With competition for the best staff increasing in recent months, the value of an effective recruitment strategy will be emphasised in 2014.  Here we look at the ten most common obstacles to attracting the talent required for your business:

1. Understand your internal recruitment processes from the start. A lack of awareness of standard recruitment procedure in your company leads to additional steps and delays. Typically this can be anything from an additional round of interviews or psychometric testing to a medical. Introducing these stages haphazardly part way through the recruitment process is very off putting to potentially strong candidates often leading them to lose interest or accept a job elsewhere. If you aren’t absolutely sure of the procedure speak to HR before you get started and be clear with candidates about the next stage throughout the hiring process.

2. Be realistic about candidates attitudes towards salary when moving jobs. Unless there is a huge improvement in non monetary terms such as a much shorter commute, candidates are looking for an absolute minimum of a 10% increase in basic salary, often more. Your company may well be a desirable employer but you still need to budget for a reasonable salary increase for your chosen candidate.

3. Be precise about the salary budget. A recruiting company states that the basic salary for a particular vacancy will be £50k to £55k and then when the offer is made to the successful candidate it is £50k which, it transpires, was always the absolute maximum. The extra £5k mentioned initially to the candidate could be crucial in creating an incentive for the candidate to be interested. So be clear from the start and therefore ensure that the candidates you see fall within salary budget.

4. Don’t cast the net too wide. Consider the following scenario: you’ve posted your vacancy on your company website and linkedin, you have an advert in a trade journal and on several of the online job boards and you have instructed six recruitment agencies. You have covered all the bases and are expecting some great candidates to interview. However, adverts on or offline have always been an unreliable source of quality candidates so you are probably hoping your recruitment agencies will produce the goods. But each agency knows that there is five other agencies and a slew of advertising to compete against. They are on a no placement no fee model and their chances are slim. So they spend their time working on other assignments where their chances of making a fee are greater and leave you without the quality shortlist you were hoping for. Be more strategic in your selection of recruitment methods and agencies rather than going for the catch all approach.

5. Develop a full understanding of the experience and the other clients of the recruiter working on your behalf. You create a PSL panel of recruiters and agreed terms. The successful companies impressed you with their slick presentation, powerful brand and big office networks. But did you meet the person who will be responsible for selling your senior level vacancies to the best candidates in your industry? Recruitment consultancies are typically high staff turnover businesses and you may have an inexperienced consultant placed on your account. Ask your recruiters which of your direct competitors they work with as this may limit their ability to approach and attract candidates who could be an ideal fit for your needs.

6. Don’t negotiate too hard on recruitment fees. If you have multiple vacancies in your department you can use this leverage to get your chosen recruitment consultancy down to a low percentage of basic salary as a placement fee. You may have got a great deal, but only if the recruiter fills all the vacancies. Remember they are working on a no placement no fee model and almost all of their other assignments will be more lucrative than your work if you have pushed too hard on their fee level. Given your multiple vacancy assignment you would expect to be near the top of their priority list. The fee deal you struck probably means you are a lot lower than you think so strike a balance whereby the terms are attractive for both parties to ensure you get the best results from your recruiter.

7. Don’t make the recruitment process too one sided. You want to make sure you put the shortlist of candidates through their paces and so you set up a half day assessment centre for stage one whereby there is a group interview and some psychometric testing. The problem is that the best candidates are probably only tentatively interested at this stage and unwilling to attend the assessment centre until they know more about the job. Maybe they are not entirely unhappy with their current employer or maybe they have multiple vacancies they are pursuing. Either way, you need to offer a little courtship before sending them to a formal assessment. Set up an initial interview which is as much about you selling the job opportunity and your company as it is assessing the candidate. Only when you have them excited about what you have to offer can you expect them to take half a days holiday and go through rigorous testing.

8. Communicate promptly with candidates following interview. Candidates assume no news is bad news. A delay of more than 48 hours will mean positive momentum will begin to drain away as will the candidates interest in the job. Going back to the strongest candidate quickly maintains the impetus and increases your chances of a job offer being accepted.

But don’t forget the candidates who you are discounting from the process. Dealing with them professionally creates good PR for your company as an employer and you may want to go back to them for a different position at a later date.

9. Take in to account the detail of fringe benefits when making a job offer. Generally both hiring manager and candidate will focus on basic salary when pitching their expectations on package but a failure to dig in to the detail of the benefits package may come back to haunt you. Corporate employment benefits include some or all of the following: car allowance, bonus, private medical insurance, life assurance, pension, discounts, vouchers, share options and signing on bonuses. You might be improving the candidates basic salary with your job offer but lowering their overall package. You need to gather this information early on to understand if you can make them a compelling financial offer.

10. Manage expectations on timing of the offer letter. If you have verbally offered the position and got a verbal acceptance in return you need to sort out the paperwork. Often someone else needs to sign the authority to recruit and may not be immediately available. Then the authority needs to go to HR to put together a benefits pack and then post out the contract and offer. If this is the case make sure you tell the candidate that the offer letter wouldn’t be with them for ten days and stay in touch until they have the contract in their hand.