The Biggest Challenges Facing Recruiters


When you’re looking to hire the best talent for your business, you’ll inevitably run into a few challenges along the way. Here we explore what some of these challenges mean to the recruiter, how it affects them and some detailed solutions to help solve them. 

Challenge 1 - Market Fragmentation

The last 10 years have seen significant innovation in the recruitment space, but not all innovation brings the improvements promised. The modern recruiter now faces the daunting task of wading through the fragmented recruitment technology landscape and trying to understand what recruitment tools and services are out there. 

In the UK alone, there are around 5000 job boards, and numerous social media channels, fixed price solutions, databases, aggregators, PPC providers, psychometric and behavioural profiling tools, video profiling, data-mining services and more. 

The challenge is to get to the truth about what these solutions can actually do. This is because performance can vary dramatically between market leaders and inferior products that simply don’t work.


List your objectives 

First, list your company objectives. By determining exactly what you want to achieve, you can start to think about what tools and services can help you to achieve them. This will also encourage you to evaluate the effectiveness of the tools and services you’re already using.

For example, your primary objective might be to reduce recruitment costs. This could be achieved by reducing dependency on agency recruiters, having a more efficient system for managing your recruitment activity or improving the quantity and quality of applicants.

Break down the recruitment life cycle 

Each job may require a different combination of recruitment solutions. There will be some tools and services that are appropriate for all your requirements, and these are the ones you want to start with.

Make the process easier for yourself by breaking down the recruitment life cycle into 3 stages, and then research, review, and trial each of the tools that can help you to meet your chosen objectives for each stage.

1. Talent attraction 

Stage one of the recruitment life cycle is talent attraction. Job board advertising is by far the most effective way to attract applicants, and you should select the job posting and advertising solutions that are most suited to your vacancy. 

Select which job boards to use by searching on Google for the job title and location to understand where applicants are most likely to go. 

If job boards aren’t working for you, then consider using aggregators like Indeed, LinkedIn or Facebook. 

Senior positions and hard-to-fill roles deserve to have a larger budget and may need more testing into what solutions work best.

2. Campaign Management 

Stage two is campaign management. To effectively do this, you’ll need a platform you can operate everything from. This could be a CRM, an Applicant Tracking System, or a Recruitment Management Platform.

For SMEs in particular, avoid long contracts and up-front fees until you have trialled the system and are satisfied that it is going to meet your objectives.

Ensure the following when choosing your platform: 

  • Is it cloud-based?

  • There is flexibility to integrate other tools quickly at minimum cost, e.g. competency-based assessments and screening tools.

  • It performs all the functionality of an applicant tracking system. 

  • It can generate reports so you can measure performance.

  • It has good parsing software to reduce administration time.

  • It has a good selection of pre-integrated tools.

Choosing the right platform for all these tasks is probably your most significant decision but is central to your recruitment activities. When you get this bit right, selecting other tools and services that work within it is a lot easier.

3. Screening and selection of applicants 

The final stage of the recruitment life cycle is due diligence and the screening and final selection of applicants. There are lots of tools that can assist you here.

For customer-facing roles, consider video profiling technology to understand how candidates communicate. 

To ensure you recruit the right cultural fit, consider using behavioural assessment tools. 

Before moving to the offer, you can use ID, background, and reference checkers.

While there are other tools, technologies and methodologies not mentioned in this chapter, this gives a simplistic overview of the recruitment technology landscape, and how to identify and select the best recruitment tools, especially for anyone who finds the market confusing. 

- Finding the right recruitment technology so that you can find the perfect candidate is vital.

Challenge 2 - Improving Efficiency During the Recruitment Process 

Unnecessary administration time and duplication of effort is what soaks up most of a recruiter’s time and accrues costs to the company. 

In this chapter, we explore the idea that improving efficiency within the recruitment process has numerous benefits. It makes recruitment less arduous, saves costs, speeds up the entire recruitment process, improves applicant experience and quality, avoids drop-offs, and ultimately drives results.


Identify what needs improving
First, break down the recruitment cycle into stages, and identify which are the most time consuming to you:

  1. Requisition approval 

  2. Job advert writing 

  3. Advertising channel selection 

  4. Job posting 

  5. CV and campaign management 

  6. Communicating to unsuccessful applicants 

  7. Screening potentially suitable applicants 

  8. Managing interviews 

  9. Screening incoming sales calls

Before we detail each of these stages, get one if you don’t have a recruitment management system (RMS) to coordinate your recruitment activities. 

