Your Guide to UK Employment Background Checks
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

This guide gives you everything you need to understand and implement employment background checks in the UK.


Employment background checks are a critical part of recruiting the best talent into your business. Having these checks set up as standard within your recruitment process is essential, and not doing so could end up costing you in the future.


What is an employment background check?

Employment background checks review a current or prospective employee’s background to help assess their suitability for a role.


The background checks carried out depends on the criteria set by an employer, however there are some checks you are legally obligated to perform.


The checks completed also depend on the nature of the role – for example, working with children or vulnerable adults will require a more enhanced background check.


What are the benefits of background checks?

Employment background checks are a vital part of your recruitment screening process. Without them, you are missing a key stage of evaluating your candidates.


Improved quality of hire

In a Checkster survey of 400 candidates, 78% admitted they did or considered adding false information to their CV. Not doing your due diligence through a background check can lead to making the completely wrong hire for your business.


78% of 400 candidates admitted they did or considered adding false CV information


Making a bad hire has numerous negative outcomes, from financial, to business performance and profitability.


Doing a thorough background screening on your candidates contributes to making quality hires, saving you time and money in the long run.


Avoiding negligent hires

When you don’t appropriately screen your candidates, you increase the risk of making a negligent hire.


A negligent hire could put other employees or customers at risk if they’re not properly trained and cause harm. This may then make your business liable for negligent hiring damages, which can come at a great cost.


Becoming known as a negligent employer can also greatly impact your brand reputation, and dissuade talented candidates from applying to your roles in the future.


Following regulations

Background screening helps improve your business’ regulatory compliance, and avoids the costly fees associated with non-compliance.


For example, failing to conduct a right-to-work check, or doing so incorrectly, can garner you a hefty fine. It’s always better to do your due diligence and not overlook this part of the recruitment process.


Types of background checks

There are several different types of employee background checks that an employer might perform.


Six tick boxes and a penSome examples of UK background checks include:

  • Right to work check
  • Criminal record check
  • Employment and education references
  • Credit check
  • DVLA check
  • Social media screening
  • Medical checks
  • International sanctions check
  • UK sanctions check


Right to work check

Employers are legally obligated to complete right-to-work checks in the UK. These establish if an employee has the right to work in the UK.


Failure to carry out a right-to-work check can subject you to a civil penalty of £20,000 per worker, an unlimited fine, or imprisonment for five years.


There are two ways to assess this:


For more information on right-to-work checks, download the guide.


Criminal record check

If a role entails working with children, vulnerable people, or sensitive information, a criminal record or DBS check will be required.


Not carrying out a criminal record check could lead to hiring unsuitable candidates with the potential to cause financial or legal issues.


There are different types of DBS checks available:


DBS Check Used for Includes
Basic Any position Spent convictions
Standard Prison employees, security industry authority personnel, court officers Cautions, warnings, reprimands, convictions
Enhanced Education and healthcare professionals Searches on the DBS Children’s Barred List and DBS Adult First


Employment and education references

Whilst there is no legal obligation to check employment and education references, it is highly recommended. In fact, a CareerBuilder survey found 29% of employers reported catching a fake reference on a candidate’s application.


29% of employers reported catching a fake reference on a candidate's application


Candidates may create fake credentials or inflate their previous salary to get a higher offer. Checking past payroll data and implementing processes to check credentials are genuine and valid is important as a result.


Credit check

Credit history checks are often used as part of a background check in the financial sector, with the aim of reducing the risk of fraud and understanding a candidate’s financial situation.


This typically includes looking at public and private databases for bankruptcies, voluntary arrangements, decrees, and administration orders.


DVLA check

DVLA checks are essential if your employee will drive on behalf of the company, as the hire of unqualified or unsafe drivers could lead to accidents and the potential of a large fine.


This check will reveal driving licence validity, any offences or disqualifications, expiry date, and the type of vehicles they can drive.


Social media screening

In today’s day and age, more employers conduct a social media screening of applicants. This can help get a better idea of their attitude, how well they may fit into your company culture, and highlight any causes for concern.


Medical checks

Medical checks are appropriate when good health is needed to perform well within a role.


Man holding a clip board interviewing a woman


Medical checks should be avoided without good justification from an employer. This is because the Equality Act prevents employers from not hiring someone based on their physical or mental health.


International sanctions check

International sanctions checks determine if a candidate has ever been suspected of terrorism, money laundering, drug trafficking, arms dealing, war crimes, white-collar fraud, or other illegal activities.


This check is typically done by political organisations and government bodies, but finance and aviation companies have been known to conduct them too.


UK sanctions check

A UK sanctions check qualifies if a candidate has ever failed to prepare and file accounts or make returns to Companies House, pay tax, continued to trade after a company was insolvent, or been involved in any fraudulent activity.


How to do a background check

Background checks can be conducted in-house or via contract with a vendor. Advances in recruitment technology mean that the process is much less manual now, saving your team time sifting through applications.


Using a recruitment system

The best modern recruitment systems come with built-in employment background checker tools.


These tools greatly automate the background checking process. You can simply select the checks you require in line with your industry or role (for example a DBS check for educational roles), and automatically send requests for this information, sometimes with just the click of a button.


You can then accurately track any progress, and receive automatic alerts of any issues or completions all on one system.


The benefits of using a recruitment system

There are numerous benefits to using a recruitment system to do your background checks. A key benefit is it’s much more efficient, keeping all your recruitment processes integrated into one place. You avoid the need to log in to another platform, and give your whole team complete visibility on candidate progress.


Man using two laptops on a desk


The ability to automatically send background check requests also reduces the amount of admin time spent doing this for each individual candidate. If you tend to receive a high volume of applications, this drastically reduces your time to hire, which in turn leads to a better candidate experience, and fewer drop-offs to a lengthy screening process.


Ensuring compliance

Before doing any background checks, your HR or recruitment team should ask themselves these questions:

  • Do we have a process for conducting background checks?
  • Do we have an effective system or software to manage the process?
  • Have we considered all types of background checks?
  • Is our process GDPR and industry compliant?
  • Is our process efficient? Is there too much manual work involved?
  • Are we conducting appropriate checks for every candidate? E.g. DVLA check for drivers; DBS checks for carers


How much does a background check cost?

Not all UK background checks are free of charge. Whilst publicly available social media screening can easily be done for free, a DBS check for example comes at a cost of £23.


If you’re using a recruitment system to make your background checks easier, the cost can vary. Most systems have this as a standalone feature, however Smart Recruit Online offers a fully integrated service. This improves your recruitment efficiency whilst also reducing costs, as background checks can be completed at a lower cost than directly.


How long does a background check take?

The amount of time it takes to process an employee background check can vary depending on the check requested. Smart Recruit Online however has a set service level agreement in place for the various checks which we would be happy to share with you.


Some background checks can be completed instantly, such as the right to work, credit checks, and DVLA checks. Other checks may take a little longer – for example, a criminal record check can take up to 14 days, and even 8 weeks for more enhanced checks.


When do employers do background checks?

Many employers tend to conduct background checks post-offer, others post-interview but pre-offer, and some may do so for more than one candidate.


You will need to determine as an employer when is best to carry out these checks based on budget and the average number of final candidates.


Does every employer do a background check?

In the UK, it is vital that every employer ensures new employees are allowed to work in the UK with a right-to-work check.


If you are an employer, you can perform all the above background checks on a candidate or employee, provided you have their consent and can give a justified reason.


Get started

Want to simplify your background screening process? Get started with our Talent Acquisition Platform designed to make recruitment screening easier.


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Smart Recruit Online

We offer an award-winning talent acquisition platform, that combines an ATS with a powerful job board multi-poster. Our platform helps you quickly find and hire the best talent online for less with a range of tools designed to help you run a successful recruitment campaign. We use extensive research and an understanding of human behaviour to keep our business and technology at the cutting edge.

Top Recruiting Trends for 2022: The Complete Hiring Guide
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

It’s time to take a fresh look at your recruitment strategy in 2022. Get a head-start on your competition by following these recruiting trends.


Keeping up with the change in the recruitment space may seem impossible, but with CEOs listing acquiring the right talent as a top concern, you can’t afford not to. Recruitment technology is often central to these changes. Investing in this technology is now vital if you want to succeed and hire effectively.


This guide covers the top recruiting trends entering 2022, and how your business can follow them.

1. Evidence-based recruitment

Decisions are made at every stage of the recruitment lifecycle. From how you write a job advert, to selecting to best advertising channels and candidates.


Instead of just going with your gut, technology helps you make important decisions based on hard facts. This is known as evidence-based recruitment, and many companies don’t apply it.


Artificial intelligence, predictive algorithms, and big data are all evidence-based tools readily available to help you find and hire the right talent.


Search engines

Search engines like Google are a quick way to get insights into where relevant applicants are looking for jobs. This helps you select what job advertising channels you want to post on.


