Recruitment as a Human Resource Management Function

Recruitment, as a human resource management function, is one of the activities that impact most critically on the performance of an organization. Recruitment is the process of finding and attracting capable applicants for employment to form a pool of job seekers from whom the right people for the right job may be selected. Recruitment is thus the first contact a company makes with potential employees. With proper recruitment, there will be a better selection.

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Acquiring and retaining high-quality talent is very important to the success of any organization and as the job market is becoming increasingly competitive, and available skills are becoming increasingly diverse, recruiters need to be more selective in their choices. Poor recruiting decisions can produce long-term negative effects and can cause a high level of expenditure by way of training and development. Emphasizing the essential nature of the recruiting function in today’s business environment, Peter Drucker notes that “every organization competes for its most essential resource: qualified, knowledgeable people” (Drucker, 1992).

By definition, recruitment is “the set of activities and processes used to legally obtain a sufficient number of qualified people at the right place and time so that the people and the organization can select each other in their own best short and long term interests”. Successful recruitment begins with proper employment planning and forecasting. During this initial stage, an organization formulates plans to fill or eliminate future job openings based on an analysis of future needs, the talent available within and outside of the organization, and the current and anticipated resources that can be expended to attract and retain such talent.

Also taken into consideration are the strategies the organization is willing to adapt to identify and select the best candidates for its developing pool of job candidates. For example, recruits for base-level entry positions often require minimum qualifications and experience, and hence recruitment calls for recent high school or college graduates who are not interested in pursuing higher studies. The second stage involves needs assessment to determine the current and future human resource requirements of the organization. The third step of the recruitment process involves the identification of potential human resources within and outside the organization.

The next stage involves job analysis and job evaluation to identify the individual aspects of each job and calculate its relative worth. This is followed by an assessment of qualifications profiles, drawn from job descriptions that identify responsibilities and required skills, abilities, knowledge, and experience. Next, the organization’s ability to pay salaries and benefits within a defined period is examined and finally, there is identification and documentation of the actual process of recruitment and selection to ensure equity and adherence to equal opportunity and other laws. Documentation satisfies the requirement of procedural transparency and leaves a trail that can easily be followed for audit and other purposes.

The specific purposes of the recruitment process are: to increase the pool of job candidates at minimum cost; help increases the success rate of the selection process; help reduce the number of visibly overqualified and under-qualified job applicants; help reduce the probability of selected applicants leaving the company; meet the organization’s legal and social obligations regarding the composition of its workforce; increase organizational and individual effectiveness in the short term and long term and finally evaluate the effectiveness of various recruiting techniques and sources of all types of job applicants.

There is often a continuous need in many organizations to recruit new employees to fill job vacancies when employees leave or are promoted, or when there is a need for a person with new skills, or when there is organizational growth. It is very important that the right people are recruited for the right job and hence, recruitment must be considered along with HRM planning and selection in order to be truly effective.

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Recruitment follows HRM planning and job analysis and goes hand in hand with the selection process by which organizations evaluate the suitability of candidates for various jobs. Given its key role and external visibility, recruitment is subject to the influence of several factors. Some such factors that are external include supply and demand rate, unemployment rate, labor market, political-social factors, sons of the soil, and image. Internal factors include recruitment policy, human resources policy, and size of the firm, cost, growth, and expansion.

Recruitment may be conducted internally through the promotion and transfer of existing personnel or through referrals, by current staff members, of friends and family members. Where internal recruitment is the chosen method of filling vacancies, job openings can be advertised by job posting, that is, a strategy of placing notices on manual and electronic bulletin boards, in company newsletters, and through office memoranda.

Referrals are usually word-of-mouth advertisements that are a low-cost-per-hire way of recruiting. Internal recruitment does not always produce the number or quality of personnel needed; in such an instance, the organization needs to recruit from external sources, either by encouraging walk-in applicants; advertising vacancies in newspapers, magazines, and journals, and the visual and/or audio media; using employment agencies to “headhunt”; advertising on-line via the Internet; or through job fairs and the use of college recruitment. Public service agencies enjoy greater exposure to scrutiny than most private sector organizations; therefore, openness and transparency in recruitment and selection practices are crucial.

