Recruitment on a shoestring

Fourteen cost-cutting recruitment techniques to try now

Sick of paying consultants fat sums? Tired of the drawn out process for filling your skills gaps? It’s time you got creative with your recruitment. Cited by many as the biggest obstacle to growth, trying something different may just help you find the exceptional employees you’re dying for. Here’s how
Speculative applications

Store them in case of unexpected or untimely holes. Julia Gosling, director at marketing firm Mabox, swears by it. “We respond to every CV and keep the details on a database. When we do have a need, we send an email. It’s effective.”


With more than 13 million members, business social networking site LinkedIn works says Dan McGuire, MD of job advert distribution fi rm Broadbean. To fill three key senior manager roles, he sent a message to his 200-strong network – and got more than 40 responses. “It’s free,” he says. “You can upgrade and pay to put a job placing on there, but if you network well enough you won’t need to.” Helen Wright, head of people at marketing firm iris,adds: “Forums and groups on sites such as Facebook enable us to communicate with the type of employee we want.”


While some pay between £1,000 and £1,500 once a hire is made, you could get the same for less. Broadbean’s McGuire hired 12 of his 30 staff through referrals and says the right culture can actually be more effective. “A lot of people know about Broadbean, so we’ve created a wider network of people who make recommendations. By paying you get people doing it for the money. If someone comes up with a recommendation, I’ll take them out and buy lunch or a gift.”

Free websites

When Chris Clarke set up CMP Communications, expensive recruitment was out of the question. He used “You tend to get a lot of graduates on there and people who have arrived in London from overseas. We had some great CVs and hired two in our first year.”

This website enables anyone to make some cash if a successful hire is made. Broadbean’s McGuire is a fan: “It’s going to work really well. It costs £10 to post a job, for an employer and an agency, and Zubka takes less than 10% of the total fee if a hire is made.”

Links with universities

In CMP’s second year, founder Chris Clarke went directly to the Cambridge Careers Service to look for bright, ambitious and diligent graduates. And he wasn’t disappointed. “That is probably the most successful method we’ve used,” he testifies. University careers sites will often allow free job listings.

Your own events and trade shows

McGuire plans to have a sheet of paper on his stand at the company’s next trade show with details of vacancies and its expansion into San Diego, which people can take away if they’re interested.

Speaking engagements

Richard Reed, co-founder of smoothie brand Innocent, always mentions vacancies when he takes on a speaking engagement, but apologises first for exploiting the opportunity.


A monthly newsletter can be ideal for informing people who are interested in your business about openings. Running networking events, campaigns and competitions can build your opt-in mailing list.

Work experience

Organise it during vacations and at busy times. Mabox’s Julia Gosling pays “enough to make it possible to work in London” and has just filled a three-month contract following a placement. “It’s quite a commitment but they’ve made a really good contribution. It also leads to a wider pool we can call on when we have resource gaps.”


Broadbean’s McGuire is a firm believer in the power of blogging. “The blog I use gets picked up really well by the search engines. Even if you’re a small company just blog about the business, give people something that might get picked up on. Even if you only get one application a year, it’s free so it’s worth doing.”

Advertise on your own site

Keep your website up to date, place job adverts on it and make the site attractive to potential staff. McGuire says: “A lot of big company websites now say what the brand is about but also what it’s like to work there – something small companies don’t usually do as much.”


This can be done yourself and posted on your own site or it can be done via an agency, where it is shown to prospective candidates. A 60-second film can be a great way of portraying your company culture, says CMP’s Clarke, who has recently tried this approach. “It allows us to demonstrate how we do things a little differently.”

Job boards

Job boards can be cost-effective, if you write the adverts properly. Just be prepared for the deluge of CVs – it’s still worth it if you find a gem.



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