Talent Recruitment at Marks and Spencer Report


To develop a committed, highly qualified workforce that would contribute to the organization, it is essential to use evidence-based talent recruitment strategies. Fortunately, research in talent sourcing and recruitment provides numerous recommendations to companies based on scholarly evidence. The present report focuses on the case of Marks and Spencer, a large UK-based retailer. The nature of the company’s business creates a constant need for highly qualified and experienced staff on all corporate levels. Thus, it is essential for the company to use a variety of evidence-based talent recruitment strategies to fulfil its organizational goals.

The report aims to support good recruitment practices in Marks and Spencer. To fulfil this goal, good practices in talent recruitment and the current approaches in place in Marks and Spencer will be analyzed, and recommendations for improvement will be provided based on the results.

Review of Good Practice

Some of the most crucial concerns in the current literature on talent recruitment are person-organization fit and person-job fit. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD, 2015, p. 7), attracting the right people to the organization is essential for building a strong workforce. As a result, activities such as job crafting, workforce characteristics analysis, and vision clarification are part of contemporary good practice in talent recruitment (Chapman and Mayers, 2015, p. 28; CIPD, 2015, pp. 7-8; Tims, Derks and Bakker, 2016, pp. 45-46). Through these activities, companies aim to define the characteristics of people who would fit into the position and the organization as a whole and narrow down recruitment strategies to attract these individuals.

The focus on person-organization and person-job fit is justified by the potential benefits of these concepts for organizational performance. Research shows that person-organization fit is an important predictor of in-role performance of employees (Hamstra, Van Vianen, and Koen, 2018). Additionally, higher person-organization fit has been shown to reduce turnover and improve satisfaction (Boon and Biron, 2016, p. 2177; Chen, Sparrow, and Cooper, 2016, p. 946; Swider, Zimmerman and Barrick, 2015, p. 885).

Person-job fit, in turn, affects employees’ job stress, motivation, and engagement (Deniz, Noyan, and Ertosun, 2015, p. 370). From the theoretical viewpoint, these effects are associated with increased value congruence and the match between job demands and resources (Boon and Biron, 2016, p. 2181; Tims, Derks and Bakker, 2016, p. 45). Hence, by implementing activities that clarify person specifications, companies can enhance workforce characteristics through recruitment. Still, the amount of research on recruitment practices to support person-organization and person-job fit is rather small, which creates practical limitations.

Recent research on the topic of talent recruitment also considers job advert construction and its effect on applicants. For example, a study by Ashraf, Bandiera, and Lee (2015, p. 15) found that making job opportunities appear more salient draws the attention of highly qualified candidates. Another research by Deserranno (2019, p. 277) concluded that higher financial incentives mentioned in job adverts discouraged people with strong pro-social attitudes from applying. The practice of job advert construction can be useful to companies willing to attract people with particular characteristics. However, this practice may be time-consuming and requires a more significant amount of evidence than is currently available in the literature.

Graduate recruitment remains among the key good practices in talent recruitment. Theoretical work on the subject shows that graduate recruitment is among the most popular talent resourcing strategies in companies (CIPD, 2017, p. 5). Research indicates that most companies choose to recruit graduates from local universities, with few businesses engaging in graduate outreach programs (Winterhager and Krücken, 2014, p. 128).

University graduates contribute to companies because they have high potential and plenty of opportunities for developing within a company (McCracken, Currie, and Harrison, 2016, p. 2728). Thus, they can grow in ranks, providing an excellent source of highly experienced employees in the future.

Improving workforce diversity through recruitment is also part of good practice in talent sourcing. As explained in the report by McKinsey & Company, diverse companies perform better in talent management, have higher rates of employee satisfaction, show stronger customer orientation and better decision-making, and are likely to be perceived as socially responsible (Hunt, Layton, and Prince, 2014, p. 9). The report distinguishes between innate and acquired diversity, both of which are crucial to performance. Innate diversity reflects workforce composition at the team level, whereas acquired diversity refers to the characteristics of leaders (Hunt, Layton, and Prince, 2014, p. 12).

Diversity in terms of age, gender, culture, and sexual orientation is equally beneficial (Festing and Schäfer, 2014, p. 267; Hunt, Layton, and Prince, 2014, p. 12). Hence, maintaining a range of recruitment channels is also considered to be good practice in talent recruitment.

With regards to recruitment channels, electronic options have become particularly prominent over the past years due to their efficiency and ease of use. Stone et al. (2015, p. 217) state that around 90% of large organizations use e-recruitment strategies, ranging from web-based job advertisements to interactive techniques, such as online job fairs. Zin et al. (2016, pp. 84-85) further show that e-recruitment improves the diversity of candidates by allowing organizations to reach beyond their existing networks and attract more qualified, talented applicants. Thus, the use of e-recruitment can have significant benefits for various types of companies.

