When purchasing footwear most people would go to a different shop to buy running trainers than they would for ‘fashionable’ shoes and you would hopefully select each of these purchases using very different criteria. For running trainers comfort will have a much greater importance over aesthetics in the selection process, and for fashion shoes the opposite would be true. Sling backs are a prime example, not that I’ve experienced how uncomfortable they are!

But it is probably fair to say that a lot of SMEs would not alter their selection process whether they are looking a Marketing Assistant or a CFO.  The advert copy may differ, but a responsive recruitment strategy will be selected, the same advertising channels chosen and the interview process is likely to be the same, all be it with a few tweaked questions so that they are specific to the role.  But as with our footwear it would be much more beneficial to think about the requirements, where the appropriate solution will be found and the criteria for selection before the recruitment process begins.

What am I looking for?

When choosing running trainers for 10Ks and half marathons I will pay good money for a pair that is comfortable and will prevent me from injury. But for Tough Mudder, I’ll buy some cheap, bizarre coloured, trail shoes, as I know they will be no good for anything else after the 12 mile assault course. All trainers are not alike and what they are required for will determine how much I am willing to pay and where I am likely to purchase them from. Trainers for regular, long distance runs will come from a specialist shop such as ‘Up and Running’ where as the ‘throw away’ trainers are more likely to come from a large sports retailer like ‘Sports Direct’.

This is exactly the case with the recruitment process. Depending on sector, industry, location and salary of the role the channels you choose to best engage with your target market will differ. For instance, you are much more likely to find a content marketer through social media channels, whereas it is probably better to use more traditional channels for a Finance Director, such as specialist finance jobs boards.  

A considered approach

The selection process should also be a lot more considered for both trainers and employees for a more expensive or niche purchases. For running shoes, and for sling backs, to some extent you will want to test them before you make a purchase. A session on the treadmill will allow you to see if a particular brand of trainer is compatible to your running style or you may want to test a high heel by parading up and down a boutique like a catwalk by Quasimodo.

When recruiting, for a lower level position or a role where a broader skills set is required, a sole interview may be more than adequate to select the most appropriate candidate, but for a senior or niche position it isn’t enough to chat to them for an hour and say ‘they’ll do’ like you would a cheap pair of trainers. It is better to assess their knowledge and abilities through varied tests, as the wrong decision can be extremely costly to a business. Some examples of tests that will put applicants through their paces include psychometric assessments (personality profiling, aptitude and ability testing etc…), presentations and assessment days.

Who can find them?

Of course, there are department stores out there which will cater for your footwear needs for both a half marathon and for a night on the town. Both pairs will be perfectly adequate, but when it comes to specialist purchases, a department store is unlikely to have a wide enough range for your specific needs and the staff are unlikely to have the technical knowledge or equipment to find the perfect pair for your requirements e.g. trainers for you to enhance your performance and prevent you from injury.

When you are recruiting staff advertising isn’t always enough, especially for senior or niche positions or in sectors where there is a particular skills shortage such as accountancy or engineering. If you going to invest in a more proactive recruitment campaign you could use a general recruiter, but it is much better to use a specialist search firm. They will be more knowledgeable when it comes to your industry or sector, they will take the time to fully understand your requirement and they will have the experience and resources to devise a comprehensive recruitment plan (both reactive and proactive) to meet your requirement.


So there you have it, if all businesses were to pay as much care and attention to the recruitment process as we do to the selection of our footwear they would have a much great chance of finding candidates that fit their companies like a glove in terms of skills set and company culture….or perhaps a shoe would be more appropriate.

Author: Gary Skipper is the Marketing Manager for Newman Stewart. Newman Stewart is an Executive Search and Management Selection company headquartered in Wetherby with additional office in Leeds and London.

Image: Pablo

About Newman Stewart

Newman Stewart is an Executive Search and Management Selection company who helps excellent businesses employ excellent people. We are experts in our field and proud of the results we achieve for our clients. With a vast proven track record of success, nationally and internationally, we are the retained, recruitment partner of choice to many national, multi-national and small businesses.

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