9 Recruiting Strategies to Attract and Retain the Best Candidates
Recruiting isn’t just about a simple business transaction anymore. The scarcity of talent (and abundance of employers) means that candidates have more options than ever and can afford to be picky. To meet this new challenge, HR professionals must treat recruiting as the process of marketing your company to potential employees, just as you would market your products or services to customers. In other words, you need a recruitment strategy.
Here are 9 recruiting strategies you can use to stand out from the competition and attract the best candidates to your company:
1. Get Feedback on Your Recruiting Process
You can optimize the recruiting process all you want based on your instincts, but the most effective way to improve your recruiting strategy is to get feedback from people who have gone through it. To do this, we recommend surveying two groups of people.
First, you should survey recent hires and ask them to tell you about the recruiting process. Ask them what they liked, what could be improved, and how much of a role the recruiting process played in their decision to accept your offer of employment.
Second, you should also survey people who didn’t accept your job offer. Ask them the same sorts of questions as above, but focus especially on figuring out how you could improve the recruiting process and if something about a competitor’s recruiting process was easier or otherwise better than yours.
2. Go Through the Recruiting Process Yourself
You can learn a lot about how to improve your recruiting process by putting yourself through it. Create a pseudonymous account and use it to fill out your company’s job application forms for different positions.
As you go through this process, be on the lookout for inefficiencies or difficulties that candidates might encounter. Are any of the application questions unclear? Do they match the job description? Is it clear how (and when) you will follow up with applicants that you want to interview? Is the tone you use consistent with your employer brand? Are there any typos or technical problems that make the application look unprofessional?
Also, make sure to test the job application on a mobile device. Is it still a smooth process? If not, then talk to your engineering team about how to ensure that all your application forms are easy to navigate in mobile web browsers.
3. Recruit Internally
Your best candidates may already work for you. It’s easy to overlook internal recruiting and default to an external search for candidates. After all, the more people who see your job posting, the better chances of hiring the best candidate, right? In practice, this can dilute your hiring process with candidates who don’t understand your company and only want to work for you because of the compensation you offer.
In contrast, when you hire internally, you’re working with a pool of people who already understand and buy into your company culture. These people know how your organization works, saving you time in onboarding and training. For these reasons, you should consider creating an internal hiring program to complement your external recruiting efforts.
4. Work With Recruiting Agencies
The right recruiting agency can help immensely in finding the best candidates for your company. But we must emphasize the importance of working with the right recruiters. You need people who understand your company and (ideally) are experts in recruiting for your industry or the job role you want to fill.
You do not want a one-size-fits-all recruiting agency that treats your potential hires as entries in a spreadsheet. You want someone who will collaborate with you in the recruiting and hiring process, sending only the best-fitting candidates your way.
To ensure that this happens, you must do your research prior to engaging with a recruiting agency. This due diligence should include soliciting references, examining their company website, and reading any external reviews you can find of them on sites like GlassDoor. What sort of job placements are their specialty? Are the candidates they referred satisfied with the companies where they ended up?
5. Create an Employee Referral Program
Your current employees can be some of your most compelling recruiters. The things they say about your company have a lot more credibility than what you or a hiring manager says, no matter how excellent your company culture is (after all, it’s your job to promote your company a certain way to candidates, and they know this).
You can experiment with offering your employees incentives in exchange for each successful hire they help generate, but you should be careful in how you go about this. You don’t want employees to send people your way just for the compensation. Rather, you should focus on building a stellar company culture that employees can’t stop talking about. These are the most earnest and compelling referrals.
6. Leverage Recruitment Events
Getting face to face with potential candidates allows interactions that you could never have online. And attending the right events will also help you meet the best people to fill current or future positions.
Therefore, we suggest that you find and attend key recruitment events for your industry. This could mean having a booth at a university job fair, being present at an industry trade show, or even hosting your own recruiting event via a company open house (if you have the resources).
At these events, take the time to answer questions from potential candidates, and also get their information for later follow up. Then, make sure that you do follow up, staying in touch with people in order to build a recruiting pipeline. Because even though you may not be filling open positions now, you should always be in the process of building and nurturing hiring leads.
7. Use Content Marketing to Promote Your Employer Brand
You don’t want job board postings to be potential candidates’ first contact with your brand. You need to create an employer brand and then use content marketing to promote it. What sorts of content should you create? Here are a few we recommend:
Blog posts - Use your company blog to showcase life at your company. Interview current employees about what they do (and why they decided to work with you). Focus on the employee experience just as much as what you do for your customers. You can even create a separate blog that focuses only on what your company does. Check out social media company Buffer’s Buffer Open blog for inspiration.