There are several factors that must be considered during recruitment. First of all, the nature of the organization’s recruiting activities must be aligned to its strategy and philosophy as well as other important features such as the organization’s reputation and the environmental factors that influence recruitment success. The organization’s reputation in terms of its products or services has a huge impact on recruitment. People always flock to join well-reputed organizations.

An organization can get a bad name for indulging in practices that result in polluting the environment, poor-quality products, and unsafe working conditions, or for being indifferent to employee’s needs. In such a case, recruiters will have a tough time finding a suitable pool of job applicants. The nature of the job is another important influencing factor. Any job that is viewed as boring, hazardous, anxiety-provoking, low-status, low-paying, or lacking in promotion potential will seldom attract a qualified pool of applicants. Cost is an important factor in recruitment. Recruitment can be quite expensive when one considers the cost of advertising, agency fees, employee referral bonuses, applicant and staff travel, relocation costs, and recruiter salaries. Due to budget restrictions, organizations plan their recruitment process in different ways.

Moreover, recruitment should be so designed to meet recruitment goals. If an organization has, say, ten openings and somehow ends up attracting several thousand applicants for these jobs, it becomes very costly to process the applications. Another key issue is the organization’s recruitment philosophy. While some organizations prefer to utilize external sources for recruitment, some others prefer internal resources. Again, as part of its policy, some organizations may value diversity as a central principle in recruitment. All of these factors are internal factors affecting the recruitment process.

Apart from these internal factors, there are external factor influences such as labor market conditions, labor unions, economic trends, and government influences all impact the recruiting process. In the context of the labor market, if there is a surplus of labor at recruiting time, even informal attempts at recruiting will probably attract more than enough. However, when full employment is nearly reached in an area, skillful and prolonged recruiting may be necessary to attract any applicants who fulfill the expectations of the organization.

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Competition from other organizations can reduce the pool of qualified employees or raise salary expectations beyond what the organization is willing to pay. Obviously, how many applicants are available also depends on whether the economy is growing. When organizations are not creating new jobs, there is often an oversupply of qualified labor.

There are many methods of recruitments and a major criterion that decides the method is cost-effectiveness. Internal methods of recruitment include: posting on bulletin/Notice Boards of the organization; memos circulated among the shop supervisors; advertisement in the in-house employee magazine/bulletins/handouts; referrals or word-of-mouth”; and use of computer data. Dunn and Stephen have broadly classified external methods of recruitment into three categories: direct methods; indirect methods and third-party methods.

Scouting is an old method of recruitment. This is a direct method in which the organization sends its representatives to potential places of recruitment and tries to directly establish contact with the job applicants. Preliminary screening/interviews are generally held in select places. Local/consultants agents/institutions/colleges play the liaison work. In the United States, most of the recruitment is conducted by telephone from respondent databases.

Some basic factors that often guide the selection of recruitment sites are convenience, geographic differentiation, resource availability, targeted populations, and seasonal contingencies. Organizing conventions, indoctrination seminars, fairs, and campus recruitments are popular direct methods. Campus recruitments are held jointly by firm representatives and “placement cells” established in educational institutions.

Indirect methods of recruitment from external sources include advertisement; employers’ trade associations/clubs and other professional associations. Advertisements for job applications can be placed in various media such as newspapers, journals, radio, T.V, etc. Advertisements are most useful to fill up senior posts that call for a great deal of experience. Moreover, advertisements are very effective in locating suitable candidates in scientific, professional, and technical vacancies. Proper design of advertisement material encourages the right people to apply while at the same time it discourages unsuitable persons from applying. Meetings, conferences, seminars, and other social functions of various social professional associations/bodies can provide a lot of help in locating potential candidates for technical, scientific, and managerial cadre vacancies.

Although recruiting may generally be in the form of external employment agencies and advertisements, internal methods of recruitment are also good. Some surveys even indicated that up to 90% of all management positions are filled internally. Finding candidates among existing employees is advantageous from many points. First, the morale of employees is boosted as they find that competence is rewarded. Candidates already working in the company are likely to be more committed to company goals and less likely to leave. Moreover, such promotions also increase employee commitment in the long run.

