If your answer to the question, “what’s your recruiting strategy?” is “LinkedIn” or “Indeed,” then you don’t get it. Posting jobs is a recruiting tactic, and one that you should use, but it’s a long way from a recruitment strategy that incorporates multiple tactics to ensure you compete successfully for the talent you need now and into the future.
With unemployment at a 50-year low, too many leaders fail to realize that you must be strategic and proactive, not tactical and reactive, in your recruiting practices. The gap between the two is huge in terms of both dollars and people, and way too many of us are learning that the hard way. If your only focus is to “post and pray” or use any other single tactic, you are limiting your opportunity to reach the people you need now and as you grow—and probably spending a lot of money doing it. A well-conceived recruiting strategy makes your investment bear fruit for you through the years.
People decide to work for you for the same reasons they buy your products or services: largely because they’ve come to trust or like you based on what you say and do. Like sales, strategic recruiting is a constant, every day, full-time effort that should both build and promote your brand and attract the right talent for your business. Job seekers notice whether your job postings are enticing or boring. They experience how well you treat them through the interview and assessment process. They see on your website how you describe your culture and values and measure them against your reputation. Consideration of these things and much more is the foundation for a well-defined, and essential, recruitment strategy.
A Great Strategy: Treat Recruitment As A Sales process
A recruitment sales process is a mix of employment branding, marketing, and selling geared toward telling people why they should want to work for you. The goal is to achieve a great fit for your organization with every hire. The process can be broken down into six parts, each with its own tactics.
- Employment Branding. The external image you present has the highest impact and longest-term effect of anything you do related to recruiting. Make it easy for potential candidates to read, hear, or see why they should consider working for you. Pay attention to what your message and value-proposition are, how you communicate with them, and what specific segment of the talent market you are trying to attract. Ensure that every message you put out into the market about your company, including job postings, is interesting, compelling, and reflects your culture and values.
- Lead Generation: Posting to some of the numerous job boards out there is one of several excellent ways to generate leads. It’s also important to tap into the passive candidate market, the people who are happily employed elsewhere and not actively looking but could be interested at some point if they know about you. You should make note of possible future candidates by networking in the community and at professional events; and create a companywide “recruiting culture” where every employee is an active talent scout spreading your employer brand. Employee referrals are considered by many to be the best source of leads, but make sure you reward employees appropriately for their referrals. And don’t forget to post open positions on your website. Use all of these tactics to build a pipeline of possible candidates that ensures you have a ready source of talent as you need it and never have to settle for second best.
- Candidate Engagement: The primary reason candidates reject job offers is because of the way they were treated during the hiring process. Hiring managers and recruiters need to be laser-focused on creating a positive end-to-end experience for diverse candidates. Among other things, this means building trusted relationships through clear and frequent communication, smooth and easy processes, personal and respectful interactions with every contact, and speedy decisions based on candidates’ timetables, not yours. When candidates are not actively looking for a new position, your sales process should begin long before they’ve thought about changing companies. Effective recruiters typically contact passive candidates 10 to 12 times in a process called “drip marketing,” involving personalized email, texts, and social media to acquaint candidates with a company. After experiencing several touch points, passive candidates begin paying attention and thinking about what factors might cause them to uproot and move. In our current market, it’s crucial to get passive candidates into your recruiting process with a long-term marketing effort.
- Candidate Screening & Assessments: Make hiring decisions based on objective data rather than on emotion, intuition, or “we’ve-always-done-it-this-way” practices. This helps eliminate biases and produces more consistent, high-quality hires and outcomes. Similar benefits result when you put metrics and rewards on key aspects of recruiting, like measuring, recognizing, and rewarding hiring managers for their contributions. Assessments help you better understand the thinking and behavioral style required for success and whether you have the right people in the right roles to do their jobs well.
- Candidate Interviews: Well-meaning interviewers everywhere ask basically the same interview questions they find on the internet; and candidates provide the same canned “proven” answers they find in their own internet searches. If you don’t know how to interview people, you’ve wasted all you’ve done to this point. So, make sure that everyone involved is trained in behavioral-based interviewing, with a focus on past results vs. generalizations and opinions. These skills help managers prepare effectively, understand a candidate’s experience, and share your company experience passionately, greatly increasing the chances you’ll get a high return on your human capital investment
- Candidate Offer: After you’ve made up your mind about a candidate, make the offer immediately, and make it fair. Low-ball offers or being coy feel disrespectful and can break the trust you’ve established—or lose the candidate altogether. Give candidates a reasonable amount of time to decide whether to accept the offer, and stay in close touch while it’s being considered. Be sure to also communicate status updates with the other strong candidates you interviewed who were not selected. Maintain these positive relationships as these may be future employees as your business evolves.
After you’ve successfully hired your top candidates, you need to work equally hard to retain them. Retention should be part of your recruiting strategy for many reasons, a major one being that replacing your employees is much costlier than keeping them. Make sure that you welcome new people with an effective training and integration plan and continually work to live your values and improve your culture. To test how successful you are in engaging candidates and employees, ask yourself this question: “Would you want to work for you?”