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Recruiting: Definition, Examples and Measures

Skilled labour shortage remains the biggest hurdle to companies’ growth even in these pandemic times. Studies show that around two-thirds of UK companies find attracting and hiring qualified and experienced candidates hard. So, what are the best measures to address this issue and ensure companies’ long term success?

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What Does Recruitment Mean?

Recruitment is all about finding a skilled workforce to fulfil a company’s needs. Nonetheless, this simple goal regularly poses challenges to HR departments. Usually, when choosing their recruiting approach, HR and talent specialists consider internal and external recruitment procedures.

Internal Recruitment

This occurs when employees fill a new position in-house by taking over additional tasks to those outlined in their job description. Since this usually means that the employee has to deal with a heavier workload, it can lead to burnout, thereby making it an unsustainable solution. 

Another example of internal recruitment is when freelance or part-time jobs become full-time positions. In many cases, this is good news from the employees’ perspective.

Internal recruiting also entails career advancements. For example, companies can fill managerial positions or vacant roles for heads of departments by offering promotions to their current employees. It is well known that career advancement opportunities have a considerable impact on employee motivation. However, employees being promoted from one position to another calls for the need to fill the positions that are left empty.

Recruiting Definition, Examples and Measures

External Recruitment

External recruitment occurs when companies actively search for new employees outside the workplace. This implies recruiting measures, such as traditional job advertisements, job portals, job fairs, recruitment agencies or employee referral programs.

There are also proactive recruiting measures that aim at building an extensive talent pool that could provide qualified candidates for future hiring needs. For example, through the career page on the website or employee referrals, companies’ incoming applications are sifted and stored in a database. Then, when vacancies arise, HR departments contact suitable candidates from the list, asking them to submit their applications on their own initiative.

How Do Companies Assess Staffing Needs?

New vacancies most commonly arise when an employee resigns or retires. However, business expansion or company reorganisation can also lead to an increased demand for personnel. The greatest challenge in recruiting personnel is finding suitable candidates within a reasonable time period.

First, companies check their current hiring needs according to the following criteria:


At what stage there will be a need for new employees? The earlier the search, the less bridging and incurred costs.


In which location does the company want to place employees? The possibility of positions also being filled remotely allows companies to expand their outreach to the candidates. Therefore, companies are likely to find suitable candidates more easily.


What qualifications are required for the job? The higher the job requirements, the more difficult it is to find skilled workers. It is possible for employees to acquire some needed skills quickly on the job itself, with the necessary motivation. On the other hand, companies could save money by directly hiring employees with the sought-after competencies instead of paying for further training.

Available positions

How many positions are available? Should it be a full-time position, or could two employees do the work part-time? The more flexibility the company offers, the easier it is to fill the position.

Recruiting Definition, Examples and Measures_2

Challenges in Recruiting

First of all, companies have to decide whether to fill the position internally or externally. If there are already suitable candidates within the company, they should be offered the job initially. Providing opportunities for career development is highly beneficial since it helps reduce the fluctuation rate.

It is well worth approaching department managers with vacancies by asking them for referrals of potential employees that deserve the promotion. Challenge and encouragement should be the motto here. Many capable employees don’t think they are ready for career advancement, even though they have the necessary qualifications. With the right promotion at the right time, employees can grow themselves whilst contributing to company growth.

Other internal measures could be asking employees to take over additional activities of vacant positions or give up their holidays until the vacancies are fulfilled. However, companies shouldn’t undertake these measures as long term solutions—fair treatment of your workforce is important to avoid resentment and employee churn.

The alternative is external recruitment. To quickly satisfy your hiring demands, implementing an employee referral program is highly recommended. Involving your current employees in the recruiting process by asking them to provide referrals will faster forward the best workforce on the job market into your hiring pipeline. Always bear in mind: top players know top players.

The referred candidates result in high-quality hires and are an excellent cultural fit for the company. They already receive a realistic representation of the company’s culture and goals from their referrers and are ready to fully embrace its values. As employees are the bearers of company culture, they usually only refer candidates most suitable for the job. This is why referred candidates have a better retention rate than employees hired through other recruiting channels. Not only do they fit the role better and stay longer, but they are also hired faster. This saves companies overall hiring costs.

Well performing employee referral programs also positively affect the retention rate of your current employees. Involving employees in the recruiting process means that companies recognise employee importance for corporate growth. This establishes a trusted relationship between employees and employers. As a result, employees feel valued and appreciated and payback in stronger motivation and loyalty. Referral rewards are the best way for employees to express gratitude for referrals – rewards also keep employee motivation high. That is why a solid and efficient employee referral program is the basis for a successful recruitment process. 80% of companies already place employee referrals among their recruiting mix.

You can read more about this in Firstbird’s current Employee Referral Benchmark study 2021.

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More Approaches to External Recruitment:

  • Job advertisements on job boards
  • Job advertisements on the company’s career site
  • Job advertisements on social media (social recruiting)
  • Job advertisements on billboards
  • Collaboration with recruitment agencies
  • Recruiting at trade fairs

Advantages of External and Internal Recruitment

New people bring in new ideas. This is why recruiting externally often prompts innovation within the company. Furthermore, if you indicate specific skills as a prerequisite in the job advertisement, you do not have to pay for further training.

Since companies draw from a larger pool of talent when they advertise a job externally, they can often fill the position more accurately. However, the risk of selecting a bad hire is lower with internal recruitment. When hiring via employee referrals, the costs and time invested are usually lower. 

Recruiting With Referrals

Recruiting via employee referral programs can combine the advantages of both worlds. As mentioned above, the hiring costs are lower, and the time between the application and hiring stages is shorter than in traditional recruiting channels.

Since top players know top players, companies bring in the best talent through referrals. But, at the same time, the new employees also bring a breath of fresh air and innovation to the company.

Thanks to specialists like Firstbird, companies do not have to design their employee referral programs from scratch. Firstbird provides know-how and a digital platform to afford a well-performing employee referral program in just a few clicks. Companies can rely on dashboards that report statistics on the top-performing jobs ads and Talent Scouts, and orient their recruiting strategies according to the KPIs. This makes it possible to optimise referral recruiting further.

With referrals, companies can find the most extraordinary talents with little effort. “The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” Steve Jobs once said. So companies better not underestimate the importance of employee referrals to attract talented employees.”

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