kritchanut - Fotolia

Five recruiting strategies HR needs in a tight labor market

If you want to hire top talent, you need to get strategic. Here's what organizations and their HR departments can do to win at the game of recruitment.

Today's employers are competing for talent in a candidate-driven market. In turn, smart organizations have created innovative recruiting strategies that are supported by technologies -- an advantage that's needed when job seekers are calling the shots and making the most of technology themselves.

"The labor market is definitely talent-centric, based on supply and demand and the level of information about employers that's available to workers," said Thomas Handcock, practice leader of the Recruiting Leadership Council at Gartner.

To illustrate how employers have to jockey for position, Gartner analyzed job postings of companies in the S&P 100 stock market index. Handcock said 90% of the postings were focused on just 37 types of jobs, including industrial engineer, software developer, sales manager and accountant.

"This means organizations need to become more candidate-centric," Handcock said. "They need to be much better at not necessarily finding people -- that's easy because of LinkedIn and other tools -- but they have to be better at how effective they are at engaging people."

Here's how some companies and HR leaders are doing just that, as well as creating recruiting strategies that help them find talent in a competitive market.

1.    Adding 'going mobile' to recruiting strategies

PSR Associates, an IT consulting firm that provides staffing services, understands the extent to which many people check their mobile devices. In response to that always-on behavior, its recruiters meet prospective job candidates in the way those prospects are comfortable -- by sending text messages.

Danielle Butler, senior technical recruiter at PSR, and her colleagues still email and call as a last resort, chiefly because people don't usually answer their phones, but texts come . Butler's texts are succinct: a quick hello and then a few enticing words about the opportunity.

Knowing that people also use their devices to update their social media profiles, PSR's applicant tracking system lets Butler see social posts so she can make informed decisions on how to approach a potential candidate. If, for instance, a candidate's Twitter feed focuses on weekends with his children, she won't be as likely to mention a weekend-only job.

2.    Focusing on ways to determine candidates' cultural fit

For some employers, finding the best talent means emphasizing the softer side of what candidates bring to the organization. Take Velo IT Group. Indeed, one of its most critical recruiting strategies is to focus on cultural fit. To that end, the Dallas-based managed IT services provider asks candidates to take Wonscore, an online preapplication test from assessment company Wonderlic, to get a preview of a prospective employee's possible motivation, personality and cognitive skills.

We have reduced turnover and [have] tremendously improved our hiring process by hiring individuals who fit well within the company.
Crystal McFerranVP of marketing, Velo IT Group

"We have reduced turnover and [have] tremendously improved our hiring process by hiring individuals who fit well within the company, engage well with co-workers and clients, and have greater job satisfaction," said Crystal McFerran, Velo IT Group's vice president of marketing, who also oversees recruiting.

McFerran said a high score in cognitive ability might not make up for a low score on motivation. Conversely, job candidates who fall short of perfection on the cognitive end but earn high motivation and personality scores catch her eye. She said: "We look at the overall picture, including personality … combined with an in-person interview, to see how they mesh with the team." Even a candidate's reaction to taking Wonscore guides McFerran. If candidates hesitate or decline to take the test, she suspects they might not be team players.

3.    Taking a marketing approach to recruiting strategies

As part of their recruiting strategies to compete for talent, some companies also use marketing technology tools to spread the message about their workplaces. Velo IT Group, for instance, relies on many mainstream technologies to recruit: LinkedIn Recruiter, which uses algorithm-based candidate suggestions and targeted messaging for finding and attracting candidates; HubSpot for applicant tracking and automation; and Facebook and Instagram for social media ads. McFerran said her recruiting expenses come out of the company HR budget, but by integrating recruiting with marketing, Velo IT Group believes it's effectively widening its net to catch ideal candidates.

Similarly, BlueCat Networks, an enterprise domain name system provider in Toronto, believes marketing and recruiting must be approached in concert if talented IT and cybersecurity professionals are to find the company appealing.

"Our recruitment [strategies] are especially successful when they borrow assets from our marketing department or other departments and [don't] just leverage job postings," said Cheryl Kerrigan, vice president of people at BlueCat.

"Candidates, especially the great ones, don't just want to see a job posting. They want to see what they could be working on at a company, what they can be part of. So, it's actually been helpful showing them the stuff we send to prospects and customers."

As part of its recruiting strategies, BlueCat promotes tech meetups in the office and other events via Facebook and Twitter. Arguably, an even more important recruiting strategy is BlueCat's focus on Glassdoor. The company pays a subscription fee to receive favorable positioning of job ads and see detailed job demographics of the people who look at those ads. BlueCat also responds to comments that employees post about the company, a free function, Kerrigan said.

Kerrigan drew this analogy: "When you're traveling, you don't just go to a hotel's website; you also go to TripAdvisor to see what people say. With Glassdoor, it's similar to TripAdvisor, [and] we can have an opportunity to respond."

4.    Tapping into specialized recruiting services and tools

The personal finance website Finder relies on LinkedIn and other social media platforms to recruit writers, marketers and other candidates, but as part of its recruiting strategies, it has found measured success with recruiting service ZipRecruiter. Using customized keywords that fit open positions, ZipRecuiter relies on machine learning to "adjust its targeting to better understand the type of candidate we are looking for," Finder Country Manager Jon Brodsky said.

The Orlando, Fla., software development company Concepta also turned to a recruiting service, one that screens candidates on experience and personality and then tests them on their technical chops. Since using the service, Adapt, Concepta has solved its long-standing problem of finding talented developers and data scientists by hiring qualified contractors from Latin America. These workers meet the high standards of the positions, and even though they work remotely, they fit nicely with operations because they are in the same time as company headquarters, according to Concepta CEO Humberto Farias.

"It takes a tremendous amount of time to go through the process of recruiting and then finding they're not a great fit because they lack technical abilities," Farias said. The cost of Adapt is not much lower than the cost of an internal job search, but the company saves money in the long run, he said.

Still, despite singing the praises of recruiting tools and services, even those that are supported by AI, Finder's Brodsky cautioned that qualified candidates can be missed. That's why Finder has an "I want in" option on its website for job candidates to bypass recruiting tools and the standard resume process. The option is simply a direct email to Brodsky from the website.

5.    Recruiting contractors for hard-to-fill positions

Ridester, an information service for the ride-sharing industry, also hires freelancers to narrow the talent gap. Because it is in the beginning stages of growth, Ridester doesn't have the budget for recruiters, so one of its most critical recruitment strategies is to use readily available tools to find contractors, as well as manage and track them, according to its growth marketing manager, Syed Ifran Ajmal.

It plumbs the website OnlineJobs to find low-cost help and uses Breezy HR to assess candidates and manage its onboarding process. Ajmal also tries out candidates by having them write content on the time-tracking cloud offering Hubstaff so he can judge how they will fare on hourly rate assignments. "It's definitely a problem recruiting all of the time, but with these tools, we find out who are the right ones," he said.

Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst of Constellation Research, said that, with many industries increasing the use of contractors, recruitment strategies should include people management software to create talent depth charts, much as sports teams rank their athletes by position.

"With sports teams, you have to know depth at positions because of injuries," Mueller said. "It should be the same way with organizations. Managers see the right person for a job, and they need to know if a gig will be open immediately or if it is too soon to hire that person."

Dig Deeper on Talent management

Business Analytics
Content Management
and ESG