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Finding the right talent is one of the most challenging tasks recruiters face today. Candidates are more selective than ever, and EVERYONE is hiring. In an era where the competition for talent is fierce, how are you thinking outside of the box and remaining competitive? When was the last time you reviewed your recruiting strategy? And if you don’t currently have one and are just posting jobs on your career site and some external job boards, perhaps it’s time begin building a recruiting strategy that will help you succeed in the war for talent today and in the future.

An effective recruitment plan doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it a one size fits all for every organization. However, there are some key elements that we’ve gathered from working with hundreds of organizations over the years and will share them in this blog so you can begin building your own recruitment strategy (or update it).

1) Branding and Fresh Content

A clear representation of your brand is key, especially if you are not a well-known company. If a candidate sees a job they are interested in and visits your career site, how are you going to convert that “visit” to an application (and ultimately a hire)? Your branding has to speak for you. It should be a clear visual about who you are as a company. Can a job seeker go to your career site and hear from other employees about what it’s like to work at your organization? Can they see pictures or watch testimonials from their potential colleagues? If your answer is no, consider adding some "flavor" to your site by way of photos (even if they have to be stock), messaging and video. Your goal is to establish an emotional connection, and leave candidates wanting to learn more about your organization and compelled to apply. You must tell the right story to attract the right candidates.

If you are currently leveraging photos, videos and relevant messaging, you may need a refresh. Stale content isn't going to cut it in today's fierce market. When candidates visit your career site (especially if they are repeat visitors) they expect to see updated content, not the same information they saw two years ago. Don’t misunderstand, we are not saying everything must be overhauled every year. What we are saying is that you need to stay relevant. For example, if you won a best employer award several years ago, it’s great to see that award, but what are you doing in 2021 and beyond to still be a best employer? Are we going to see the same photos, and videos? Keep your site fresh, with content that strengthens your brand and represents your organization and job seekers today.

2) Experience Matters

Candidate experience isn’t just the application process. It’s everything from the moment a potential employee visits your career site to their first day of employment. Did you catch the subtle tie in with the career site here? All parts working together to create a purposeful candidate experience.

Let’s expand on candidate experience. We’ve already covered how important your career site is to the experience, but what else goes into making a great candidate experience?

The next step would be the application process. You want the right candidates to apply, so how do you optimize the application experience? First, it must be mobile friendly. You never know how a candidate may be applying, but today, the likelihood applicants are using their mobile phone or tablet is high. The application must also be quick and easy. If job seekers have to fill out a long application and provide personal data they feel is not needed this early on, they will likely abandon the application and you could miss out on the perfect candidate. When a candidate applies, it’s a good idea to only ask for information that’s necessary to consider whether they are a qualified candidate. If they are a qualified candidate, you can move forward with your process and collect personal information needed for the hire at the end of the process. For candidates who may not have been selected this time, they may opt to apply for another role since they had a good experience during the first application.

Part of the candidate experience is also communication. We’ve all been applicants at some point. Have you experienced the silence and lack of follow up only to conclude that your application in a black hole somewhere? Not a great feeling, is it? We cannot emphasize how important good communication is to a candidate. Even if they do not meet the qualifications for this job, let them know, and offer tips on what they could do different next time. As a recruiter, you can’t afford to miss out on those candidates. While they may not be a match for your current role, they could be for a future role, and you don’t want to let a poor experience prevent you from potentially hiring them down the road.

The interview process is also a critical part of the candidate experience, and this includes how the interview is conducted (virtual, face to face, or combination) as well as the interviewers involved and the number of interviews that must take place. Virtual interviews are the norm these days, but if you are still doing face to face interviews, are you balancing that with virtual interviews when possible? Be mindful of the candidate’s time especially if you have a process that includes multiple interviews. And if you have multiple interviews, it’s good to include a diverse interview panel so your candidate can get a clear representation of your team and organization. When it comes to multiple interviews, revisit this from time to time to determine how many are necessary. Too many interviews can be a turn-off for candidates.