Simply search for roles in your sector, and see which websites appear first on the results page. Ensure you advertise on these websites, but rather than going to each job board directly, use a job multi-poster to save time and money.


Check job boards

Check relevant job boards for competition in your sector. If competition is high, you’re in the right place. Increase chances of beating your competitors by optimising your job adverts to appear first, and be appealing to applicants.


Checking job boards also help identify what your competition is offering, and if you can match or exceed this.


Seasonal recruiting trends

Consider seasonal recruiting trends before advertising your jobs. For example, job search activity tends to increase in January, but competition for candidates drives up costs. Consider advertising in December instead, and pay less for the same hire.


Gif of man tapping his head


2. Plugging the skills gap

The skills employers need are changing with the emergence of new technologies and disruptive forces. A Deloitte report suggested this ‘skills gap’ could leave around 2.4 million roles unfilled between 2018 and 2028 in the manufacturing industry alone.


Whether it’s the need for soft and digital skills rising with remote working, or automation and AI continuing to leave their mark, employers are struggling to hire appropriately trained staff.


Internal training

Internal training programmes with experienced team members help get new and existing hires up to speed.


This may include:

  • Mentorships with senior staff
  • Creating a talent development programme that focuses on specific skills an employee lacks
  • Performance reviews to monitor progress


Upskilling & reskilling programmes

Industry giants like Amazon and PwC have invested heavily in upskilling and reskilling programmes well before it became a recruiting trend.


These programmes have numerous long-term benefits, improving employee engagement, retention, attracting new talent, and speeding up the adoption of new trends in the business.


This may include:

  • Job shadowing or swapping between teams
  • Investment in industry courses and qualifications
  • Time away to attend relevant seminars and events
  • Group sessions with external training providers


Woman stood in front of a board presenting


Apprenticeship & graduate recruitment programmes

Apprenticeship and graduate programmes are a great way to recruit from the ground level up.


Most people coming out of education won’t have the precise industry experience that you can evaluate them against, but that also means they don’t have bad habits either. Considering prospective candidates using behavioural assessment techniques ensures you recruit people that are motivated and engaged in the type of work that you want them to do.


Creating your own graduate program or using an aligned apprenticeship course, can help develop individuals quickly and at a far lower cost than recruiting with existing experience. If you are aware of skill sets that will be in demand by your organisation on a longer term basis, then this strategy can have massive benefits.


Use of learning technology

E-learning has become a very popular way to plug the skills gap. This is because it can be done in a microlearning format at the employee’s convenience, making learning more flexible and engaging.


This may include:

  • Social media learning
  • Video learning e.g. webinars or training videos
  • Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) that create a personalised, social, online learning experience for employees from a singular platform


Use of assessment tools

Using assessment tools to test skills and behaviours before you make a hire is also important.


Getting this stage wrong can be costly, so using a recruitment system with access to assessment tools will help you manage admin and pinpoint top talent.


This may include:

  • Behavioural assessments to find genuinely motivated and engaged candidates, likely willing to continue to learn and improve in their field.
  • Employment scenario testing tools to identify how well they will fit into your organisation.
  • CV parsing and AI technology to automatically scan CVs and assess applications for relevant skills and experience.


3. Diversity & inclusion

Everyone is talking about diversity and inclusion (DE&I), but why is it important?


Statistic that 76% of job seekers consider diversity when searching for a role


A diverse workforce attracts highly competent talent from around the world. In fact, a Glassdoor survey found 76% of job seekers consider diversity when searching for new opportunities.


Other research shows that diversity boosts employee productivity, motivation, and helps your business come up with innovative solutions that target the global market.


A more ethical and fairer approach to recruitment will also be attractive to attracting and retaining top talent.


Unconscious bias awareness

Bias in the hiring process may not always be purposeful, but it can seriously impact the candidate selected for hire.


Proactively speak to your recruiters about unconscious bias when selecting candidates for interviews or writing job adverts. Find out what preconceptions people hold and why. Increasing conscious awareness and challenging these beliefs is the first step to creating greater inclusiveness.


Blind CVs

Blind CVs eliminate bias by not having any identifying factors, including candidate names, gender, age, or race. They help you pick the best of the best, and create a more diverse workforce.


The steps to anonymising CVs are:

  1. Decide what information you want to remove.
  2. Anonymise the data with an automation tool or colleague.
  3. Review your blind CVs and select candidates for interviews.


Woman with a blindfold on


AI ranking of candidates

AI ranking technology can be used during the screening process to automatically rank candidates for role relevance. AI simply scans CVs for keywords and phrases related to the job criteria, and evaluates career history. This is completely unbiased and avoids any human error.


DE&I forms

You can create DE&I forms that gather diversity information about candidates. This helps measure applicant diversity, and ensures the recruitment process is inclusive.


4. Proactive & accountable tech providers

A common complaint amongst recruitment technology customers is a lack of proactive support and accountability. Companies sign up for an expensive ATS, but once the system is installed and they’re trained to use it, the vendor seems to lose any interest in them.


Providers that take a more proactive approach will now do better – after all, customer acquisition is only as powerful as customer retention.


What can you do?

Companies should actively look for providers offering ongoing customer support. This is especially useful if your team is new to using recruitment technology and needs extra support to create high-performance campaigns.


This may include:

  • Assistance with job advertising media selection
  • Copywriting support & training
  • Monitoring of job advert success
  • Effective candidate screening
  • Interview management
  • Use of reports to review and analyse what’s working and what isn’t


5. Workplace perks

A Glassdoor Employment Survey found 60% of job seekers greatly consider benefits and perks before accepting an offer. Think about what perks are popular, and whether you can offer these. At the moment ‘time perks’ are an especially popular recruiting trend.


Colleagues sat down laughing


Flexible hours

A Deloitte survey found lack of work flexibility as the most common reason millennials quit. The demand for flexible hours has also increased along with the pandemic.


If the role allows, and your competitors are offering it, this is a good perk to include. This could be hybrid working, earlier finish times, longer lunch breaks, and so on.


Burnout breaks

Employee burnout is a very real and damaging issue. It can cause decreased productivity, output, and collaboration. Chronically stressed staff create a slew of negative business outcomes.


Big companies like LinkedIn and Bumble have introduced ‘burnout breaks’ for employees. This involves staff shutting down for a week’s paid holiday to re-set.


Concerns around mental health are more prominent than ever, but should we wait for employees to get to breaking point before introducing these measures?


Remote working

An Expert Market survey of 100 business owners and CEOs found 72% anticipated employees wanting to keep working remotely, even once the pandemic is over.


There are many benefits to offering remote working, including happier employees and fostering trust. But there are challenges too, including team innovation, productivity, and accountability. Decide as a business what balance you want between remote and office-based spaces.


6. Caring culture

Colleagues gathered around a laptop The kind of workplace culture employees value frequently shifts. Between 2000 – 2010, a ‘cool culture’ of casual Fridays, ping pong tables, and beer fridges ruled.


The corporate culture valued has now shifted from ‘cool’ to ‘caring’. The newer workforce is more focused on companies that take wellbeing, environmental issues, and corporate responsibility seriously.


A caring culture might seem like a ‘nice to have’ too many leaders, but the recruiting trend towards ‘must-have’ is in full effect. Top talent is not willing to compromise on this.


Wellness & mental health initiatives

With the demand for mental health support is increasing, companies need to be more proactive and offer strong wellness & mental health package.


Providing support here is not completely selfless, as depression and anxiety are thought to cost the global economy more than $1 trillion in lost productivity every year.


In the workplace

  • One-to-ones: Regular one-to-ones with managers helps identify any issues with workload or mental health early.
  • Limit micromanaging: Micromanagement creates stress and distrust.
  • Recognise symptoms of burnout: If your employees are unable to concentrate, easily upset or angered, or have recurring sickness, you could be dealing with employee burnout.
  • The ‘stop exercise’: Encourage your employees to stop for 60 seconds – 3 minutes three times a day. Make this part of your company policy.
  • Get outside: The benefits of taking a 15-minute break outside in the fresh air and exposed to sunlight just twice a day are enormous when it comes to wellbeing and productivity.
  • Flexible working: Research has shown flexible workers have higher job satisfaction.
  • Zero-tolerance policies: Maintain this for any workplace bullying and harassment.


Man and woman sat down at a desk talking


Additional support

  • Encourage learning & development: Have an afternoon every week dedicated to self-development, or group meetings to solve business challenges.
  • Encourage exercise: Exercise boosts your mood and reduces stress and anxiety. Provide gym membership schemes, running clubs, or even a brisk walk 5 minutes a day.
  • Provide counselling services: If you can, offer to pay for counselling sessions for those who need them.
  • Corporate retreats & workshops: Give employees the tools to manage their mental health and reward them for their hard work.
  • Support groups: Have support groups ranging from those specifically for LGBTQ staff, to mental health aid.


