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Recruitment is a two-way street

HR expert Louise Kennedy is reframing the current recruitment challenges businesses are facing, to show that securing top talent is as much about the candidate choosing you as it is you choosing them. 

It’s a conversation everyone in business is having: we’re struggling to recruit. It’s difficult to attract talent to fill our vacancies. 

The problem 

According to figures published in June by the Office for National Statistics, the North East was the only region in the UK where the employment rate had decreased compared to the same period this time last year, with employment down 0.3 percentage points. 

Furthermore, for the three months ending April 2022, the highest unemployment rate estimate in the UK was in the North East (5.2 per cent).  

It’s clear that hiring rates are down in the North East. 

Working with organisations across different sectors, from charities to pharmaceuticals and consulting, has given me an insight into the recruitment challenges we are all facing. 

All sectors are struggling to find people to fill their jobs. 

Why is this? Well, there are a few factors. 

Some are out of employers’ control, whether it’s a dwindling workforce due to Brexit, a skills shortage or a lack of employability awareness from school and college leavers. 

However, a lot of the problem arises because employers aren’t doing enough to attract and retain top talent.

It’s time to reframe the way we look at recruitment to take back control.

The solution

So, how can employers mitigate recruitment challenges? 

To simplify the problem, there are two key areas you need to get right: attraction and HR processes. 


Start from the beginning. Review your recruitment strategy and ask yourself whether your offer, and how you convey it, is appealing to candidates. 

Create a comprehensive recruitment pack that acts as the ‘face’ of your recruitment. 

This needs to be more than just a job description and person specification. 

It should paint the full picture of your organisation, including your values, the aims and goals of your company, and the benefits of working with you. 

Draw candidates into the conversation by making your vision public and easy to access – if a candidate can clearly see the type of organisation they’re joining, they’ll be more likely to want to come on board. 

You can do this by conveying your values in all your company collateral; focus on your website, recruitment pack and socials as three important attraction tools. 

The messaging of these should create a strong brand identity and make people want to work for you. 

Be explicit about standards and expectations, while also making the benefits of working for your organisation clear for candidates.  

The attraction process isn’t just about getting the applications in, it’s also about closing the deal. 

Follow through consistently to the interview stage by ensuring the assessment process mirrors the information you shared when advertising the job. 

Match up your vision, values and business ethos to assess these in your interview questions and show candidates your values are more than empty words. 

After all, it’s a job seekers market, so you need to sell yourself to candidates. 

Consider the induction process as the final stage in the journey of attraction, where you convince the employee that they’ve made the right career move. 

Have a thorough and supportive onboarding process aligned to the values from which you recruited the employee at interview. 

Induction is so much more than just giving new starters a computer and some paperwork and saying ‘go’. 

Nurture and empower your employees from the start and facilitate the building of new relationships, so they are part of a strong network and have the tools to succeed. 

HR processes 

Getting employees in the door at your business is no longer enough. 

You need to keep them coming back too. After all, it costs time and money to recruit. 

Retention is all about consistency. 

HR processes that support employees throughout their journey will ensure your employees receive the experience you sold to them during attraction. 

Make your HR support transparent and consistent. 

Consider whether you need to refresh any management training to ensure all managers are coherently delivering the same message. 

More than just a formality, the employee handbook is a valuable communication resource that shapes your employees’ experience. 

Carrying through from your recruitment pack, a strong handbook will reflect your organisation’s culture, values, policies and procedures.

Some important factors to consider in your employee handbook are: 


Do you have a wellbeing policy? What does it involve? It’s increasingly important to support employees’ mental health in the workplace, so a wellbeing policy is something that a lot of job searchers will prioritise

Bullying and harassment.

It’s not the easiest topic to talk about, but it sadly happens in the workplace. Having a policy in place assures employees that you care about their safety

Healthcare and insurance.

What are your employees entitled to? Explain how you can help them to stay healthy and well

Working practices. Make it clear what the expectations from your employees are. Include details of probation periods and the appraisal process, development opportunities and whether you offer flexible working


We all like to be rewarded. Employees want to know whether their hard work will be rewarded beyond their salary and holiday

Compressive HR processes are something you can shout about during your attraction stage. 

Get your processes right and it will reflect well on your company values, all helping to draw people into your company. 

Ultimately, positive HR processes should underpin your recruitment strategy and provide the backbone for employee engagement. 

With all this in place, and with clear expectations and measured goals, employees are genuinely happy, engaged and passionate about working for your organisation. 

They become advocates and champion your business, which is social proof to convince candidates you are an employer of choice. 

When there’s a positive attitude in the workplace, the energy from your existing employees is contagious for newcomers. 

Remember, it’s not just about choosing a candidate – they are choosing you too. 

Any recruitment conversation is a two-way street.