With April almost upon us many employers and managers will be re-evaluating their budgets in respect of manpower requirements for the coming year.

For many companies January is one of the busiest times for new starters, but what options does the H.R. or Manager have when it comes to finding new recruits? Former business consultant and recruitment guru Ian Doyle addresses the issues and provides some interesting pointers and advice.

Many companies have in recent years cut back on staff levels within HR leaving the hard-pressed manager to take on this responsibility and fully evaluate the most reliable but most cost effective method when it comes to recruiting new staff. The problem is that if you only employ new staff occasionally where do you start and what are your options.

Not only does the process have to represent the best value for money it also has to be least burdensome in terms of paperwork. The choices are similar for small business people with both limited finances and resources.

There are a number of options; advertising in the newspaper is still the preferred and obvious choice for many however beware of the pitfalls. Ensure that you direct your advert at the correct target audience if you don’t want to drown in paperwork !

Rather than simply placing a small advert in a local regional paper, it may be worth the additional expense of adverting in those specific periodicals or membership journals that are likely to be read by your potential candidates, especially if this is a specialist position such as an accountant or IT technician, this will ensure that you minimise the receipt of speculative CVs from unsuitable candidates.

If you decide to advertise more generally ensure that you have sufficient manpower to meet the response to your advert, be prepared; you may be overwhelmed with CVs, many of which will require thorough evaluation, acknowledgement, and notification. Do you have sufficient resource in place to cope with large volumes of traffic? It is also important to assess the hidden costs of this process; if you are knee deep in CVs you may be neglecting other areas. Time is also a factor, tradition newspaper based adverts are neither quick nor the responses immediate, so if you have a vacancy to fill quickly it may not be appropriate!

Internet job boards offer a much quicker opportunity, you have to prepare adverts yourself but details can be uplifted fairly quickly, costs can be reasonable but again ensure you can manage responses and make sure you choose the right board “generalist” of “specific” .

Another option is simply to contact your local job centre, especially if the position is a more junior grade. In recent years the quality of service they provide has changed and improved dramatically, many staff are very proactive and will be happy to advise on assisting you with your search placing your vacancy on their national database, it may be speculative but could yield results and it is after all free !

If you are not able to handle large volume of CVs it might be prudent to contact a recruitment agency that can undertake advertising, evaluation, and selection for you. However be careful, costs can be high with most agencies charging a percentage of a successful applicants first year gross salary, they will almost certainly charge for other remuneration like bonus, company car and other benefits like healthcare. The choice of agency can be bewildering as indeed can costs!

A good agency will however minimise paperwork and should provide you with significant numbers of suitably qualified experienced candidates.

If you do choose an agency ensure that they specialise in the specific area of expertise for the vacancy that you are trying to fill. A compromise may lead to unsuitable candidates being presented for interview, which may ultimately lead to time wasted and additional unnecessary re-advertising costs. Ensure that the job description you or they prepare is watertight !

When screening an agency ensure that they have a proven track record in their particular field, ensure they are willing to provide references of good service?

Do shop around, ensure that you negotiate the best, and most cost-effective price, do not be afraid to challenge costs. Will they advertise on your behalf, do you have to make a contribution to the advertising upfront, do they check references, undertake credit checks, or do they leave this to you, do they provide discounts for volume assignments, do they want sole agency status!

Always ask for a detailed copy of terms and conditions and check details like clawback criteria a euphemism in the industry where you the customer might still be liable for payment even if a candidate resign or leaves within the probationary period!

Which ever method you use always set up a discreet email address to handle applications otherwise you will find that your own personal email drowns not just in applications but sales mailers for months to come.

And finally ensure that you get value for money, some agencies will invoice with indecent haste before a candidate even starts, payment terms can be equally harsh, and most importantly ensure that you have safeguards in place if the new candidate turns out to be not quite what they seemed.

Ian Doyle is a former business consultant who now provides fixed low cost recruitment solutions to business in the UK. For free advice contact 0151 326 2327.