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While developing talent is important, recruitment remains a vital yet notoriously difficult business function.

Use these recruiting strategies to help you attract and hire the talent you need.

  1. Employer brand and value proposition
  2. Tap into the hidden workforce
  3. Leverage current workers
  4. Use a mix of recruitment marketing tactics
  5. Encourage collaborative hiring
  6. Build a talent pool
  7. Create an internship program
  8. Create a returnship program
  9. Look further afield
  10. Get niche with sourcing
  11. Utilize candidate feedback
  12. Provide interview training
  13. Plan judiciously

1. Work on your employer brand and value proposition

“A strong employer brand is a magnet for values-aligned talent because it doesn’t beg the candidate “Do you want a job?” Instead, it asks, “Are you like us?” - Eric Harris, CEO, Mindhandle

A strong employer brand makes attracting the talent you want much easier.

Employer branding, like "regular" branding, is a combination of your purpose, mission, values, culture, reputation, product, and unique voice.

The core of your employer brand is your employer value proposition (EVP). It’s essentially everything you offer workers in return for their time and skills.

Taking the time to create an EVP will help you attract and retain relevant talent and create a better experience for current workers.

It's much easier to get your messaging consistent if everyone is clear about what you offer as an employer.

2. Go after hidden workers

It’s estimated that, in the U.S. alone, there are 27 million ‘hidden workers’ i.e. people excluded from the workforce by the processes that organizations use to find talent.

Targeting this demographic is a potential hotbed of willing and talented workers. You might just have to make some accommodations.

You may also need to recalibrate your hiring practices to ensure they’re inclusive and targets a diverse talent pool.

Ways you you can do this include:

For a deeper diver here, read recruitment expert, Mariya Hristova’s article on creating a recruiting diversity strategy.

3. Leverage your current workers

“Candidates who are referred by current Grainger team members often end up doing well when they join the company. Current team members understand what is needed and are often great at spotting talent.” - Randy Tosch, VP of Talent, Grainger

Hopefully your current workers are brand champions and would happily recommend your roles to friends and family (that’s where the EVP exercise is so important).

Ways to encourage workers to promote your roles and help source candidates:

  • Create an employee referral program that offers incentives, such as bonuses or gifts, for successful referrals.
  • Regularly communicate open roles to all employees, providing detailed information about the job requirements and ideal candidates.
  • Invite employees to participate in recruitment events, like job fairs or campus recruiting.
  • Equip employees with marketing materials, such as digital flyers or email templates, that they can easily share with their networks.
  • Share testimonials from current employees about their experiences with the company to inspire others to refer friends or family.
  • Establish a program where select employees serve as company ambassadors, responsible for promoting the organization and its job openings within their networks.
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4. Leverage a mix of recruitment marketing tactics

Most organizations are aware of the more common recruitment marketing tactics: job ads, outreach messages, careers pages, hiring platform profiles, social media.

While important, there are some more you want to try out. These include:

  • Company ambassadors
  • Review sites
  • Recruitment events
  • Community outreach
  • Blogging and content marketing.

The key is to be authentic and be ready to track performance e.g. ROI (resource spent vs the increase of target candidates), and impact on recruitment strategy overall (e.g. is it taking away too much time from other essential tasks like screening). 

This testing is really important to understand what works well in your own industry and location. From there, look to create a repeatable recruitment marketing plan that you can occasionally look to update with new developments and trends.

5. Encourage collaborative hiring

The term collaborative hiring refers to the practice of involving various stakeholders, sometimes from different business areas, over the course of the hiring process.

From the candidate’s perspective, they get to meet more potential team members and gain a better sense of the organization, company culture, and team.

For the organization, a collaborative hiring method provides a standard hiring framework that unites the team and divides the big task of making a hire into more manageable chunks for each person.

Benefits include:

  • More and better recruitment conversations
  • Diverse opinions and division of interviews
  • Better candidate experience
  • Reduced bias.

You can encourage collaborative hiring through:

  • Creating a well-defined recruitment process
  • Effective workforce planning
  • Socializing the talent pool
  • Understanding stakeholder roles
  • Fostering team collaborating in hiring.

For a deeper dive, read our collaborative hiring guide.

6. Build a talent pool

Sometimes the timing just isn’t right and, for one reason or another, a candidate that’s entered your hiring process will drop out or miss out on the role.

But that doesn’t mean that they won’t be a great fit for something else later down the line. That’s why it’s important to keep their details on file (within the limits of compliance) as a pool of potential candidates who’ve already interacted with your brand.

