top of page

Recruitment: An Introduction

Recruitment: An Introduction

Recruitment: An Introduction


Good recruitment is vital for every organisation - finding the right people for the right roles at the right time. It ensures that the workforce has the relevant skills and abilities for the organisation's current and future needs. Effective resourcing is not just about filling an immediate vacancy but about having an impact on the long-term success of the business, using workforce planning data to understand what skills are needed for organisational performance.

This factsheet looks at what recruitment and resourcing involves and outlines the UK law affecting recruitment activities. It describes the stages of the recruitment process: defining the role, including job analysis and job description; attracting the applicants using both internal and external methods; managing the selection process; and, finally, making the appointment and employment offer.

What is recruitment?

Recruitment and resourcing involve attracting and selecting individuals into a job role. Recruiting the right individuals is crucial for organisations who need people with the right skills and capabilities to deliver their goals. It’s a critical activity, not just for the HR team but also for line managers who are increasingly involved in the selection process. 

Everyone involved in recruitment must have the appropriate knowledge and skills to make effective and fair recruitment decisions.

The length and complexity of the recruitment process will vary depending on an organisation’s size and resources. However, each of the following stages should be present and are explored in this factsheet:

  • Defining the role.

  • Attracting applicants

  • Managing the application and selection process.

  • Making the appointment.

Recruitment in the time of Coronavirus

Recruitment has undoubtedly been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although hiring has actually increased on some UK sectors, for many recruitment has reduced or been on hold, with many organisations increasing training and retention. Now more than ever, organisations need to take a strategic approach to recruitment, selection and talent management.

One impact is the increased use of technology in recruitment processes. This was already on the rise pre-pandemic, but it has become a necessity where traditional ‘in person’ interview and assessment processes are not appropriate. As it’s likely to continue in some form after the pandemic, organisations should evaluate and monitor their use of technology.

Key points for recruitment and resourcing professionals

It’s important to be aware of the labour market trends that affect recruitment and resourcing. For the UK, there are a variety of companies that monitors UK economic and labour market indicators and recruitment outlook. They provide data on UK recruitment trends and employers’ practices, including the impact of Brexit on resourcing.

Beyond hiring the right person for the job, candidate experience is a key part of resourcing. The recruitment process is not just about employer identifying suitable employees, but candidates finding out more about the organisation and considering if it’s one they would like to work for. First impressions matter, the process should be transparent, timely and fair, regardless of whether the candidate is successful or not. In a digital age where candidates can share their experiences online, inefficient, poorly designed recruitment processes can negatively impact on an employer’s brand and the ability to attract candidates.

Another key part of resourcing is attracting a wide range of candidates. Diversity and inclusion should be considered throughout the process, with practices and systems regularly reviewed to ensure resourcing methods are inclusive and hidden bias is removed. Everyone taking part in activities such as shortlisting and interviewing must be aware of relevant legislation and the need to avoid discrimination.

Defining the Role

Job analysis

The first step is to spend time gathering information about a jib from a variety of sources, whether the position already exists or is new. The analysis provides the information needed for the job description and person specification. It should include:

  • The job’s purpose and what duties are involved.

  • How and where it could be carried out.

  • What outputs would be expected of the jobholder.

  • How it fits into the organisations’ structure.

Job description

The job description explains to potential candidates the detailed job requirements such as responsibilities and objectives for the role. It helps the recruitment process by providing a clear overview of the role for all involved. It can also provide clarity during induction and later, on performance and objectives.

Person specification

The person specification states the essential criteria for selection. The characteristics must be clear, demonstrable and avoid bias in wording.

Competency frameworks are sometimes substituted for a job or person specifications, but these should include and indication of roles and responsibilities.

Job advertisements

Job adverts should be clear, accurate information about the organisation and the role.

They should include:

  • Job description and person specification

  • Job location

  • Type of employment offered – for example, is it a fixed-term role

  • The organisation’s activities and values.

  • Reward and benefits package.

  • Flexible working opportunities, where available.

  • Details of how to apply and the deadline.

Attracting Applicants

There are many ways to generate interest from potential candidates

Employee referral scheme.

Some organisations operate an employee referral scheme. These schemes usually offer an incentive to existing employees to assist in the recruitment of friends or contacts. But employers should not rely in such schemes at the expenses of attracting a diverse workforce and they should complement other attraction methods.

