Career Coach, Professional Resume Writer, Freelance Writer
Today, hiring and retaining talent looks much different than it did only two or three years ago. Financial instability and the strain on our mental health brought on by the pandemic has made everyone more wary and selective of their workplace and employer. Whereas in the past people might have prioritized promotions and financial reward, today they look at other factors such as workplace flexibility, personal fulfillment and values alignment.
Traditional recruitment strategies, therefore, are no longer as effective. HR professionals need to take a fresh look at their employee recruitment strategies and incentives. From offering therapy, coaching, extended vacation days and flexible work, businesses are coming up with innovative ways to attract talent in the new world of work.
Here we look at effective recruitment strategies and practices. With these you can decide how to improve your recruitment function to attract high performing talent.
What is Recruitment, Exactly?
Recruitment and developing effective recruitment strategies is part of human resource management (HRM). HRM looks at existing skill gaps in the business. Then, the goal is to implement strategies for closing the gaps through talent acquisition. Depending on the size of the business, companies might have entire departments dedicated to recruitment. Businesses could also have a single HR person doing the work. Some may even decide to outsource recruitment altogether and work with recruitment agencies instead.
When done right, recruitment strategies can transform a mediocre business into a cutting-edge industry leader simply by having a creative and highly skilled workforce. Companies who invest in their recruitment strategy take a holistic view of the roles the business needs short, mid and long term. They will also pay close attention to the language and channels they use to attract candidates.
Why is Effective Recruitment So Important?
Hiring the right people in your organization can make or break your business. SHRM, a leading human resource management association, estimates that businesses spend, on average, $4,425 to fill a position. If we take into account that 26% of hires leave their employer within the first year, that’s a lot of money going down the drain.
Recruitment can be a notoriously laborious process. Glassdoor estimates that the average job opening usually attracts about 250 resumes. Imagine having to go through all of them, select and interview candidates. Then, you ultimately vet them before making an offer.
In this context, effective recruitment means finding the right people in the most efficient way. For instance, 75% of hiring professionals say that they use some type of application tracking system (ATS) to help them identify the best candidates. ATSs scan resumes and cover letters for job-specific keywords and shortlist the candidates who seem to be the best fit.
First Off, It’s Really Important To Know What You’re Looking for
Hiring a new person should never be a checkbox exercise. When looking for your next employee, there are more things to look at than just their skillset and past experience.
How to Carry Out an Effective Job Analysis
Start by looking at the overall business priorities. You’ll have to make decisions on where the business is headed in the next two to five years. Are you looking to go after a new market and you need someone with experience in that industry? Or, perhaps you’re ramping up sales for your new product launch and you need young, hungry individuals to chase leads? These types of questions will help you narrow down the profiles you need to target, and what qualities you should highlight in your ads.
When it comes to job ads, make sure you don’t look only at the hard competencies needed for the job. Instead, be clear about the type of corporate culture you’re building and what type of personalities thrive there. In fact, during the interview process double down on qualities such as openness, outlooks on life and communication style.
At the end of the day, you can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude.
Where to Search for Gold?
You can find candidates through half a dozen different channels:
Job sites: Jobs sites are the number one channel for finding a job. In fact, a LinkedIn study has found that 60% of job seekers use them as their primary place for job hunting. So, using job boards such as Job\Searcher can amplify your message and reach people who you’d otherwise never come across.
LinkedIn: Over 75% of people who’d recently changed jobs used LinkedIn to inform their career decision. It’s very likely that a potential candidate would check you out there, even if they’d discovered the opportunity elsewhere. So, take a look at what your company page says about your brand.
Referrals: Referrals are a great way to find candidates because they already come somewhat vetted by your current employee. They also have one of the best employee retention rates with 45% of referred employees staying for four years or more.
In–house: Did you know that 25% of all positions are filled internally? This isn’t just more cost-effective, but it also gives you a quality candidate already familiar with your business in far less time. Not to mention the positive impact on morale and engagement with current employees.
