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Companies are paying too much to fill specialist jobs

Recruitment specialist Blue Eskimo says that by advertising all vacancies in the same way, it costs organisations more and takes them longer to fill the specialist roles.

There are now more ways to advertise a job than ever before - ranging from using recruitment companies to job boards, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. However, ineffective recruitment for specialist roles costs UK businesses around £270 million a year - according to a report from learndirect.

Specialist training and e-learning recruitment provider Blue Eskimo says that while this scattergun approach works for some jobs, the more specialist the role, the less effective it is.

Hard-to-fill jobs account for around 23% of all those advertised, so this isn't a trivial matter.

"The first issue," says Blue Eskimo director Nick Bate, "is that companies are placing ads where the right people simply aren't looking."

This approach may suffice for mainstream jobs, since people whose skills can transfer from one industry to another may well be looking in those places. But once you need industry-specific skills - especially rare skills - then the mainstream recruitment channels quickly run out of steam. "They just don't connect with the right people," says Bate.

Even when they do connect with the right people, the process of filtering applicants is far more time-consuming - and therefore expensive - than with mainstream roles. "Large, mainstream recruitment companies don't understand the roles, so add little value," says Bate, "and unless the application is dealt with within the learning function, which is itself expensive, HR departments can offer limited support. Sifting through CVs for a role such as instructional designer or L&D manager needs experience of the role - as does shortlisting. For specialist roles, this takes far more time and becomes less precise."

Sometimes, organisations have restricted choice - if they have a sole provider, or preferred provider, agreement with a large recruitment company, they will have no option other than to try that route first. "By the time organisations have tried a mainstream provider, social media and their own websites, they could be weeks or months down the line having wasted time evaluating lots of unsuitable CVs and even interviewing candidates who don't have the right experience - which is as frustrating for the person as it is for the potential employer," says Bate.

Another factor is that the best people often simply aren't looking for jobs, says Bate. "If you're good at what you do, you're likely to be well-rewarded and looked after. You probably don't have an up-to-date CV. You almost certainly don't go out looking at job ads and job boards." These roles are often best filled via search and selection. "You have to go out and find the right people," says Bate, "because they just won't come to you."

"The fact is," says Bate, "easy recruitment channels just don't work well for specialist roles - where there's no substitute for having access to the right community, knowing the roles inside out and knowing how to locate exactly the right person."

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