External recruitment

Identifying common ways of attracting candidates including the employer’s website, commercial job boards, recruitment agencies, and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn (although this will vary by sector and seniority).

Other common ways to attract applications include links with local colleges/universities, working with the local jobcentre and using local networks. Using multiple and non-traditional outreach methods widens the talent pool.

Most candidates expect to search and apply for jobs online, meaning employers need to pay attention to their corporate website and their online employer brand. Latest sourcing and talent planning survey shows that organisational values are seen as the most important aspect of brand in attracting candidates. 

Many organisations also use social media to identify candidates, but employers should exercise caution.

Candidates and organisations should be aware of the increase in fraudulent online job adverts. Where fraudsters post a false role on job Bords, posing as a legitimate organisation in order to ask applicants to pay for online checks or training. Safer jobs can provide advice and support.

External recruitment services

Some organisations use external providers to help with their resourcing and recruitment. Recruitment agencies or consultants offer a range of services such as attracting candidates. 

Managing candidate responses, screening and shortlisting, or running assessment centres on the employer’s behalf. They need to have a good understanding of the organisations and its requirements. 

These services might also be provided by an outsourcing provider.

Internal recruitment

It’s important not to forget the internal talent pool when recruiting. Providing opportunities for development and career progression can help retention and support succession planning.

Managing the application and selection process

Paper and online applications are likely to be received as a curriculum vitae (CV) with covering letter, or an application form. Some organisations allow candidates to apply with their LinkedIn profile.

Throughout the application and selection process, reasonable adjustments may need r be made for candidates. For example, as well as helping those with physical disability, recruitment processes might be adapted for neurodivergent people.

Application forms

Application forms allow for information to be presented in a consistent way. This makes it easier to collect information from the job applicants systematically and objectively assess the candidate’s suitability for the job.

However, an unnecessarily long or poorly-designed application form can put candidates off applying. And it, may be necessary to offer application forms in different formats to comply with discrimination law.

CVs and LinkedIn profiles.

The advantage of CV’s or LinkedIn profiles is that candidates are not restricted to a standard application form. However, CV’s and LinkedIn profiles may include surplus material and vary in formal which undermines their consistent assessment.

Managing applications

All applications should be treated confidentially and circulated only to those individuals involved in the recruitment process.

Prompt acknowledgement of an application – whether successful or unsuccessful – is good practice and presents a positive image of the organisation.

Selecting candidates

Selecting candidates involves two main processes:

  • Shortlisting those who have the necessary skills to proceed to assessment stage.

  • Assessing those candidates to find out who is most suitable for the role.

Making the appointment

Before making an offer of employment. UK employers are responsible for checking applicants have the right to work in the UK and have the appropriate qualifications or credentials.


References are most frequently sought after the applicant has been given a ‘professional offer’.

Any recruitment policy should clearly state how references will be used and what kind of references will be expected (for example, from former employers). These rules must be applied consistently, and candidates should always be informed of the procedure for taking up references.

Medical questionnaires and making reasonable adjustments.

Any necessary physical or medical requirement should be made clear in the job advertisement or other recruitment literature.

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to ask candidates to complete a medical questionnaire before being offered a job. Only essential medical issues should be discussed at this stage.

Employers should also ask candidates if they need any adjustments or have specific access requirements to attend an interview or undertake a test.

Employment offer

Offers of employment should always be made in writing. But it’s important to be aware that a verbal offer of employment made in an interview is as legally binding as a letter to the candidate.

UK employers must also know what information must be given by law in the written statement of particulars of employment.

Unsuccessful candidates should be notified promptly in writing and every effort should be made to provide feedback. If psychometric tests are used, feedback on the results, delivered by a qualified person, should also be offered.

Joining the organisation

Well-planned induction enables new employees o become fully operational quickly and should be integrated into the recruitment process.

Documentation and evaluation

The recruitment process should be documented accurately, and access limited to recruitment staff and confidentiality reasons. The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) means that recruitment process and applicant tracking systems my need review.

Information should be kept for sufficient time to allow any complaints to be handled.

It’s good practice to carry out equality monitoring in the recruitment and resourcing process. This includes monitoring the diversity of applicants, from the initial stages through to a person being appointed. Action should then be taken to address ay issues.

Using metrics such as cost of hiring, candidate experience ratings and time to hire can also provide insight into the effectiveness of recruitment processes.

bottom of page