‘Traditional’ approaches to recruitment still favoured: Less than one in five jobs are filled by word of mouth

11 June 2015
  • 39% of companies plan to add permanent headcount in the second half of 2015
  • Only 17% of management-level and staff-level job openings are filled through referrals

London, 11 June, 2015 – Whilst nearly two in five (39%) companies plan to ramp up hiring in the second half of 2015, new research1 from Robert Half UK reveals that HR directors still favour traditional methods of recruitment, such as job postings or enlisting a recruitment consultancy, over referrals and word of mouth to secure the strongest candidates.  Less than a fifth (17%) of management-level and staff-level job openings are filled through referrals, whether from employee recommendations or personal networks.

The study, conducted amongst HR directors, reveals that the vast majority (78%) of HR directors hire fewer than one fifth (17%) of their  managerial and staff-level roles through word of mouth.

Management-level candidates in the Midlands, London and the South-East will struggle the most to gain new positions through referral with HR directors stating that around one in ten (13%) roles are filled by word of mouth.

When it comes to staff-level jobs, only 15% of jobs in the South West and Wales are likely to be filled by word of mouth followed by only one in ten (11%) in the Midlands. One in five (21%) HR directors in the North report slightly more positions secured by referral, closely followed by those in London, the South East and Scotland (19%).  

Phil Sheridan, UK Managing Director at Robert Half, said: “Business confidence is improving, accelerating the demand for skilled professionals above current supply levels. While candidates have more avenues available to them today, through technology and social media, working directly with a recruitment consultancy when looking for a job still provides added value.”

“Recruitment consultancies are highly knowledgeable of  current hiring trends   and have access to the hidden employment market, including jobs that go unadvertised and professionals who are not actively looking for work. Their deep networks and knowledge of the industry, afford them the personal understanding to identify the right match between employer and employee.

Robert Half offers the following tips for candidates looking to find the perfect job:

  1. Get involved in your industry – Being a part of a member organisation such, as ACCA or CIMA, can offer great opportunities for networking as people you meet can offer advice and provide leads on potential job openings.
  2. Demonstrate your return on investment – Set yourself apart in an interview by communicating how you have contributed to previous employers’ bottom lines, including specific ways you helped firms save money or boost profits.
  3. Keep in touch – UK HR directors, on average, say that nine days is the appropriate length of time for applicants to contact hiring managers after the CV has been submitted. Staying in touch will demonstrate your enthusiasm, although ensure that you do not pester.
  4. Do your research – Research what industries and professions are hiring and target your education and skills to these areas. Jobs in accountancy, regulatory/compliance and IT, for example are on the rise and many employers report challenges in finding the staff they need to fill critical roles.
  5. Work with a specialised recruitment firm and consider temporary opportunities – Choose a recruitment firm that has an extensive network in the local business community and can provide career guidance. In addition, offering to work on a temporary basis allows you to ‘audition for the job’, improving your chances for hire if a permanent opportunity comes available.

Robert Half offers the following tips to employers looking to make the perfect hire:

  1. Have an accurate job description – A specific job description is helpful to attract the right candidate for the role, know the skills, attributes and experience level required provide a clear overview of your expectations.
  2. Evaluate effectively – Ensure the right business decision-makers are involved in the hiring process from the very beginning. This way candidates can be evaluated effectively throughout the process. 
  3. Ensure you have sign off ahead of time – Companies need to act swiftly when recruiting as skilled candidates are often receiving multiple offers. Removing any barriers to providing the right candidate with a competitive offer will go a long way to securing the top choice. 
  4. Notice the little things – The little things like careless spelling mistakes and typos on their CV, their written and verbal communication and their non-verbal queues during the interview can provide valuable insight on whether the potential candidate would be a good fit with the company.
  5. Work with a specialised recruitment consultancy – Recruitment agencies have a deep pool of skilled candidates at their fingertips so they can increase your chances of getting the right employee on the first attempt, taking into consideration the skills, experiences and soft-skills required.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors

1 The bi-annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 200 interviews with senior HR executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location for companies across the UK and worldwide. 

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500 and #1 in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World's Most Admired Companies” list (2015). Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.