Promoting employees from within the company is also less risky as the person is already known within the company. But sometimes, this can backfire. Employees who apply for jobs and don’t get them may become discontented. Also, new bosses rising from among their ranks may not be readily accepted. Inbreeding is the greatest drawback. When an entire management team has been brought up through the ranks, there may be a tendency to make decisions ‘by the book’. This will hamper innovation. Promotions and transfers are two methods of recruiting people from within the company. The job posting is another method.

In this method, the organization publicizes job openings on bulletin boards, electronic media, and similar outlets. Here, in this recruitment method, highly qualified applicants working within the company can look for growth opportunities within the company without looking for greener pastures outside. Employee referral is the process of using personal contacts to locate job opportunities. Employees may sometimes be allowed to refer candidates for job consideration.

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Companies also consider the names recommended by unions from time to time. In the case of referrals, recommenders are often rewarded as they save the company’s expensive recruiting search. However, in the case of referrals, factors such as bias, nepotism, and eagerness to see their friends in the company may come in the way of hiring a suitable candidate. According to a survey held in Texas, the two most preferred methods of recruitment of employees for the occupations in the region are referral or word of mouth (52.5 percent) and newspaper (47.2 percent), followed by hiring from within (17.0 percent), internet (9.2 percent), government bodies (9.2 percent), and help-wanted signs (3.9 percent).

The choice of an external recruitment method depends on many factors such as type of job, time for a job that needs to be filled, geographic region, cost of recruitment, and whether the method will attract the right mix of candidates from an EEO perspective (Equal Employment Opportunity). Legally, employers must ensure that their recruitment efforts extend to females and minority groups. It is possible that some methods such as employee referrals and applicant-initiated recruitment methods may put an employer at risk of EEO violations. On the other hand, advertisements can be more specific and have much greater potential for successfully reaching the right individuals.

Many studies have considered whether recruiting from different sources results in different employee outcomes, such as performance, turnover, loyalty, and job satisfaction. But, the findings show no clear differences in the employment experiences of new employees recruited from different sources (Barber, 1995). Instead of targeting one source of applicants, most employers recruit from multiple sources using multiple methods. This approach helps the organization generate a large applicant pool. In addition, recruiting from multiple sources is a good way to increase the diversity of the applicant pool.

Recruitment interviewing has been made more challenging because of EEO legislation. For example, if an interviewer asks for certain information such as age, marital status, and the number of children during the interview, the organization risks the chance of an employment discrimination suit. Before employment, interviewers should not ask for information that is potentially prejudiced unless the organization is prepared to prove in a court of law that the requested information is job-related.

Finally, it is important to evaluate the success of the recruiting effort. Essentially, an effective recruiting process is one that results in a reasonable pool of qualified employees being available to the organization and from which the organization is able to hire individuals that it wants to perform different jobs. This recruiting process needs to be executed at a relatively low cost. Thus if an organization is having a difficult time attracting people to apply for its jobs or is having too many people apply for its jobs, or if recruiting expenses are too high, then, the recruiting methods should be carefully examined once again.

The effectiveness of recruiters is one way to evaluate recruiting efforts. Organizations can set standards for measuring the performances of recruiters. For example, a goal for a recruiter might be to hire 350 unskilled and semiskilled employees, or 100 technicians, or 100 machinists, or 100 managerial employees per year. This allows them to have their performances measured. Companies may choose recruiters who meet or exceed quotas and those whose recruits stay with the organization and are evaluated well by their superiors. In addition, it is possible and often useful to assess the effectiveness of different recruiting sources.

The process could involve simply calculating the yield, or the number of applicants, generated by each source. In college recruiting, the organization can divide the number of job acceptances by the number of campus interviews to compute the cost per hire at each college. Then it drops from the list of those campuses that are not productive. In the end, organizations should evaluate their recruitment processes along with all their other HRM activities.

Collecting appropriate evaluation measures on past recruiting efforts can help an organization predict the time and budget needed to fill future openings identify the recruiting methods that yield the greatest number or the best quality of candidates, and evaluate the job performance of individual recruiters. Benchmarking against similar organizations also can be informative.

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