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10 steps in planning a strong recruitment strategy

To attract and hire the right job candidates, examine current policies, solicit feedback, identify workforce gaps, deploy advanced technologies and promote the company brand.

Recruiting is a necessary function of any organization, regardless of its business model or industry.

To ensure that a company has an effective and efficient recruiting process to find the right candidates, the talent acquisition team must develop a recruiting strategy.

What is a recruitment plan and what should it include?

A recruitment plan outlines how the company will approach the recruitment process and what tools will be used. The plan generally applies to all job positions in the company to be recruited rather than specific details of each individual role. For example, items that apply broadly to the recruitment function include the systems that will be used, the vendors contracted to provide background checks and how the company's website will be configured to showcase the open positions.

But the plan may also define sub-strategies for large groups of similar roles, such as manufacturing employees that require some specific actions to attract people in this industry as opposed to office employees.

This strategy can help determine how the company achieves its recruitment goals and supports the needs of all stakeholders. Once the overall strategy is defined, it can be divided into actionable tactics.

What are the benefits of a recruitment plan?

  • Aligns recruitment efforts with company goals. The recruitment plan helps direct the work of the recruitment team by focusing on attracting and hiring people in the areas most needed by the company -- for example, looking for candidates in new locations if the company plans to expand into new geographical areas.
  • Helps establish a flexible budget for the plan. A budget can be determined to support the recruitment strategy and provide backup support if additional money is required -- for example, upgrading the process with a new applicant tracking system (ATS).
  • Refines and improves hiring practices. A repeatable process for attracting, interviewing and rating candidates can help identify top candidates more quickly, reduce bias and be adjusted over time.
  • Saves time. A refined and uniform recruitment process identifies key components to ensure the right tools are in place for recruiters to use for every new job posting.
  • Builds and targets a talent pipeline. Recruiters will better understand the areas of the company that will be growing and the types of skills required, as well as select the most worthwhile networking events and sponsorships that help build the targeted talent pipeline.
10-step recruitment strategy
Step-by-step guidelines for devising effective, efficient and flexible recruitment practices and procedures

10 steps to create your strategic recruitment plan

Formulating a viable recruitment strategy requires assessing current corporate processes, reviewing internal documents, gathering feedback, implementing technologies, evaluating workforce needs and defining company brand and culture.

1. Assess current organizational strategies

Before developing a recruiting strategy, review the existing corporate strategies that apply to recruiting, including the business strategy, current recruiting strategy and other departmental strategies. Also gather input from the company's workforce plan.

These documents can provide key details, such as the skills needed and corporate priorities, and confirm the compensation level based on current organizational design. The workforce plan might also include a calendar that highlights key recruitment events during certain busy times of the year -- for example, recruiting students in the summer or when there's a significant increase in the need for temporary workers.

In addition, review the company's departmental budgets for recruiting and various online platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor to search for candidates.

2. Review strategy templates and best practices

There are many recruitment strategy templates and best practices lists available online. It's important to review them to see what other companies are doing and what can be applied to your organization. Each organization is unique, however, and any best practice should be customized to fit the organization's brand.

3. Solicit feedback from stakeholders and candidates

Gather and incorporate stakeholder feedback from hiring managers, executives, employees and HR teams, as well as job candidates.

4. Implement advanced tools and technologies

Small companies may rely on a manual process, but deploying software is often necessary as the recruitment volume increases. There are many options to consider when it comes to recruitment applications. An HR management system often includes a recruitment module with basic functionality to automate recruiting processes. In addition, some vendors specialize in developing ATSes that offer more advanced functionality. Consider the following technologies:

  • AI tools can help target potential candidates with job ads, prescreen and rank résumés for review, assist with interviewing and measuring candidate responses, and answer questions from candidates by using a chatbot. ATSes can also use AI to build a more comprehensive view of candidates by pulling data from social media and websites.
  • Résumé-parsing tools automatically read résumés submitted by candidates and place the data in specific fields within the recruiting system -- for example, placing education information from a résumé into the ATS's education field. At the start of the hiring process, this capability can eliminate the need to open each résumé individually and enables searches based on keywords across all candidates.
  • Video interviewing software may be standalone or part of the ATS. It eliminates the need for in-person interviews, facilitates team interviews and provides the opportunity to interview qualified candidates, regardless of their location.
  • Job boards at sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor expand an organization's search capabilities. Since job boards often cost money, it's important to capture and analyze where applicants are finding the job postings to determine, for example, which job boards are geared toward permanent professional positions and which are better for attracting temporary help.
  • Onboarding is an extension of the recruiting process and can improve a new hire's overall experience with the organization. Adding an onboarding module to the HR system or ATS automates the distribution and signing of policies and forms. It also helps new employees learn about the company.
ATS functionality
An ATS can use AI to build a more comprehensive view of job candidates.