The days of managing a recruitment campaign manually are long gone, and using one of these systems will drastically improve the effectiveness of your talent attraction strategy. There are many free and low-cost options available.

1. Requisition approval

Most recruitment platforms will have some sort of requisition approval tool, but there are also plugins you can add to your ATS or CRM.

The most efficient process is for all parties to be sent the requisitions simultaneously and establish a KPI to expose the person creating the bottleneck. 48 hours from requisition to initiating the recruitment process is a sensible KPI.

2. Job advert writing

90% of all jobs posted online are not job adverts. They are job specifications. Job specifications receive less than 30% of the applications that a well-written advert can. 

The easiest way to overcome this is to establish a job advert formula and create a guide so each time you need to write ad copy, there is a process that can be replicated. Maybe the hiring manager is asked to write a job spec and provide information that will help sell the job – whatever you do, ensure all people contributing to the process can replicate this.

3. Advertising channel selection

When advertising a job, the first thing to do is to consider where candidates looking for that type of role are most likely to go. 73% of all job-related searches start in Google, so replicate what candidates do and run a search using the job title and location. Look at the results – if you get the top 3 channels covered, you will maximise your results.

Also, consider fixed fee advertising options. Many of these will cover the top 3

channels, and provide you with better value for money than going to each individual

job advertising channel separately.

4. Job posting

Suppose you’re regularly posting jobs to multiple channels (including your career site, social media channels and groups) and specialist job advertising boards. In that case, the ultimate tool to consider is a multi-poster like Broadbean. Multi-posters let you upload your job once and post to all channels in one click. 

5. CV & campaign management

This is probably the most time-consuming aspect of recruitment - Sifting through applicant CVs to find candidates with the right skills and experience before selecting the shortlist for screening.

Inside most recruitment management platforms, you can score, grade, and write notes about applicants. Some of the more advanced systems also have integrated parsing that automatically matches applicant skills and experience for you, placing them into an order of suitability. This gives you a significant head start on roles that receive many applications and will save up to 50% of the process’ time generally spent on this part. 

6. Communicating with unsuccessful applicants

Surveys show that 82% of all applicants never receive any response after applying for a job. Given the importance many companies place on protecting and promoting their brand, this is incredibly detrimental.

Communicating with unsuccessful applicants may seem like a laborious task with no real reward, but most applicants are incredibly grateful to receive any form of communication from you.

Building a corporate brand is all about reputation and trust, and the recruitment process gives companies an excellent opportunity to reach out and touch a high number of relevant people every time they have a vacancy. People that apply are getting a taste of your brand and establishing an opinion of that brand on the back of that experience. 

Your recruitment management system should have the ability to mass email out rejections that can be personalised. They take seconds to deploy, so there is no excuse for not doing this.

7. Screening potentially suitable applicants

Over 50% of all recruitment selection consists only of a CV application and an interview. Only 37% of companies even bother to take references. So when we consider that over 80% of employees that leave their job within the first year of employment do so due to cultural and behavioural alignment issues, it’s crazy that so few companies bother to measure and assess applicants against this.

Screening is perceived as timely, costly, and a bit of an enigma. At a minimum, you should conduct behavioural assessments, a pre-interview task, and a pre-offer background/reference check. If the recruitment management system you’re using doesn’t provide these services, you can look to get them integrated.

8. Managing interviews 

A good recruitment management system will let you coordinate interviews better, but the way to make this more efficient is to agree on more recruitment slots than you need and then use an online diary system. Applicants can then select from the slots available, and once taken, those slots are removed, all parties are notified with interview details, and Outlook diaries are automatically blocked out. 

9. Screening incoming sales calls 

Many companies receive more than 10 sales calls a day from recruitment agencies, job boards, social media channels and PPC providers. Dealing with these calls is distracting and time-consuming, but making a provision, so you don’t miss potential solutions is also essential.

The simplest solution is to have a phone system that asks the caller to select from several options. One of these would be that you are a service provider looking to introduce your service to the company. This option would lead to a pre-recorded message that directs the caller to a page on the website where they can complete a form outlining what their product/service does and what benefits it offers. Representatives of the company could consider each proposal and decide whether to invite the company to a conversation or meeting.

This will filter out time-wasters that don’t have something worthwhile to offer and allow you to manage these calls more efficiently.

- Improving your recruitment efficiency can save your company money.

Challenge 3 - Avoiding Bad Hires

Making a ‘bad hire’ is one of the biggest challenges facing recruiters today. 