The last part of the candidate experience we don’t talk about often, but it’s the portion of time between when the candidate accepts the offer until they are onboarded and officially start their new role. This can be a considerable amount of time, so it’s important to remain in contact with your candidate before they start. Many candidates can have a change of heart after accepting a job, and perhaps that could have been avoided had the recruiter kept them engaged. This period is a good time for the manager or future team members to reach out and let the candidate know they are excited to have them join their team. It can start the new relationship out on a positive note.

3) Build a Referral Program

How did you hear about your current job? Did you just happen to find it online or do you know someone who referred you? Chances are you were referred by a friend, former colleague, or someone you know. This happens all the time...because it WORKS! Many times, the best employees come from other employees. Allow current employees to be an extension of your recruitment team and take referrals seriously. After all, they know your organization and have an interest in who their new team members may be.

What can you do to encourage referrals? Building a formal referral program can do volumes for your recruiting efforts. Be creative and offer a variety of incentives for referrals. A monetary incentive is common, but it doesn’t always have to be a financial incentive. Gift cards or a special benefit can be a great reward as well. A well-built referral program could offset your marketing budget, so perhaps it is worth reallocating some of that planned spend to a referral program. If your applicant tracking system allows you to track referrals it would be helpful for tracking those metrics down the road.

4) Target Previous Employees

It’s common for organizations to rehire former employees. Why is this a group recruiters should consider and specifically target? First, they already know your organization, so it significantly decreased the amount of time for that “learning curve.” Second, you already have a history and know what their performance was like, so you know exactly what you are getting. Those are great wins in themselves but let’s talk about the experience factor. If a particular employee moved on to another organization (or two) in the time they have been away, they’ve gained some alternative perspectives and ideas they can bring back to your organization; and already having foundational knowledge about your business makes them extremely valuable.

Do candidates revisit former employers? We can’t speak for everyone but a large majority (if having left on good terms) would consider going back to a former employer. It can be a win/win situation. Don’t overlook this niche group.

5) Build Talent Communities and Target Passive Candidates

Let’s discuss the benefits of building a talent community. A talent community is a way for recruiters to keep an active pipeline of talent to access when the right opportunity becomes available.

Having candidates available to begin sourcing immediately when a job opportunity becomes available is a big win for recruiters and managers as it can decrease your time to fill (if you are tracking that metric) and allow managers the opportunity to fill a vacancy much quicker than if you were starting from scratch.

A well-structured talent community can also increase engagement with candidates and contribute to a positive candidate experience. This should also lead to a higher acceptance rate, as a base relationship exists between the recruiter and candidate. If the candidate has been responsive and has continued to show interest in your organization, they are more likely to accept an offer than a candidate who isn’t as invested.

So how do you start building a talent community? A good place to start is with current applicants who made it to the end of your recruiting process but were not selected. These are candidates you don’t want to lose because you both have a lot invested, and just because they weren’t right for the current opening doesn’t mean they won’t be the perfect match for the next opening. This is a recruiter’s opportunity to continue building and nurturing the relationship with the candidate.

Another source for your talent pool may be referrals (we’ve already talked about how important referrals can be), and again you may not have the right opportunity now but there is potential down the road.

Now that you have candidates in your talent community what do you do? Let’s first mention what you should NOT do. Under no circumstances should you spam potential candidates with all job postings. This is a turn-off to a candidate, and they may unsubscribe from any emails you send. Job openings should be strategically targeted and sent. Put yourself in their shoes – this is exactly the expectation you have as a consumer.

OK, now that’s out of the way, here’s what you SHOULD do with your talent community:

  • Share great content: industry trends, company recognition, and information that can easily be shared with other networks and interested parties.
  • As a recruiter, share things about your organization like unique benefits, interview tips, content on growing your career, etc.
  • Employee testimonials – candidates like to hear from actual employees and potential peers

These are just a few ideas, but the important thing to remember is to share relevant, timely and targeted information and connect on an individual basis when appropriate to do so.

Building an effective recruitment strategy contains elements that work for your unique organization to attract the types of candidates needed to fill your specific roles. We’ve covered our top five suggestions, but would encourage you to incorporate any other other elements that are specific to your organization. Take the time to formalize your strategic plan and get started on building your recruitment strategy.

Need expert advice? Our team would love to validate your strategy and/or share lessons learned to help you reach your goals. Schedule a complimentary call with one of our recruiting experts today!