Critical Evaluation of Organisational Practices

Marks and Spencer is a large, UK-based retail company that recruits employees continue to support operations. Both the company’s headquarters and its stores require a lot of staff, which makes recruitment a top priority. To achieve organisational goals, it is essential for Marks and Spencer to recruit qualified, skilled and creative employees who could potentially grow in ranks within the company and support its organisational development.

Since Marks and Spencer is also a company with a strong organisational culture, it also needs to achieve value congruence and buy-in of the people working at all levels of the organisation. At present, the company uses three key recruitment strategies: targeted recruitment, graduate recruitment and online and in-store job advertisements (M&S, 2019, p. 23). These strategies fulfil the company’s needs, but some adjustments may be required to improve efficiency.

Targeted recruitment is mostly used for senior leadership positions within the company. It includes activities such as headhunting and agency collaboration to attract highly qualified and skilled leaders with excellent experience in the retail industry.

This approach has some important benefits for Marks and Spencer since it entails some of the best practices described in the previous section. Targeted recruitment is among the techniques that promote person-organisation and person-job fit since it involves defining the requirements of a particular position and the characteristics of an ideal employee. This, in turn, helps the company to identify talents in the industry and approach them directly or through an agency. As a result, leaders recruited through this approach are likely to have high-value congruence with the organisation and show better performance results, thus contributing to organisational goals.

The company’s approach to graduate recruitment also complies with trends in good practice. According to the annual report, Marks and Spencer have a specific graduate recruitment programme in place, which attracted 136 graduates in 2018 (M&S, 2019, p. 9).

Besides, the company also runs a variety of schemes for current students, including internships, apprenticeships, and business placements (M&S Careers, 2019a). These schemes are useful because it is likely that students who are committed to the company and fit in with its organisational values will return to work there after graduation. Thus, graduate recruitment helps the company to build a qualified and committed workforce, which contributes to its performance and goals.

Lastly, in-store and online job advertisements are also used by Marks and Spencer. The combination of e-recruitment and offline advertisement is useful since it helps to reach more people, thus possibly contributing to the diversity of applicants. Moreover, placing job ads in stores and on the website helps to attract people who are interested in the company, including its current customers. These people are more likely to fit into the organisation; moreover, those who use the company’s products and services can help it to understand customers better and provide ideas for development. Still, the job ads posted by Marks and Spencer are somewhat generic and usually involve a list of responsibilities and desired skills (M&S Careers, 2019b). This could affect the company’s ability to attract people with high value congruence and person-job fit.


Based on the analysis, Marks and Spencer apply some of the principles of good practice in talent recruitment. Diversity recruitment, job ads construction and the limited number of recruitment channels are the primary gaps identified in the analysis. Table 1 reflects the recommendations provided as part of this report, whereas the rest of this section will provide supporting information on their necessity and potential benefits.

Table 1. Summary of Recommendations.

  • Recommendation
  • Actions
  • Costs
  • Responsible persons
  • Timescale
  • Priority level

Analyse outreach options for minority groups

  • Evaluate the current level of diversity
  • Determine minority groups to be attracted
  • Research diversity outreach options
  • Assess potential application in M&S
  • Prepare a report with recommendations


HR development team 3-6 months.

Provide training in job ads construction to managers engaged in posting ads

  • Assess evidence on job ads construction
  • Create an education plan for managers
  • Develop course content for an online course
  • Conduct online training in job ads construction


HR department 5-6 months.

Establish informal recruitment channels

  • Identify positions for internal recruitment
  • Design a monthly e-mail newsletter with vacancies available
  • Distribute the newsletter to employees monthly

Up to £1,500

HR department 2-3 months

Diversity recruitment is essential for large companies, such as Marks and Spencer, because it affects organisational image while also facilitating performance, innovation and creativity (Hunt, Layton and Prince, 2014). Based on the annual report, gender diversity in senior management, as well as cultural diversity, are considered among the key problem areas for the company (M&S, 2019).

Hence, attracting more diverse candidates to various positions in the company is necessary. According to Hunt, Layton and Prince (2014, p. 14), creating targeted initiatives for attracting minority groups can assist companies in increasing diversity. Hence, the first recommendation is for the company to analyse potential outreach options for recruiting minority groups. Implementing this recommendation would help Marks and Spencer in creating a plan for diversity recruitment, which, in turn, would have a positive effect on performance, decision-making, innovation and corporate image.

Job ads construction was indicated as one of the key good practices in talent recruitment. Research shows that the content and wording of job ads influence the characteristics of applicants that they attract (Ashraf, Bandiera and Lee, 2015; Deserranno, 2019). Moreover, creating more compelling and unique job ads can make a company stand out from other employers and contribute to applicants’ person-organisation fit (CIPD, 2015).

Marks and Spencer job ads lack these characteristics, which affects their effectiveness. Improving job ads would aid the company in attracting more qualified and committed applicants. It could also improve diversity recruitment if the company tailors job ads to the preferences of minority populations. Based on these potential benefits, the second recommendation is to provide training in job ads construction to managers engaged in posting ads.