Proactive environmental and social responsibility

You’ve likely heard the bulk of ways to improve your environmental and social responsibility, so we will list the key ones here.


  • Recycling scheme: Offer rewards and recycling incentives. Discuss what would motivate staff to recycle and experiment with a range of schemes.
  • Green commuting: Encourage staff to choose alternative commuting methods like walking, cycling, or car sharing.
  • An energy audit: Assess if there is anything in the office that can be switched to an energy-efficient alternative e.g. lightbulbs, use of natural light, water-saving practices in the kitchen and restrooms, and rainwater storage.


7. Highly configurable & customisable recruitment software

A common issue for ATS or HRIS system users is they offer minimal configuration, and customisations are usually slow and expensive. Users get stuck with a complicated one-size-fits-all platform for several years.


The best modern recruitment systems are cloud-based, plug & play, and act like a configurable web application rather than a website. This means they can be updated regularly with new and improved features, and user requests can be fulfilled quickly and without incurring cost.


What can you do?

Look for vendors that operate within ‘Continuous integration and continuous delivery’ (CI/CD) model, as this means more responsive development, usually better code quality and shorter development cycles and more regular updates to users.

Other tips include:

  • Look for cloud-based recruitment technology providers that offer configuration capability
  • Providers that are openly flexible about how you use their software
  • Choose regularly updated systems
  • Providers of custom features for clients in the past (indicated in case studies or product pages on their website)


8. Remote working v hybrid v office based

The pandemic has upended how workplaces operate. Employers have been forced to adapt to remote working (Work From Home), or to offer a hybrid-based model.


Additionally, employees are keen to join businesses that are clear in their intentions around which of these models they adopt.


What can you do?

Be clear on if employees will work remotely, hybrid, or from the office in your job adverts. This is a key factor job seekers look for, and you may miss out on talented candidates by not including it.


Split screen between working from home and in an office


Decide which model is best for your business. Do you prefer your staff to come into an office for collaborative work? Or perhaps you’re happy for employees to work completely remotely.


Office-Based Remote-Based Hybrid-Based
Commuting Staff will spend time and money travelling to the office Less time and money spent travelling for staff  

Staff only required to commute some days when teamwork is required


Hiring Challenges recruiting talent who aren’t local Recruiting based on skills not location

More flexibility around hiring outside your location


Collaboration Collaboration is more direct, easier, and more effective for new starters Proper communication needed and systems set up for collaboration

Collaboration can be done during office days and remote days more solo work


Productivity Largely depends on the office environment i.e. are there quiet spaces to work? Can be more productive when working on projects and tasks that require no team input

Having the choice to select the work environment may improve productivity


Communication Communication is done easily in the office space If all employees work remotely, a uniform system to communicate A mix of in-office and video tools when working remotely


9. The top 3 drivers for attracting talent

When advertising your jobs, there are 3 areas you should aim to include in your adverts if you want to convince top talent to apply.


  1. Salary & Role
  2. Culture
  3. Opportunity to grow and develop


Naturally the best candidates are looking for roles that sound exciting and challenging with fair pay as standard, so it’s vital you include both in your adverts.


Having a clearly defined ‘caring’ culture that is ethical and environmentally sensitive is becoming more and more important as the younger generations enter the workforce, as well as the ability to learn and grow within the role. These are now necessities to include if you want to win the best candidates.


As job hunting becomes more of a social exercise, around 80% of applications come from people already employed with a lower level of commitment to changing jobs. Once you have received an initial application from these candidates, they will be placing a lot of emphasis on your recruitment process to assess your company before accepting any offers.


This is where it’s vital to make your overall candidate experience as positive as possible so you retain top talent. There are lots of ways you can create a great candidate experience by simply reading our guide on this topic.


10. The future of ATS

The use of applicant tracking systems has been a recruiting trend for some time now. With 98% of all companies falling within the SME category, it’s likely that the ATS market will continue to adapt towards satisfying this portion of the market.


Smaller companies are likely to have fewer resources and want all encompassing systems that come pre-integrated and ready to go.


The pricing and functionality of applicant tracking systems are likely to align with these needs. They will be offering more pre-integrated services, automation and self-serve options, and be developed with more configuration options that allow users to adapt to their own preferred ways of working.


Low cost, quickly activated plug-ins that meet these user needs will be accessible via market-place (think Salesforce, Bullhorn, Hubspot etc.).


Buyers of recruitment technology in the future will be looking for more reliable, proactive, and accountable solutions that measure meaningful recruitment outcomes and metrics. There will be no hiding for vendors as they become more transparent about their product and what it can help recruiters achieve.


Want to make hiring easier?

A new year is a great time to follow current recruiting trends and optimise your processes. Make this less daunting with the Smart Recruit Online talent acquisition platform, designed to make recruiting easier, faster, and more effective than any other ATS in the market.


  • Simple and easy to use
  • Automates large portions of recruitment
  • Access to the widest online advertising network in the world
  • Make the right hires with built-in candidate screening tools
  • Build a diverse workforce with blind CV and CV scanning tools
  • A proactive team to help optimise your recruitment campaigns
  • Experienced copywriters to help optimise your job adverts
  • Fully customisable software to meet your recruitment needs


And much, much more. Interested? Book a demo today.


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Smart Recruit Online

We offer an award-winning talent acquisition platform, that combines an ATS with a powerful job board multi-poster. Our platform helps you quickly find and hire the best talent online for less with a range of tools designed to help you run a successful recruitment campaign. We use extensive research and an understanding of human behaviour to keep our business and technology at the cutting edge.

The 8 Biggest Recruitment Challenges for 2022
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


When you’re looking to hire the best talent for your business, it’s inevitable that you’ll run into a few recruitment challenges along the way. Here we discuss what some of these biggest challenges are, and some useful tips that help solve them. 


1. Market Fragmentation

One of the biggest recruitment challenges is understanding the different tools are services out there, and which are most effective for improving the recruitment process. This can be a daunting task, with hundreds of potential solutions out there that claim they can get your job filled, making it hard to distinguish which are best for your recruitment needs.


From job boards and aggregators, to social media, sponsored advertising, agencies and RPOs, it can be hard to know where to start, as amongst the very good solutions, there are some very poor ones too. Each job will need a different set of solutions, so finding the ideal combination of advertising media, technology and processes is the best way to get your job filled efficiently and cost-effectively.



Luckily, there are now recruitment services available that let you centralise all your recruitment activities. Many of these services have integrated 3rd party tools so you can get several recruitment solutions in one, giving you better value for money.


A key tip to establish which is the best service for you is to first list your company objectives, then you can think about the tools you need to achieve them. For example, if you want to reduce recruitment costs, selecting tools that reduce your dependency on agencies could be the best option.


2. Efficiency During The Recruitment Process

Inefficient administration processes and duplication of effort are what soak up the vast majority of a recruiter’s time. For example, sourcing potential applicants and reviewing CVs and profiles can take hours, if not days.


When lots of time is spent inefficiently on recruitment admin, it can actually create a substantial cost to your business. Yet, when calculating the cost-per-hire metric, many businesses don’t factor in the time and resources spent on these kinds of tasks.


Creating an efficient recruitment process is essential for getting high-quality applicants into your shortlist, as quickly as possible. It’s also important for managing efficient ways to reject unsuitable applicants quickly, while protecting the corporate brand.


Three efficiency graphs



A good recruitment management system is essential for improving your recruitment efficiency. Recruitment management systems let you coordinate all your processes from one single platform, where you can easily identify what tasks are the most time-consuming, along with many other tools that automate and simplify the recruitment process.


This will dramatically reduce time spent on manual admin tasks, and save on long-term costs to your business. For example, you may notice screening applicants is taking far longer than necessary, so you could benefit from implementing tools like behavioural assessments, video profiling and technical assessments.


3. The Candidate Experience and Protecting the Company Brand

Company brand is all about reputation, and this can be significantly affected by the candidate experience throughout the recruitment process. This can be seen in research that found 80% of candidates who have a bad recruitment experience will openly tell others about it, with many proactively doing so.


A poor candidate experience can damage your brand image, impacting how both candidates and customers may see you in the future. Yet understanding how to execute a positive candidate experience seems to be one of the biggest recruitment challenges.



Improving the way you communicate with candidates is one of the best things you can do to improve their experience and protect your brand. This can easily be done with personalised automated email and SMS responses at each stage of the application process, acknowledging applications and providing additional information about your job opportunity to keep them engaged.


This is important even for candidates who aren’t suitable for your roles. According to a PwC survey, 61% of candidates have experienced recruiters withdrawing from all communication suddenly and without explanation, even after they have had an interview. This can leave candidates feeling negatively towards your brand, increasing the chance of negative word-of-mouth.


