By Gillian Hasley, eBusiness Manager, Monster UKIE

When money is tight every department can face budget cuts, but you're still expected to attract top talent to the company. Obviously a large budget helps in the recruitment process, but it isn't everything. You can still use a limited budget more wisely, or use almost cost-free methods to recruit such as through networking and encouraging recommendations.

Some methods to consider to obtain top talent without breaking the budget include:

- Word of mouth – it always helps to have in place excellent benefits which attract talent through word of mouth within the recruitment arena or amongst your target audience.

- Employee referrals – This route places the emphasis for recruitment onto your employees and such referrals can produce high quality candidates. One way to do this is to ask top performers within your company to provide you with a handful of names of top people within the areas you need and even make the initial contact for you. Most employees are willing to do this without an introduction fee, although it may be worthwhile to offer one. This route can also be widened out to take in referrals from customers, partners and stakeholders.

- Role sharing – On a very basic level, do you really need to recruit anyway? You may be able to have one person incorporating two different roles if those don't require full time cover. You may even find that some of those all-important positions were not cost-effective in the first place.

- Internal advertising – Many important and sensitive jobs are filled by internal candidates. Establish if you already have someone in the company who would be good for this new role. Revisit your own talent pipeline and even consider retraining someone to fulfil the higher position.

Recruiting at professional events

Try recruiting at local and national events, trade shows, award dinners, and seminars where your target audience is assembled. This approach has an exclusive feel and makes the targeted individual feel very special indeed. You can even ask your own employees to turn recruiter at such events, just to make contact and put out feelers.

Social networks and Blogging

The phenomenal growth of marketing through social networking sites can also be turned to subtle recruiting.

Many of your employees will currently be on a social networking site and they can be encouraged to make group connections and provide names of potential recruits.

Utilising newcomers

A very forthright recruitment strategy is to ask people who haven't even started working for your company to recommend new talent.

- Interviewee approach – Ask your favoured interviewees for the names of other talented people they know during the interview. There's nothing wrong with pointing out that you need more people – especially to graduates who know a whole readymade source of potential candidates.

- Re-trawling – Take a look at candidates who have applied at your company previously. If they rejected your company originally, there is no harm in finding out if they cannot be re-tempted by your offer, likewise, take a look at those ‘second interviewees' that your company might have narrowly rejected.

- The Google Search – Almost anyone with a professional profile has some form of online presence. Use names, titles, job descriptions and press stories to find people that you could potential recruits and make an approach.

- Working Mothers – Small firms that are prepared to offer flexible or home-based working can benefit from working mothers who are keen to get back into the job market and who often have an impressive range of skills and experience to provide to potential employers.

If you still find that the right calibre candidates are not being attracted by your job adverts it may be worth revising job descriptions to make them more appealing for your target audience.

Have people at management level at your company call top candidates directly and encourage them to consider joining. Such calls can be highly effective. There are literally thousands of approaches to reach top talent with no rules or limits. Sometimes simple, low-cost, routes can be extremely effective when used in the right way.

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