Active Recruitment or Passive? Or Both?
When it comes to recruitment there are two types of candidates: those that are actively looking for a job and those that aren’t. You might be quick to discount those who aren’t looking for a job, but know that you’d be discounting 70% of the working population. That’s a lot of talent to leave on the table.
If you really want to find a candidate that is the perfect fit, you’d need to engage in both types of recruitment strategies. You need to do the initial legwork of putting your vacancies out there, but you also need to keep an eye out for quality candidates who aren’t looking for a job. You never know who might accept your offer if it’s enticing enough.
Recruiting Through Your Company Website
There’s one place that is an absolute no-brainer when it comes to sharing your vacancies—your own website. This is a good practice even if you don’t have a lot of traffic coming through for several reasons:
- Looks more professional;
- Increases traffic when you share links;
- Can increase visibility of vacancies among your current employees;
- It’s a place where you’re the star without being crowded by other companies.
When writing the job ad, steer away from blanket statements like “you need to be motivated and diligent”. Not only is the phrase too vague, but it also doesn’t help filter people out, as most of us would consider ourselves motivated and diligent. Instead, take a look at places like Glassdoor and search for the type of roles you’re hiring for. Read through the reviews and focus on the negative comments. What was it about that job or company that people didn’t like? Then highlight the opposite in your job ad.
Reviewing Applications & Sorting Out
Most companies and recruitment agencies today rely on some type of application tracking system to help them easily sort through large amounts of data. Others prefer to take a look at each applicant themselves, but have other strategies to quickly sort through them.
For instance, some give clear instructions of what someone needs to write in the subject line of their email or look at the applicant’s experience first. If they fail at this step, then they’re no longer considered.
These approaches are far from perfect, as they can still let great candidates fall through the cracks. However, the time saved can justify some omissions in the process.
Talent assessment is a standard part of the recruitment process that shows hiring managers that the new hire can do the job. Organizations can choose to perform a range of assessments, from cognitive and psychometric tests to simulations, technical interviews and problem-solving tests.
All of these take time and money to conduct, but they more than pay off as they can reduce employee churn and build a highly skilled workforce. The type of assessments you decide to use will depend on your budget, your timeframe and, ultimately, the type of roles you’re hiring for.
How to Conduct an Interview? What Type of Questions to Ask?
The interview is your best chance to get to know your candidate and see how they’d fit within your organization. Even if you’ve performed a range of other tests and the candidate comes highly recommended, you need to come to the interview neutral and with a standard set of questions.
Phone interview: This is an initial screening call that can give you a high-level overview of whether this candidate should be taken forward or not.
Questions typically asked at this stage are:
- Tell me a bit about your background.
- Why are you looking to change jobs?/ Why did you leave your last job?
- How would you describe your key responsibilities at your current job?
- How are you usually measured? Have you ever had KPIs?
- What do you like the most/the least about your job?
Structured Interview: This interview is done usually after the phone interview and looks at key skills and competencies. The questions asked at this stage can vary depending on the role and the needs of the business. Most look at situational and behavioral aspects of the job. The key with structured interviews is that every candidate gets the same questions, so the hiring team can compare and look at answers without introducing any bias.
Some questions to consider here are:
- Can you share an example where you had to [key job responsibility]?
- How would you handle [typical problems on the job]?
- What would you say is the most important aspect of being a [job role]?
- What do you like the most about [job role]?
- If you were to join us, what seems like the biggest challenge you would face?
- Tell me about a failed project/mistake on the job? What did you learn from it?
Cultural-Fit Interview: Companies are sometimes in a hurry to fill roles that have a specific skill set. So, they might omit or not give much weight to the cultural interview. However, this part of the screening process is absolutely key to see whether the person could thrive in your organization.
Questions to ask during this type of interview:
- How would your former manager/coworkers describe you?