Download banner for eBook on ways to improve the candidate experience


4. Avoiding Bad Hires

The person doing the recruitment may be under pressure to get the job filled quickly above anything else. This can lead to unsuitable candidates being selected, and bad hires being made. Bad hires can cost your business almost a third of the employee’s first-year earnings, and affect your team’s overall performance and productivity, so naturally this is something you want to avoid.



Applying due diligence even in the earliest stages of recruitment is key for avoiding bad hires. This can be done in the form of sophisticated candidate screening tools, such as CV parsing, behavioural assessments, and video profiling. Tools like this will help closely match candidate experience, behaviour, and cultural fit to your role and business.


5. Direct Applicant Quality

Every recruiter is looking for the secret sauce to this recruitment challenge. Attracting quality candidates is important, but something many businesses struggle with. This isn’t helped by the fact that the typical drop-off rate during the application process is 80%, and this tends to be the strongest applicants passively searching for a new role.


Speech bubble with the words 'we are hiring'


Poorly optimised job adverts that don’t include appropriate keywords are often the centre of this problem, as the right candidates aren’t discovering the role. Many job adverts are also poorly written to convert, creating the challenge of turning a view into an actual application.



There are short and long-term solutions to this challenge. A short-term strategy would be to ensure your advert will be displayed by search engines like Google by using the most effective job title and relevant keywords that your ideal candidate will be searching for. Make sure to include these keywords in your ad copy, page title and meta description.


Once candidates find your job ad, making it engaging and well-written will help improve conversions more than a simple job spec.


More long-term strategies that will help improve direct applicant quality are to improve your company brand and reputation using the tactics mentioned for improving the candidate experience.


We also recommend building your talent pool and establishing relationships with quality candidates ahead of trying to recruit them, for example those that have previously applied at your company, follow you on social media or have joined groups you manage on LinkedIn.


6. Improving Time to Hire

With 81% of candidates expecting the hiring process to take 2 weeks at most, improving time-to-hire is a recruitment challenge increasing in importance. This is because candidates are far more likely to drop-off the application process if it is taking too long, or get snapped up by another company.



Instead of measuring your time-to-hire, use the time-to-offer metric instead. This is much more sensible to assess your performance on, as things like candidate notice period are beyond the recruiter’s control.


If you find that your time-to-offer is still too long, then you need to start looking for ways to speed up your recruitment process so you don’t miss out on talented candidates.


Some ways to do this include posting your jobs to a wide enough network, writing optimised ad copy, communicating with the best applicants continuously, and automating manual processes through technology like CV parsing, to name a few.


Woman shaking hands with a man at an interview


7. Measuring Performance and Results

What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t improve. Tracking data like application completion rates, drop-off rates, and declined offers is important for identifying areas where you might need to improve your recruitment process. It’s also useful for spotting what campaigns perform well, so you can replicate these in future and save on the cost of weak recruitment.


Recruiters need to generate simple, accurate reports that give this kind of information, and the recruitment challenges lies with what tools are most effective for doing this.



A good recruitment management system is once again an easy solution to this challenge. These systems provide you with detailed reports across all your recruitment activities that you can then analyse for performance and pinpoint areas for improvement.


8. Reducing Recruitment Costs

Perhaps the most prominent recruitment challenge concerns reducing your recruitment spend. Many companies look to cut back on agency costs, which is unsurprising given standard fees range between 15 – 20% of the candidate’s first annual salary. Hiring directly in-house is one of the most effective ways to reduce these costs, but hiring the right candidate is what will repay that cost several times over.



Having the right tools, systems, and processes in place is critical to improving your in-house recruitment process, and reducing overall recruitment costs. Our Guide to Reducing Recruitment Costs covers this in more depth, and will give you all the tips you need to do this.


Many fixed price solutions are able to offer extremely good value for money when it comes to your media advertising, and some come with outstanding management systems that can help you to address many of the other challenges that recruiters face.


Gif of woman saying 'I'm not paying that much'


Ready to solve your recruitment challenges?

You may have noted that many of the biggest recruitment challenges can be solved using recruitment technology and services.


Smart Recruit Online offer free online demonstrations of our talent acquisition platform. Our platform comes fully equipped to solve the challenges we’ve spoken about here, with recruitment management software, candidate communication tools, screening tools, job advert optimisation tools and so much more available on one, easy-to-use platform. So, why not book a demo with us today?


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Mark Stephens

Mark has worked in and researched the HR & Recruitment landscape for over 20 years. His key focuses are how recruitment technology, evidence-based processes, and human behavioural science can be used to optimise recruitment performance. He is a serial entrepreneur, previous winner of the prestigious Chambers of Commerce 'Innovation in Business' award, and founder of Smart Recruit Online Ltd, and Corporate Wellness & Mental Health UK Ltd (Corpwell).

6 Steps to Creating a Talent Pipeline for Your Business
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

You want talented employees in your business, but finding and attracting these employees can be challenging. Creating a talent pipeline is a great tactic, but where do you start? This article covers everything you need to know.


Let’s set the scene.


You work as a recruiter, and have recently been given a new job posting seeking an electrician with a highly specific skill set.


You scour through your existing database of candidates, but can’t identify any with electrician NVQ apprenticeship experience required. This leads you to hastily search through LinkedIn, bombarding potential candidates, rushing the hiring process, and ultimately taking a lot longer to source anyone appropriate.


You eventually make a hire for the position, only for them to end up costing you and the hiring company hundreds, ruining your reputation as a recruiter.


If only you’d sourced a better pool of candidates in advance, perhaps this whole mess could have been avoided. This is where a talent pipeline can help.

Introducing the talent pipeline

Businesses always need a fresh supply of talent.


Whether it’s because they’re expanding, need to replace a departing employee, or have recently established a range of new goals, businesses only ever look for the best of the best. This puts a burden on modern-day recruiters to have a steady stream of talent ready and waiting.


Woman in dotted shirt looking down at paper writing This burden, coupled with the fast-paced and increasingly competitive hiring landscape, has led to many recruitment companies developing a more proactive approach to their hiring processes, trying to attract the best talent even before there are positions available to fill.


This approach is what is known as creating a talent pipeline, which is what we are here to discuss in this article.


Join us as we highlight what exactly a talent pipeline is, and run through what you need to do to develop one within in your own company.


What is a talent pipeline?

A talent pipeline is a group of candidates pre-determined as viable candidates that companies may want to hire in either an existing or future position.


Setting this up in advance prevents recruiters from needing to start their talent searches from scratch each time they need to fill a position, ultimately making the whole hiring process a lot more efficient.


However, as we’ve mentioned already, filling a talent pipeline can take a lot of hard work and will require a proactive approach. To do this effectively, recruiters need to constantly amend and establish strategies that nurture long-term relationships with potential candidates.


The key benefits of a talent pipeline

Creating a talent pipeline strategy offers a huge range of benefits. From the obvious advantages to the more unexpected, these are a few reasons why you may want a talent pipeline for your business:


Better candidate quality

When it comes to trying to fill an open position, it can be all too easy to rush in and make hasty decisions that won’t tend to work out too well. Making the wrong hire can lead to a slew of negative outcomes, from impacting business performance to distractions for other employees.


However, a talent pipeline strategy provides recruiters with the freedom to plan in advance. It means they can think more strategically about who they put forward as potential candidates, and why.


This has a knock-on effect on the overall quality of the candidate who fills the position, reducing the likelihood of suffering the high cost associated with making a bad hire.


Reduce time-to-hire

According to LinkedIn, 70% of companies take between one and four months to process a new hire.


Statistic that 70% of companies take one to four months to process a new hire


Talent pipeline strategies help reduce this timeframe significantly, enabling recruiters to streamline the process and fill their open positions in a much more timely manner.


This then gives recruiters more time to work on other areas of their role, sourcing even more talent, and making the process a lot more efficient.


Improve the candidate experience

The days of posting a job listing and waiting for applications to flood in are outdated.


Thanks to the emergence of talent pipeline strategies, recruiters can identify talent, engage with candidates on their own terms, and provide them with a much more positive experience.


Having a good experience of your employer brand means candidates are much more likely to be excited at the prospect of being considered for potential roles. This in turn helps establish a more nurturing hiring journey.


How to create a talent pipeline strategy

If you’re looking to establish a talent pipeline framework for your company, look no further. Here are the key steps you’ll need to follow:


Step 1: Determine your business’s long-term goals.

Arguably the most important step, you will need to run some brainstorming and discussion sessions with your fellow staff to work out what you’re looking to achieve, who you’re looking to attract and how you’re going to go about it.


This is also a good time to identify any potential blockers to these goals, and prepare for multiple outcomes.


You’d be surprised how many businesses jump straight in without discussing this.


Step 2: Create an attractive employer brand

One of the most effective times to build a positive reputation as an employer is during the recruitment process.


Some simple ways to do this include ensuring you give each and every candidate a positive experience – yes, this includes those you don’t end up hiring. 80% of candidates who have a bad experience will tell other potential employees and customers about it.


