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HRMNotes.htm by Wilf H. Ratzburg


finding capable individuals to apply for employment


Recruitment is the process whereby a firm attracts or finds capable individuals to apply for employment. Of course, the objective is to find these applicants at the lowest possible cost.

This process begins when new recruits are sought, and ends when applicants have submitted application forms or resumes. The result is a pool of job-seekers from which the firm can then the select the most qualified.

Smart companies recruit employees they can retain, and retention depends on getting the right people in the right job in the first place. So, while getting a large pool applicants is important, getting the right type of applicant is even more important.



Logically, firms would seek to recruit in a manner that guarantees the greatest number of qualified applicants. However, there are often constraints on the recruitment process which prohibit some methods. Some of these constraints are:

  • Organizational Policies
  • Affirmative-action Programs
  • Recruiter Habits
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Job Requirements


Organizational Policies

An example of an organizational policy might be a "promote-from-within" policy. Frequently, such policies are encountered in unionized firms where the collective agreement stipulates that job openings must be posted internally prior to seeking applicants from outside the organization.

Further, in many unionized environments, policies may restrict the number of part-time employees working for the firm. This is clearly a recruitment constraint insofar as it places limitations on the firm. However, it may well also limit the number of applicants because some very highly qualified applicants may simply prefer part-time employment.

Another organizational policy which could, potentially, constrain recruitment efforts is a firm's compensation policy. For example, a Crown Corporation (in British Columbia) which competes with private sector firms for employees might feel constrained because of public sector, government-imposed, wage controls. In such a case, the wage controls serve to limit the number applicants, who could earn higher wages in the private sector.


Affirmative-action Plans

Occasionally, firms may adopt affirmative-action policies in an effort to attain a workforce that is more representative of the general populace. In efforts to increase workforce diversity, firms may choose to voluntarily hire persons with specific characteristics. More often, such affirmative action policies are mandated by law.


The following is an excerpt from an employers guide to employment equity, published by the Federal Government of Canada.


Employment Equity: A Guide for Employers

The purpose of the Employment Equity Act is:

"To achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and in the fulfillment of that goal, to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and persons who are, because of their race or colour, in a visible minority in Canada by giving effect to the principle that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences." (Section 2, Employment Equity Act, 1986). (emphasis added)

Why Employment Equity Is Needed

The principal concept of Employment Equity flows from the wording of federal and provincial employment standards legislation, human rights codes and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There is ample evidence in all sectors of society that equal access to employment has been denied to members of certain groups because of their sex, racial or ethnic characteristics, or disability. This situation not only violates basic human rights but also hinders economic growth by preventing the full participation of skilled individuals from designated groups.

Women, aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and persons with disabilities face significant but different disadvantages in employment. Some of these include high unemployment, occupational segregation, pay inequities and limited opportunities for career progress.

What Are Employers' Obligations?

Ideally, Employment Equity planning is adopted voluntarily by employers who understand and endorse the concept of fairness in the workplace, who see the business advantages of full utilization of a changing work force and who are alert to the steps being taken towards enforcing equality in employment by the courts, governments at all levels and the human rights agencies and tribunals.

However. all employers are legally obligated by federal or provincial human rights statutes and employment standards legislation to ensure that no qualified individual is treated unfairly because of assumptions associated with sex, ancestry, colour, disability status, or other non-bona fide occupational requirements.


An Act Respecting Employment Equity

Employers and Crown corporations with 100 employees or more and who are regulated under the Canada Labour Code must implement Employment Equity and report on their results. These requirements are outlined in the Employment Equity Act, which was given Royal Assent on June 27, 1986. Specifically, the Employment Equity Act sets out certain obligations for employers:



Recruiter Habits

Recruiter habits may also constitute a recruitment constraint. For example, past successes may lead to habits or preferred tendencies in recruitment. One recruiter, who had played rugby, had had considerable success recruiting other rugby enthusiasts. Whereas he had luckily had this initial success, he went so far as to overtly seek out rugby players in his recruitment (justifying his choices by statements such as: "Rugby players play and work by the spirit of the rules, not the letter of the rules."). Obviously, rugby skills are not necessarily indicators of job-related success. Such recruiter habits do not constitute good recruitment practices. In the end, such habits may actually perpetuate past mistakes.

Environmental Conditions

Few organizations function in a vacuum, or a closed system. Organizations are generally subject to changes in their environment. This includes changes in the labor market. The rate of unemployment in an area can have a profound influence on recruitment. High unemployment, or a surplus of labor supply, may result in a larger number of skilled applicants for a particular job than would be the case in times of full employment. Firms can, for example, take advantage of layoffs in related industries, as skilled workers become available. On the other hand, the recruiting activities of competitors can limit the supply of qualified applicants.

Spot shortages in certain skills also influence recruitment insofar as such shortages may require the firm to look for less-skilled individuals, and then to compensate for deficiencies through training programs.

Changes in legislation governing the employment of certain classes of employees can also constrain recruitment activities. If, for example, the degree of qualification necessary to do a particular job is changed by way of legislation, then the firm's recruitment activities may also need to change. Recent legislation in British Columbia, for example, has changed the degree of qualification required by midwives. This influences the way hospitals recruit midwives.


Job Requirements

Generally, skilled workers are more difficult to find than unskilled workers. A limited pool of potential applicants causes firms to use different recruiting techniques. Whereas an advertisement placed in a newspaper's classified section may serve to attract unskilled workers, recruitment of skilled workers may require more sophisticated techniques.



One question firms must address early in the recruitment process, is whether or not to recruit internally or externally. As was mention earlier, company policies may mandate internal recruitment.

