- Having a recruiting process in place gives your business a long-term strategy for finding and hiring top talent.
- Recruitment strategies vary depending on your business's budget, the quality of employees you're trying to hire and the positions you're attempting to fill.
- Using employee referrals to hire candidates strengthens your company's culture and improves employee engagement.
For many small business owners, finding the right employees to hire can be daunting. To get the best candidates, companies have to do a lot more than post the open job position online and wait for resumes to come flooding in. Learn how you can benefit from a recruiting strategy and the steps you can take to boost your business's chances of hiring and keeping talented, dedicated workers.
What is a recruiting strategy?
"It is a proactive approach to getting the right people in the right spots to align with company goals and to achieve results," Killian told Business News Daily. "Planning to continuously review the plan and the people is required. It includes ensuring there are positive emotional touchpoints at all points of the employee lifecycle from before they consider you for a job until they leave the organization."
The best recruiting strategy targets a highly efficient talent pool and provides a great onboarding experience for new employees.
What's the difference between hiring and recruiting?
Hiring is generally a reactive approach initiated by an immediate need, while recruiting is a constant search for top talent to bring on board long term.
Another key difference between the two is that recruiting is like marketing – you must have something compelling that interests qualified candidates and encourages them to want to join your team, said Fletcher Dennison, chief operating officer of SimplePractice.
"This means defining why your business is a great place to work," Dennison said. "Hiring is the actual process of reviewing applications, resumes and interviewing potential candidates. It involves choosing the best applications and making a decision on which one is best."
How do companies recruit top talent?
Recruitment strategies vary significantly depending on your business's budget, the quality of employees you're trying to hire and the position that you are trying to fill.
A company cannot recruit top talent unless it knows what it is looking for. Once you have created the job description, next, develop a benchmark to help you and others involved in the hiring process identify whether a candidate is a good fit, according to Christopher Elias, co-founder of Nexecute LLC and author of The Execution Culture.
Elias explained how most companies recruit top talent. A company's efforts include the following:
- Advertising the job opening on employment websites or local job listings (e.g., your state's workforce services department)
- Participating in or conducting a job fair
- Using social media to spread the word about open positions or recruiting fairs
- Asking current employees to refer their friends for open positions
Once candidates begin submitting their resumes, businesses usually follow the steps below to vet them:
Initial resume validation. This step identifies those candidates who possess the skills, knowledge and experience your business is looking for, and who should be contacted for an in-person interview.
Initial interview. The initial interview is usually conducted by the human resources department or hiring manager. The interviewer assesses whether the candidate is a good cultural fit for the organization.
Second interview. This interview is usually conducted by those who will work with the candidate. Second interviews can comprise direct managers as well as co-workers. In addition to assessing cultural fit, they assess the candidate's skills and experience.
- Final validation of resume, experience and skills. This step includes following up with references and conducting an additional interview to answer any lingering questions related to fit, skills or experience. A behavioral interview may be utilized as well.
Once a final candidate is identified, a formal offer is made. If the candidate accepts the offer, the onboarding process begins. If the candidate turns down the offer, however, the next most qualified candidate is contacted with an offer. If there is no other acceptable candidate, you'll need to start back at square one, revisiting the job description to determine if it needs to be revised, and evaluating if you need to change how and where you're posting job openings.
Five successful employee recruitment strategies
Recruiting talent does not have to be difficult. Christian Twardawa, former chief operating officer at Paessler, shared these five tips your small business can use to implement a successful recruiting strategy.
1. Sell good products or services.
It might sound simplistic, but it is often overlooked: Offering quality products and services are the foundation for attracting not just customers, but employees, too. No one wants to work at a company with poor products or services. Of course, there are companies (we all know them) that offer subpar products, and while they have employees, let's face it, they're not the type of employees that help companies grow.
2. Have an attractive workplace.
The average full-time worker spends eight to 10 hours each day at work. That means he or she spends more time at work than they do at home.
