Recruitment and HR Blog

The right fit - How to recruit staff in a candidate short market

Matt Heighway - Tuesday, April 03, 2018










When your business is short staffed, there can be nothing more frustrating than a candidate short market.

You and your team are already under the pump, and as an owner or manager you constantly find yourself being pulled into working ‘in’ rather than ‘on’ your business. This only impacts on your ability to focus on growth, client acquisition and product & service development.

But despite the temptation, it’s important to remember that desperate times shouldn’t mean you take desperate measures.

When you simply don’t have the resources to make ends meet, and fulfil the workload you have coming through the door, it can seem like a good option to appoint new employees who don’t fit in with your usual criteria and are a mis-match with your culture and values. But this in fact can do more harm than good and here is why:

1)A new team member who does not encompass your values and work in a way which reflects your business quality standards, ethics and systems will never be long term, so ultimately you spend time, money and effort training, developing, coaching and guiding for them only to leave before you have recouped your costs

2)Appointing a new team member who does not fit in with your existing team, who are committed to your vision and goals, will potentially upset them and have the reverse impact for you. To unsettle your existing team may result in less productive staff, or worse still those staff leaving the organisation because of the new person

3)In a candidate short market your judgement can be blurred by desperation. You need extra hands on deck ASAP, and the candidates in these markets know this. So they become more demanding with their expectations around terms, conditions and salaries. Ultimately you agree because you need someone, but long term it creates a situation with is no longer sustainable because the business workflow ends up structured around them and their demands, rather than the potential for a strong structure for growth.

Clearly there needs to be a solution to help get you and your business through this time, so here are a few things I recommend to help relieve the load!

1)Communicate openly with your existing team and support them – create an environment which keeps them engaged, motivated and focused. This way they will be as productive as possible for you. Share with them your efforts to locate a like minded team member, and even ask for their help with this, you never know who is around in their extended social circles.

2)Think outside the square. Clearly your usual ideal candidate is not out there right now, so how else could this work get done? Can the work be re structured in the office to create a different skills gap, can you promote or retrain an existing team member, can you systemise or streamline anything to help make processes easier and faster?

3)Think about outsourcing. This won’t be an option for all roles and all businesses, and certainly may not be long term. But in the short term could a contractor or outsourced supplier help you to get through this busy period?

4)What’s not urgent and taking up your time? Can it be put on the shelf for a short time? This can often be hard for business leaders who spend time and energy structuring things to enable them to spend time on their business and its overall strategy and development. But sometimes, especially in small business, the ability to switch between working in and on the business can be priceless for getting through these tough workflow periods

5)Get an outsider’s perspective. Ever felt like you can’t see the forest for the trees? It can happen so easily when you are snowed under, overwhelmed and unable to see a real solution. Getting an outside consultant, mentor or trusted advisor in to have a ‘birds eye’ look at your business might reveal some light bulb suggestions for easing the load, which had been in front of your face the whole time but just hadn’t crossed your mind. 

Above all else it’s important to remain positive and focused. Be clear about your vision and direction and the sort of people you want in your business to help you achieve these goals. If you remain clear on that, it will help ensure that even in the times you feel like you’re drowning in work, you make the right decisions about who you engage in your business and why.


Recruiting your first employee

Matt Heighway - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Footprint Recruitment Central Coast - finding staff









Sometimes just knowing where to start when hiring your first staff member can be the most daunting thing. For many of us, hiring the first staff member into our business is a huge step – not only because it means exciting things like growth and opportunity, but it often also means we need to let go of some control, trust someone else with our ‘baby’ and let this person in to our business world.

So to help those who find themselves in this position, here are the basic things to focus on when making your first hire:

1)Know what you are looking for:

Before you even start the hiring process, sit down and take a good look at your business. Write out all of the tasks that need doing in the business, and try and put them together into some logical positions and structures.

Now take the tasks you want or need to continue doing, and put these into your role, and have a look at what is left. From the tasks that are left, take a look at the tasks which are most important to the business being able to function – and which tasks do you most desperately need help with – you now have a focus for your new position, so write yourself a Position Description for the role (there are lots of templates available either online or from a HR service provider)


2)Know your target market:

After figuring out what sort of role you want to fill, and the type of candidate you want to fill it, start to think about where your ‘ideal applicant’ is looking for work.

There is no point advertising for someone in the local paper, if you know your ideal applicant probably doesn’t read the paper. Think about where your applicant looks for work, the sort of mediums they use, the location they will be in and the other people they are likely to come into contact with.

