Recruitment woes? Do smart business

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are struggling to find the staff they need. Attention grabbing sky high hourly rates for casual, self-employed jobs are distorting the picture for everyone. Many business people feel their businesses and business aspirations threatened. 

The obvious and only answer for a business is to offer unaffordable pay rates for our workers, right? Then move on to worry about having to hike up prices to cover the wages?

No, you’ll be relieved to read. The real answer is happier, smarter and more affordable. 


First, sanity check your recruitment pay rates. Make sure these benchmark suitably against truly comparable roles. Then move on because the pay rate is not the answer to your recruitment puzzle.

… Turn to see recruitment like any sales function. 


First off, you’ll only attract a customer if the advert speaks to them. Who is it you’re looking for? Tailor the wording and images to speak to that profile of person. For example, if the role you’re recruiting for is part-time, weekdays, for someone experienced as a skilled and talented butcher, using wording and images that is eye catching to new graduates is less likely to get the applicants you need. 

Second, you will only attract the right person if you advertise somewhere they are, in person or online. Again who is it you’re looking for? Tailor the advertising platforms you choose to that profile of person. Your part-time, weekday role in a rural butchers is less likely to achieve suitable applicants if you choose to advertise on Instagram or a Job Centre with the nearest office 45 minutes drive away.


People want to work with people they like. Workers are looking to work in a business where they feel comfortable. Express who you are. What are the values of your business? Share the identity of your business, and you’ll not only reach more applicants but find and retain the right recruit too. For example, “join a family business with a love of great food, excellent service and a love for a chuckle with the team along the way“. 


The role you’re offering comes with a package that combines many parts. Don’t forget the details. Every aspect means something to you and to the employee, from uniform, through company discounts to financial or time off incentives. Take time to list all the benefits of being part of your business and shout about every detail to applicants consistently, in the advertising stage and through to the interview. 


Have you ever noticed a regularity when you check social media, looking for something to catch your eye online, or even picking up local print/radio news? If you’re using social media to reach recruits, consider your recruits’ schedule of use and promote your role through posts and boosting when you know it’s most likely to reach them.


These days recruits attracted by your advert (your fantastically well-targeted advert by now!) can very easily reach out to you through multiple communications channels, from social media private message through text to ‘old skool’ phoning. After that first contact, the success of the recruitment is then down to you.  Their approach could still come to nought without good attention…

First, be ready to respond quickly. Communication is 24/7, and if you don’t answer your recruits’ enquiry the same day – the same hour in some cases, don’t be surprised to lose your recruit to a competitor. 

Second, be consistent, don’t create doubt. If your advert stated a, b and c, when you engage in the dialogue with your recruit, don’t answer those questions a, x and y. If your business voice espoused ‘this and that’ tone and that set of values, maintain those very same in your dialogue – not as easy as it sounds for us human beings!

Next, when you choose where to meet the recruit, online or in person, select the most suitable venue for the recruit. One which hits the right note of formality for the seniority of the role and your business. For example, grabbing a cup of something in a local, independent coffee shop with effortless tunes playing may land the recruit, while inviting them to your premises may not.

In conclusion, effective recruitment is about much more than the pay rate. If the pay rate grabs the headlines, unless you’re looking for a ‘flash in the pan’, it will produce the wrong kind of recruit. Successful recruitment will come from honestly engaging yourself and your business to be smart about recruitment.

Remember to think smart about Who you are recruiting, Where you are recruiting, How you will reach them and Why your role is worthy of their attention.

The investment of a bit of time and creativity in the recruitment process isn’t just a truly enjoyable piece of business life but will return well on your investment, rewarding you highly when your recruit takes your business aspirations another leg of the journey.

by James Spencer Founder of the Pebbles Group and Vice-Chair of the Kingsbridge, Salcombe and Modbury Chamber of Commerce

James is an active part of the South Devon business community, a committee member on our Chamber for more than a decade, and also part of the team that brought Dress to Impress and IGNITE grant scheme grants to businesses through the pandemic.