You can also share what it’s like to work at your company on social media. Showcase your company culture, highlight exemplary employees, and introduce new workers on your platforms.


People in an office having a pizza party


Make sure that you’re being honest about what it’s like to work for you in these posts however – you want to avoid sharing how amazing it is if your current employees constantly express their dissatisfaction with the working conditions.


Step 3: Create a candidate sourcing strategy

Now that you have identified your company’s needs, you can start filling your talent pipeline with quality candidates.


There are a variety of methods you can use to do this effectively.


  • Social media sourcing: Using a social media platform like LinkedIn for example is a great way to find the kind of talent you need. Simply search for keywords related to your roles or business, as user profiles will contain this information. You can also follow relevant hashtags on Twitter, Facebook groups, or forums online.


  • Referral programs: Setting up an employee referral program means your current employees can refer you to potential candidates for a reward if it results in a hire.


  • Search your applicant tracking system (ATS): If you use an ATS, look for candidates who reached the final stages of your hiring process previously. Some systems allow you to tag certain candidates, or enter them into your own database for future use.


  • Meet candidates in-person: Meeting potential candidates in-person at networking events for example is a great way to build a connection in a more natural way. You can even host your own events to both build your employer brand and attract talented people.


  • Partnering with a data provider: If you don’t have your own candidate database to pull information from, you can partner with various data providers to gain access to quality candidates.


Step 4: Reach out to candidates

Once you have identified the candidates you’d like to work with, it’s time to establish contact with them.


Start by asking them informed questions about their experience, and plans for the future. This helps you develop a connection and trust early on, rather than outright asking them to apply for a certain role with no background information.


Gif of man saying 'I love making connections'


Having this information will also help you identify the roles the candidate would be best suited for more easily.


Step 5: Keep nurturing your candidates

Once you have filled your talent pipeline with high-quality candidates, your work doesn’t stop there. Now is the time to take the effort to nurture every one of them.


This means continuing to build the relationship with them, without it reaching a point where you’re irritating them by bombarding them with job listings.


You want to provide them with valuable, relevant content that they will be genuinely interested in. This may include industry information, or how to get the most out of the products or services your company offers.


It’s also important to let candidates determine how they want to stay in touch. Ask whether they’d prefer regular check-ins, invitations to events, or simply want to receive useful content from you.


Leave the door open for them to reach out to you whenever they like – just ensure that they are connected with you in a way they are comfortable with.


Step 6: Continuously assess your talent pool

Once you have your established pool of talent, it’s important to assess how they actually align with the needs of either your specific company or the companies you are working on behalf of.


You can do this by asking questions surrounding cultural fit, their skillset, and the company’s diversity initiatives. Their responses will help you identify if the candidates are worth investing more time in or not.


Final thoughts…

Creating a strong talent pipeline strategy can aid the recruitment process significantly. It not only helps attract a stronger pool of candidates, but also ensures you have a steady stream of talent consistently available.


Of course, it’s just one part of creating a recruitment strategy that will get you the best results possible. For more tips from experts on how to improve your recruitment process, download our eBook 10 Ways to Optimise your Online Recruitment.


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Annie Button

Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, recruitment and career development.

How to Attract Talent: The Complete Guide
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019


Want to make better hires? This guide walks you through how to attract talent, and retain applicants once they enter your pipeline. 


The recruitment space is becoming more and more candidate-driven, with the very best candidates typically already being in employment, and needing a good reason to move onto another role. Businesses are now looking for innovative ways to attract and retain talented individuals, beyond simply sending out a simple job specification.

Talent Attraction definition

But first, what exactly IS talent attraction? Talent attraction refers to parts of the recruitment process that support attracting prospective candidates, up to the point of application.


It is a small part of what should be an overarching talent acquisition process, which is everything that happens in the recruitment timeline from attraction all the way to offer on employment.


The stages of Talent Attraction

There are a number of different stages involved in how to attract talent, from job advert writing, to advertising channel selection. We will cover some of them here.


1. Job advert writing

How you write your job adverts is an integral part of the talent attraction process. This is because many businesses make the mistake of writing a simple job spec, with their essential requirements for the role and little else to excite and engage a prospective candidate.


With the best candidates often passively searching for a new role, your job advert is the perfect place to really sell the role and opportunity to them.


2. Job advert optimisation

To make sure your job advert actually gets seen by talent online, fully optimising your advert is important. This means writing it in a way that guarantees it will be seen, clicked on, and applied to online.


75% of internet users never actually scroll past the first page of results, so you want to increase your chances of appearing on the first page of your chosen job channel. Optimising your advert helps with this.


3. Advertising channel selection

Getting your role in front of the right candidates means selecting the right media channels that these candidates will be searching on. This may involve some research to select the appropriate channels for your business.


You also want to be present across a large enough number of these channels, as this naturally means you will attract a higher volume of talent.


4. Job posting

Once you have selected your job advertising channels, actually posting your jobs on your selected channels is of course a key part of the talent attraction process.


5. Applicant capture

Actually capturing applications from talented candidates is what you want the final outcome to be of the talent attraction stage. You don’t want potential applicants dropping out of the process, overwriting all of your hard work.


Why is Talent Attraction important?

A good talent attraction process is the key to finding the right quantity and quality of applicants for vacancies at your business.


This is important because making the wrong hire can cause a huge financial strain on your business, from issues with under-performance to poor cultural fit that impacts the wider company.


Getting talent attraction right at the beginning of your recruitment process will help you make better hiring decisions, and bring employees into your business that match your needs.


How to attract talent

There are several steps in how to attract talent, and optimise each stage of the talent attraction process.


Each technique should be well researched, and influenced by data, and tried and tested methods. There are 3 key outcomes making these changes will achieve:


  1. Maximised views of your job
  2. More applications generated
  3. More applicants retained


Below we cover some of the ways you can achieve these outcomes.


1. Maximise views of your job

When you get your jobs in front of more candidates, you increase the likelihood of talented individuals seeing and applying to your roles. This depends on two factors: advertising media range AND selection.


Media range

Media range is the breadth and range of job advertising media channels your job actually goes out to. While being present on numerous job boards and advertising channels naturally increases your visibility, buying advertising credits can become costly to your business.


Using a recruitment service (such as an ATS) with access to a job multi-poster is a very cost-effective option. You can simply purchase credits, and post your jobs onto multiple job advertising channels at the click of a button, saving you valuable money and time.


This ultimately helps you increase your reach, and improve your brand visibility online.


Media selection 

Media selection is all about ensuring you are selecting the right job advertising media channels, where your ideal candidate is likely to be. This means taking an evidence-based approach, researching which channels are best for you, and will give you the best return on investment. There are a few ways you can do this:


  • Search Engines: Search engines like Google and Bing are the fastest way to see where relevant applicants are likely to be present. Simply Google the job title and location you’re advertising for, and review the top 3 results as a starting point.


  • Job Boards: Checking job boards for the level of competition can help you decide whether to advertise there. High competition indicates you’re in the right place, and if you need to apply advanced keyword optimisation techniques to ensure you appear in the top spots on these boards.This is also a good way to establish what your competition are offering to attract the best talent.


  • Seasonal Trends: Consider seasonal trends when advertising your roles. Although job search activity dramatically rises in January, competition for the best talent drives up costs. If you were to advertise for the same role in December, you could pay £5k less for the same hire.


2. Generate more applications

Naturally, the more applications you generate, the more talented candidates you have to choose from. Luckily, there are some ways you can guarantee improved visibility and conversions from views to application completions.


Improved visibility

75% of internet users never scroll past the first page of results, so you want to improve your visibility on your chosen job advertising media channels. You can do this by taking advantage of their algorithm for displaying results. A few simple techniques improve the chance of your job appearing higher in the results, thus generating more views.


Some ways to do this are:

  • Use the most effective or searched for job title for your role
  • Ensure you use this job title in your advert copy, page title, and URL 
  • Use relevant keywords/synonyms your ideal candidate will be searching for in the advert copy


Increased conversions

To increase conversions from views to actual applications, the focus should be on your job advert copy. You want to include more than a simple job specification, as the highest quality candidates are usually already in employment, and need a good reason to leave their current role.


You need to really sell the role and opportunity to these passive candidates. A few tips for doing this are:

  • Avoid dictatorial language e.g. you MUST have
  • Avoid too many ‘essential’ bullet points
  • Avoid unconscious bias
  • Refrain from putting the needs of the company until the ‘essentials’ part of the ad
  • Appeal to the reader on an engaging and emotional level
  • Bring your company values into the ad e.g. if one of your values is you’re a ‘fun’ company, write the ad in a fun way
  • Describe the benefits of working for you


For more details on writing job adverts that improve your visibility and conversions, download our eBook on this topic.