5. Examine HR policies and practices for employees

The company's current policies and practices concerning benefits, vacation policies, corporate social responsibility, professional development or flexible work options may provide an edge when competing for top talent. Flexible work schedules, including work from home or the office, was a unique offering before the COVID-19 pandemic forced many employees to work from home. As people return to the office, offering flexible work options may once again become a perk not offered by every company.

The interview process should also be considered -- for example, whether phone screening will be used for the first interview or if interview teams will be used for all positions or only those above a certain job level. Also consider the timing and types of background checks to be conducted and by whom. During the review process, outdated policies that may turn off candidates can be identified and updated.

6. Identify ways to attract job candidates

There are a many methods to increase the talent pipeline and attract active and passive job seekers. Prepare a communication channel to identify the ideal forums for a particular position, create an engaging social media campaign that attracts candidates and validate effectiveness with metrics. What works for one role may be entirely different for another.

By first posting open positions on the company website, candidates can achieve some degree of familiarity with the company's culture and what it can offer. Other options include posting to job boards, offering referral programs, contacting past employees, manually searching for passive candidates, outsourcing to a third party and hosting internal business events. Posting open positions in specific locations -- such as organization sites that assist those in underrepresented communities find employment opportunities -- can help attract diverse candidates.

Also consider advertising open positions. If using job boards such as on LinkedIn, for example, decide whether the advertisement applies to all job postings or only those in a certain category, and determine whether to allow candidates to text an application for certain roles that may have high turnover rates. In addition, consider whether to market open positions. Determine, for example, whether to use video to make postings more attractive to candidates or develop a more sophisticated template to market open positions instead of simply posting job descriptions.

7. Evaluate the current recruitment process

Regularly evaluating the company's internal recruitment process will ensure the program's practices and procedures remain effective. It's also critical to consider the process in terms of the candidate experience. The recruitment team should walk through all the steps a candidate might take when considering a position in the organization. Seek feedback from candidates and hiring managers in the spirit of continuous improvement.

8. Differentiate employee and contingent workforces

Depending on an organization's business requirements, an HR recruiting strategy may also have to take into account whether the talent search specifies permanent employees or contingent workers. Consider enlisting a third-party search agency to recruit contingent workers, since they often can draw from a pool of talent.

Another consideration is whether the company develops employees internally to fill future vacancies or hires candidates externally. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, including the following:

  • Existing employees are a known quantity. Skills, abilities and work ethic can be readily evaluated in their current role, yet extensive training many be necessary for a new position outside their area of expertise.
  • External candidates hired with specific skill sets can step into a position with little or no downtime but may not adapt to the company's culture or might discourage current employees from seeking new opportunities in the organization.

9. Consider outsourcing to recruitment agencies

There are many outsourcing options for recruiting. The company's internal talent acquisition team can handle the day-to-day recruitment process, but consider partnering with a third-party agency for special recruiting situations. It may be more expedient and cost-effective, for example, to outsource specialized recruitment agencies to handle a one-time need for a large number of workers with the same skill sets. Another scenario might be to build long-term partnerships with third-party recruiters regardless of circumstance, while retaining some recruitment in-house.

10. Define and refine the company's brand

An employer's brand can significantly influence the quantity and quality of candidates for open positions, as well as employee perception of the company. A strong brand can play a large role in the recruiting process. Defining and refining a brand that's not well known, for example, should be an important component of a company's overall marketing and recruiting strategies. Also consider using website review posting platforms such as Glassdoor.

Stepping up recruiting efforts

Recruitment and placing the right people in the right roles at the right time remains a critical component, especially for enterprises that are juggling remote and hybrid workforces, battling to attract and retain highly skilled talent and continuing to compete at a high level. Taking the time necessary to follow these 10 guidelines can yield a strong recruitment strategy and ensure the talent acquisition team is focused on high-priority work and aligned with the company's goals, policies and needs.

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