Recruiting Strategies that Work

All over the country, organizations are struggling to find the talent that they want and need. According to the 2018 Jobvite Recruiting Benchmark Report, record unemployment, increasing wages, and high interest rates that influence how much companies can pay all affect our ability to recruit.

We must accept that there are fewer people looking for jobs and that we can’t always outbid our competitors. Fortunately, there are ways to update our recruiting strategies so we can not only attract, but win, the talent we need.

First, lean into your Talent Analytics. We’ve been hearing for years about the importance of “Big Data.” Big data goes beyond describing the workforce you currently have: it allows you to use predictive analytics to develop and maintain a pipeline of qualified candidates. For those of us without sophisticated HRIS systems, capturing this type of data can seem daunting. So let’s tackle some low-hanging fruit.

  • Understand and articulate your employer brand. Find out why someone would want to come work for you, be engaged, and stay happily year after year. What do you want your employer brand to be? What do you stand for? What kind of reputation do you seek to have as an organization? What do you have to offer? Then, ask your employees why they work for you. What about your organization is compelling? How do they really feel about working for you? Employee pulse surveys, social media posts, and interview and survey responses will give you this information. This is your brand as an employer. Does it align with what you want your brand to be? Use this information to bridge the gap between what your brand is and what you want it to be. Once defined, you can target your recruiting efforts accordingly.
  • Evaluate the recruiting channels you currently use and the results they provide. Most employers use some combination of headhunters, online job sites, LinkedIn searches, social media campaigns, employee-referral programs, and career fairs (both in person and virtual). Don’t just look at the number of candidates that you get from each source; look at the number of qualified candidates. How many move on to the interview phase? How many are offered employment? Spend more of your time, money, and effort on the channels that provide the greatest results. Look at your highest performing candidates in a particular classification and see where they came from. That can be a source of future recruiting success.
  • Look at your turnover and growth indicators to anticipate future needs. If you experience an increase in turnover in a particular department or at a certain time of the year, begin to plan for that. Be sure that you are paying attention to the bigger picture! Be aware of downturns or growth in your sector and keep an eye on the competition. Are they hiring so much that they may pick off your best talent? Are they going to be downsizing and have talent you can recruit? This is about being proactive rather than reactive. Reactive HR and recruiting professionals get left behind.

Next, adopt a marketing-based approach to recruiting. Gone are the days of posting a job and then waiting for the applications to roll in. A marketing-based approach takes advantage of all you have to offer and gets people excited about your organization and the prospect of working there. This is where your branding efforts pay off! Use the information you’ve gathered about the benefits of working there, the larger-than-life reason your organization exists, and how employees make a difference in the world to create your marketing presence.

  • Take a good look at your career website. Is it modern and up to date? Websites can be highly visual, and you want to make sure you are taking full advantage of that fact. Consider “branding” it with information that conveys your brand message: who you are as an organization and why people love working for you. Consider a well-made video on your website that shows your environment, culture, and employees. The best career websites incorporate a tie to the organization’s corporate brand (colors, logo, etc.), a compelling picture or video, interviews with employees, employee profiles, testimonials, and a call to action such as, “view open positions,” “learn more about us,” or “apply now.”
  • Investigate Social Media Recruiting. Job seekers often use social media to find that next job. That’s an open invitation for employers to use it to find their ideal candidate. Just as organizations use social media to appeal to and communicate with current and potential customers, it is a twenty-first century tool to do the same with current and potential employees. Your social media efforts can serve two purposes simultaneously. While telling your customer base how great you are, remember that current and potential customers may be future employees. Use social media to promote your company culture and include testimonials from clients and employees. Look into participating in forums, and demonstrate your thought leadership as an organization. These forums can put you in direct contact with the best and brightest talent in your industry. Be sure to collaborate with your marketing team to maximize resources and effort.
  • Source proactively and continuously. Build relationships with top candidates when you find them, even if you don’t have a current opening. Headhunters have been doing this for years. Organizations that have a clear understanding about what their talent needs are, now and in the future, don’t wait for an open requisition to begin looking for the most qualified individuals. They tap talent and build a relationship with those candidates, and when the right time arrives, the hard work is already done.

Finally, be sure that your technology reflects the twenty-first century. Advances in technology can make the recruiting process smoother for candidates and recruiters alike.

  • Streamline your selection process. And use technology to do it. Walk through your organization’s selection process to understand the candidate’s experience. If it is cumbersome or complicated, you are losing candidates. Candidates won’t make the time to read long, confusing job descriptions. What information is critical for candidates to decide whether to research the job further? Lead with that. Are you asking candidates to fill out a lengthy application before they will be considered? Instead, ask for the most important information needed to decide whether to gather more information from the applicant. Use phone, email, or video interviews to screen applicants rather than bringing them onsite for a preliminary interview. Make sure it is easy for candidates to know what to do in order to apply for your job. Finally, make sure your application process is mobile. A recent survey found that 72 percent of active candidates say they have viewed a career website on their mobile device. Many candidates won’t apply for a position unless they can do so on their mobile device. Your hiring process speaks directly to your brand. Remember, candidates are potential customers and vice versa. Make sure the experience is positive.
  • Maximize your Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Use your ATS to eliminate application barriers for candidates and organize the process. Create a process that reflects and supports your brand as an employer. ATS systems will house all applications/resumes for various positions and will often provide collaboration tools you can use to coordinate the process and work with hiring managers. Use email templates to respond quickly to candidates and keep them informed of the process. Some systems allow you to set up automatic responses for candidates, saving you time and energy. From the ATS, you can often schedule interviews with both the candidates and interviewers. Use your ATS to create a pipeline of qualified talent for different positions within the organization. Use it as a tool to establish and maintain relationships with candidates who have already taken an interest in your company. If you think of it as a customer relationship management (CRM) system for recruiting, you are ahead of the game.
  • A trend we thought was slated for the future is here now. It is Artificial Intelligence (AI) in recruiting. AI can assist in a variety of ways from automating high-volume, repetitive tasks like resume screening to evaluating a candidate’s online presence and everything in between. AI, also referred to as machine learning (ML), allows organizations to match candidates to positions based on job requirements, skills, education, salary, and even location, automatically. It is anticipated that machine learning will minimize, and maybe eliminate, the number of bad hires an organization makes. With AI/ML, scheduling, screening, interviewing and even some onboarding activities become automated, freeing HR to focus on other aspects of the job.

Even though there may be fewer people actively looking for jobs, we can put recruiting strategies in place that are proactive, ensuring that when the need arises, we’ve formed relationships with qualified candidates that will significantly cut down on the time it takes to fill a position. And, even though we can’t always outbid our competitors, we can make a compelling case for why our organization is a great place to work. After all, our current employees tell us that every day, if we’ll only listen.