3 steps for mastering the recruitment challenge – part 1


2012 has thrown up a number of significant challenges for advisers but the one that has caused no end of frustration has been the issue of staff recruitment.

Many owners of financial planning businesses have found that what they thought would be a relatively straight forward recruitment exercise turned out to be a marathon effort, often with either a compromise being reached as to the candidate chosen or the candidates interviewed weren’t a good fit for the role and the position remained vacant.

Apart from the frustration involved, recruitment can be an unwelcome distraction to your business and be a relatively expensive exercise. To help you avoid the pitfalls, in the next three articles I will guide you through your options as to how best approach recruitment and provide you with the tools to help ensure that you are in the best possible position to secure the right candidate for the role you are seeking to fill.

Practice Management
Given that staff costs are the greatest expense incurred by businesses and that the successful recruitment of new staff is critical to your business’s continued success, recruitment should be seen as an integral part of practice management.

The key to successful recruitment is contingent on the initial focus put on planning the recruitment campaign, the allocation of resources to support the process and you ensuring the process stays on track.

From the outset you will need to consider who will be responsible for managing the process and whether they have the time, skills and experience required. If you decided to take a hands-on role then you should look closely at what resources you will need to draw on and what the costs will be to your business. This should include costing out your own time and that of staff who will be involved.

Often the decision is made to take the DIY approach mainly due to the perceived cost savings of not using a recruiter and after all, how hard can it be to write an ad and stick it on SEEK then just wait for all those applicants to come knocking? This is ad hoc approach can be like throwing darts at a dart board with a blindfold on; you may get lucky but then again, your advertisement may be buried amongst so many others unless it is effectively pitched at its target audience.

When I managed a financial planning business, I found myself in exactly this position and thought the search would soon be over; however the advertisement didn’t draw the candidates I was seeking so I had to sit back and rethink the recruitment strategy. This came at cost that could have been avoided if I’d taken more time to consider the most effective way to undertake the recruitment campaign. It was a valuable lesson – and one that I’ve never forgotten.

The steps involved in undertaking a successful recruitment campaign
From my experience as both a financial planning manager and a recruiter, I have been able to identify the steps you need to take to ensure that you have a recruitment strategy that is going to help you secure the best fit candidates for your business.

Step one – position analysis/review
The starting point for any recruitment process is to look at where the role fits in your business, its scope, responsibilities and expected deliverables, reporting lines and potential role development in to the future. If it is an existing role, this is your opportunity to ensure that it fulfils your current and future requirements.

Step Two – The position description
When you think you have a good grasp on what the role looks like, it’s time to write up the position description. The rule here is too much is better than too little, so that candidates have a very clear idea about the scope of the role through to expectations in terms of delivery.

The position description is also acts as a window to your practice, reflecting not only where this position fits, but also provides an overview of the structure and culture of the business.

If you write the position description as a monochrome document then you are missing an opportunity to present your practice in the best possible light. If you keep in mind that the candidates you are seeking to attract will be well sought after, it is important that the position description tells them that your practice offers them an attractive career opportunity.  Add some colour and light by including some differentiating points about your practice and briefly enunciate what makes yours an attractive work environment.

I have written and reviewed countless position descriptions. The ones that work best not only describe all the factual information about responsibilities, reporting lines and so forth, but they humanise the company by telling you things about the culture and the principals in the business. If, for instance, it is a family business, say something about the history of the business, who founded it and why. If the practice is a specialist practice, talk about that and why the business has this focus.

Step three – DIY or using a recruiter
In the second part of this article I will discuss the pros and cons of DIY and if you decide to work with a recruiter how they will work with you and the associated costs.



  • Alasdair Billingham says:

    Good start Peter and I’m interested to see where you go with this.

    Fully agree about using the PD to describe your business. Too many PDs are anodyne and tell nobody anything.

    I’d suggest as a sidebar to “Step one – position analysis/review” that a hiring manager think deeply about the outputs required and the knowledge, skills and attributes required to produce those outputs. You need to hire a person, not a job title.

  • Peter Dawson says:

    Thanks Alasdair, it’s good to hear your view. Unfortunately all too often the failure in any recruitment process can be tracked back to the planning stage when the role should be clearly defined along with the attributes of the ideal candidate. This sets the ground work for drafting an accurate and relevant position description. I have found that all too often hiring managers don’t think there is a need to invest too much time on this; they haven’t the experience to know how important it is or alternatively the recruiter they have engaged sees it as tick box issue and approach it in a perfunctory manner. One thing is certain, the more time spent getting the planning stage right the less time scratching your head wondering what went wrong down the track.

  • Cesar Farfan says:

    Well done for getting on the front foot, great to see some thought leadership from an experienced industry leader. Without a doubt, Practice Managers should own this piece of work and run the process in consultation with the practice principals/directors and HR/recruitment specialist. Look forward to reading Parts 2 & 3. Cheers.

  • Simon Micallef says:

    Hi Peter, well stated. I couldn’t agree more. It is equally important for the hiring manager to sell and showcase the business as it is the candidate that is seeking the opportunity.

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