Recruiting software such as applicant tracking systems will often have a candidate database feature to make this easier.

You can keep in touch with this talent and they’re one of the first ports of call when sourcing for a new role.

7. Create an internship program

Your ability to win over early-in-career talent is going to be essential to setting the foundation for your workforce in the years to come.

A strategically aligned internship program will help you recruit the talent your organization needs, bring in fresh ideas and perspectives, and positively impact your employer brand.

The interns you hire are more likely to stay at your organization compared to non-intern early-career graduates.

Internships can be highly effective recruitment strategy if designed and administered properly. For more, read our article on how to start an internship program.

8. Create a returnship program

A returnship program is a type of paid internship designed specifically for individuals who have taken a lengthy career break and are now looking to return to the workforce in a professional capacity.

It can also be utilized by underemployed workers not using their skillset or education, or are looking to break into their new role or industry.

From an employer’s perspective, returnship programs help to widen the talent pool and promote diversity and inclusion by providing opportunities for often overlooked individuals from different backgrounds.

Throughout the program, the organization helps people develop new skills and potentially awards them a permanent position upon completion. It’s almost like a working interview!

From an employee’s perspective, a returnship program provides an opportunity for individuals to refresh their skills and gain knowledge in the field they wish to pursue. This can help them become more competitive in the job market after a break in employment or a period of underemployment.

Lastly, launching a returnship program sends the message that the company values its employees’ personal lives and provides a way back if they need to take a career break.

For more, check out Jessica Cieslinski’s excellent article on how to launch a returnship.

9. Look further afield

Sometimes your immediate location isn’t replete with talent. The good news is that it’s never been easier to hire talent from further afield.

This could be from another area of the country or even another part of the world. Professional employer organizations and employer of record services can make this process much easier.

You can also check out our guide to hiring remote employees and hiring international employees.

10. Get niche with sourcing

Candidate sourcing is sometimes the best way to fill an open position.  However, discovering and engaging new candidates can be one of the toughest challenges in the recruitment process.

We all know the main sources: jobs boards, LinkedIn, the aforementioned talent pools.

But it pays to get unconventional. Some other more niche sources of candidates could be:

  • Reddit
  • Slack/Discord/online communities
  • Short skill challenges/Hackathons
  • Hosting events and webinars
  • A thought piece or story about your work.

11. Utilize candidate feedback

If you’re not getting feedback from candidates then you’re missing a trick. This feedback is crucial to help you improve your hiring process.

Couple of ways you can solicit feedback from candidates:

  • Candidate surveys: After the interview or hiring process, send a survey to candidates. Include questions about different stages of the process, such as application, interview, and communication.
  • Phone calls: Especially for later-stage candidates, recruiters should have built enough rapport to ask for feedback about the hiring process. This is the most effective method as it allows them to dig deeper into responses.

12. Provide interview training

As interviews are such a crucial element of the hiring process, it pays to provide training and guidance to everyone involved in them.

This can include:

  • Creating clear guidelines that outline the desired interview process, including structure, question types, evaluation criteria, and legal considerations.
  • Hosting interactive workshops or training sessions to cover interview basics, best practices, and the importance of consistent and structured interviews.
  • Training colleagues on soft skills like active listening, empathy, and effective communication, which are crucial for creating a positive candidate experience.
  • Providing training on unconscious bias and diversity to promote fair and inclusive interviewing practices.

13. Plan judiciously 

Taking the time for headcount planning and creating a hiring planning strategy is incredibly important.

Be it annually, semi-annually, or quarterly, getting all the team leaders together to discuss and understand how each team will grow and develop is key to sustainable growth.

The process will help strategic alignment, hiring efficiency, workforce diversity, and even employee retention. 

The process will look something like this:

  1. Define company and team goals.
  2. Assess specific skill needs/gaps. Often, the easiest way to identify your needs is to look at gaps in skills and experience (a skills gap analysis). Additionally, creating an org chart to go with the new hiring plan helps visualize reporting lines and working relationships.
  3. Assess if the skill gap is coachable for the current team. If not—create the positions.
  4. Work with HR/Talent Acquisition to create a job description
  5. Work with other team leaders to discuss your ideas for hiring this person so there’s no overlap.
  6. Create a plan on when you need to hire and how you will do it.

For a deeper dive, check out Mariya Hristova’s excellent article on hiring planing.

It's always worth keeping updated on the latest recruitment trends and it might also be worth checking out a recruiting conference near you.

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Finn Bartram
By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.