Hr Managing Towards Recruitment And Selection Management Essay

With the advent of growing emphasis on people as the prime source of competitive advantage, the foremost important decision for an organization has been to ensure the selection of the right people to join the workforce (Beardwell and Holden, 2001, p. 225). In the early 1990s, Beaumont (1993, p.56 cited in Beardwell and Holden, 2001, p. 225) identified three focus areas having significant relevance in the current industry scenario that has enhanced the potential importance of the selection decision in individual organizations. The areas include demographic trends and changes in the labour market, which have led to a ‘less homogeneous workforce’ that emphasizes on fairness in selection process. Secondly, the desire for a multi-skilled, flexible workforce and an increased emphasis on team working has led to conclude that selection decision are concerned with behaviour and attitudes than with matching individuals on basis of the current job requirements. Lastly, the link between corporate strategy and Human Resource Management has led to the evolution of the concept of ‘strategic selection’ that refers to the development of a system that links selection to the overall organizational strategy while aligning personnel to emerging business strategies. Thus to have a positive impact on company’s productivity and profitability, the practice of recruitment and selection in Human Resource Management has become increasingly important (Beardwell and Holden, 2001, p. 225).

The increased global competition and the increasing customer expectations mean that the growth and sustenance of an organization is proving to be challenging. Organisations need to be more proactive in their approach to sustain profitability and meet the ever changing global business dynamics by attracting and retaining high-quality individuals who can respond effectively to this changing environment (Bach, 2008, p. 115). Hiring competent people is of prime importance to an organization, which is greatly dependent on effective recruitment and selection procedures. As cited in Bach (2008), a poor recruitment decision can cost an employer an amount equal to 30 per cent of the employee’s first year earnings (Hacker 1997). These costs can include lower productivity, potential loss of customers; cost incurred in training, advertising, recruitment fees and redundancy packages (Smith and Graves 2002 cited in Bach, 2008, p. 115). Thus, in order to have a competitive edge, it is increasingly essential that in tight labour market scenario, firms must evolve and practice better recruitment, selection and retention strategies (Boxall and Purcell, 2003, p. 15). As mentioned in a case study on Betterbuy (Greenwood, 2007), as part of their good personnel practice they offer a market-leading package of pay and benefits such as childcare vouchers and two share schemes namely Save as you earn and Buy as you earn. It also regards eligible staff for their hard work and commitment with free shares and a pension scheme that allows member to build up a pension based in their earnings and service.

The term ‘recruitment’ and ‘selection’ are commonly referred together; however they have distinct human resource management activities and functions. Recruitment comprises of short-listing candidate applications from potential employees, while selection techniques are used to decide which of the short-listed applicant is best suited for the job (Taylor, 2005, p. 166). Further reiterating the above point, Boxall and Purcell (2003, p. 143) has also stated that recruitment and selection are nearly always joint management processes of some kind where both line and specialist managers are involved.

Bratton and Gold (2003, p. 221) defines recruitment as the process of generating a pool of capable people to apply for employment to an organization. Selection is the process by which managers and others use specific instruments to choose from a pool of applicants a person or persons most likely to succeed in the job(s), given management goals and legal requirement (Bratton and Gold, 2003, p. 221). Newell and Shackleton (2000, p.113 cited in Bratton and Gold, 2003, p. 226) refer to recruitment as the ‘process of attracting people who might make a contribution to the particular organisation’. Bach (2008) defines ‘Recruitment’ as the process of attracting people who might make an organizational contribution to fill a particular role or job. While, ‘Selection’ is predicting which candidates will make the most appropriate contribution to the organization – now and in the future (Hackett, 1991 cited in Beardwell and Holden, 2001, p. 226)

In the 1980s, some major changes were witnessed within organizations in regards to their HR practices; for instance it became more assertive as to its role played in organization (Legge, 1995 cited in Searle, 2003, p. 7). This was due to an increasing awareness and evidence of the impact of HR had on the viability of the organisation’s success. During this period, HR policies emerged as significant levers for assisting firms in repositioning themselves. It resulted in recruitment and selection processes being considered as the key factors for successful change management (Searle, 2003, p. 7).

It can thus be asserted that selection is about how to make fair, un-biased and relevant assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of short-listed potential employees by using various selection techniques. While recruitment is the way in which a firm tries to source or attract candidates among whom it will short-list. Thus, in other words, recruitment strategy involves the organisation’s attempt to portray the firm as an attractive place to work thereby attracting good talent (Boxall and Purcell, 2003, p. 141). There are two methods of recruitment: Internal and External.


