Permanent staff appointments in the UK continued to fall in 2024, continuing the downward trend which has been seen in the workplace for the last year and a half. The survey found budget constraints were among some of the top reasons for this long-term drop.

These budget constraints also mean recruitment teams who are looking to hire are having to meet their goals with tight resources, relying on affordable or free options for boosting their employer brand and candidate experience. With this in mind, we’ve curated four actions your recruitment team can take to make the most out of a reduced budget.

Analyse Your Expenditure

In order to get the best out of a shoestring budget, you need to take a critical look at what you have historically spent at various stages of the recruitment process, as well as what the return-on-investment was for those costs. If you notice one area of investment is consistently linked to hiring particularly impressive talent who are retained long-term, then you can prioritise that for the budget you to have to spend.

Some costs you may want to take a deep dive into include:

  • Cost-per-hire
  • Job advert costs [job boards, career sites, social media]
  • External agency costs
  • Ats / recruitment software costs
  • Onboarding costs
  • Admin costs
  • Time-to-hire (because time is money!)

Learn about our top five recruitment metrics to enhance your hiring strategy.

Utilise your existing talent network

Reaching fresh talent can be one of the greatest burdens on a limited recruitment budget. Therefore, looking to your existing network can be incredibly valuable – and you never know what unexpected treasure may have been lurking just under your nose. Some ways you may want to explore your current network for new candidates include:

Referral schemes

It has been found that referrals take 29 days to hire compared to 39 days when using a job website. Not to mention, employee referrals can bring more relevant candidates to your team with more ease that shouting into the void of the internet. Internal employees will have an inside understanding of your internal culture and values, allowing them to think of contacts they may have who would be compatible and bring value to the organisation.

Boomerang employees

Boomerang employees are also a brilliant, budget-friendly option if you want talent that are a confident fit for your organisation and who you want to get up to speed quickly. Boomerang employees can often be reached through alumni events or newsletters, allowing your recruitment team to discuss relevant vacancies and learn how the new experiences they’ve picked up can enrich your organisation upon their potential return.

2nd and 3rd place candidates

Candidates who previously reached final interview stages of your hiring processes to only just about fall short compared to the winning candidate are often open to hearing about new opportunities. While they may not have a full internal understanding of your company, they will have more knowledge than a cold candidate scrolling past an online job ad, as they often pick up a foundational understanding during the recruitment process.

Ensure your recruitment plan is clear

It’s important to make sure the goals of your recruitment strategy are crystal clear and agreed upon by all involved stakeholders. Often recruitment processes can be unnecessarily dragged out (costing money), complicated (costing more money), or in some cases scrapped and begun again (lots of money) due to stakeholders having different ideas about what they want to achieve.

  • The number of hires required.
  • A realistic assessment of ‘must have’ skills and ‘desirable’ skills
  • What are the skills gaps the ideal candidate would fill?
  • Who are you target audience?
  • How many stages of the recruitment process will there be? What will they involve?
  • What portion of your hiring budget will you be using?
  • Can internal hires be used to fill the position instead?
Is your technology up to scratch?

The right applicant tracking system should be supporting your team to save time and save money. Since implementing Hireserve ATS, we’re proud to say Lincolnshire County Council has seen brilliant results in these areas.

Through automation and a refreshed team structure, the Council have been able to save c. £25,000. The automative abilities of the Hireserve software have also allowed the team to shave 18 days off their end-to-end recruitment process, empowering the team to snap up the best talent quickly and avoid over-spending.

“We are always looking for ways to continue saving time and money for the Council, and to increase efficiencies in the Resourcing Team.

With Hireserve ATS, I am confident we can do this. The system seems to have endless capacity for change.”Alison Miller, Resourcing Service Delivery Advisor at Lincolnshire County Council

Read the full case study to learn more.

About the author

Hannah Elliott