3)Write the right ad

Writing an ad that attracts the right sort of candidates, and lets readers know what are the essential components for the role will save you time by ensuring your applicant pool is generally better suited to what you are looking for. To get the best people for your role you will need to sell the role, and the company to the reader, and make it clear what you are seeking in regards to their skills, experience and qualifications.

4)Use Your Networks:Advertising is one way to find potential new employees, but don’t forget to think outside the box and use your networks, referral groups, industry associations and any other groups you have access to letting them know you are looking for someone.

5)Conduct Structured Interviews:

By conducting interviews where there are a number of questions which are set and asked standard to all applicants you will have a common set of responses by which to assess and compare them by after the interviews. You should also allow time for free talk, discussion and questions within each interview to help you understand those non tangible factors such as team fit and personality style.

After each interview reflect objectively on each one and make notes – it saves confusing multiple applicants after all the interviews are done.

6)Use Other Screening Tools:

Interviews are great and very important, but there are other tools available to help you make your decision – don’t forget about reference checking, skills testing, checking qualifications, psychometric assessments, aptitude tests, and the full range of other recruitment tools available to assist you.

Being the sole decision maker in a recruitment process can sometimes be difficult as you spend time thinking over your decision trying to make the right choice. By sharing the decision making process with other people you can cut the time spent doubting yourself and potentially losing great candidates. Seek assistance from advisors, mentors, or other key people who help you in your business.

7)If you are not sure – seek help:

Don’t be afraid to get help from a Recruiter, or HR Consultant if you think you need, or would like, some help. Find a Consultant who is happy for you to engage their services for the parts of the process you need help with or just don’t have the time.

8)Recruitment is Only Step 1:

Whilst recruiting the right person is really important, don’t forget that this is only the beginning of the process. Making sure the person has the right training, induction and ongoing management will give them the best chance for success in the role.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully these tips will help you make that first hire a successful one for you and your business.


The Boss of HR Documents - Position Descriptions

Matt Heighway - Thursday, March 22, 2018


Footprint Recruitment and HR - Product Descriptions









As a business owner of manager you may think you have a million more important things to do than write a Position Description for every role in your company.

Particularly in small business, where there is a need for flexibility within the scope and responsibility and daily duties of each individual, to meet the fluctuating needs and demands of a fluid business structure, these ‘structured’ documents can often seem limiting and unnecessary.

However, accurate and detailed Position Descriptions can be one of the most important documents to have in your business, and here is why:

1)They improve efficiency - They allow you to structure the business according to what needs doing and how it should be done, in the most efficient and effective way. Without clear Position Descriptions which are prepared prior to hiring and reviewed regularly, many businesses find themselves working around the people they have, and what they can or are willing to do, not what the business needs.

2)They create structure – as we all know, where there are no rules people instinctively will make up their own. Position descriptions which are clear, appropriately detailed and cover the nature, scope and duties of the role, as well as the expectations around employee behaviour and performance standards create a working ‘rule book’ for your employees.

3)They provide clarity - for you as a business owner or manager having position descriptions for each role allows you to understand where any gaps lie in your business, and also where you may be needing to allocate skills, experience and expertise as you grow

4)They provide a guideline for both staff and managers when it comes to performance expectations and managing poor performance. By having clear definitions within a position description around the expectations of what roles are to be performed, and how this is to be done, you have a tool to use against which to measure performance and manage appropriately

5)They create certainty for the employee, so that they feel confident and comfortable with what they are required to do, and how this is to be done. Many employees thrive off this sort of reassurance around the employers expectations of them, so having these in place is a simple way to provide that structure and certainty for your staff.

6)They provide the basis for a successful recruitment campaign. By having an up to date and accurate position description in place prior to commencing the recruitment campaign, you are much much more likely to appoint an appropriate candidates, because you have clarity around what you need in the role, and what skills, experience and expertise are required to fulfil these requirements.

7)They provide the framework for your regular and structured performance review process. The position description is the key tool through which you can easily assess your employees performance, and implement appropriate career development pathways, and training and development opportunities based on this.

Don't underestimate the importance of this HR document, contact Footprint HR Central Coast to learn how we can help


12 tips to make your Resume’s Cover Letter stand out

Matt Heighway - Friday, March 16, 2018



Footprint Recruitment and HR celebrating 12 years on the Central Coast











A Cover letter should accompany your resume with every job application. The application letter is a targeted, precise, interesting communication tool that provides you with the opportunity to sell your skills and experience.

