already have staff but need to increase the size of the team because the business has outgrown its current staff resources. So, how do you go about it?

So many businesses we have come across look for staff by asking their employees if they know anyone who needs a job, or hire someone because they’ve been approached by someone they know “My son Johnny has been looking for a job for a while now and nobody will hire him; will you take him on?”

So what’s wrong with that approach? It’s more a question of what’s right about it:

·        If you interview a staff member’s friend and you decide to hire, you could have a built in clique in your business which could disrupt the equilibrium of your team.

·        If you decide not to take them on you end up with a disgruntled employee who has probably suggested to their friend that they are a “shoe-in” .

·        If nobody has taken Johnny on through the normal recruitment processes, why do you think that might be?

·        If you decide not to take Johnny on, what’s your relationship with his Mum going to be going forwards?

Finding staff is a tricky business; it’s not just about finding any pair of hands to do the job, it’s about finding the right pair of hands to do the job that you need doing. If the person doesn’t have the attitude, motivation and skills that are needed to do the job you need doing you’re better off without them, and in truth they’re better off not working for you, as the stress of being in a job you are not suited to can be quite severe.

Let’s draw the analogy with buying a house.

Before you buy a house you decide what essential features it needs to have; perhaps you need four bedrooms, a utility room, a sun terrace and a 200 foot garden in which to enjoy your passion for gardening. So why would you look at a two bed flat on the third floor of a block just because a friend was looking to sell it? No, of course not. But at least if you did buy the flat and didn’t like it, you could sell it without the property taking you to court for wrongful dismissal….

It's really important to decide what you want and to put those stakes in the ground to ensure that the person you hire is the correct person for the job. Think not only about what you want them to do now, but whether you want for them to grow along with the business to take on a  more senior role later. Think about what skills you need to bring to the business, so if you’re looking for an office admin, are you looking for someone for instance with a penchant for IT to close a skills gap you otherwise have?

And think about attitude. It’s no accident that earlier on I mentioned the need for attitude, motivation and skills, in that order. Someone might have the right skills, but if their motivation to help the company progress doesn’t exist then you’re on to a loser. Given the right attitude a shortfall in skills can be trained in.

By putting a proper recruitment process in place you can even invite your employee’s friend, or Johnny, to apply, after satisfying themselves that they have the skills and attributes you’re looking for.


Write down in detail a description of the job, what the duties will be, what skills are required, describe the attributes required to make this role a success. By having it written down it will enable you to:

·        Articulate exactly what the job is, which makes writing the job advertisement easier

·        Define what the successful person might need to demonstrate in order to secure the role, which sets expectations with any potential applicant

·        Make a clear objective assessment of any CV that you receive

·        Indicate the things you need to explore at interview to ensure a good fit

It’s never a guarantee that you’ll get exactly the right person for the role, but you can at least reduce the risk of getting the wrong one!

And to help you to define what you’re looking for, just download our  Job and Person Specification Template to help you define the role more closely. And if you’re still not sure, give us a call..

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