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3. Retain applicants 

Once you’ve attracted your talent, retaining their interest is a vital part of the process. This again comes down to the fact that many of  the most talented candidates are only passively searching for a new role; you need to continue to impress and engage them throughout each stage of the recruitment process to avoid drop offs.


Improved capture

Improving your applicant capture means avoiding the loss of any applicants in the first stage of the application process. Keeping your recruitment process as simple and efficient as possible is a primary way to achieve this.


  • Avoid platform redirects: Redirecting applicants from your chosen job advertising channel to a careers or pre-screening page interrupts the flow of their experience, and can lead to drop offs. Avoid this by keeping your initial application phase on the same platform.


  • Avoid lengthy pre-screening: Few candidates want to spend too much time filling in pre-screening forms and completing lengthy tasks. Avoid losing candidates by simply having them submit a CV in the first stage, and use automated CV parsing software to scan these for relevance. Any pre-screening questionnaires can then be issued after their application is received.


Improved engagement

Once you have received you applications, avoiding drop offs involves improving the candidate experience through a good nurturing strategy. You want your applicants to feel valued and retain their excitement about the role.


  • Candidate communication: Ensure you communicate quickly and regularly with candidates. Automated communication technology can help with this, so you can set up workflows at vital points in the recruitment process, such as acknowledging applications, screening and interview requests, and even rejections.


  • Be courteous: Consistently thank candidates for their applications, time, and completion of any additional tasks. Reply politely if an applicant drops out of the process, as you still want to leave a positive impression.


  • Access to information: Supply candidates with adequate information on your company, role, and recruitment process to eliminate any doubts or questions they have. Provide a website and social media links, company brochure, job advert and specification, company groups, and information on key team members. Give details on the interview process, and a tour of the site on the day, and leave your line open for any additional questions they may have.


  • Humanise the experience: Humanise your recruitment process where you can, with personalised communications, video content on your company background, phone calls, and use of a human email address (rather than a basic info@ or careers@ email).


Get started

So that covers how to attract talent to your business. Getting talent attraction right for every job isn’t easy, and many online recruiters get this very wrong. If you’re stuck with where to start, there is plenty of recruitment technology out there to help.


The Smart Recruit Online talent acquisition platform is designed to help with talent attraction and beyond. From job advert creation and optimisation, to advertising channel selection, the ability to post your job across multiple channels at a discount, and tools that enhance your candidate experience.


Interested? Book a demo and improve your talent acquisition today.

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Mark Stephens

Mark has worked in and researched the HR & Recruitment landscape for over 20 years. His key focuses are how recruitment technology, evidence-based processes, and human behavioural science can be used to optimise recruitment performance. He is a serial entrepreneur, previous winner of the prestigious Chambers of Commerce 'Innovation in Business' award, and founder of Smart Recruit Online Ltd, and Corporate Wellness & Mental Health UK Ltd (Corpwell).

The True Cost of a Bad Hire
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Some say that good help is hard to find, but when it comes to hiring new employees, finding bad help is even worse. Here we discuss the true cost of a bad hire.


Bad employees are just a way of life, and hiring at least one into your organisation is inevitable.


Even with the best intentions, managers and human resources representatives can accidentally hire bad workers. Candidates can easily lie on their applications, make up stories during their interviews, and some employees can turn into completely different people in group environments.


Whatever the case, it is essential to watch the signs and catch bad hires before it is too late. Not only could they tarnish the reputation of your business, but the monetary cost of a bad hire can be exponential.


How A Bad Hire Can Hurt Your Business

While hiring a bad worker wastes valuable company funds, there are other additional ways that a subpar employee or an individual with bad intentions can tarnish your business and reputation.


Customer Service

The most obvious damage can occur if the employee works in a customer-facing department of the business such as customer service. If the employee hates their job and doesn’t want to be there, they are probably not going to be nice to the customers.


When customers feel mistreated, they write bad reviews, and in this day and age, when customers can single-handedly bring down a business with one review, the damage can be catastrophic.


Office Culture

three colleagues looking at a laptop together A bad worker can also negatively impact the office culture. If they are loud, disruptive, or refuse to work, they could negatively impact other employees. If left unchecked, this behaviour could spread like a virus, making its way through the organisation and killing the productivity of your office.


Safety Concerns

Then there are the safety concerns associated with a bad hire. Some of the most common workplace accidents include equipment-related injuries, chemical exposure, and slips and falls. A bad hire who does not take their training seriously could accidentally drive a large piece of machinery into another employee or damage your products.


If employees don’t care about leaving a spill behind or don’t understand the danger of certain chemicals, the harm caused can result in serious lawsuits, in addition to injured employees.


What Is The Actual Cost Of A Bad Hire?

If any of the scenarios discussed above come to fruition, then you could be looking at major costs to repair your business or reputation.


However, even if their job performance doesn’t cause a financial impact, the cost to repeatedly fire employees, place a job ad, recruit, interview employees, and onboard them can be too much for many businesses to take.


cost of a bad hire statistic that the cost to replace them is between £3,000 and £30,000


Different numbers are discussed when it comes to the price of a bad hire, but in general, many experts say that the cost to replace bad hires is between 3,000 and 30,000 pounds. The reason for the range is because the cost will often depend on the type of employee you are replacing, with an entry-level position being on the bottom half and a high-ranking executive being on the upper end of the spectrum.


The monetary cost can be downright stifling, so if your company cannot afford such a loss, then it is time to make an immediate change.


Signs Of A Bad Hire

If you suspect that you have a bad hire among your ranks, then time is of the essence. While it will still cost money to replace them, the longer they stay with your organization, the more it may cost in damage control. So, HR needs to advise managers of the signs.


For starters, you should get an immediate red flag from employees who call out of work frequently or show up tardy. This type of attendance proves that the employee simply does not care for the job or respect their coworkers.


If an employee does show up to work but they are not productive or they spend a lot of time talking to others, then HR needs to meet with them. If they are not responsive or the bad behaviour continues after that chat, then you may have to take more serious actions.


six people working in an office space


You may also have an employee who appears to be busy all day, but their work is lacking. If you are constantly telling a worker that they need to apologise to a customer or they are constantly required to redo their work even after receiving several coachings, then you may have a situation on your hands. Keep an eye out for these signs so your business can thrive and your customers won’t complain.


How To Avoid Bad Hires

While catching these employees is a good start, the best way to avoid falling victim to a bad hire is to catch the signs during the recruitment and interview stages so the individual does not begin work at your company in the first place.


Interview Skills

To start, HR representatives need to brush up on their interview skills. Ask questions that require detailed examples.


Something like, “Name an area of improvement that your manager asked you to fix during an annual review. What did you do to change that behaviour and how did the manager score this same situation on the next annual review?” That way, the candidate can’t just say that they worked on something and improved, and instead, they have to give a detailed answer about how this behaviour was changed.


You should also mix in some tough questions that candidates don’t often hear and cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Questions like:


  • What do you expect from a boss?
  • Would you be willing to take a salary cut?
  • What type of work environment do you prefer?


The answers to these questions can be very telling into the work ethic of this candidate. If their responses don’t mesh well with your company culture, then you may want to thank them for their time and move on to the next candidate.


Screening Tasks

To gauge if candidates have the skills listed on their resume, you can also introduce an assessment into the recruitment process.


Person holding a question mark in front of their face


There are many resources available online or you can create your own test that could include typing skills, math equations, and real-world scenarios where the candidate must write down how they would respond. Combine these assessments with the answers to the interview questions and you can use that information to hire the next person for the job.


There are also various candidate screening software and tools available now that automate the candidate screening process, saving you precious admin time and resources.


Talent Attraction

Attracting the right talent in the first place is another effective tactic for avoiding the cost of a bad hire. High-quality candidates should stick out, and you can increase the chance of finding them by following some basic tactics.


Write effective job adverts

How you write your job adverts is an integral part of talent attraction. Don’t just write the role requirements and leave it at that – instead, write in a way that engages and excites a prospective candidate. This is your chance to really sell the role and opportunity to them.


Advertise in the right places

Getting your role in front of the right candidate means selecting the right media channels that they will be searching on. You also want your advert to be shown across a large enough number of these channels.


A simple Google Search of the job title and location you’re advertising should reveal the top results candidates are likely to be searching on.


What can you do now?

If you are an HR representative or manager who is guilty of bringing a bad hire into the organisation, and want to avoid the cost of a bad hire in future, don’t fret. Nearly everyone in the HR field has experienced the same thing and coped with the costs as a result. The key is to learn from that situation and protect the interests of your organisation with the best people.


If you still need help, you can easily find it online. Luckily, Smart Recruit Online’s platform can help you during every step of the recruitment process and keep you on the right track. Book a demo here to find out more.


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Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. When he isn't writing you can find him travelling, hiking, or gaming.