Lastly, it is also possible to notice that Marks and Spencer has a very limited number of recruitment channels. While each of these channels has a specific function that contributes to organisational goals, it impairs the company’s outreach potential. Maintaining some variation in terms of recruitment channels is important for businesses for several reasons. First of all, it helps to attract more applicants to positions, thus enabling the company to select the best candidates available in the labour market (Gërxhani and Koster, 2015). Secondly, it helps in increasing the diversity of candidates applying for positions in the company (Hunt, Layton and Prince, 2014, p. 14).

For example, e-recruitment is better suited for attracting young people, whereas mature employees are more likely to search for jobs through agencies and other resources. One of the most cost-effective options for diversifying recruitment channels is implementing informal recruitment. According to Gërxhani and Koster (2015), informal recruitment channels provide more accurate information about potential employees and reduce the cost of recruitment. Thus, the final recommendation for Marks and Spencer is to implement an informal recruitment scheme by creating a regular newsletter for current employees.


Overall, recruitment is a crucial part of a company’s talent management strategy. Research into talent resourcing and recruitment over the past years focused a lot on attracting applicants with high person-organisation and person-job fit, as well as on improving recruitment diversity and developing e-recruitment strategies. Marks and Spencer is among the largest retail companies in the UK, which means that it has a constant need for skilled employees.

Targeted recruitment, graduate recruitment and job postings fulfil the company’s need for skilled and committed employees. However, there are certain gaps with respect to employee diversity, job ads construction and the limited number of recruitment channels. Following the recommendations provided in this report will enable Marks and Spencer to enhance its talent recruitment strategies and meet organisational goals. Additionally, it will help to improve workforce diversity, which is essential for contemporary businesses to maintain a positive image and achieve better results.

Reference List

Ashraf, N., Bandiera, O. and Lee, S.S. (2016) Do-gooders and go-getters: selection and performance in public service delivery. Web.

Boon, C. and Biron, M. (2016) ‘Temporal issues in person–organization fit, person–job fit and turnover: The role of leader–member exchange’, Human Relations, 69(12), pp. 2177-2200.

Chapman, D.S. and Mayers, D. (2015) ‘Recruitment process and organizational attraction’, In I. Nikolaou and Oostrom, J.K. (Eds.) Employee recruitment, selection, and assessment: contemporary issues for theory and practice. Hove: Psychology Press, pp. 27-42.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. (2015) A head for hiring: the behavioural science of recruitment and selection. Web.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. (2017) Resourcing and talent planning. Web.

Chen, P., Sparrow, P. and Cooper, C. (2016) ‘The relationship between person-organization fit and job satisfaction’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 31(5), pp. 946-959.

Deniz, N., Noyan, A. and Ertosun, Ö.G. (2015) ‘Linking person-job fit to job stress: the mediating effect of perceived person-organization fit’, Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 207, pp. 369-376.

Deserranno, E. (2019) ‘Financial incentives as signals: experimental evidence from the recruitment of village promoters in Uganda’, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 11(1), pp. 277-317.

Festing, M. and Schäfer, L. (2014) ‘Generational challenges to talent management: a framework for talent retention based on the psychological-contract perspective’, Journal of World Business, 49(2), pp. 262-271.

Gërxhani, K. and Koster, F. (2015) ‘Making the right move: investigating employers’ recruitment strategies’, Personnel Review, 44(5), pp. 781-800.

Hamstra, M.R., Van Vianen, A.E. and Koen, J. (2019) ‘Does employee perceived person-organization fit promote performance? The moderating role of supervisor perceived person-organization fit’, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 28(5), pp. 594-601.

Hunt, V., Layton, D. and Prince, S. (2014) Diversity matters. Web.

M&S. (2019) Annual report 2018. Web.

M&S Careers (2019a) Early careers. Web.

M&S Careers (2019b) Design assistant – womens activewear. Web.

McCracken, M., Currie, D. and Harrison, J. (2016) ‘Understanding graduate recruitment, development and retention for the enhancement of talent management: sharpening ‘the edge’ of graduate talent’, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 27(22), pp. 2727-2752.

Stone, D.L. et al. (2015) ‘The influence of technology on the future of human resource management’, Human Resource Management Review, 25(2), pp. 216-231.

Swider, B.W., Zimmerman, R.D. and Barrick, M.R. (2015) ‘Searching for the right fit: Development of applicant person-organization fit perceptions during the recruitment process’, Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(3), pp. 880-893.

Tims, M., Derks, D. and Bakker, A.B. (2016) ‘Job crafting and its relationships with person–job fit and meaningfulness: a three-wave study’, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 92, pp. 44-53.

Winterhager, N. and Krücken, G. (2015) ‘The local ‘war for talent’–recruitment of recent tertiary education graduates from a regional perspective: some evidence from the German case’, European Journal of Higher Education, 5(2), pp. 127-140.

Zin, S.M., et al. (2016) ‘E-recruitment technology: the effective source of recruitment’, Journal of Applied Environmental and Biological Sciences, 6(1), pp. 84-89.

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