They Want You as a New Recruit; from Birth Signs to Psychometrics, Glyn Mon Hughes Looks at the Techniques Companies Use in the Search for the Right Recruit
Byline: Glyn Mon Hughes
JOB hunting is the stuff of determination or desperation. Those people scanning sits vac columns are on a mission.
They feel they need a pay rise, a new challenge or are so fed up with what they are doing anything suffices. Then there are those who have long been unemployed and are dipping tentative toes into the restless waters of the jobs market.
That's one side of the story. For employers, finding the right candidate to fill a vacancy is needle-in-haystack stuff. Finding the round peg to fit the round hole is far from easy. And making a mistake is very costly even, potentially, closing down a going concern.
Not only is it the costs of placing advertisements in newspapers and relevant journals, but it is also the staff time taken in sifting through applications, interviewing and so on. The costs, say some, run into tens of thousands, especially if a job is attracting applications from round the world.
That's why recruitment can be far more than placing an advertisement and waiting for the perfect candidate to walk through the door.
Companies use different techniques to attract staff. Manchester Airport, for instance, uses psychometric testing for all its recruitment processes. Working out which triangle matches which square and answering hundreds of seemingly simple questions can, it is claimed, work out a person's suitability for a particular post.
Rumour had it that blue chip companies like Marks & Spencer and British Airways conducted the first sift of applications on quality of handwriting. That, however, was roundly denied by M&S headquarters as something akin to an urban myth. Yet some American corporations demand to know an applicant's birth sign. Spooky, but it puts into perspective how competitive and convoluted recruitment processes really are.
The first port of call for a job seeker remains the local newspaper.
``We certainly found that route pretty effective, '' said Lorraine Roberts, of North Wales-based Atebion Recruitment, in business for 13 years.
``We also find papers like the Daily Post attract people looking for higher-grade professional jobs. And the time of year matters a great deal. ''
Phrasing a job advertisement -- and specification -- is a special art, too.
``Employers are not always good at putting an advertisement together, '' noted Roberts. ``Key phrases often elude them. We also find companies ask their staff if they know of anyone -- friends or family -- who is looking for a job. That's a highly effective way of opening the jobs market. ''
Atebion has found, over the last year, fewer permanent jobs on offer.
``It's very much a part-time market, '' said Roberts. ``And there are numerous skills shortages.
Accountancy is one, for instance. It's partly because people are taking degrees and not entering the jobs market when they leave school and the trades are suffering.
``There's also a major problem with the general level of numeracy and literacy. Employers look for those skills as well as an ability to communicate. If people cannot even fill in a form correctly and write properly, then the market shrinks. ''
Moira Russell is chairman of Merseyside recruitment company, Business Solutions Group, the main brand of which is Thejobstore based in Liverpool city centre.
Her company is often hired by firms to fill large numbers of vacancies in a short space of time.
She said: ``If you have a high volume situation, say 1, 500 applications for 1, 000 jobs, then you need to employ some sort of methodology to bring the numbers down.
``If you have for example 10 people for one position, who all have the right skills on their CV, then it is other factors about the people themselves that will help you choose the right candidate.
``There are all sorts of different types of tests. …