Some companies rely on serendipity when it comes to recruiting. Don't knock it - it can be very effective. Others look to job agencies, print advertising, web sites or - as with Marketing Moves Live - recruitment events. Those who are truly canny will use an integrated mix, a familiar sounding term.
So who are the fans of recruitment events? Alberto Bolognese, Heinz human resource manager for Europe HQ and commercial, for one. He is looking forward to being part of the select band of exhibitors at the 2000 event, now in its third year. 'We estimate 1,500 visitors minimum,' says Beth Pedersen, the event's project manager, 'hopefully up on last year's figures'.
Bolognese says: 'The fact that you are face-to-face provides tremendous opportunities. You can sell your company in a more exciting environment and get to see, and rate, potential recruits,'
Graduates are an obvious target at such events, although Bolognese admits that print media is the most likely alternative. However, he is also open to finding more senior staff there, a task he normally leaves to headhunters.
'We hope to see people with two to three years' experience and with more of an international mind set,' he says. 'We are a pan-European company looking for people who want to move and progress their careers.'
The one certainty is that recruitment events can be gruelling. Would it not be simpler to keep conversations to a minimum, and advise those interested to write in or apply online?
This is not the case for Heinz, whose recent online recruitment pilot was less than successful. But others are more enthusiastic about using the internet. 'We have a web page for vacancies,' says Frances Longmore, human resources executive at Oxfam, 'and people tend to e-mail us their applications.'
At Alliance & Leicester, Bharti Sudra, personnel and development adviser, believes that the net offers just another avenue for potential employees.
'We don't insist that people apply online,' she says, 'but we have a route for people to do so if they choose. It's on the A&L web site.'
So just what are the advantages of face-to-face recruitment as opposed to other methods? For Sudra, the benefits are not just in the short-term, but in the long-term, too.
'Our focus could be to have a bank of people to call on,' she says, 'but also to show people what Alliance & Leicester has to offer. Such events act as a complementary method. Most people tend to go straight to agencies or advertise - the main medium - but this is a different way to target and recruit people. The downside is that, though we want to make the most of it, there is so little time to do so.'
Two-way promotional vehicle
In effect, face-to-face recruitment acts not just as an initial filter, but as a promotional vehicle, too.
It places companies in candidates' minds, so that even if they are not ready to move now, they will remember conversations about organisations, ethics and policies. And vice versa.
The use of recruitment agencies as a screening device was cited frequently as a boon. Reading and assessing CVs inevitably takes a lot of management time, so any system that reduces it is welcomed. The most effective way of working seems to be for an agency to monitor CVs and carry out selected interviews, before producing a shortlist.
Face-to-face recruitment will never replace print advertising or agencies, but it does have its place in the roster of tools needed to hire staff.
And industry-specific events, such as Marketing Moves Live, which cater to sectors experiencing skills shortages, are proving a worthwhile investment at a number of different levels - more than a mere marriage broker.
MARKETING MOVES LIVE - THE FACTS
Venue: Cafe Royal, London
Date: 30-31 October 2000
Hotline: 020 8267 4353
Web site: www.marketing.haynet.com
The mix of exhibitors is the main draw. In its first year, Marketing Moves Live attracted companies such as Camelot, Safeway and Royal Mail, to name but three.
In the event's second year, blue-chip names included Motorola, One 2 One, and Allied Domecq.
This time round there is an equally strong line-up, including British Gas Services, Nationwide, Oxfam, Heinz and Alliance & Leicester.
The event provides firms with the opportunity to meet and assess prospective candidates face-to-face, reducing a fair amount of initial interview and assessment time, thus acting as a highly cost-effective recruitment method.
Last year's visitors could be broken down as follows: 20% graduates, 43% those with one to three years' experience, 19% those with four to six years' experience and 18% with seven years'-plus.
Their skills base is equally varied, 89% with experience in brand or product marketing; 36% in direct marketing; 42% in communications and 52% in market analysis or market research. Even better for potential employers, 56% of last year's candidates were prepared to relocate. Given staff shortages in certain sectors, the show appears a win-win event for both exhibitors and visitors.
OXFAM'S SUCCESS AT MML
Taking a step into the unknown was how Frances Longmore, HR executive at Oxfam, saw the charity's first time at Marketing Moves Live three years ago, but the objectives were fairly clear cut.
'In terms of market positioning we wanted to be taken seriously, so we saw setting out our stall among other blue chip exhibitors as a means of raising our profile and hopefully making some appointments.'
Oxfam is exhibiting again this year and Longmore has learned how to make the most of the exhibition.
'We sell ourselves much better face-to-face,' she says, 'and we can get a feel for people. We don't necessarily meet them, then hire them, but as a first step to finding out if they are of interest to us, Marketing Moves Live is a powerful tool.'
The charity uses a range of methods when hiring staff including recruitment agencies and print advertising. It also places job ads on its web site, with applicants sending in details online.
Longmore sees face-to-face recruitment opportunities as a complementary tool.
She highlights the pros of such an exhibition: 'It offers a direct route to your market; the opportunity to raise your profile while selling yourselves and is a quick and easy way to communicate.'
The downside is less quantifiable. 'There are the indirect costs: staffing stands for two very long days with no guarantee of success,' she says.
You are also very busy, and there is the worry that you might not be giving a visitor the amount of time they expect.'
Oxfam has hired staff from the show. They have been mainly at graduate level, but talks have also taken place with relatively senior people.
Longmore is keen to discover whether this year similar discussions convert into appointments.