The Advantages and Disadvantages of Newspaper Recruitment

a hand with a pen circling a job in the paper

While job sites like Indeed, Monster and Reed have become the go-to place for advertising vacancies for many companies across the country, newspapers are still an effective way to find and hire the best candidate. But just how effective are they? Is it really worth including them in your recruitment strategy?

Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of newspaper recruitment, and decide for yourself!

The Advantages

It Targets a More Experienced Audience

According to YouGov Profiles, an online segmentation and media planning tool, the majority of newspaper and magazine readers in the UK are aged 55 and over, and account for 39.4 per cent of all survey respondents. This means that, by advertising a vacancy in the classifieds section of your local newspaper, you are more likely to target a more experienced audience.

In other words, if you want to hire someone with, say, 15 years’ experience, this can be a great recruitment method. Online advertising (through job boards, social media, etc), on the other hand, is more effective when seeking to recruit a younger, less experienced (and often cheaper) workforce.

It’s an Effective Method to Hire Locally

Newspaper advertising allows you to focus on a specific geographic audience and, thus, hire locally. This is especially true with smaller newspapers that focus on reporting the politics, business, crime, sports and community affairs of a specific town, village or area.

Firstly, by posting an advert in your local paper, you’re able to hire immediately. Of course, this is subject to the availability of skilled and qualified professionals, and the quality of the job advert you produce. Looking a little closer to home to hire talent also allows you to fill positions that require local knowledge – like taxi drivers, tour guides and salespeople, for example.

You won’t have to pay for a relocation package if, say, you were hiring someone from Scotland or Wales (or further afield), and your company is based in England. Local employees are also less likely to be late for work – something which a 2012 survey found costs the UK economy a staggering £9 billion every year.

Newspaper Ads Offer Greater Flexibility

Unlike job boards which require you to stick to a specific template and fill in all the relevant information about the vacancy, you have more creative freedom when running an ad in a newspaper.

This, of course, all depends on your recruitment budget. Smaller companies will generally run a short, 20-word ad in the classifieds section to keep costs to a minimum, but if you’re a medium or large business with a budget to match, you might be able to afford something a bit more glamorous.

Most newspapers offer different ad size and placement options. You could, for example, include a photo, design an ad from scratch or even take out a full page in the paper to stand out and attract the attention of a larger number of qualified candidates. You might even be able to place the ad outside the classifieds section to increase visibility, and this is especially beneficial if you’re advertising a variety of positions.

It’s Convenient for Jobseekers

While the majority of jobseekers use the internet to find a job, not everyone has direct access to the World Wide Web – or a computer or other electronic device, for that matter. This is especially true for people who aren’t very tech-savvy or who live in remote areas of the country.

Newspapers are simply more accessible to jobseekers. They let candidates find your ad at their own leisure without having to use a computer or smartphone, and they allow potential employees to stay focused on what they’re reading – unlike the internet which is full of distractions, like social media and funny cat videos. It’s also easier for jobseekers to miss opportunities that have been hidden in the various tabs they’ve opened in their browser.

It is, therefore, advisable that newspapers and magazines are used to complement your online recruitment efforts.

The Disadvantages

Fewer People Are Reading Newspapers

While the gap between print and online newspaper readers isn’t much cause for alarm (yet), the internet is quickly becoming the go-to place for news and current affairs among young adults. It’s simply a cheaper (read: free) alternative to staying up to date on what’s going on in the world, while it also provides easier and direct access to the latest news as it happens.

This gradual move to online news also means that fewer and fewer people are relying on the classifieds section of their local newspaper to search for jobs, and the response rate is much lower. It’s simply easier for jobseekers to apply for vacancies online than often having to browse through hundreds of ads in a newspaper before finding something even remotely interesting or related to their field.

The Publishing Process Can Be Slow

It all begins by contacting the newspaper you want your advert to appear in and then consulting with them about the details (location, price, formatting, etc). You’ll often have to book your ad about a week before the newspaper goes to print and there are deadlines you need to meet for sending your copy and graphics and approving the final product. Miss any of these deadlines and you might have to wait till the next issue to run your ad – and this can be detrimental if you need to hire someone quickly.

Moreover, once your ad is finally published, there’s no way of correcting any mistakes (like a wrong phone number of email address, for example). You’ll have to wait until the next issue to make any urgent modifications or corrections, unlike online ads which you can edit at any time, and this means potentially missing out on top talent.

It Limits the Scope of Applicants

Posting a job in a newspaper means you’re limiting the scope of applicants to a specific town or city and the area immediately surrounding it. For example, let’s say your company is based in Hertford and you’re looking to hire an IT manager, and you place an ad in the local newspaper. For the sake of the example, this would be the Hertfordshire Mercury, which is limited to people living in the Hertfordshire area.

This means that you could potentially miss out on hiring a better skilled and qualified IT manager who lives somewhere else in the country and is willing to relocate for the job. Worse still, you might not even fill the position, full stop.

And while you could post an ad in several newspapers in neighbouring counties, it would cost a fortune. Advertising online, on the other hand, can save your company money in the long-run while it can also elicit responses from all over the country – and even abroad.

You Can Only Say So Much in an Ad

Most newspaper ads have a limit of 20 words or so, and you will be charged extra for anything over that. For smaller companies who have to stick to a strict budget, this can be impractical as they’re forced to cram the most basic information into a few short sentences, like so:

Wanted: Accountant in Croydon with 5 years’ experience. Competitive salary and benefits offered. Send CV and cover letter to [email protected].

The problem with this kindof ad is that it offers no real value to prospective applicants. It tells jobseekers nothing about the role, what it entails or what skills and qualifications are required. Also, considering how company culture is increasingly becoming important to jobseekers (mainly Millennials, who are set to make up 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025), it’s important that the ad oozes ‘personality’, something this particular example fails to do. This, combined with the tiny print size, makes it easy for jobseekers to overlook – or downright ignore – your ad.

What do you think? Do you believe that newspapers are still an effective way to hire people or are job boards the best way to go? Can you think of any other advantages or disadvantages of including newspapers in your recruitment strategy? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section down below!


This article was originally published in August 2013