How to recruit well

How to recruit well

Recruiting the right people to your team will make an enormous difference to your ability to grow your business, says inclusive leadership specialist and former recruiter Jackie Handy.

The recruitment process should not be an afterthought for business leaders; it is an essential element to creating a successful business, says Jackie Handy. She says: “If you want business growth then you have got to have the right people in the right positions. It is as simple as that.”

Here’s her advice on how to do it:

1. Decide who you actually need

Jackie says: “What skills and qualifications are an absolute necessity, and which are obsolete and not essential for the role? Do you really require people to have a degree, for example, and if so why, what is important about having one – and who is that going to prevent from applying? Are you open to considering older - or younger - candidates, neuro-diverse, disabled, or transgender candidates? And if not, why not? Is your environment not as inclusive as you think, or do you simply rely on the ‘carbon copy of the last person’ approach, or both?”

2. Consider the benefits you are offering

Jackie says: “According to leading job sites, twice as many applicants will apply for a role offering flexible working or WFH options. The promise of beer fridges and pool tables are quickly becoming outdated and aren’t inclusive. Whereas healthcare support, home tech set up, inclusion groups and ‘green’ initiatives are much more attractive to jobseekers today, especially millennials and Gen Z.”

3. Watch your words

It is important to choose your words carefully in your job advert to avoid inadvertently targeting (or excluding) a particular kind of person. Jackie says: “Words such as active, competitive, dominate, decisive, fearless and objective are often considered to be masculine, whereas words like community, dependable, responsible, committed, empathetic and supportive are regarded as more feminine. So mix up your language to create a gender neutral advert and ensure a truly diverse mix of applicants. And stop using annoying buzz words – ninja, superstar, guru are terms that are off-putting for many and will discourage some from applying.”

4. Make sure your business will deliver on its promises

Jackie says: “Consider what your organisational values are and how your company brings them to life. What long-term progression opportunities are there? Do the promises you make on your adverts and website really match the reality within your organisation? If not, you are setting yourself up for high staff turnover and lack of employee engagement.”

5. Start thinking in a different way

Jackie says: “There is a difference between culture fit and culture add. When people recruit, they often say they are looking for someone who is going to be a good fit, which indicates, consciously or otherwise, that they are looking for sameness. Whereas if they look for culture add, they are considering who they are as an organisation and why they exist. Doing this allows you to start to mould and shape the interview process to be better reflective of that and attract people who complement the organisation.”

6. Make sure your interview process is fit for purpose

Jackie says: “Make sure you are offering an inclusive and equitable interviewing process. Competency-based interviewing, in which people are asked to give examples of when they have demonstrated certain competencies, can be useful, but is certainly not the only way to evaluate skills. Get creative by introducing value-based interviewing, assessments, projects or job shadow days as alternative ways to evaluate candidates. Recognise that there are plenty of people who are brilliant at what they do but crumble at interviews, so explore new ways to help applicants get the best from the process.”

7. Be prepared to put the effort in

Jackie says: “Hiring the right people is a crucial part of a business leader’s role, because they can make or break your organisation, and yet many people see it as a kind of afterthought. Hiring great talent is one of the most fundamental elements of successful business growth and if you want to innovate, get creative and grow beyond your competition, you need to think broader, widen your search pool and be more proactive in sourcing talent.”

8. Realise that the process doesn’t end with the acceptance letter

Jackie says: “The recruitment process is really just the tip of the iceberg - the real work begins when the new recruit joins your business. Much of the candidate’s success in the role is down to the speed it takes them to get productive, so make sure they have everything they need. Simple things such as system log-ins and technical support, as well as structured training and induction programmes will all help them feel welcomed and supported.”

Three things that business leaders can do right now

1. Look at the gaps in your organisation and what kind of skills you need to fill them. Resist the urge to seek a ‘carbon copy’ of the last person you hired.

2. Train your managers in how to induct and develop new people joining the team. Recruitment is a long term investment and you have a responsibility to ensure your managers coach and support new hires, to get them up to speed quickly.

3. Provide detailed feedback to unsuccessful candidates. It will not only help them improve the way they present themselves in future, but it will also leave them with a positive association of your brand.

Jackie Handy ( is an inclusive leadership specialist.

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