One of the crucial points to reflect upon during the recruitment procedure is whether or not there is a need to recruit outside the organization. Implementing alternative approaches to recruitment might lead to the development of effective solutions at considerably lower cost (Taylor, 2005, p. 166). Research shows that most private sector companies attempt to fill vacancies internally before looking for people outside the organization (Newell and Shackleton, 2000, p. 116, CIPD 2003b, p. 11 cited in Taylor, 2005, p. 167). Fuller and Huber (1998, p. 621 cited in Taylor, 2005, p.167) identifies four distinct internal recruitment activities like internal promotions, lateral transfers, job rotation schemes and re-hiring former employees.

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Some of the key advantages of internal recruitment of an organization are its cost effectiveness and quick as vacancies can be advertised internally on staff notice boards, in-house publications or intranet systems at no additional cost. Thus, it promotes and helps in developing a strong establishment of motivated and committed employees among existing employees and also that the management is already familiar with the strengths and limitations of the employee. It also helps a company to maximize its return on investment invested in staff recruitment, selection and training processes. The employee in his new position is already familiar with the business objectives and has a better knowledge and understanding about the company’s operations. The time taken to fill a vacancy is lesser leading to improving greater organizational effectiveness and reduction in cost and time. However, some of the disadvantages of internal recruitment are that new employees would bring in fresher ideas which are often required to challenge the status quo especially at senior levels. It can also lead to bringing about sterility by limiting the number of potential candidates for the job profile, lack of originality and a decline in the breadth of an organisation’s collective knowledge base. It may also be possible that the best suited person may not be available within the firm. Also an inclination towards this tends to perpetuate existing imbalances in the make-up of the workforce resulting in the feeling of inequality and resentment among the workforce who have not been selected. (Taylor, 2005, p. 168)


Even as there are numerous different approaches used to attract applications for prospective candidates, some of the formal methods used are printed media (national and local newspapers, trade and professional journals and magazines), external agencies (job centres, outplacement consultants, headhunters, employment agencies, forces resettlement agency, recruitment consultants), education liaison (careers service, careers fairs, college tutors, careers advisors, student societies), other media (direct mail, local radio teletext, billboards, internet, television and cinema), and professional contacts (conferences, trade union referrals, suppliers, industry contacts), other methods (‘factory gate’ posters, past applicant records, open days, personal recommendation or word of mouth, poaching). Few other informal methods include whereby employees’ families, suppliers or personal acquaintances get to hear about a vacancy via word of mouth or the ‘grapevine’. Several approaches like job centres or word of mouth is relatively less expensive in comparison to publishing advertisement in national newspaper or in delegating the task to headhunters. A few methods, such as the use of television and cinema, are used as a mode of recruiting by the largest employing organisations seeking to recruit substantial numbers like the Army and Navy recruiters (Taylor, 2005, p. 169-70). Some of the few advantages of external recruitment include that a new recruit will bring in fresh perspective and ideas, the best suited candidate can be chosen from the large pool of candidates, recruits having wider knowledge and experience on the subject can be chosen. The disadvantages to external recruitment would include that the process is long and hence more time consuming, selection process alone may not be able to identify and reveal the best candidate and also that the cost incurred is enormous for placing advertisements to attract potential talent.

According to a study conducted by IRS (2001b, pp34; 2003c cited in Taylor, 2005, p. 171), approximately £1 billion is spent each year on recruitment advertising in the United Kingdom. An HR Manager would require choosing a publication depending on the target audience. An opinion poll research carried out and published by Recruitment Today (June 1995) has indicated that around 70 per cent of people purchase different newspaper when they are looking for a new job. Thus information about readership levels and profiles is only of limited use in deciding the placement of job advertisement. It is essential for the HR manager to reflect upon whether or not there is a need to advertise nationally. For most jobs, local newspapers are preferable, because they reach potential applicants only within the relevant travel-to-work and are thus more cost effective. The need to organize at a national level arises when the target audience is at a national level. Some of the other additional alternative methods of recruitment include:

Internet Recruitment: The scope and usage of internet as a medium of recruitment has witnessed a significant growth in the recent years. In the late 1990s, the jobs advertised on the web were mainly in IT or academia, or were specifically targeting graduate recruitments. In 2003, nearly 70 per cent of employers had been advertising vacancies on the internet (CIPD 2003b, p. 15 cited in Taylor, 2005, p. 176), while on the other hand the providers of job search website were spending vast amounts of money on TV, cinema, radio advertising, sports sponsorship and public relations activities as a means of building their public profile and brand image (Taylor, 2005). The key advantages of Internet recruitment are that large companies have a greater potential to attract ‘passing traffic’ to their company corporate website By cutting down on the need to use written correspondence or field phone calls will prove to be a cost saving for the company. This form of recruitment is attractive to an employer as it gives him the access to a potential audience of millions. Some of the disadvantages of internet recruitment include technology system getting hampered by bugs, computer crashes and threat of losing applications caused by recruiters with poor IT enabled skills which will result in further delay rather than accelerating the recruitment process. Poorly designed or over-engineered websites represent a further pitfall by means of slow loading speeds are all guaranteed to create fatigue in the potential candidate users whose expectations of fast, reliable access are very high thus causing damage to the brand image of the company (Taylor, 2005, p. 179). In the past few years, there has been a significant rapid development in online recruitment or commonly termed as e-recruitment which has accelerated the growth of e-Human Resource Management (Bratton and Gold, 2003, p. 230).

