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  • Writer's pictureLaura Atkinson

5 Proven Secrets to a High-Quality Talent Pool

Atkinson HR Consulting provides recruitment support for charities and SMEs, and we often talk about the importance of inclusive recruitment and making sure the process is a positive one for both candidates and the organisation.

After a couple of years of uncertainty following the pandemic, the recruitment market rocketed off the charts, with the number of jobs advertised exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

We’ve recently been through a recruitment campaign to grow our team, and we’ve been really pleased with the outcomes. We’ve had great quality, diverse applications from a higher volume of candidates than any time we’ve recruited before. This may be pure luck, but I thought it would be worth sharing some of our learning and things we did differently in case it helps others to think through or plan a forthcoming recruitment campaign.

At the end of Spring, we planned to launch a recruitment drive to run over a six-week period through the summer. Having reflected on previous recruitment within the business, we took the time to work as a team to really review our approach to recruitment and think about what was really important to people looking for a new role in 2022. If 2021 was the year of the Great Resignation, and quiet quitting was the trend of 2022, we wanted to ensure that our offer was as accessible, transparent and honest as possible, and that potential candidates were genuinely aligned with our business needs and values. recently posted an article about what makes a company a great place to work, stating that ‘a good employer makes going to work each day fun, rewarding and challenging. When searching for jobs, look for companies with happy employees, good benefits and positive company culture’. Great advice, but how can employers get that across in a punchy job advert?

Articulating Your Offer

The first area of focus for us was to understand: what was our offer? We know that a competitive salary is obviously a key driver for lots of people, but various other factors are now just as important (if not more) in a post-pandemic workplace. We were aware that on raw salary alone we may not be able to compete in an ultra-competitive environment, so we worked with the team to really understand what were the reasons people might (and should) want to come and join our team? These were genuine reasons rather than hollow slogans and we spelt them out in the recruitment pack and throughout our campaign.

It’s important to think about the benefits you offer and remember that they are designed to help promote employee engagement and wellbeing, as well as encourage positive behaviours and values. We have a key set of benefits within our business, but some of the benefits for employers to strongly consider are:

· Enhanced holidays & time off

· Enhanced pension contributions

· Learning & development opportunities

· Flexible working (location and work patterns)

· Healthcare

· Regular team social events

Certainly, the feedback we’ve received from candidates was that our wider benefits, and the way these were packaged, was a big draw to both the roles and Atkinson HR Consulting.

Promoting Your Roles

Once we were clear about the offer, we worked collaboratively with our team and quickly identified that in order to show who we are and what we do, honestly, we should use a variety of platforms and approaches, rather than relying on a static job advert. We’d also need to focus on reaching and appealing to passive candidates who weren’t necessarily actively looking to apply for jobs. Having a team who share our core values makes promoting these easier and we focussed on a number of ways to market and talk about the opportunities:

5 Secrets to a High-Quality Talent Pool

  1. Create an attractive Recruitment pack – these gave a clear overview of the company, our values and the work we do as well as providing information about the roles and recruitment process.

  2. Advertise for quality over quantity – we placed adverts on job boards that we know attract a diverse range of values-driven, high-quality, talented candidates. For our HR roles, these included Black Woman in HR, Charity Job, LinkedIn, HR Ninjas, and Simply HR.

  3. Leverage your social networks - and those of your staff – we drip-fed content promoting the roles over a 6-week campaign and aimed to keep our content authentic, concise and relaxed over our different platforms. We used posts, stories and videos and included the team and their stories (including this video giving an opportunity to ‘meet the team’).

  4. Offer opportunities to experience your culture – we hosted our online Q&A event offering the space for potential candidates to hear more about the roles, meet our team, and to ask questions. This was popular and really worked in converting interest into applicants. We also ran a webinar during the 6 weeks which was focused on ‘the journey into consultancy’. We didn’t use this to ‘hard sell’ our roles but as an open session for anyone that was generally interested in a transition into the world of consulting.

  5. Be approachable and human – we actively promoted and encouraged people to speak to a manager within the business to help get more of an insight into the roles and the work we do. This included a face, a name, an e-mail address and a mobile phone number. We had lots of feedback from candidates that this helped encourage and reassure people experiencing imposter syndrome to apply, and ask questions that they may have been nervous to ask over e-mail alone.

Forming an action plan early on really helped us to ensure that we could give the campaign sufficient time and resource, and ultimately get the kind of reach we were looking for.

Linking together the ‘what we offer’ and ‘how we promote this’ seemed to go hand in hand and developing the content for our different platforms was a very collaborative process. Feedback we received from candidates was that it did provide a clear insight into the business and a positive experience throughout the different stages of the recruitment process. Candidates (including unsuccessful candidates) have told us that they felt we'd created an inclusive candidate experience, as the process was well thought through and provided opportunities for a genuine 2-way conversation.

When we started planning the recruitment campaign, we understood that if we wanted to get different outcomes to previous attempts (more candidates, depth in quality, greater diversity), then we needed to do things fundamentally differently. A real focus on taking the time to plan this helped.

If you’re about to recruit for your organisation, I’d really encourage you to take time to engage the wider team so that you can really sharpen your offer and then communicate it in an authentic and engaging way.

We know that no recruitment process is ever flawless or perfect and we’ll continue to learn, develop and adapt the next time we recruit - there will always be benefits in reflective practice. I hope some of these ideas are useful as others look to develop ideas for how to cut through and reach the talent they need for their organisations.


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