Ahead of the In-house Recruitment Awards, I spoke to Rob Walker, Head of Resourcing at Mencap.

The Mencap team have been nominated in a number of categories, so I was interested to understand more about their approach and take away some ideas that could inspire other not-for-profit organisations.

Mencap is a national charity which supports people with a learning disability. Rob heads up a team of nine, split into two sections. There’s the Search and Select team and the larger Volume Recruitment team who, this year, filled around 2,700 care and support roles.

Rob’s passion for recruitment and for his work was infectious from the moment we started talking.  So, ahead of the In-house Recruitment Awards, at which Mencap are nominated in the ‘Best Public Sector or Not-for-Profit Team’ category, let me take you through his team’s story.

Volume recruitment challenges

Caring and support roles traditionally suffer from a high staff turnover. The Mencap team also have the added challenge of highly moveable targets, due to differing caring contract lengths. Applicant drop-out rate was significant, and the application process was disjointed with limited candidate engagement.

These challenges were compounded by a limited recruitment budget – something familiar to many charities and not-for-profits.

Beyond automation

After implementing a new ATS, Rob’s team were able to save significant time through automation. But the real difference was what his team did with this extra time. In Rob’s words, ‘We went back to old school!’

The Mencap recruitment team’s focus shifted to the lynchpin of candidate engagement: picking up the phone, enhancing pre-interview screening, and guiding candidates through every stage of the process. The aim was to ensure that candidates put forward for interview fully understood the scope of the role and were a good fit for the organisation.

Rob and his team’s approach has gone beyond the hiring process. They have also implemented an extensive on-boarding programme, guiding new recruits through the first three months and beyond of their employment with Mencap.

The results

I won’t dwell too long on facts and figures – but in this case they really do demonstrate the hugely positive impact of Mencap’s enhanced engagement processes.

Candidate drop-out rate has fallen from 35% to 14% due to the improved application process. Meanwhile, engagement rose from 54% to 83%, indicating that Mencap’s new candidate-focused approach has had a significantly positive impact on applicant satisfaction.

Words of wisdom

Rob stressed the importance of measuring candidate engagement surveys and, crucially, acting on the feedback. It’s a candidate-driven market across the board, so this increased focus on applicant engagement is vital for all organisations, not just those in the third sector.

Not-for-profit recruitment teams also need to get inventive and creative. With limited access to funds and a huge number of roles to fill, Rob spoke about the need to embrace your team’s ideas.

‘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.

Closing thoughts

Rob left me with the words, ‘Don’t forget what a recruiter’s primary job is. Pick up the phone and engage with your candidates’.

This focus on enhanced candidate support and engagement has certainly made a tangible difference to Mencap’s recruitment team and candidates.

We wish them the best of luck at the In-house Recruitment Awards.

Find out more

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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.