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In the year 2003, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (Storey, 2007, p. 238) highlighted some of the key potential benefits of e-HR. The hard benefits included reduced service delivery costs due to automation of key HR business processes, by improving the accuracy of these HR processes the out put would lead to reduction in correction costs, by using intranet as a means of internal communication channel would eliminate costs of printing and distributing information to employees, improving staff productivity and efficacy by providing universal access 24/7 on various information thereby reducing the data entry and search costs through employee and manager self-service. While some of the soft benefits included allowing instant processing of data collected leading to reduction in cycle times, increasing employee satisfaction and engaging in better employee relations by improvising on the quality of HR service, making HR function to align with strategic partner in business, an indicator of change towards an organisational culture that promotes initiative, self-reliance and improved internal service standards by using technology.

Employer websites: One of the most convenient methods includes highlighting existing vacancies available in an organization in respective organization website. However, links to these vacancies can be uploaded on various other search engines and recruitment agency website. These sites are easy to maintain and is cost effective as it provides an organization the opportunity to provide relevant adequate information about the profile for it to attract more responses. As quoted by Frankland (2000, cited in Taylor, 2005, p. 176); the total cost incurred to set up a fully operational website is equivalent to the total amount spent by a firm on advertisement in national newspapers. The organisation’s have immensely benefited by using websites as a medium of advertising the existing vacancies, but it is essential to evaluate the degree and the extent to which it has impacted in the recruitment procedure. As the success of this method solely depends upon the extent to which potential employees visit the websites.

Cyber agencies: This method involves the use of specialist employment agencies that specializes in recruitment and selection of potential recruits for example, These agencies carry out the functions and role carried out by employment agencies traditionally. These agencies extend their services to not only publish advertisements of vacancies but also short-list the candidates on behalf of the employers. (Taylor, 2005)

Job linked to newspapers and journals: Many companies advertise in local and national national newspapers, notice boards, recruitment fairs and substantiate the advertisement with relevant important information relating to the job like the job title, pay package, location, job description, how to apply-either by CV or application form.

The success of the recruitment process depends upon whether it is able to attract substantial number of candidates of the desired quality within the allocated budget. Too many applicants may reduce the cost per applicant but add further costs in terms of the time taken to screen the applications. While few applications received may be an indication of a tight labour market and also that the company’s values, ethos and brand image in the market are poor attractors. It is thus essential that HR managers monitor the effect of such factors on the overall recruitment process (Bratton and Gold, 2003, p 234).


After the identification of a pool of potential candidates, the HR Manager needs choose and select the short-listed candidates who would best suit the job profile (Bach, 2008, p. 129). Some of the selection methods include interviews, psychometric testing (cognitive and personality test), assessment centres, references, biodata, job simulation or work sampling. Various selection techniques are used to measure differences between applicants and provide a prediction of future performance at work while measuring the effectiveness of these selection methods. Two statistical concepts – reliability and validity – are of relevant importance in the selection process. Techniques that are chosen on the basis of their consistency in measurement over a period of time is termed as reliability and the degree to which they measure what they are supposed to measure is referred as validity (Bratton and Gold, 2003, p. 234). The three important forms of reliability include the testee or the test-retest, the tester and the test reliability. Among the different forms of validity, the most important is the predictive or criterion-related validity. It refers to establishing an association between the predictors that comprises of the results obtained from various selection methods and the criterion that measures the performance on the job (Bach, 2008, p. 130).

An HR Manager in an organization is using more sophisticated selection techniques and is ensuring to make good selection decisions. A good selection decision would reduce a number of costs incurred like the overall cost of the selection process that includes the use of various selection instruments, the future cost of inducting and training new staff and staff turnover. The process and method of selection to be used are based on two key fundamentals. Firstly, individual differences would measure the extent to which two individuals would differ on the parameters of intelligence, attitude, social skills, psychological and physical characteristics, experience, etc. Secondly, recognizing the way in which people differ would be reflected upon the prediction of performance by the individual at the workplace Many leading companies may use a variety of these techniques and statistical theory for giving credibility to techniques that attempt to measure people’s attitude, attributes, abilities and overall personality (Bratton and Gold, 2003, p. 234).