- When working as part of a team, what would be your most likely role?
- Who inspires you and why?
- What are the top three things you’d need to succeed in this role?
- What was the last really good book you read?
- How do you stay organized?
These are just a few examples to get your creative juices going. Adjust these as relevant to your business.
A Background Check is Important! Don’t Skip.
Have you heard the story of a woman in Sydney who pretended to be a doctor and worked at a hospital for eight months before being caught? Or the case of another woman who got hired as a Chief Information Officer with the Australian government on the basis of fake a resume and references?
These might be extreme examples, but falsified information on applications is not that uncommon. Background checks can help you rest assured that the people you work with are genuine and trustworthy. They can also deter applicants who tend to lie about their background. Thus, leaving you with fewer but better quality applications to go through.
Bring On Your New Employee!
Congrats! After a grueling period of interviews, assessments and background checks, you finally have your ideal employee joining you!
Your job isn’t done, though! If you want your employees to be off to a good start, you need to invest in a sound onboarding strategy. SHRM shares that the onboarding process should take a year to have any real impact on retention. That said, there are a few things you can do at the very beginning to help your employee feel welcome and included.
On the very first day:
- Give your employee access to all accounts and tools they’d need to do their job;
- Introduce the employee to the rest of the company via email and/or on your internal team comms channel;
- Provide them with a laptop, phone, car or any other equipment they need on the job;
- Have a one-to-one with them to align expectations and set objectives;
Aside from this, make sure that you have set up all in-person or online training your employee needs to take. If you’re hiring for multiple roles at once, it’s a good practice to hold a values session as a reminder of the behaviors and attitudes you cherish as an employer.
How to Go About Remote Hiring?
Remote work has become mainstream in the past two years and job ads that support remote working have doubled in 2021. Still, going remote and hiring remote employees are two different things. Remote hiring can span across time zones and jurisdictions and doesn’t benefit from in-person interactions which are so valuable for relationship building.
So, how do you hire remote employees?
First and foremost, make sure you have a clear idea about the type of employment you can offer your employees. If you’re hiring across borders, there are several legal aspects you need to consider which will require either opening a satellite office or using an employer of record.
Second, attracting remote talent can be challenging without a sound online presence. Creating a fun and engaging careers page is the first step in showcasing your employer brand to remote workers. Likewise, leverage stories from existing employees to highlight why they enjoy working for you.
Finally, spread the word. If you advertise with local job boards your message can only go so far. Instead, use global job sites like Job\Searcher to amplify your message and attract talent from all corners of the world.
Effective Recruitment Strategies and Practices To Keep in Mind
Recruitment is a complex process which involves a lot of people, time and effort in order to get it right. Here are several things you need to keep in mind to excel in your recruitment efforts:
Never Stop Recruiting
You might not be in need of a new engineer or project manager right away, but keep an eye out for passive candidates who you’d love to join you one day. Usually, there’s a lag between a skill gap appearing and getting the right person to join your business. However, if you can anticipate the needs of the business and have scoped out a few people who you can go to once the need arises, then you can save yourself time and money in the process.
Make Technology Part of your Recruitment Strategies
A lot of the recruitment processes are unnecessarily cumbersome. Going through hundreds of resumés, going back and forth with candidates via email, doing initial screenings—all of this takes up time.
L’Oréal, for instance, embraced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in order to expedite and improve the overall recruitment process. They introduced Mya, a chatbot that uses algorithms and natural language processing, to do the initial screening of applicants. Later, they also introduced a more detailed language processing tool to check candidates for technical competencies and cultural fit. All of this saved the company hundreds of hours that their teams were then able to dedicate elsewhere.
You might not have the budget to invest in an AI tool, but getting a dedicated hiring software, which can keep all your records and applications in order, as well as an application tracking system for analyzing candidates, is a good start.