To help keep your application out of the bin: 

1.Make sure your contact details are on it

2.Send you application letter addressed to a named individual rather than “to whom it may concern” whenever possible

3.Clearly address the position you are applying for

4.Make sure your cover letter is tailored to each position and company you are applying for

5.Identify the reason as to why you are applying for the job – be as specific as possible

6.Format your letter professionally and make it visually appealing and coordinated to your resume

7.Add in the requirements / selection criteria of the job

8.Provide or refer to any information specifically requested in the advertisement (e.g. Typing test results)

9.Do sell your skills and experience within the cover letter

10.Do keep it consistent, so make sure the font is all the same and sizing all the same

11.Proof read your cover letter – make sure there are NO spelling or grammar errors

12.Close the letter by sincerely thanking the person for their time and effort

It is a raging, competitive job market out there. If you want someone to look at your resume you need to make your cover letter stand out from the rest! Make it a well researched, engaging, and interesting cover letter to keep the employer wanting more.



Avoiding Common Recruitment Traps

Matt Heighway - Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Footprint Recruitment helps you avoid common recruitment mistakes











Is it possible that a successful recruitment project can come about less because of your exceptional planning and structures, and more because you knew where the traps were – and most importantly how to avoid them?

Here are some of the most common traps employers fall into when recruiting staff- and my tips on how to avoid them!

1)The ‘anyone is better than nothing’ trap:

When you need to hire a new staff member – you typically don’t have time on your side. So you are either refilling a position because someone has resigned, you are flat out busy or a new project has just landed on your lap – so getting things done quickly is often a priority. But falling into the trap that anything is better than nothing is not the right thing to do. Of course you need someone in the role, but assuming that just ‘anyone will do’ is a dangerous trap. Getting the right person for a role is critical to the long term success of the position, otherwise you’ll find yourself consistently managing the person, and filling the role time and time again. So resist the urge to fill the role with just ‘anyone’ and look at alternate solutions – like temps, casuals or outsourcing to help you through the immediate staff, while you take the appropriate time to find your perfect new employee.

2)The ‘no one will do the role as good as I can’ trap:

As business owners we are invested in our business, both financially and emotionally, more than we can ever expect anyone else to be. So we therefore assume that no one else could possibly do a task as well as we can. This is one of the traps which impacts on successful recruitment projects – sometimes employers need to learn to let go, and hire someone who can do the role almost as well, and train them up to their level from there.

3)The ‘I’ll make the role up to suit them’ trap:

This is a really easy trap for small businesses to fall into when hiring staff, because there is often so much which could be passed onto someone new, that you think you can make up a role to suit a candidate who you really like. Unfortunately this trap can lead to longer term issues when the team or the business is growing. Understanding your future business structure, and the specific roles you need before you start recruiting is paramount to avoiding this trap – know what you need from the role and the person performing it, and stick to it! Of course some flexibility is great, but if you are too flexible, you’ll only do yourself a disservice in the longer term by creating a structure which doesn’t work for the business, all because of one person.

4)The ‘reference checks are a waste of time’ trap:

Many employers decide to take ‘short cuts’ in the recruitment process by deciding that reference checking, or other critical parts of the process like interviews and skills testing, are a waste of time, and think they can trust their gut feel to get them through and save some time. There is no doubt that your gut feel is very important, but by failing to do the appropriate checks and assessments, leaves you open to the risk of hiring someone who does not have the skills, experience, attitudes, reliability and behaviours you need in the role.

5)The ‘her sister is looking for work’ trap:

Failing to properly asses the best candidates in the market is one of the biggest traps I see employers, particularly in small business, fall into.They hear of, or know of, someone looking for work, and thinks this gives them a quick fix to their staffing levels and busy workload.When recruiting staff you need to hire the people who know the roles best, and have the right skills and experience – not someone who knows your team well. Aside from the complications this trap creates to do with inappropriate skills and experience, there is the added complication of the ‘personalities’ involved – when they have a falling out with their friends who got them the job, the workplace can become very negative place with distractions and personal issues taking precedent over getting the job done!


Recruitment and Social Media

Matt Heighway - Wednesday, March 14, 2018










Social media seems to be re engineering the way we work across all areas of business.

Whilst it has most heavily impacted on our marketing, sales and branding processes, it has for many businesses become a method of sourcing referrals for suppliers, listing products, linking with associates and forming strategic alliances.

So how can social media help you recruit staff for your business – and is it a good tool to use?

There are 3 keys ways Social Media can play a part in our recruitment processes: 

1)Social Media as part of your network:

Perhaps the most obvious, and widely used social media recruitment technique is the concept of ‘word of mouth’. Our social media networks act as an extension of our existing ‘traditional’ networks – so putting it out there to all of your networks that you are currently recruiting is not a new concept. 

