Attracting the best talent

Recruitment applications have significantly reduced over the past few years in Dorset, particularly in our specialist and hard-to-fill roles. 

We’ve been unable to fill qualified positions in our essential services, leading to long-standing unfilled vacancies, increased workload and risks to retention, as well as to our ability to provide effective and efficient services.

We hoped to address these challenges by promoting who the council is as an employer and the genuine positives about working in local government. 

We also aimed to represent our community more accurately through inclusive recruitment practice as well as engaging with young people through an early careers strategy.

So, a small team was introduced to challenge the way we look at recruitment. 

To define our employer brand and market Dorset Council as an employer, we introduced human-centric and inclusive practices, empowering managers through training, eliminating discriminatory language, and implementing social media marketing for recruitment.

We’ve created videos to promote vacancies and showcase our culture across the organisation, focusing on authentic stories and real people to share what it is like to work here. 

Our recruitment social media strategy is focused on separate social media channels that both promote jobs, but more importantly showcase our success, achievements, our people, our diversity of jobs and our ways of working.

Our early careers strategy has been launched to introduce young people to careers in local government while also supporting our local young people with the skills and knowledge they need to enter the workforce. 

We’ve moved away from using an external agency to recruit for our leadership posts, using our own knowledge and platforms to generate interest, leverage the selling points and reach out to potential applicants – appointing successfully first time on all five campaigns carried out in the past six months.

Our innovative recruitment strategies have led to some key achievements, including increased applications and reduced reliance on external channels, a 400 per cent increase in applications for hard-to-fill roles, and a 62 per cent reduction in recruitment advertising spend within six months by strategic use of job boards.

We have an enhanced social media presence, with a 40 per cent increase in followers across all platforms in the past six months, and tailored support for specialist roles resulting in a remarkable 400 per cent increase in applications on average.

We’ve made approximately £50,000 in savings over six months by managing processes internally, from promotion to interview coordination; and seen a 68 per cent reduction in broader recruitment advertising spend by eliminating reliance on external job boards.

Navigating the balance between injecting a sense of fun and playfulness into our social media recruitment promotions while maintaining a responsible approach befitting a local authority is crucial. 

Recognising our obligation to ensure content appropriateness and sensible use of resources, we’ve discovered that embracing this challenge can lead to compelling outcomes.

By actively leaning into creativity and leveraging cost-effective tools such as mobile phones, we’ve realised the potential to generate honest and suitable content. 

Acknowledging the inherent risks in online content sharing, our commitment to embracing new methods in both work and council promotion has empowered us to effect positive change.

This innovative approach has proven to enhance recruitment effectiveness, with measurable results, offering valuable and transferable insights for other local authorities.

This is a summary of one of the many council case studies on the LGA’s website. View more case studies on recruitment, workforce and other issues. To find out more about Dorset’s approach to recruitment, contact Erin Lawrence.


Unlocking potential

Local government recruitment