Embrace Social Hiring
We spend over two hours on social media every single day. Multiply that by 7, and that’s a lot of time to potentially reach new candidates. Social hiring isn’t reserved for LinkedIn only. Facebook has also launched job-posting options for your company page on the platform. Additionally, Twitter can be leveraged by using sector hashtags and storytelling to attract the right audience.
Be creative when you think about your social media recruitment strategies, and experiment with your hashtags, keyword searches and posting times to see what produces the best results.
Implement an Employee Referral Program
If you haven’t done this already, put down your coffee mug and get to work. A LinkedIn study has found that companies can expand their pool by 10x if they leverage the networks of their current employees.
Employee referral programs not only remove a lot of the noise that’s created when hiring externally, but they’re also way more cost-effective. While traditional recruitment can cost you thousands of dollars, referrals will cost you only whatever sum you decide to offer as a bonus to the employee who made the introduction.
Dip Into Your Pool of “Second Bests”
You don’t need to discover fresh talent each time you need to fill a position. If you’ve gone through hiring cycles before, you probably have a pool of “second best” candidates who almost got hired in the past. These people have already gone through the initial screening and interviewing process, so hiring them can be faster and much less work.
Involve Employees in the Interview Process
Interviews are far more effective when you get to hear from the people who’re already doing the job you’re hiring for. As a manager or an HR professional, you might not have full visibility of what the day-to-day tasks and challenges look like. However, someone who’s already doing this job can immediately tell you if the person has what it takes to succeed.
Things Not To Do While Hiring
So far, we’ve been focused on all the things you should do when hiring. However, there are also big no-nos that you need to steer away from when hiring. Some of these are:
Have an Unstructured Hiring Process
Relying on a randomized, organic approach to hiring can almost guarantee you problems down the line. From incomplete candidate profiles and wrong assessment techniques, it can lead to poor hiring decisions and, ultimately, poor business performance.
As we mentioned earlier, recruitment needs to be an ongoing process. If you hire only when the need arises, then you’re already too late. This type of seasonal hiring can make your business vulnerable as it would need to operate at reduced capacity. Ultimately, this can lead to hiring mediocre candidates when time is of the essence.
Eliminate Existing Employees from Your Recruitment Strategies
Sometimes the best employees are in our own backyard. Or, in this case – our workplace. Going external without checking with your existing talent first is creating unnecessary extra work for yourself. Not only that, but bypassing your existing workforce can be bad for morale as your current employees would be looking for opportunities for growth in order to stay with you long term.
Neglect Your Onboarding Process
Yes, honing in on effective recruitment strategies are important, but never ever neglect onboarding. When we have so many balls to juggle, onboarding might feel like one too many tasks to accomplish. Yet, skipping this step can make the employee feel lost and unprepared for their new job. It can also leave a bad taste in their mouth and make them seek other employment.
If It’s Too Much, Consider a Quality Agency
Depending on the size of your business, the number of roles you’re looking to fill and your budget, you may decide that outsourcing recruitment is the best strategy.
Finding top talent is the bread and butter of recruitment firms. Not only have they already established the best recruitment strategies and practices to make the hiring process faster and more effective, but they also have a wide network of partners and candidates that can help you fill positions quicker.
That said, hiring a recruitment agency costs money. Depending on how well-established the company is, they can charge anywhere between 10-20% of an employee’s first-year salary or 25-100% markup on temporary staffing. Likewise, using a third party to source your employees can sometimes miss the mark when it comes to cultural fit and authentically representing the voice of your brand.
Recruitment is an essential part of building a successful business. As such, it’s a complex process that requires a lot of upfront planning to make sure that the roles you hire for are closely aligned with your business strategy. Investing in standardized recruitment strategies, which have a clearly defined processes for identifying, screening and hiring candidates can result in a highly efficient and productive workforce.
In this context, paying close attention to the way you position yourself as a brand, the channels you use to source candidates and the first impression employees get are key to your success as an employer.