Ten tips for up-leveling your recruiting function

Competition for top talent is as fierce as ever.  Although there is no shortage of underqualified applicants, the demand for well-qualified candidates continues to exceed supply.  The best way to attract top talent is by providing an exceptional employee experience, of course. But in today’s environment, your recruiting function also needs to be as sophisticated in connecting that experience to target employees as your marketing function is in attracting customers to your product.

In today’s environment, your recruiting function needs to be as sophisticated in connecting great employee experiences to target employees as your marketing function is in attracting customers to your product.

Successful businesses make strategic talent acquisition a cornerstone of their business model.  If you haven’t upped your recruiting game lately, here are 10 techniques to consider.

1) Segmented Employer Branding.

When to customize: If your organization’s employer brand (how potential employees see you) isn’t commonly known, or isn’t a magnet attracting hordes of qualified applicants. (Wouldn’t that be nice?). Customized branding can be simple as focusing on and promoting what you can provide that others can’t to that perfect candidate. Consider developing personas for segments you particularly want to attract and speaking directly to them. For example, if your company is struggling to attract people with a certain skill set, create marketing content that highlights people with that skill set within your company and features them speaking to their peers about what they love about working for your org.

2) Social Media Presence.

When to take an active role: When your online reputation matters to the people that you want to apply. Before you shrug this off, remember that online reputation isn’t just for high-tech anymore; all organizations need to pay attention to social media strategy. This is especially true for any roles you’re filling that have highly transferable skills or that rely on recent graduates to fill the positions. But don’t limit yourself to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Make sure that you’re actively managing sites that prospective candidates use to research prospective employers like Glassdoor and Vault.

3) Mobile Access. 

When to launch the tools: if your organization relies on the tech-savviness of its employees and you want to match the internal with the external. Do you use a lot of mobile technology within your organization for employees to do their jobs and for managers to drive results? Get mobile-enabled in recruitment. Mobile technology can make it easy for relatively passive candidates to apply, and you can even pre-qualify candidates though your app.

4) Video.

When to turn on the camera: You have budget limitations and are looking at candidate pools beyond your local geography. Video can help in one of two ways: First, it helps you save money on travel through video interviews of remote candidates (either live or recorded). Second, even for local candidates, videos of job previews and current employees can build awareness of what it’s like within your organization without bringing every candidate on site (remember your employer brand?). Maximize your top talent choices

5) Networks. 

When to leverage your extended reach: Always — and as much as possible. Your employees belong to affiliations and groups; these groups naturally give them the tools to act as “recruiters.” Also think about where your brand is already showing up and turn it into a source of applicants, whether it’s conferences, publications, online marketplaces, or event sponsorships, etc. Prepare and equip your employees, particularly hiring managers, to identify and entice top talent when they’re networking. Let them know it’s expected of them.

6) Alumni. 

When to encourage those who left: If you can, tell a great story with those who have left your employ. Often people who have left your organization did so on a good note. These happy alums can continue to be great advocates for you, and likely have great networks to mine. Who knows? — by engaging with them they may even come back! If you have a referral bonus program, consider expending it to former employees as well.

7) SEO/SEM. (Search Engine Optimization/Search Engine Marketing)

When to put a little extra into your postings: When you need to stand out in the crowd. Search engine tools can help drive applicants to your postings (especially helpful if you don’t have the dollars for sourcing) and set you apart in high-volume hiring. This can be particularly useful for roles where there are a lot of similar opportunities out there.

8) Proactive Sourcing.

When to invest: When you have an immediate need for critical skills, specific experience, or highly technical skills, and your reactive recruiting efforts aren’t filling your requisitions with enough qualified talent. While it’s tempting to rely on a third party provider to help you source for key positions, finding the right talent for your unique needs will be an ongoing challenge. It’s best to build this capability internally – and not just in your recruiters. Your recruiters and hiring managers should collaborate on sourcing plans and should share accountability for implementing those plans. But do bring in a search firm to help with extremely difficult to fill positions and executive searches.

9) Gamification.

When to make applying a game: When it’s brand or role-relevant. If you need to engage potential applicants that expect more than filling out a candidate profile, and/or you want to learn a little about how they may fit your role, using gamification can be a light, easy assessment method. This is especially useful if you’re using a mobile app already anyway.

10) Referrals.

When to encourage: Every time, but with different tactics.Your current employees are always your best source of new candidates. To make your referral approach work best, think through three elements. First, set expectations with employees about what you’re looking for. Be specific; you’re going for quality, not quantity. Second, monitor diversity as referrals don’t always increase the unique perspectives and experiences of candidates. Finally, get real on rewards and what its “worth” to you. If you decide to offer referral bonuses, they don’t need to be one size fits all. Consider offering larger referral bonuses for particularly hard-to-fill positions.

Driving effective talent acquisition is both an art and a science, particularly in today’s technology-driven and fast-changing world.

Whether you’re already a recruiting rock-star or still learning, I hope this spurs you to investigate (or re-investigate) some of the many interesting and effective options out there.

Driving effective talent acquisition is both an art and a science, particularly in today’s technology-driven and fast moving world. But the good news: that very crazy world also provides great tools to bring qualified and excited candidates to your doors.


PeopleFirm is a management and HR consulting firm dedicated to helping you achieve that ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. We focus on effective tools, measurable outcomes, real results, and getting your people out of their seats and engaged in your company’s growth. We use people strategy, talent management, organizational performance, and change management, to help you partner with your people to build an organization that excels in today’s new world of work. People are your last competitive frontier. Make them count.