New Survey Sheds Light On Recruitment Challenges

Recruitment remains as one of the main functions in Human Resources and for many, is a mainstay on the list of major challenges facing HR professionals.

Furthermore, the challenge is believed to be getting greater. In 2010, 23% of HR professionals reportedly deemed recruitment their greatest challenge and this figure rose to 36% by 2015.

More recently, Forde HR Cloud conducted a survey among one hundred management professionals to gain a deeper insight into current recruitment hurdles.


  • 69% of the respondents said they found it difficult to recruit new staff

By looking more closely at the survey responses there’s valuable insight into the specific problems and, more importantly, what strategies successful recruiters use to overcome them.

The Biggest Recruitment Challenges


Unsurprisingly, HR professionals can face differing recruitment challenges depending on the nature and size of the business they’re recruiting employees for.

For example, those recruiting for a well-known brand name will benefit from the company’s reputation which can help to increase the number of applicants. Meanwhile the close-knit culture of a start-up can be more appealing than a corporate environment to some candidates.

However, the three top recruitment challenges were common themes across all managers in a position to hire:


Lack of Skills

44% of respondents cited “Lack of Required Skills or Experience” among applicants as their most prominent recruitment challenge. 35% of large businesses claimed this was an issue compared to 50% of small businesses.

This theme – that candidates lack the required skills level to perform roles – seems to be a big problem across industries. How is it that almost half of organisations can’t find qualified applicants?

Forde HR Cloud founder Jerome Forde is a HR specialist with over 30 years’ experience. He gives an insight into why this particular challenge has endured the decades without improvement;

“Many business, especially smaller ones, often feel they can ill-afford the time and financial investment of training up new hires and obviously prefer to hire those who can hit the ground running. Therefore, can sometimes set unrealistic expectations at the beginning of a recruitment process.

 It’s important to look for the transferability of skills and experience in order to widen the potential pool of suitable candidates. And it is equally important to recruit for cultural fit as well as skill. Positive attitudes can’t be trained in the same way that knowledge can.”


Lack of Applicants

While applicants lacking in the required skills were the biggest recruitment challenge cited in the survey, the next issue was an outright lack of applicants altogether (23%).

27% of small businesses in the survey were affected by this problem, but so too were 16% of large businesses.

It’s no surprise that SMEs suffer from fewer applications, living as they do with restricted advertising resources as well as potentially unestablished brand names or industry reputations.

But Jerome Forde has worked with businesses of all sizes who have utilised some workarounds to overcome this particular hurdle;

“Those with a budget to promote their vacancies can benefit from third party help in the form of recruitment agencies – particularly when they need to head hunt a skill set that is niche. However, only 16% of our responding small businesses said they use third party support.

 For those without tall recruitment budgets, the world of social media has unlocked lots of opportunities for employers to promote roles. Leveraging LinkedIn networks, using recruitment hashtags and building relationships with local online communities are all methods SME hiring managers have used to lure top talent.”


Salary Expectations

Keeping up with increasing salary expectations has long been a challenge for employers when recruiting and it remains the case. 16% of the survey respondents cited salary expectations as their biggest challenge which was the third highest on the list.

There wasn’t much to separate large and small businesses either (12% and 19% respectively). This suggests that salaries are not just a budgetary issue. Larger businesses are just as likely to be outbid by competitors as their smaller counterparts. In fact, 28% of larger businesses coined “Competition Over Applicants” as their greatest recruitment threat, compared to just 4% of smaller businesses.

Jerome Forde believes the solution actually lies outside the salary figures completely;

“Businesses can add value beyond salaries, both to potential applicants and in the retention of their existing talent pools. Benefits around lifestyle, learning and development are actually growing in importance among young professional job seekers in the modern workforce.

 For some, shares and commission structures are alternative ways to incentivise and strengthen the buy-in of staff. For others, a culture of flexible working in order to balance family life with their jobs is a huge draw. The opportunity to contribute heavily and drive one’s career progression within the company is another major selling point.”



So, The Secret To Hiring Success?

The broad spread of responses suggests that there is in fact, no single silver bullet solution to recruitment challenges. It is evident that different strategies work for different companies depending on their unique circumstances. That means that the best recruitment strategy is to identify what will work best for each individual business.

There are however, some key considerations towards the recruitment process, that are worth exploring:


Application process:

An application process should strike the balance between being easy enough to encourage applications, while providing enough detail that a candidate has to be truly motivated to complete it. This will filter out those applying for anything going, and encourage those who genuinely believe they’re a good fit for the role.

Supplementing a simple CV upload with the request to answer a few role-specific questions, add a cover letter or portfolio can achieve this.


Experience versus training:

When experience in applicants is lacking, it’s a good idea to reassess entry requirements and separate the “must haves” from the “nice to haves”. Deciding on an essential criteria versus that which could be trained or developed will help encourage candidates with the potential to develop into the role.

It’s also important to ensure that the job description is describing the needs of the role accurately and as precisely as possible. This way, candidates can easily pin point their own transferable skills and experience in their application, saving hiring managers from the heavy lifting work during the shortlisting process.



Placing an emphasis on recruiting those with the potential to grow opens up the opportunity to recruit graduates. What they lack in working-world experience, they often compensate for in ambition, drive and willingness to learn.

Looking past the black and white of “years served” and instead, getting to know the personal attributes of applicants could uncover people who have the right cultural fit for a business. The offer of training and development will be welcomed by them, rather than seen as extra work.


Culture & Benefits:

The modern workforce is attracted to many company benefits that lie outside a base line salary. This provides opportunities for companies large or small to differentiate themselves from their competition and lure talent.

Flexible working, generous holiday entitlements, healthcare and gym memberships are all examples of popular benefits. More unusual perks can promote an enticing brand image that is fun, welcoming or relaxed, such as Friday beers after work or a pool table in the break out room.


This article was produced in collaboration with Jerome Forde, a HR and employee relations specialist with almost 30 years’ senior-level experience in complex public, private and not-for-profit organisations. Jerome founded FordeCloud, a HRIT platform that uses the most advanced cloud technology to bring a virtual HR office to start-ups and SMEs.



Author: Editorial Team

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