PwC and KPMG surveys estimate that at least one in five hires turn out to be a mistake that probably wouldn’t have happened had better screening and due diligence taken place. 

To calculate the real cost of a bad hire that leaves in the first year of employment, try this: (¼ x annual salary + salary paid) x 2

For example: A person on a £50k salary that leaves after 6 months has cost the business approximately £75k.

However, this figure could be considerably higher if the bad hire was responsible for sales or had a toxic effect on others in the company.


Applying better due diligence will ultimately help you make better hiring decisions. Various surveys have shown that more than 80% of people who leave a job in the first 12 months do so for behavioural and cultural reasons, so it makes sense to start here.

Behavioural and cultural assessments 

Recruitment is difficult enough when you’re matching CVs to jobs based on skills and experience, so including complex behavioural and cultural alignment assessments is a scary prospect to many recruiters.

Behavioural profiling tools have recently increased in popularity, where the company completes a benchmark that candidates are measured against. What’s good about this methodology is you measure the cultural and behavioural preferences of the company against those of the candidate, quickly highlighting areas of potential conflict. Once you know where areas of conflict exist, you can then decide whether to examine this further at an interview or apply more screening.

Video profiling

For customer-facing roles, video profiling is a great tool. This invites candidates to respond to a recorded set of questions in their own time.

Resist the temptation to ask interview questions when using video profiling tools and instead invite applicants to talk about themselves.

What you’re ideally judging is appearance, communication skills and personality. This will give you as close as you will get to that first 5 minutes of a face-to-face interview.

Background check

Before you make an offer, the final bit of due diligence should be a background check, consisting of an ID check, reference check, and qualification checks. Thankfully most of us do a reference check, but you might be surprised that ID and qualification checks are relatively inexpensive via established organisations like Experian.

- A poor hire can potentially cost your business more than you initially realise.

Challenge 4 - Improving Time-to-Hire

Measuring what you’re doing is vitally important if you want to deliver a best-in-class service. Time-to-hire is a particularly key metric, as it’s a good indicator of how efficient your recruiting process is and provides a benchmark for you to drive improvements.

Operating an efficient recruitment process isn’t just good for the company to get roles filled quicker - it also creates a better candidate experience and a higher fulfilment rate, with fewer candidates dropping out of the process or declining offers.

However, if you’re going to measure your performance in this area, you need to measure the correct metric. ‘Time-to-hire’ should be ‘time-to offer’, as the recruitment team has virtually no control over notice periods.

The average time-to-offer seems to be between 35 and 40 days, however, a best-in-class recruitment service should aim for an average time-to-offer of under 30 days. A central recruitment management system will contribute to this metric massively.


Post your job to the broadest network of relevant advertising & sourcing channels possible

Around 75% of all applications should come in over the first week. Choosing a wide range of advertising channels will attract more suitable applicants to your prospect list as early as possible.

Post to agencies early on

If you’re willing to consider applications from agencies, you should get them involved by the end of the first week. Set the agencies tight deadlines and challenge them to meet KPIs (i.e. provide us with your best 4 applicants within the next 10 days).

Suppose agencies are operating on a contingency basis. In that case, it’s a no-risk strategy, and carefully selected applicants can be used to compare quality and act as a safety net if your direct hire efforts fail to deliver.

Write optimised advertising copy 

Maximising the number of people that apply to your job is critical. Getting the job found quickly by more people on each advertising channel is down to keyword optimisation and writing advertising copy that influences candidates. This will increase application numbers by as much as 500%

Place deadlines on applications

Placing deadlines will incentivise applicants to apply there and then, but most importantly, it keeps the recruitment team and recruitment agencies focused on getting the prospect pipeline filled quickly.

Start shortlisting immediately

A best-in-class recruitment process will involve assessing applicants against important criteria like key competencies, cultural and behavioural alignment, and deploying technical assessments.

You can start to issue requests to the best applicants as they come in. This needs to be done tactfully and the correct balance between nurturing and screening of those shortlisted candidates should be maintained.

Communicate with the best applicants continuously

Avoiding applicant drop-off is essential, as many of the best candidates will probably already be in employment and are the most likely to lose interest.

It may add to the administrative effort if you email every applicant acknowledging their application and screen the best applicants. You need to ensure that this is also balanced with communications that help retain candidates’ interest through sending emails, texts, and making telephone calls.

This may not slow down the process but will minimise drop-off, speed up screening, and reduce the number of offers being declined. This avoids having to start again or missing out on your preferred candidate.

