Recruitment masterclass: How to create a game-changing hiring process

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Key takeaways from the Recruitment Masterclass event on 21 May, as part of Fundraising Week 2018

Watch our Wonderful Workplaces video to find out what third sector HR professionals think makes a ‘wonderful workplace’ in the charity sector.

As part of Fundraising Week, Third Sector Jobs, in association with People Management Jobs and Harris Hill, hosted a Recruitment Masterclass - an exclusive event for HR professionals and hiring managers - to learn about and discuss innovating the recruitment process within the fundraising sector.

Around 30 delegates attended the event on 21 May, which took place at the London Transport Museum, with representation from top charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, British Heart Foundation, Comic Relief and Breast Cancer Care.

Key speakers included Andrew Hyland, head of recruitment and resourcing at Macmillan Cancer Support, and Mike Fahey, executive vice president of Madgex - the market leading job board specialist.

The case for a great onboarding experience

"Create a best-in-class programme, make it special, and then use it as a competitive advantage and a differentiator in our marketplace", is how Andrew Hyland, head of recruitment and resourcing at Macmillan Cancer Support, set about transforming the charity’s recruitment strategy when he joined eight years ago.

Create a best-in-class programme, make it special, and then use it as a competitive advantage and a differentiator in our marketplace.

So why is onboarding so important and why should you invest in it? Hyland explained that onboarding ranks second after recruiting, with the second highest business impact of all the 22 HR practices. He went on to add that 66% of new hires who take part in a great onboarding process are likely to remain with a company for longer than three years. And 10% of effective onboarding programmes can improve employee performance by over 10%. (Boston Consulting Group, Society of Human Resources, Recruiting Roundtable).

"Retaining the skills you hire will be more important than ever with Brexit looming", Hyland continued, as he took the audience through the key goals he started with when he joined Macmillan:

  • To improve candidate experience
  • Improve manager’s engagement
  • Improve time from offer
  • Reduce admin and improve data accuracy
  • Reduce non-starters
  • Reduce the probation failure rate
  • Reduce the number of leavers in their first six months

To understand exactly how best to go about achieving these ambitious goals, Macmillan ran a survey with 118 new members of staff within their first 12 months of service. Useful feedback such as "I would have liked to learn more about the overall structure of the organisation and how all the different teams connect" and "I only received an email from HR with the staff handbook, HR forms to fill out and other HR policies" directly helped Macmillan begin a journey of transformation.

They built intranet pages to enhance the line management offer, created branded pages rich in information and used this as a medium to introduce people to the charity’s values, culture and behaviours.

Watch this demonstration of Macmillan’s new onboarding system

Macmillan is now taking onboarding to the next stage. It will offer GDPR training through a new portal and plans to review how it delivers management training: "Our new management training will be delivered digitally and we will be focusing on how we can stretch people in terms of breadth rather than upwards" adds Hyland.

Online recruitment trends

"Online recruitment is changing at a faster rate than ever before", stated Mike Fahey, executive vice president of Madgex, in his introduction. "New players are battling for control over the job board market, not least Google which is moving into recruitment and partnering with job boards, with its Google for Jobs product set to launch in the UK soon following its success in the US."

Google for Jobs

What will Google for Jobs mean for charity recruitment? Fahey offered these tips to help you make the most of it:

  • Work with high quality partners who will be integrated with Google 
  • Create appealing job descriptions that are well optimised
  • Ensure job categories are well optimised - for example, make sure you include salary and location details
  • ‘Jobs near me’ will become a key search term with Google for Jobs, so make sure you tag the job location

Niche job boards have engaged audiences, ongoing relationships that go beyond transactional jobseeking, and they have built trust with their audiences, as well as solid industry expertise.

As for other players, Fahey explained that Facebook’s job board has now launched in several countries, which could grow to be a significant player in the market. Indeed is the most successful aggregator in terms of traffic and revenue and they’re increasing their marketing programmes significantly. However, they are generalist so do not have access to a targeted, niche professional audience in the same manner as niche job boards.

"Niche job boards have engaged audiences, ongoing relationships that go beyond transactional jobseeking, and they have built trust with their audiences, as well as solid industry expertise", explains Fahey.