There is nothing inherently better about either internal or external recruitment. However, there are some advantages to internal recruitment. First, internal recruitment may lead to increased morale for employees; the organization is perceived to reward good performance or loyalty. Often, one promotion leads to another vacant position and this chain effect contributes further to increased morale.

Another advantage to the firm is that Human Resource data is immediately available for any employee recruited internally. Further, the employee's work habits are known and previous performance appraisals are on record.

Similarly, an internal recruit will be familiar with the firm. This employee will be familiar with the firm's products, clients, organizational policies, and corporate culture. Therefore, the firm might be able to save money insofar as orientation sessions for such an employee may not be necessary.

Whereas the firm saves money by eliminating orientation sessions for employees recruited internally, other training costs may go up. If company policies mandate internal recruitment, then employees promoted from within may not have all the requisite skills required for the job. In such cases, employees will have to be trained for their new jobs. This can be a costly process. It becomes even more costly if the chain-effect of successive internal promotions requires a series of training sessions to be implemented.

A succession of internal recruitments may, in fact, result in the Peter Principle ("In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." -- The Peter Principle by Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull, 1969). This can be avoided by initially promoting internal recruits on a temporary basis. Demotions for incompetence can have a demoralizing effect on the organization. To avoid such disappointments, the temporary appointment ("acting manager") serves to give the internal employee an opportunity to show their worth. However, it also provides the employer with an opportunity to replace that employee with a more qualified individual if necessary.

Another unintended negative consequence of internal recruitment might be organizational politics. This may occur when more than one employee aspires to the job vacancy. Those not getting the promotion will be disappointed and may be unwilling to grant the new job-holder the authority required to do the job. Further, the unsuccessful applicants' coworkers may also resent the successful candidate and demonstrate that resentment through less than satisfactory work output.



The opposite of internal recruitment is external recruitment. The most obvious advantage of external recruitment is the availability of a greater pool of applicants. Thus, only those applicants who have the exact qualifications will apply and be selected. This has consequences for the organization's training budget. Whereas external recruits will require orientation upon being hired, they will not require any extra training (assuming they were selected for their capabilities).

External recruits also bring new ideas and external contacts to the firm hiring them. Also, if political infighting over a promotion might be a possibility, then external recruitment is one way of eliminating that occurrence. Finally, with external recruitment, a firm does not have to worry about the Peter Principle.

Job Posting

One of the most common means of filling open positions within a firm is by using internal job postings. Job postings have all of the advantages of internal recruitment, discussed above. Further, job postings help employees feel they have some control over their future in the organization, insofar as they can decide when to apply for job openings (and which ones). By permitting employees to choose which jobs to apply for, the employer avoids being put into the awkward position of promoting an employee into a job they never wanted.

Here are some guidelines for job postings:

1. procedure should be clearly explained to all employees

  • procedure must be consistent to avoid employee suspicion

2. job specifications must be clear

  • results in fewer and better applicants

3. must be specific with respect to the length of time the positions will be open

4. application procedure must be made clear

  • ensure that applicants get adequate feedback once a selection is made
    • reasons for nonacceptance
    • suggested remedial measures
    • information concerning possible future openings
    • assistance in the posting process


Employee Referrals

Another common recruitment methodology is the employee referral. To fill job vacancies, present employees refer jobseekers to the HR department as potential employees.

There are some clear advantages to using employee referrals. First, there is a good chance that a firm's current employees know others in the same line of work. Further, if the recruits are acquainted with the referring employee, there is also a good chance that the recruits already know something about the firm. In many cases, the present employee also takes an active interest in helping the new employee become successful.

Finally, this method of recruitment is quick and inexpensive.

Conversely, the disadvantages of employee referrals include inbreeding, nepotism, and maintaining the "old boys network". Also, firms using this methodology may tend to maintain the racial, religious, or sex features of the current group of employees.


Internet Recruiting

Finding well-qualified applicants quickly at the lowest possible cost is a primary goal for recruiters. Recent trends indicate that, if you're looking for a job in the technical field or to fill a technical job, you need consider using the Internet. The same may well be true for nontechnical jobs in the near future.


A majority of firms that have actually used the Internet for recruiting consider the Internet more cost-effective than most recruitment methods.

Other advantages include:

  • access to more people and a broader selection of applicants
  • the ability to target the type of people needed
  • access to people with a technical background who know computers
  • convenience
  • quicker response and turnaround
  • ease of use
  • disadvantages


Using the Internet to recruit poses a dilemma with respect to attracting the 'passive job seeker' -- the person who is not actively searching on the Internet, but may nonetheless be interested in openings in your organization..

To find these passive job seekers, companies might consider setting up their own Web sites which welcome applicants.

An increased volume of applicants may also become a problem if Internet recruiting is used. An organization must ensure that it uses an adequate tracking mechanism to deal with this increased volume.

A further disadvantage is that not everyone has access to or uses the Internet.

Integrating the Internet and the HRMIS

There are a number of products on the market that can import, store, sort, and retrieve electronic data from a variety of sources. Resumes can be imported into these systems by e-mail, and fax or scanning. These data are then converted into text (if necessary). Resume imaging and scanning is becoming much more common.

Webpage generated resumes

Another approach to Internet recruitment is to permit people to generate a resume while online. Using the appropriate textboxes on the firm's Webpage, an applicant would be able to complete and application form and resume and then submit that data directly to the firm from the Webpage.

It is clear that, as the Web becomes more of a mainstream activity, more people will look there for jobs.

Here is a list of Internet-based job boards:


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