Awards ceremonies are glitzy affairs, aren’t they?

The In-house Recruitment Awards 2016 were no different. At last night’s event, the champagne was flowing, guests were dressed in their finest and spirits were high.

Most importantly though, were the finalists and ultimate winners of the 20+ categories. Award ceremonies are sparkly affairs, but they also celebrate innovative thinking, effective strategies and sheer hard work.

As sponsors of the ‘Best Public Sector or Not-for-Profit Team’ category, we got to speak to three shortlisted organisations ahead of last night’s awards. So, what award-winning recruitment advice did we learn from our finalists?

Finalist: Essex Recruitment Team on behalf of Essex County Council

Capita first came on site as RPO provider to Essex County Council in 2008. We got to speak to Danni Foster, Continuous Improvement Manager at Capita and part of the Essex Recruitment Team. Of the 40-strong team, around half work on value-added and candidate care services

One of the largest local authorities in England, Essex County Council (ECC) recruits talent across all sectors of the organisation.

The Essex Recruitment Team use a research based model, when faced with hard-to-fill roles. They take the time to understand what matters to the passive candidate market, why they move roles and what would compel them to apply for a role with Essex County Council.

Award-worthy recruitment advice: 

“You have to know your market. Know your workforce. And know your own strengths and weaknesses. We recognise that today’s talent is less and less active in seeking roles, so it’s about tapping in to that passive market and ensuring that our offering attracts only the best talent available.” – Danni Foster

Danni also left us with her thoughts on the importance of diversity in public sector organisations:

“Understand the value of diversity in your organisation. Remain open-minded about talent – it can be very empowering. In a challenging sector, you need to be prepared to adapt and respond to an ever-changing population and their needs.”

Finalist: North Yorkshire County Council

One of North Yorkshire County Council’s key challenges is the size of the local talent pool. The rate of unemployment is low compared to the national average and there is an aging population as many people retire to the area.

Ahead of the In-house Recruitment Awards, we spoke to Sarah France-Gorton, Principal Adviser at North Yorkshire County Council and lead of the specialist Resourcing Solutions team.

The team’s approach is to focus on marketing and attraction rather than traditional advertising. Sometimes that can be as simple as reviewing the job advert to make it more compelling or accessible. At other times, Sarah and her colleagues will recommend using niche job boards, directly sourcing candidates or running a social media campaign.

Award-worthy recruitment advice:

We take a look at who the ideal candidate is and where they might be. In doing this, we can develop a bespoke marketing plan for that role, whether by creating a microsite, holding an event, or producing a range of creative, engaging imagery to use across a variety of media channels.” – Sarah France-Gorton

The key for the Council is to find creative ways to engage with talent at a human level, beyond traditional job descriptions and advertising. It’s about making it personal.

When we asked Sarah what advice she would give to other public sector organisations, she left us with this:

“Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Make it easier, more accessible, more engaging for them. Consider everything from your candidate’s perspective.”

Winner: Mencap

Before the In-house Recruitment Awards, we chatted to Rob Walker, Head of Resourcing at Mencap.

Mencap is a national charity which supports people with a learning disability. The Volume Recruitment team filled around 2,700 care and support roles this year.

To tackle challenges of high staff turnover and applicant drop-out rates, the Mencap recruitment team focused on the lynchpin of candidate engagement: picking up the phone, enhancing pre-interview screening, and guiding candidates through every stage of the process.

Since taking this approach, candidate drop-out rate has fallen from 35% to 14% due to the improved application process. Meanwhile, engagement rose from 54% to 83%.

Award-winning recruitment advice: 

Rob stressed the importance of measuring candidate engagement surveys and, crucially, acting on the feedback. He also shared this with us:

“Encourage your team to come forward with new ideas – make it an important part of your strategy. No matter how half-baked it might be, no idea is a bad idea. Give it a go.” – Rob Walker

On the topic of candidate-engagement, Rob left us with this:

“Don’t forget what a recruiter’s primary job is. Pick up the phone and engage with your candidates.”

Congratulations to finalists Essex Recruitment Team, in partnership with Essex County Council, North Yorkshire County Council and Wiltshire County Council. And, of course, huge congratulations to the winners of our category, Mencap!

Find out more

Read our interview with the Founder of In-house Recruitment Network

We’ve won some gongs too! Check out last year’s Inspire Awards

Third sector recruitment can be tough. Download our guide here


About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.