Hr Recruitment

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Employee Relations
Emerald Article: Recruitment in small firms: Processes, methods and problems
Marilyn Carroll, Mick Marchington, Jill Earnshaw, Stephen Taylor

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To cite this document: Marilyn Carroll, Mick Marchington, Jill Earnshaw, Stephen Taylor, (1999),"Recruitment in small firms: Processes, methods and problems", Employee Relations, Vol. 21 Iss: 3 pp. 236 - 250 Permanent link to this document:
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Recruitment in small firms
Processes, methods and problems
Marilyn Carroll, Mick Marchington, Jill Earnshaw


Manchester School of Management, UMIST, Manchester, UK, and

Stephen Taylor

Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
Keywords Employment, Recruitment, Small firms, Staff turnover Abstract The article summarises findings from recent case study research into recruitment in small firms. The research aims to ascertain whether small firms follow the procedures outlined in the prescriptive literature on recruitment, and to what extent they rely on informal recruitment methods. It finds little evidence of the adoption of the recommended systematic procedures and a high use of ``tried and trusted'' methods including word-of-mouth recruitment and the hiring of ``known quantities''. The implications of this are examined. While these methods have certain advantages, they may also give rise to a number of problems. The study argues that the adoption of more formal procedures and methods could reduce staff turnover in small firms and its associated costs. However, it concludes that many small employers would remain unconvinced by the case for opening up recruitment channels, and may find their existing approaches more cost effective in the short term.

A considerable quantity of prescriptive literature is available to managers responsible for recruiting staff aimed at helping them to increase the chances of finding the right person for the job. Most of this advice, however, seems to be aimed at large organisations. Assumptions are made about the degree of formality which would normally characterise the recruitment process and the extent to which employers are likely to adopt systematic and proactive searches for new recruits. In contrast, relatively little material is available specifically for small firms. As Hendry et al. (1995, p. 14) note, ``training and human resource management advice to smaller firms has been monotonous in its prescription of large-scale solutions''.

The project on which this article is based aimed to find out how practices in small firms compare with the prescriptive ``textbook'' procedures; whether these are seen by small...
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