Pre-book interview slots

Why companies start trying to schedule and coordinate interviews at the last minute is quite baffling. This issue is often responsible for delays and for losing applicants.

At least this way, you are working to a worst-case scenario of 25 days to complete interviews. If you are operating a two interview process, again, you might want to pull the first interview dates forward.

Make offers subject to references and background checks

If you find someone you like and want to hire them subject to references, don’t wait for the references to come back before making the verbal offer. The candidate is unlikely to put their notice in until confirmed 100%, but they can remove themselves from the market and withdraw from any other applications they have active. Some applicants will want to come back in to meet the team once an offer has been made, and this period is an excellent time to do that.


- Improving your time-to-hire is key to maintaining a positive candidate experience.

Challenge 5 - Reducing Recruitment Costs

There are direct recruitment costs (such as advertising and agency fees) and associated recruitment costs (such as the salaries of people involved in the recruitment process and the training and development of a new hire).

There are also indirect recruitment costs. For example, if a hire was not right and leaves within the first 12 months, there are associated indirect costs if they negatively impacted the people around them or caused a loss of income.

So what are the highest costs in recruitment?

Reducing recruiting costs is not always about reducing spending. Without a doubt, the highest recruitment cost is getting it wrong, with the estimated cost of making a bad hire being more than £50k. Investing in the tools to properly assess applicants is key to delivering a cost-effective solution long term.


A recruitment management system
Investment into a modern recruitment management system might reduce the time it takes to hire staff and provide a generous return on investment over the year.

Buying the right advertising

When it comes to advertising spend, it’s more about buying relevant advertising. Just because Monster is cheaper than Jobsite or CV-Library, doesn’t make it more affordable if you don’t fill the jobs.

A larger advertising budget might result in more jobs being filled directly, and subsequently, reduce spending in areas such as hiring agencies.


The best way to reduce recruitment costs is simply to focus on the retention of the people that you already have. If you don’t have to replace, you don’t incur any costs. Some budget should be put into a strategy that supports this.

Of course, this is a massive topic all on its own. I just couldn’t see how we could include a chapter on cost reduction without at least mentioning the topic of staff retention.


There is an argument that even agency recruitment costs pay for themselves because using a professional third party saves time and effort in the process. Also, if the quality is superior to what you can recruit yourself, the agency fee will potentially be recovered many times over by the higher calibre individual hired.

Agency recruitment costs, even if they can pay for themselves, can still be avoided. A best-in-class internal recruitment system is quite often capable of matching the agency recruiter for quality. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use agency recruiters, just use them more intelligently and be happy to pay the fee if they can deliver superior talent.

A recruitment platform

For any company to be serious about reducing recruitment spending without reducing new hires’ quality, they will undoubtedly need a recruitment platform at the heart of their strategy.

The recruitment platform can assist in many ways, especially around efficiencies, giving time back to the recruiter to spend on the best applicants. A poor and inefficient recruiting process can also affect candidate quality and lead to extended administration time and duplication of effort, not to mention mistakes, including good candidates getting missed. 

- Recruiting the best talent does not need to be costly. Using a service like The Talent Hub can drastically reduce your recruitment costs.

An All-In-One Solution

We’ve covered some of the significant challenges for recruiters, with plenty of solutions that help solve them. The Talent Hubs award-winning talent acquisition platform offers an efficient, all-in-one recruitment solution to many of these challenges.

  • Market Fragmentation: All the tools you need for an effective recruitment process are integrated into one easy-to-use platform. This includes the top tools for talent attraction, candidate screening, candidate communication and more.

  • Improving Efficiency: The platform centralises all your recruitment activity, helps teams collaborate, generates reports to pinpoint areas for improvement, and automates time-consuming administrative tasks.

  • Avoiding Bad Hires: Easily identify when candidates are not suited to your roles with fully integrated advanced screening software, such as CV parsing and grading, video profiling, and behavioural assessments.

  • Improving Time-to-Hire: Take the time out of manual administrative tasks, communicate with candidates efficiently, and generate reports to pinpoint where you are spending too much time, all contributing to an improved time-to-hire metric.

  • Reducing Recruitment Costs: The platform itself is low-cost and helps you cut on the costs associated with a lengthy recruitment process, appropriate advertising media selection, and making the right hire.

To find out more information, or to book a demonstration, get in touch with one of our experienced and friendly team members today.

0800 634 4477


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Date: 09/09/2021