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Methods of Selection:

Selection interviewing – Interview is one of the oldest and commonly used selection methods. Cook (1994, p.15 cited in Bratton and Gold, 2003, p. 236) referred the usage of interviews along with application forms and referral / recommendation letters as the ‘classic trio’. The interview pattern can be broadly classified on the basis of the Information Elicited which would dwell on the focus on facts and the information that is required. It would follow a direct approach and give emphasis on seeking subjective information from the interviewee as the factual information must have been already collated prior to the interview. This pattern may require to qualified psychologist as it may require usage of intensive probing. It can secondly be classified on the basis of structure like structured or unstructured. Thirdly, on basis of the order and involvement pattern adopted while conducting the interview. Also by using questions related to one’s past behaviour coupled with competencies in interviews has further enhanced the effectiveness of this method (Bratton and Gold, 2003, p. 238).

Psychometric testing: It has formed an integral part of the selection process of most organization because of its ability to provide an objective measurement of individual competencies and personality (Beardwell and Holden, 2001, p. 243). This type of selection is also considered to have a good record of reliability and validity. Further evidence of its usage since 1990s has been witnessed due to the rapid growth in the number of organizations using this test leading to more HR professionals being trained to administer the functioning of the test (McHenry 1997a cited in Bratton and Gold, 2003, p.239). The two types of test include cognitive or ability test and personality test. Cognitive tests provide a detailed assessment of an individual’s intellectual abilities like specific abilities or general intelligence. Personality test provides a detailed assessment of an individual’s behaviour when confronted with a specific situation (Bach, 2008, p. 133).

Assessment Centre – It incorporates a variety of selection methods like interviews, psychometric test, simulations, in-tray exercises and group decision-making exercises, role-plays and presentations to test the mental ability, reasoning and personality of an individual employee (Taylor, 2005, p.242-3). Assessment centres are designed to provide information like the strengths and weaknesses of an individual employee to management for making decisions in relation to suitability for a position. (Bratton and Gold, 2003). Various on-going validity studies have found the assessment centres to have good predictive ability. One of the major drawbacks of the centre is the cost associated with setting up and functioning of the assessment centre (Taylor, 2005, p. 242).


While critically analyzing on which recruitment and selection approach and methodology an HR Manager must adopt for their organization, it is crucial to consider the impact and accuracy of its approach adopted on the target audience. Further, recruiters need to be aware of the image of their organization they are portraying to the external world. A local newspaper advertisement might attract large number of applicants; but there is a strong business case for spending rather more on a substantial advertisement set by professionals conveying to job seekers that the organization compares favourably with others as a place to work. Few methods are ruled out because of time constraints as most personnel specialists may quite often have pressure from line managers to fill vacancies within days instead of weeks. Thus the range of possible recruitment methods gets severely restricted. Under such circumstances, the best option that a firm can adopt is to outsource the task of recruitment and selection to employment agencies, job centres or use personal contacts (Taylor, 2005, p. 169).

It may also prove to be beneficial to consider the volume of applications as outcomes that each method is likely to yield and the ability of the personnel department to administer and act upon effectively. An HR Manager should avoid selecting a recruitment methodology which resulted in receiving hundreds of applications for a single unskilled job vacancy and vice versa. For instance, an advertisement seeking application for very senior cadre roles where the widest pool of appropriately qualified individuals is needed to enable the organization to screen out all but the very best candidates. Another example would be the opening of a new plant store leading to the creating a demand for several hundreds of new jobs (Taylor, 2005, p. 169).

Proposed References:

Torrington, D., Hall, L., and Taylor S. (2002) Human Resource Management. 5th edition. FT Prentice Hall, England

Bratton, J. and Gold, J. (2003) Human Resource Management – Theory and Practice. 3rd edition. Palgrave Macmillan, New York

Searle, R. (2003) Selection and Recruitment – a critical text Palgrave Macmillan, UK in association with The Open University – 1st edition

Storey, J. (2007) Human Resource Management – a critical text. 3rd edition. Thomson Learning, London

Boxall, P. and Purcell, J. (2008) Strategy and Human Resource Management. 2nd edition. Palgrave Macmillan, New York

Taylor, S. (2005) People Resourcing. 3rd edition CIPD, London

Beardwell, I. and Holden, L. (2001) Human Resource Management: A Contemporary Approach. FT Prentice Hall: Pearson Education Limited, England

Bach, S. (2008) Managing Human Resources: Personnel Management in Transition. 4th edition. Blackwell Publishing, UK

Callaghan, G. and Thompson, P. (2002) ‘We recruit attitude’: The selection and shaping of routine call centre labour, Journal of Management Studies: 39(2): 233-254

Greeenwood, I. (2007) ‘Recruitment in the retail sector: a large supermarket’, Work and Employment Relations Division Teaching Case, University of Leeds


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