Social media posts - This is a large category that covers everything from brief Twitter statuses to longer posts on Medium to your company page on LinkedIn (you do have a LinkedIn company page, right?). We recommend you use your social media to showcase your employer personality, company culture, and thoughts on happenings in your industry. Show potential candidates what you stand for, what differentiates the experience of working for you from other companies. For inspiration, have a look at LinkedIn’s Top 10 Company Pages of 2017 or HubSpot’s 10 of the Best Brands on Twitter.
Video - If you’re not using video as part of your content marketing strategy, then you’re behind the times (not to mention missing out on a chance to convey things about your company that words or pictures cannot). Possible recruitment marketing video content includes interviews with employees about your company culture or video tours of your office. Have a look at Google’s Life at Google YouTube channel for ideas of how the best in the business do it.
Email newsletters. Email may not be as trendy or sexy as the other content marketing methods we’ve discussed, but that doesn’t mean you should rule it out. A well-orchestrated email marketing campaign can help keep you on candidates’ minds both during and after the recruiting process. You can use your emails to send links to the content we’ve already discussed, but you can also create email content that stands on its own. You can discuss industry trends, give an overview of what work is like at your company, and also get interactive, asking recipients to respond with questions about working with you. This approach can complement more direct, targeted outreach emails that you send to candidates individually.
8. Use Job Boards Strategically
It’s easy to blast a job posting a bunch of generic job boards where lots of people will see them. While this isn’t a bad approach per se, we recommend that you also look into more niche job boards where specific types of job seekers are searching, to make sure you get the quantity of exposure you’re looking for, as well as the quality.
For example, if you’re hiring for a remote web developer job, you can create a posting on a site like Remote OK or We Work Remotely. Or you can run an add on a site like Hacker News, where developers are more likely to spend their time than more generic job boards. These principles apply to whatever position you’re hiring for; figure out where potential candidates hang out online and then post your jobs there.
9. Create a Memorable Hiring Process
It’s easy to focus only on the experience someone has once you’ve hired them at the expense of creating an outstanding hiring process. This is a mistake, as the hiring process is your chance to stand out from other companies and wow the best candidates.
Remember, you’re not just hiring someone to fill a position; you’re marketing your company to the candidate in order to convince them that they should go with your company, not a competitor’s.
Here are some things you can do to create a hiring process that candidates will remember:
Create a VIP candidate experience. When someone has made it to your final interview process, spare no expense in flying them out to the interview, putting them up in a nice hotel, and ensuring they have quality transportation to the interview. These extra steps show candidates that you value the chance to talk with them, even if you don’t end up hiring them.
Be personal. Instead of just having generic refreshments for you candidate to enjoy while they wait for the interview, ask them ahead of time what they like and then provide it. This is a small touch, but it helps you stand out amid other companies that just provide the same old cookies and coffee.
Express gratitude. At all stages of the hiring process, thank your candidate for their time and consideration. Go the extra mile with a handwritten thank you note, a personalized letter, or even a small gift to show your appreciation. Not only does this make the candidate feel special, but it keeps your company in the forefront of their mind as they’re making a decision.
Don’t just tell; show. When you bring a candidate in for an interview, show them how your people work every day. Transparency goes a long way in creating trust and a positive gut feeling about your firm. If candidates have questions about your processes, take them around and show them what they’re like, instead of just explaining them. Introduce them to the people they’ll work with, instead of only having them interact with the hiring manager.
Think long-term. Emphasize to your candidates that you want them to have a future with your company. Explain how they can grow a career with you, how you’ll help them develop their skills and learn new things.
Win the War for Talent
With the above recruiting strategies at your disposal, you’re now better equipped to convince candidates that you’re the company to work for, both now and in the future. To recap, here are the strategies one more time:
Get Feedback on Your Recruiting Process
Go Through the Recruiting Process Yourself
Work With Recruiting Agencies
Encourage Employees to Refer Candidates
Leverage Recruitment Events
Use Content Marketing to Promote Your Employer Brand
Use Job Boards Strategically
Create a Memorable Hiring Process
Implement just a couple of the above strategies in your overall recruitment process, and watch as you improve both the rate and quality of the talent you attract and hire.