The Pro’s: you can access a wide range of people, each of whom know (or are connected with) lots of other people. This means the news of your vacancy may end up in front of many more people than via your ‘traditional’ networking, giving you a higher chance of someone suitable applying. It’s easy and it’s free – a Facebook post linking the reader to an advertisement on your website, or even just an overview and an e mail address takes a couple of minutes and is completely free. 

The Con’s: Do you want everyone to know you are recruiting? Putting it out there via your networks means the news of your vacancy could end up almost anywhere, in front of anyone. This includes suppliers, clients, competitors and staff (both past and present). There may be certain circumstances in which you wouldn’t want the news that you were hiring to be quite so public, in which case this is not a great tool for you to use.

Also, by having the news of a recruitment project publicised so willingly, you may find yourself inundated with interested applicants, which may be difficult to manage from an administrative and time perspective. 

2)Social Media Job Boards:

Just like Seek, MyCareer, CareerOne and all of the other niche online job boards, there are now social media job boards which are available to use when recruiting for staff. The most obvious being LinkedIn which is considered the social media site of choice for professionals looking to connect. LinkedIn has an integrated job board and recruitment function. 

The Pro’s: Like all job boards you can tailor your ad and nominate how you receive applications, queries and responses. If you are seeking professionals or executives this can be a great – why? Because it’s where the professionals are ‘hanging out’ online. 

The Con’s: There is a cost in placing ads, like with all commercial job boards. For LinkedIn it’s just under $200 per ad. Like any form of direct employment advertising, you can get a range of unsuitable applicants which need to be managed and responded to.

3)Building My Company Brand:

Social media is a great way to build brand awareness and presence, it’s one the main reasons it’s used across all industries as part of their marketing mix. When recruiting staff, this brand awareness can be used a great tool to attract top talent.

To be the best business you can be, you want the best possible people working for you. Similarly, the best talent want to work for the best company in their field. So how do you get that reputation?

Social Media can be a great way to help build this. It also builds a level of ‘familiarity’ in candidates minds. It allows you to communicate your key values and attitudes, and in doing this you will be more likely to attract talent whose views and beliefs match up to the organisations. This leads to better long term recruitment solutions, with individuals who engage more readily and fully with the organisation and their role, and who are going to be a better fit for the organisation and its team.

Overall using Social media to recruit can be an excellent way to leverage your online networks to attract a wide range of applicants. However, like with all other recruitment methods, you should still follow through in using your other selection tools, such as interviews, reference checks and assessments to ensure you are making the best possible hiring decision for your business.


Choosing a Recruitment Partner

Matt Heighway - Wednesday, March 14, 2018










Recently a situation was bought to my attention which reminded me of the importance of choosing the right recruitment partner for your business and project.

We were in the process of assisting a candidate secure a new role. We had discussed with her various client companies who operated within her desired target market, and discussed in details her ideal next role and longer term career aspirations. After our discussions we had come up with a shortlist of three local organisations who were of most interest to her as a prospective employee, and both agreed that one of these organisations was a stand out in terms of its suitability and prospects.

So, we progressed, putting her application forward to our client and coordinated an interview for her.

In the interim period (about a week) the candidate received calls for two other interviews, one was with another local firm and the other with another recruiter.

The other firm was one we discussed at interview, and was just off our shortlist. The candidate had applied directly with them several weeks prior and I encouraged them to attend that interview as I believed the organisation had some good opportunities for them, and would give them a good comparison to our client.

The recruiter was based outside of our region, but actively advertising many local roles. She attended that interview and that recruiter ‘insisted’ on putting her forward to their client, despite her expressing her concerns regarding that firms suitability for her career.

Well when I spoke to the candidate to follow up on the interviews she had been very impressed with our client and they were definitely her preferred employer, she had been somewhat impressed by the firm who contacted her directly, and would consider them in her decision.

She was not at all impressed with the third firm whom the other recruiter sent her to. She had concerns regarding the suitability of the firm and the role for her career objectives, and had also received negative feedback about the firm from a friend, she said the interview only confirmed that the role did not at all fit in with her career goals and aspirations.

Her exact comment – “well that makes sense, the dodgy recruiter sent me to the dodgy company” I went on to question further what she meant by this. She explained that the recruiter had been pushy, unprofessional, rude and very insistent on her attending the interview. She felt this recruiter was a reflection of the organisation they represented.

Here’s the thing; I know the organisation and have represented them previous. Whilst the role is definitely not aligned with her direction, they are reputable, not dodgy, and in fact very professional.

So the experience with the recruiter, combined with some word of mouth hearsay, has greatly affected the candidates perception and opinion of this company.

I wonder, how does the recruitment partner you chose impact a potential employee’s perception of you and your business? If they are not positive, professional, knowledgeable and interested in long term solutions for all involved, are they your ideal partner?


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