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Clues that you’re not recruiting strategically

Five tactics to build and improve a recruiting strategy


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.

A recruiting strategy incorporates multiple tactics to ensure you compete successfully for the talent you need now and in 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” (post your opening and pray someone applies) or to use any other single tactic, you are limiting your opportunity to reach the people you. 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: because they’ve come to trust or like you based on what you say and do. Like sales, strategic recruiting is a 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.

Create a talent and culture strategy

Your company’s ability to find and keep people is based on much more than your recruiting tactics. It’s dependent on several interrelated factors. Take this brief quiz to help identify areas of strength and opportunity within your organization’s human capital strategy. The resulting “report card” offers advice on next steps to address these gaps in the year ahead.

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.

No. 1: 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. 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.

No. 2: 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.

You should make note of possible future candidates by networking in the community and at professional events. 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. Post open positions on your website. Use all these tactics to build a pipeline of possible candidates that ensures you never have to settle for second best.

No. 3: 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.

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.

No. 4: Candidate screening and 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. 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.

No. 5: 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.

Make sure that everyone involved is trained in behavioral-based interviewing, with a focus on past results versus 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 hire the right people.

No. 6: 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.

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Kathleen Quinn Votaw

Kathleen Quinn Votaw is CEO of TalenTrust. Her first book, Solve the People Puzzle; How High-Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent, debuted in February 2016. Her firm has achieved several awards, including recognition from Inc.5000 in 2015 and 2016. She speaks frequently and advises CEOs on trends in talent and how to be strategic in developing a people strategy. Kathleen has served on several nonprofit boards including Colorado Companies to Watch and ACG-Denver. Reach Kathleen at kvotaw@talentrust.com or 303-838-3334.

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