6 Ways HR Can Increase Creativity in the Workplace
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Creativity is often considered to be a key element in driving the growth of a business. Here are some effective ways you can increase creativity in the workplace, and push your business forward. 


There are many reasons why creativity could be stifled in an office work environment – whether it be micromanagement, an isolated workspace or just a general lack of confidence. Luckily, there are ways to improve ingenuity and inspiration when working in a corporate environment.


Why is creativity in the workplace important?

You may be wondering why exactly increasing creativity in the workplace is essential for your growth. Well, firstly it can help employees come up with better, innovative solutions to problems you may not have considered before. Many of these solutions have the opportunity to help you stand out from your competitors, which is always a bonus!


Another key benefit is it can create a more positive working culture. This has a variety of benefits in itself – effective workplace culture is thought to contribute to a 50% difference in performance between businesses in the same sector. Additionally, if word gets around that you have a positive work culture, this can attract more talented candidates to your business in the future.


Here are some great tips for all human resource representatives that will make staff members at all levels happier and more inspired as they walk through the door each and every day.


6 Ways to Increase Creativity in the Workplace

1. Encourage Remote Meetings

In the corporate setting, you may find that employees are hesitant to leave the office during the workday in fear of not completing assignments on time or missing crucial information. This feeling of isolation and constant anxiety can have a negative effect on work ethic and stagger workplace productivity.


Consider speaking with upper management and coming up with new ways to foster creativity from your staff. One strategy could be to schedule the weekly update meetings outside the office. Meeting at a remote location such as a café or coffee shop would be a refreshing change of pace that gets the team away from their desks.


group of people increasing creativity in the workplace


Additionally, allowing employees to work from home once a week could also help boost morale. There have been studies that prove workers are just as productive if not more productive when they are able to work remotely or make their own hours. If it isn’t imperative that your staff be in the office during business hours, consider these types of options to boost free-thinking and relieve stress.


2. Allow Anonymity in the Workplace

Many employees, especially those at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy or that are new to the company, may find it uncomfortable to share their ideas. It can be challenging to be outspoken when you feel it isn’t your place to be or about things that are above your pay grade.


Urging individuals to come to human resources to voice their ideas or concerns anonymously may help negate this issue, and increase creativity in the workplace. You could also begin a suggestion box in the office for all employees to contribute to at their convenience.


Many of these individuals may have great ideas in terms of improvements or subtle changes that would help better the workplace, so allow them the opportunity to make their voice known.


3. Foster Personal Growth

Encouraging staff to consult with their managers regularly in regard to their personal accomplishments and career goals is crucial to creating a thriving office environment with employees who are working hard to succeed.


Forming a culture that promotes upward movement from within can give your staff goal-oriented mindsets both in the short and long term. Be sure to set annual or even quarterly performance reviews for all employees with either their direct supervisor or HR to ensure continued success and growth.


The more feedback your staff is given, the more opportunities they will have to prove themselves. And although it may seem tedious to consistently conduct these evaluations, it will prevent anyone from feeling neglected or unheard.


Woman with glasses sat down interviewing a man


And don’t be afraid to invest in the cultural aspects of the company to foster a positive sense of well-being and togetherness among staff. Use this time to focus on those who are putting in 110%, looking for advice and stand out from the pack.


4. Reward Major Career Milestones

Most employees crave appreciation and praise for their hard work. Incorporating reward systems for those who are top performers at the company can help to jumpstart productivity in the workplace.


Whether it be an employee of the month award, bonus incentives, or simply giving promotions to those who are deserving of them are all great ways to boost morale.


Some companies celebrate anniversaries for years of service as well as host new hire lunches to connect new staff members with experienced co-workers in the department and/or department heads.


Regardless of how you choose to celebrate milestones, employees will be appreciative and work diligently knowing that their hard work will be rewarded.


5. Streamline Workflow Processes

Find new and innovative ways to make your employee’s jobs easier, and increase creativity in the workplace. It will help take away the hassle of repetitive tasks and administrative work.


Many human resource departments will partner with the IT team to find the most effective methods of workflow optimization. Some have chosen to incorporate business automation software to simplify back-end tasks, while others have opted to reevaluate the corporate structuring and specific job responsibilities to ensure optimal workflow.


Certification programs for management training have also been used to help better delegation within and between departments.


There are many strategies you can use, depending on the size and industry focus of the business you are in. Take time to review where there is a significant lag in your business processes and what can be done to correct them.


6. Create a pleasant office space

Creating an office space that motivates and creates a sense of wellbeing is a huge part of boosting workplace creativity. There are a few very simple ways that you can do this.


View of writing on wall that says 'punch today in the face' View of an office space with lots of greenery


Ensure that your office has the correct amount of light – a Department of Design study found that employees too far away from windows had a much higher risk of eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and more. Avoid this by trying to have as much natural lighting as possible in the office. You should also ensure to replace any flickering lights, and control any distracting glare on computer screens.


Colour can also have a significant impact on your office space. Instead of opting for a typical grey or beige office, consider introducing a splash of colour. Indoor plants for example, are thought to enrich a space, increasing productivity and employee happiness.


Want to create a great workplace culture?

Fostering increased creativity in the workplace is just one way to create a great workplace culture, and improve the performance of your business. If you want to learn more ways to engage your workforce, download our webinar on this topic!


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Chandler C

Chandler Coleman is a contributing author to Smart Recruit Online and has expertise in business and tech-focused content.

Attracting and Retaining Talent in a Candidate Driven Market
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

As the recruitment space becomes more and more candidate-driven, businesses are frequently looking for innovative ways to attract and retain talent. But sometimes, going back to the basics is the most effective thing you can do.


Job advert copy

The way your job adverts are written and the information they include can have a huge impact on whether talented candidates both find, and apply for your roles.



You should always try and include the salary in your job adverts, or at least the salary banding. This is because the large majority of candidates will not actually apply for a role that does not have the salary listed.


This is particularly the case if the potential candidate is already in employment (which is often the case with the most talented candidates!). Why would they apply for a role, and go through the recruitment process, without the indication that you can match or exceed their current salary?


It’s also a good idea to check what your competitors are offering for similar roles, and try to at least match this.


Working flexibility

woman working from home to attract and retain talent With the pandemic causing most employees to have to work from home, the demand for working flexibility is higher than ever. This is a good thing to include in your job advert if you can offer it, particularly if your competitors are.


This may include flexible benefits like hybrid working, earlier finishing times, longer lunch breaks, and so on. It is up to your business on how much you want to offer.


Annual leave

This is another aspect of your job advert that is good to compare to your competitors. Ideally, you want to at least match the annual leave they are offering. The ability to buy extra holiday days has also been gaining popularity, a great alternative.


Up-to-date company information

Make sure that any information related to your company in the job advert is fully up to date. Whether it’s your address, logo, or a change in company tagline, these things are easily overlooked but can have a significant impact on how your brand is perceived.


It’s a good idea to also include a section on why the candidate should come and work for you. It’s as much about you convincing the candidate you’re worth it as it is for them convincing you to take them on.


A company team celebrating by punching the air


You should also try and be transparent about your company culture, and any progression opportunities within the role and business. Being upfront with these in the first place can help candidates identify if they match your business, and possibly excite them about the prospect of applying.


Limit your requirements

With the active talent pool smaller than it was pre-pandemic, you want to be realistic about the candidate applying, and limit the number of requirements on your job adverts. Try and list what is absolutely essential in terms of skills, attitude and knowledge, so as not to put off candidates from applying.


Consider leaving any desirables off your job adverts entirely. This is because some talented candidates may drop off if they don’t need all the requirements, particularly women.


Use the right job title

It’s so important to get your job title right to attract and retain talent. This is because 64% of candidates won’t apply for a job if they don’t understand the title, so it’s best to research the one that fits your role the best.


Statistic that "64% of candidates won't apply for a job if they don't understand the title"


This is also useful from an SEO perspective. Using the correct job title increases the likelihood of you showing up in the candidate’s search results, especially if you’re using the job title in your advert copy too.


Get your ads seen by the right talent

It’s all well and good writing a great job advert, but if it’s not being seen by the right talent, then only half the job is done. This is particularly important as less people are currently looking for roles, so you want to stand out.


A wide enough network

Posting your job adverts across a wide enough network of job boards is essential for increasing your brand visibility and attracting and retaining talent for your business. This is because the best candidates are more likely to see your opportunity if it appears more frequently and on the right job boards.


A job board multi-poster is the perfect solution to this. Multi-posters will post your role across numerous job boards, often at a reduced cost compared to posting on each board individually. This may include a range of boards, from those free to charge to premium and niche channels.



Many job seekers will be using their mobile phones to search for the new role. This means that they will see a smaller excerpt of your advert text, so it’s important to bear this in mind when writing your job ads.


You want to make the initial introduction as eye-catching and appealing as possible, so those using mobiles can become engaged and are more likely to click on your advert.


