Do I need a recruitment agency?

My clothing company has grown quickly and I need to bring in a number of sales and operational managers to look after my teams. However, having generally gone on recommendation and contacts in the past, I am now in the uncharted territory of recruiting strangers. I wish to avoid recruitment companies as I doubt their worth, but I need advice on waysto attract and select the best people.

A. Michael Howard of Maris Interiors says:

First, like it or not, most people looking to move jobs go to a recruitment agency. So don’t dismiss them out of hand as they are likely to have a lot of potential recruits.

The growth of the internet means many people now search for jobs online, so it’s vital to advertise vacancies on your website. Make sure that you also clearly communicate the culture of your company, showcase any high-profi le clients or exciting projects you’ve worked on recently, and show the career development opportunities on offer.

If you’re afraid of recruiting strangers, develop an incentive scheme to encourage employees to introduce their contacts. Offer, say, £1,000 to anyone who brings someone to the company. And why not extend the scheme to employees’ friends?

Another tip is not to be afraid of talking to your competitors. If they’re recruiting, suggest they send people on their shortlist to you. They may not have been right for them, but every company is different and they might be exactly who you’ve been looking for.

It is important to open your mind and think creatively about where you’re going to source people. As you’re recruiting for sales staff, why not look outside your industry? In my experience, good sales people can turn their hand to selling any product. Look for talent in unusual places. I’ve just taken on a labourer from a young offenders’ institute as he had the skills I needed and an attitude that I liked. These are short-term suggestions, but there are long-term practices you should be investing in now to help with your future recruitment drives.

For a start, create a buzz around the company with clever marketing campaigns that communicate your expertise and highlight that your business is a great place to work.

Your current employees can also help to create a buzz. If you make sure your staff want to come to work and they see you as a good and fair boss, then they are much more likely to talk positively about you to their friends and contacts. Try and understand your staff and develop schemes that you know would excite them. We have developed incentive schemes for our sales staff. Maris owns a Porsche and an Aston Martin, which are given to top performing sales and management staff each weekend. The flip side is that the worst performer has to wash it for them before handing it back!

Finally, decide what you want the culture of your company to be, then you can communicate it on your website and to your employees. Then, when someone comes through the door, they will know what to expect and you will be able to tell if they are going to share your aims and objectives and help you to develop a really successful business

.Michael Howard is chairman of Maris Interiors, the UK?s leading offi ce design, project management, fi t-out, refurbishment and offi ce supply company.


(will not be published)