5 Steps to Enhance Your Recruiting Strategy

Finding top-notch job candidates continues to be a frustrating problem for employers across many industries. HR teams have had to become canny and creative strategists to uncover prospects and inspire them to apply. No new idea can be ignored, but time-proven tactics can still bring success, too. Here are five steps that warrant a close look – or perhaps another look – to enhance your recruiting strategy.

1. It’s all about the experience

We’re talking about the application experience, not the applicant’s personal work experience. The hiring process itself, or maybe your job announcement, is most likely a prospect’s first encounter with your organization, unless you have a big name brand. What kind of impression are you making? It had better be good, because 49% of job seekers in high-demand fields say they have rejected an offer based on their bad hiring process experience. Not only that, 56% of them said they would warn off other applicants as well.

In a world where communication is always “on,” applicants expect responsiveness. And timeliness. If your hiring process takes for more than a month, sharp candidates will lose interest (or get snapped up by someone else). Worse, if you ghost them by ending the process — and further communication — without explanation, your company’s reputation will suffer. If they haven’t been selected to move forward or get the job, tell them! (We’ll talk more about branding in a minute.)

On the plus side, PwC says surprisingly few employers are emphasizing experience as they recruit. So for companies that do deliver a great experience, this can be a significant differentiator. A positive experience not only keeps top talent engaged in the hiring process, it increases their interest by suggesting that their experience as an employee will be equally positive.

2. Build your brand as well as job awareness

Like you, candidates are looking for the right fit. You have to sell your company as a growing business but also its personality and culture, and you have to do a superlative job. Job seekers aren’t the only ones who are up against stiff competition.

Is your company a great place to work? (Do you actually know what current employees think about that?) Your company’s brand may be a household name, but famous products or services aren’t all that relevant here. Prospective new hires want to know why they should bring their talents to your table. What is it like to work there day in and day out, behind the scenes? Atmosphere matters, but so do specifics such as flexible scheduling and emphasis on employee development. The best people don’t want to settle in and stagnate, they want to grow right along with the enterprise.

So don’t merely use your “careers” web page to list current openings. Illustrate your brand and the corporate culture new hires can expect to find. Talk (briefly) about your company’s origins and what sets you apart as a business. Post photos and short videos of employees working and engaging in company-sponsored fun or community activities. These things bring your organization to life and demonstrate that yours is a desirable workplace.

3. Use technology, tempered with humanity

Younger generations, especially, expect a tech-forward recruiting and hiring experience. There are plenty of software options employers can adopt to automate and streamline every step of the process for both candidates and HR personnel. Applicant tracking systems can automate targeted placement of job postings, facilitate electronic application submission, sort candidates, schedule interviews, and provide a platform for some forms of testing.

Technology that enables candidates to track their own progress through the application progress will boost their overall experience and help keep communication lines open. Nonetheless, job seekers still want to hear from real humans because that adds the all-important, “we want you” personal touch.  Email, phone, texting, and in-person contacts all work. Forward-thinking companies are also making greater use of social media to communicate with candidates as well as build brand and job opening awareness.

Since the most human part of the recruitment process is the in-person interview, this is another opportunity to deliver an exceptional experience to those you have chosen for this final stage. After all, these are your favorites, so you want to go all out to impress them with your organization’s desirability. Whether you interview remotely or face-to-face, experts recommend trying to keep the atmosphere as stress-free as possible. The stakes are high all the way around, but try to create an environment that reflects your company’s reality.

If your place is pretty casual, be informal. Humor or a little side chat can help reduce tension. It’s not usually good idea to gang up on a candidate, but interviews that involve more than one employee can provide multiple benefits. For the company, including a supervisor as well as HR staff can eliminate the need for two separate conversations, respecting everyone’s time.

If your firm is team-oriented (or very small), schedule an interview/conversation between the candidate and their prospective team members (or two or three future co-workers). Since interviews work in both directions, this enables your prospect to meet more people to determine if the group feels comfortable.

It also enables existing employees to get a read on the candidate from an entirely different perspective. Interviewees who are carefully mindful of themselves with decision-makers often let their guard down when talking to others, revealing positive or negative traits that could make a critical difference in their success as a new hire.

4. Get creative, then get more creative

Dig deeper in looking for ways to reach prospects, especially those who aren’t currently thinking of themselves as job seekers. Some of the best new hires are, dare we say, poached from the competition. Or lured from a somewhat different line of work. One way to meet these desirable individuals is through niche job boards and associated forums. Don’t just post openings, though, participate in conversations on an ongoing basis to build brand awareness and potential referrals.

5. Reach out and invite them in

If top prospects are geographically nearby, host an open house or internal job fair where you can make your pitch and also give them a taste of what it’s like behind the scenes. If this isn’t feasible, invite them in electronically. Along with participating in niche job boards, look for (and get active on) industry or job-specific message boards. Subscribe to (and contribute to) influencer blogs. These things build visibility and credibility.

Finally, stay in touch with past applicants. You never know what the future holds, and someone who wasn’t the best fit last time around could be the ideal candidate now. Or they may know exactly the right person for your new opening. If you parted on good terms (having previously delivered a good hiring process experience), you can reach out to re-engage with them and they should be pleased to hear from you.