Employer branding

Employer branding is becoming more important too: "Talent leaders identify employer branding as the number one area where they wish they could invest more", says Fahey. He backed up his statement with the following statistics from Madgex’ latest Global Jobseeker Survey:

  • 50% of jobseekers use niche job boards to research companies prior to application
  • 57% of jobseekers said the jobseeking process is too impersonal

Artificial intelligence

Another key trend impacting on the world of recruitment is artificial intelligence (AI). Since the ATS, recruiters have leveraged technology to make their jobs easier, faster and better.

"Now with AI you can automate high volume tasks such as writing job descriptions and screening CVs, and you can use machine learning to ensure the language used in job adverts appeal to a diverse audience and avoid unconscious bias. For example, it can be gender neutral", explained Fahey.

However, there are challenges, as Fahey warned: "AI requires a lot of data in order to learn how to accurately do the work recruiters do, such as how to screen CVs. This can mean results in the real world are mixed for industry specific niche roles."


The masterclass concluded with a Q&A session chaired by Keith Cross, key account manager, Third Sector Jobs, with key questions including:

Q: Where does a charity start when it comes to employer branding?

"It’s never been more important for charities to bring to life the work they’ve done and highlight that with case studies", enthused Andrew Hyland. "Careers content is not enough. You have to create brand ambassadors, meet people face to face at events and build trust with your charity’s brand".

"Working with job boards to boost your employer brand is probably the easiest way to start", explained Gabriella Lee, sales director, Third Sector Jobs. "Slow changes are the easiest to tackle, face to face contact is king and employer branding videos can be used across so many different channels such as in your mailers, on your website and social media networks. Sometimes it’s as simple as communicating the great benefits you offer through your job copy."

Q: How can we attract fundraising professionals?

"The sector doesn’t struggle with attracting people, it just struggles to attract the RIGHT people", explained Hyland. "If you’re recruiting for a fundraising manager, it could be someone’s first job in fundraising, so you have to be creative about how you write the job advert, to focus on transferable skills rather than prior fundraising experience, so as not to put people off who might well be suitable even though they have not worked in fundraising before."

Q: What makes a good fundraiser?

"Someone who understands your charity and cause", continued Hyland. "We develop the people we’re interested in. We’re less focused on prior experience or whether someone has been a fundraiser before, we’re more interested in behavioural traits. Once you’ve got hold of the right traits and behaviours, the world is your oyster, you can grow and develop your own."

Q: How can technology support charities with employer branding?

"Some organisations use technology to drip feed information about their employer brand at different stages of the application process, rather than bombarding candidates with everything all at once at the start", explains Fahey. "This way even those who don’t get the job are likely to still feel inspired and engaged with that employer’s brand and may apply again in future."

He continued: "The application process is often so long-winded and some ATS systems still don’t work well on mobile devices, which is leading to many charities missing out on drop outs from potential candidates who simply don’t want to go through the process of filling in eight-page application forms. Consider what you really need to know from a candidate in order to invite them to interview, and keep the initial application process as short and simple as possible."

Hyland added: "We’re a sector that loves tradition, so any game-changing process requires persuasive conversations with senior management. I would take CVs off the application process and replace them with video interviews or video CVs. It will take time but we will move on."

How can we create a diverse culture?

Hyland admitted: "I think we’re all struggling with what diversity means in terms of demographics. One place to start is to have someone in the organisation responsible for diversity. It’s something that should be part of the DNA of an organisation. You should also have multiple channels to promote acceptance of people from different backgrounds."

How do you benchmark your recruitment success?

"It’s all about networking", explained Hyland. "At Macmillan we share a graduate scheme with the British Heart Foundation called Gradunique - we pool our resources and share information so we can benchmark against each other. Sometimes you might feel you’re the only charity struggling with something but by speaking to other charities you realise others are going through the same thing, and you can try and tackle it together."

Aled Morris, CEO, Harris Hill concluded: "At a time when candidates are scarce and charities are competing for the best talent, things move quickly. If you think someone is right for the job, make your offer without procrastination before they’re snapped up elsewhere.

"To secure the best fundraising talent, evaluate how much of your recruitment process is necessary, make it quick and easy for people to apply, and run the interview process as swiftly and decisively as possible."

Check out the latest charity jobs from Harris Hill

#TSFRW18 #WonderfulWorkplaces

Third Sector Jobs is running an initiative called 'Wonderful Workplaces' to get charities and other organisations in the third sector enthused about showcasing their employer brand. Check out the Wonderful Workplaces in the Third Sector careers hub here. Contact to get involved.

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