For tips on how to do this, download our guide for Writing the Ultimate Job Advert.


Banner for eBook Guide to Writing the Ultimate Job Advert


Social media advertising

If you’re using social media to attract and retain talent online, there are some best practices to follow.


Social media is a great place to attract passive candidates – think about it, how much time a day do you spend on social media? Typically, people spend up to 2 hours a day on various social media platforms, and this includes potential candidates.


Make your job adverts stand out by using eye-catching visuals. Don’t be afraid to use animation and video too, coupled with an enticing caption that will encourage clicks onto your adverts.


Your careers page

Make sure your careers page is fully up to date, like your job advert. This means your logo, company tagline, mission statement, address and so on.


Your careers page is also a good place to showcase how your company is a good place to work. You could talk about your company culture, and any awards you’ve received.


Ensure you don’t miss out on the talent you need

Candidate drop-offs are a huge issue within the recruitment process. There are a number of ways you can avoid drop off from the most talented candidates.


Don’t sit on quality applicants

It can be tempting to wait to contact quality applicants and begin the interview process if you’re still waiting for more applications to come in. This is a mistake, as if you’ve identified a high-quality applicant, your competitors likely have too.


Waiting too long to contact talented applicants gives your competitors the chance to snap them up. The best thing to do is try and move them through your recruitment pipeline as quickly as you can, without compromising a thorough selection process.


Video interviews

Man with headphones in doing a video interview Using video interviews in the first stage of your recruitment process will speed everything up significantly, as candidates in work won’t need to book time off and can take the interview in their lunch hour or before or after work.


This is more useful in the earlier stages of the process, as you can still pick up on candidate communication skills, motivation for the role, and whether they will be a good fit.


A simple process

Make your process as straightforward and easy as possible for potential applicants. The less clicks they need to make after seeing your job advert, the better.


If you can, try to start with a simple CV submission; this makes it much easier for candidates to apply, and any additional application forms can be sent afterwards.


Follow-up contact

Let’s say you’ve emailed a candidate to set up an interview and you don’t hear back from them. If this happens you may want to try calling them on the phone if they have provided a number. Not doing this could cause you to miss out on very talented candidates simply because you didn’t follow up.


It’s easy to assume when this happens that they’re no longer interested in the position, however it’s very possible that your email could have gone in their junk, or they simply missed it.



So, to sum up, some key areas to focus on to attract and retain talent online are:

  • Get your job advert copyright from the outset
  • Include the salary in the job advert and make sure it’s competitive
  • Decide what’s really essential in terms of requirements from applicants
  • Make sure you have a wide and targeted reach through job boards and social media to ensure your ads are seen by the right talent
  • Progress applications through the selection process as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality


For more tips on how to optimise your recruitment process, from attracting and retaining talent, to candidate screening and communication, download our eBook 10 Ways to Optimise your Recruitment Process.


ebook banner for maximising your recruitment process

Smart Recruit Online

We offer an award-winning talent acquisition platform, that combines an ATS with a powerful job board multi-poster. Our platform helps you quickly find and hire the best talent online for less with a range of tools designed to help you run a successful recruitment campaign. We use extensive research and an understanding of human behaviour to keep our business and technology at the cutting edge.

9 Essential Questions to Ask About an Applicant Tracking System
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Are you looking to switch your ATS system but aren’t sure what software is best for your business? Or perhaps you’ve never used one before, and don’t know where to start? Here are 9 essential questions to ask about an applicant tracking system before you take the plunge.


One of the best ways to figure out if an ATS system is right for your business is to book a demo to be shown the ropes. While useful, this can feel overwhelming if you’re not completely confident in what you’re looking for, or what questions to ask.


The ATS expert on the other line is there to help you, but only your recruitment team knows what you truly need to focus on. This list of questions to ask about an applicant tracking system is a good starting point for the key basics to decide if a system is right for you.


1. Does it come with CV parsing software?

woman holding magnifying glassIt’s no secret that automating parts of the initial candidate screening process is growing in popularity. This of course comes with the benefit of freeing up recruiter time and fast-tracking you to the best candidates. There is now plenty of technology available to help with this, and CV parsing software is incredibly effective.


CV parsing technology automatically scans CVs that enter your pipeline, pulling out important information on candidate skills and experience. This helps identify how suitable they are for your role, in a way that avoids human bias and error. It also avoids the need to send applicants additional questionnaires on their experience, which can often lead to a higher drop-off rate.


2. Does it come with a credible multi-poster included?

Posting your job adverts in the right places is essential for increasing your brand visibility and recruiting the best talent into your business. This is because the best candidates are more likely to see your opportunity if it appears more frequently, and on the right kind of job boards.


A good ATS system will ideally have access to a wide enough network of job boards to get your role noticed, and asking if it includes a job multi-poster is a good way to ascertain this.


Multi-posters will post your role across numerous job boards, often at a reduced cost compared to posting on each board individually. This may include a range of boards, from those free to charge to premium and niche channels.


3. How long does the ATS system take to go live?

ATS system implementations can take anywhere from 2 hours to over 3 months. This is because configuring, testing, and training can take up a lot of time, depending on the software you choose.


Gif of woman saying 'go live'


This is why it’s a good idea to ask this question during your ATS demo, particularly if you have a desired timeframe in mind. The software provider may be able to suggest ways you can make the implementation smoother, so that you can meet this timeframe (if it’s realistic!). This may include things like simplifying your hiring process, and being specific on any customisations you’d want ahead of time.


4. How easy is it to use?

Using an applicant tracking system is supposed to make things easier in your recruitment process, so asking how easy it is to use is essential. Hopefully this should lead to a demonstration of an easy-to-use interface so you can see for yourself how easy it is to navigate.


Ideally, you want to be able to seamlessly find out where each candidate is in your recruitment process, any tasks set and completed, and other insights into how well your campaigns are running. Additionally, if the ATS has job posting capabilities, how simple this is to do.


After all, if these processes are lengthy and complicated, the whole reason behind considering an applicant tracking system is negated.


5. How is the system priced?

The cost of the ATS system is of course an important question when considering a provider. In a time when many recruitment specialists are looking to cut recruitment spend, it’s a good idea to compare this question among providers to fit in with your budget.


Applicant tracking systems can come with different pricing models. The most common tend to be the cost per user, cost per number of employees, cost per hire, and cost per feature. Alternatively, some providers may offer their system on a flat fee basis, charging monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Simply decide what is best for your business, and go from there.


Person using a calculator and holding a phone


6. Can you request customisations and 3rd party integrations?

Every business runs differently, and because of this it’s a little unlikely that an applicant tracking system will match your needs exactly. This is why it’s very useful to ask if you can request customisations and 3rd party integrations as part of the system.


Maybe you want to include more company branding, a custom reporting function, or display information in a different way. To ensure the best fit for your business as possible, and even speed up the time it takes to integrate, it’s worth introducing this question early.


7. Does it come pre-integrated with screening features? E.g. AI grading, video profiling, form building, behavioural assessments, background checkers?

Appropriate screening is now a huge part of finding and hiring quality candidates into your business. The most impactful applicant tracking systems come with pre-integrated screening features included as part of the software.


View of coding on faded background


Whether it’s automatic candidate grading, video profile requests, or behavioural assessments, it’s worth asking if candidate screening functions can easily be requested and stored in an accessible location for each candidate.


8. Will you receive proactive support for the system?

Using a new applicant tracking system can feel overwhelming, particularly if people on your team have never used one before.


Asking if your team will receive proactive support from your system provider is a must, whether that’s during the initial system training, writing and monitoring your job adverts, or configuring and customising the system.


You will know best the level of support your team will need, but typically the more open your provider is to helping you along the way, the better.


9. Is the ATS regularly upgraded with new features?

With the recruitment space ever-evolving, it’s natural for applicant tracking systems to follow suit. Asking if the system is regularly upgraded is a good way of finding out if your provider stays up to date with current recruitment trends.


This question ties in nicely with whether you will receive ongoing support from your provider, as it would be good for your team to be made aware of such updates, and have the opportunity to talk through them.


How can we help?

So, there you have it, 9 essential questions to ask about an applicant tracking system. Why not get started now?


The Smart Recruit Online applicant tracking system gives your team everything they need to run successful recruitment campaigns. From creating and advertising jobs, attracting talent, screening candidates, and making the perfect hire.


With our platform, you can do all of that in one place in a quicker amount of time and at a lower cost. Simply book a demo to get started!


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Smart Recruit Online

We offer an award-winning talent acquisition platform, that combines an ATS with a powerful job board multi-poster. Our platform helps you quickly find and hire the best talent online for less with a range of tools designed to help you run a successful recruitment campaign. We use extensive research and an understanding of human behaviour to keep our business and technology at the cutting edge.

Ready to Get Started?

We guarantee, you will not use any other service like ours. It’s that good!