Recruiting in January: Getting ahead of the game

A new year often heralds a fresh start for businesses. According to one expert, January should be considered ‘PLANuary’ as it’s the best month for making plans for your business for the next one to five years.

The quieter weeks following the long Christmas break are perfect for concentrating on plans after a period of reflection. And if recruiting one or more members of your team is high on your priority list, then January appears to be the perfect time.

A survey from autumn 2023 has backed the theory that January is a good time to look for a recruit. The study of 5,000 workers showed that 40% of respondents start looking for new jobs in January.

That means almost half of the UK’s workforce are considering their options in the first month of the year. People do this because they feel the new year is time for fresh starts, you know the saying – new year, new me!

Why people look for work in January

The findings are great news if you’re recruiting because one of the main reasons people look for a new job is for career development. That means you can access ambitious individuals who are hungry to learn new skills and progress their careers.

But before you dash to write a job advertisement, here are our shrewd top tips to help you recruit in the new year. To make SMEs great places to work, it’s essential you get the recruitment process right!

shrewd top tips to recruit

The process

From a business owners’ perspective, it can be easy to act in haste and repent at leisure. So, make sure to plan the process.

Be sure to know what vacancy you’re looking to fill

If you aren’t sure, you won’t be able to clearly define the role and its responsibilities. This will make it difficult for candidates to understand the role, which could lead to few applicants.

Analyse the job specification and identify which skills, knowledge and experience is needed for the role. You also need to plan when you want the person to start. If you’re recruiting for a specific reason, you need to allow an appropriate timeframe for the process. Remember, your new employee will probably have a notice period, which could be longer than four weeks.

Be transparent with applicants

Plan ahead to ensure you have the time to respond to applicants at each stage of the process, schedule interview dates and don’t leave your candidates in the dark wondering whether they’ve been selected for interview. Communicate with your applicants and ensure the experience is engaging and positive.

Be honest

Don’t make the job out to be something it’s not, all you’re going to do is waste time and risk losing the person you have appointed because they’ve realised the job is completely different to the one they applied for. If you’re not able to offer hybrid working for example, don’t say you can because your new recruit will be left disappointed, and the employment journey begins negatively when it should actually be a really positive and exciting time.

Advertise salary

We understand it is not always possible but if you can, advertise the salary. This will ensure the people who are applying are comfortable with the level of pay and will avoid any wasted steps in the process. If the candidate later finds out the salary is a lot less than they’d been led to believe and they can’t afford to take the job (even if they really like the sound of it) it could turn out to be a waste of everyone’s time.

What will the process entail?

Think about whether adding a task to the process would be beneficial, always make the task relevant depending on the job role – include a piece of research work, an assessment, role plays or a presentation. This will help you measure the candidates ability, knowledge and skills to make a better judgement on who is the right candidate for the role.

Keep an eye out for our future blog on how HR software can take away the pain around admin tasks and the legalities when it comes to recruitment.

Job description

The job description is vital for attracting the right candidate. If it’s too vague or isn’t focused, it can deter people who might be perfect for the role. Don’t waffle! Get to the point and describe the role. It’s OK to use technical language, but avoid jargon and don’t make it too personal, for example saying it’s “perfect for mums due to working hours”. (See below how being too personal could breach employment laws.) And do your homework about salary. Don’t just look at your budget, research the industry benchmark. If you’re advertising a much lower salary than the industry standard, you risk not attracting the person with the correct skills or knowledge.

Remember rules and regulations

It’s essential that you are compliant with UK employment laws. The main areas to be aware of are:

  • Anti-discrimination laws: All employers must take steps to ensure they do not discriminate against applicants, including their race, religion, gender, age, disability, marital status being pregnant or being on maternity leave.
  • Data protection laws: Obtain consent from applicants to collect their data. Remember to use secure HR software to store their details and only that information for the purposes of recruitment.
  • Right to work checks: Every new recruit must be subject to RTW checks to ensure they are legally entitled to be employed in the UK.
  • Criminal record checks: If the role includes working with vulnerable people or handling sensitive information, employers have the right to check criminal backgrounds before hiring them. You must gain consent from an applicant before a DBS check and any results should only be disclosed to relevant staff members. Failing to do so could result in a GDPR breach which may lead to legal action.

Talent search

Once the description is written, it’s time to let the world know you have a vacancy. You may need to advertise locally or on job portals and through social media or it may be a tricky role to fill which requires external support from a recruitment agency. Always advertise on your company website and internally, too, as you may find the right person is already working for you.

Screen candidates

Screening candidates is important because you don’t want to interview lots of unsuitable people. SME owners have little time and spending too long interviewing eats into your valuable time. We know that screening candidates is time-consuming, so when we’re helping businesses recruit, we use AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Using the latest technology means our shrewd HR Recruitment clients will employ the right candidate without having to spend hours reading cover letters (which have probably been written using AI!) and CVs. Using Job Success Formulas, we help business owners not only find the candidate with the qualifications and experience that matches the job description, but also the one that matches your company’s culture.

Once candidates are screened, we create a shortlist using AI as part of the pre-assessment stage and our technology even helps to identity the right questions to ask at interview based on the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.

Interview candidates

While reading application forms and CVs are useful, it’s only through meeting candidates that you can assess and recruit the person who meets the needs of the role and your culture. It can be tempting to ask generic questions. But in the long run, they won’t really help you find the right person to hire. If you are a shrewd HR Recruitment client, we help design the key questions that will enable the interviewer to hone in on what you need to know.

Should you fail to find the right candidate, don’t hire someone for the sake of it. Go back to the start, review the job role alongside the advert and job description, is there anything you can change to find the right person for your business or can you advertise through alternative channels.

Make an offer

Once the interviews are over, it’s time to make a decision and an offer. Let your candidates know how long it will take to make the offer. If they are waiting without knowing your timeframe, you risk losing them to another employer.

Be quick! We all know recruitment can be a real struggle, it is a candidate driven market and people continue to want more from their jobs and the company they work for, more so than ever before. So, if you come across the perfect candidate, ensure you interview them as soon as you can, and don’t leave them hanging around for weeks before offering them the position.

Those who may not have what you’re looking for the role you’re currently recruiting for might be a great fit for future roles so ensure your recruitment process is a positive experience for all applicants. Remember people are more likely to talk about negative experiences than positive ones and the whole recruitment process will have an impact on your employer brand so make sure it is a positive one for everyone!

shrewd HR Recruitment

You can find out more about how shrewd HR Recruitment can help take the strain and stress of recruitment from you here. Or use our Contact page to speak to one of our experienced team.

Almost half of the UK’s workforce are considering their options in the first month of the year