As an employer, strive to make the workplace comfortable and inviting for your workers. As a small business, yes, high-end locations or designer furnishings are too expensive. But budget-friendly options might include moving into an old factory or art nouveau building. Great furniture doesn't have to be expensive, either. Let your staff pick it out, especially if they have a flair for design.
What else makes a workplace attractive? Perks. At Paessler AG, Twardawa said soft drinks, coffee, sweets and fruit are free, and Pressler has a relaxation room with lounge chairs. This has a huge "wow" effect for employees.
3. Offer flexibility.
This doesn't just entail flexible work schedules, said Twardawa (although he learned the hard way that forcing software developers to work from 9 to 5 does not lead to greater productivity). Twardawa is accommodating if a worker programs better between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. versus the typical 9-to-5 schedule.
Paessler's marketing and sales staff work during regular office hours, but if an employee's circadian rhythm calls for a break, the company's relaxation room, with luxurious lounge chairs, is ready and waiting.
Flexibility isn't restricted to time at Paessler; if you're waiting on your plumber or an important package, Twardawa lets staff work remotely on occasion as well.
4. Foster a culture of responsibility.
Entrepreneurial employers recognize the potential in their employees, and encourage and challenge them accordingly.
Each employer must decide how a culture of responsibility can be implemented in their company. At Paessler AG, this is implemented through horizontal organization, broad areas of responsibility and "long leashes." Paessler also has an employee-of-the-month program, although it's rather a witty, exaggerated honor recognizing individual performances.
Work with your staff to determine the best way to get employees involved and assume greater responsibility.
5. Appeal to your staff's social network.
Employees have extensive personal and professional connections – through social media and with friends and acquaintances, and that is a potentially golden opportunity to recruit talented workers.
Twardawa said that if his staff is convinced that the company has a good product, an attractive workplace, flexible work times, and jobs with high personal responsibility, then his employee's real or virtual networks will hear the best about the company and that employees will tell qualified applicants about job openings when they open up.
How can my small business leverage social media for employee recruiting?
Social recruiting is a great strategy to ensure you're reaching the right audience and attracting talent to your brand and culture, said Kayla Vatalaro, global head of talent acquisition at Asana.
"We believe in the power of the employee voice to tell the Asana story, and our employees have a significant influence on social media," said Vatalaro. "Every week across our social channels, our employer brand team shares an Asana Women Wednesday post, featuring the great work of one of the women from our global team."
Vatalaro says this form of employee advocacy has increased traffic to the company's Careers page and has become a crucial part of its recruitment and talent management strategy.
What other recruiting strategies can businesses use?
Two additional methods that businesses can use as part of their hiring strategy are targeting passive candidates and implementing an employee referral program. Here's how these methods work:
- The employer or recruiter identifies passive candidates. These are individuals who have not yet applied for any open positions and are not currently searching for a new job but have the skills and experience the employer desires for certain positions.
- The employer asks current employees to recommend candidates from their existing networks. Sometimes employers will sweeten the pot by offering a bonus to an employee who refers a candidate who ultimately gets hired.
According to a report from Achievers, using employee referrals to hire candidates is more efficient, cheaper, and it broadens your reach. For your employees, hiring candidates who were referred by other employees builds corporate culture and improves employee engagement.
Is recruiting software effective?
Nowadays, there are applicant tracking systems (ATS) that keep candidate information in one database, allowing you to schedule interviews, send offers, or even onboard candidates and push them into your HR system, said Ellie Dailey, founder and CEO of Job Prep Global.
"As with all software, it's only as good as the people who use it, so make sure you 'change manage' any new software comprehensively – which means training and lots of support," Dailey said. "There are also lots of lovely technologies to help with scheduling, job board aggregating, sourcing, video interviewing: Whatever you need is out there." [Read related article: Best Recruiting Software for Small Business]
How important are employee benefits?
Comprehensive employee benefits are key to attracting top talent.
"While these are very important to leverage when recruiting candidates, also think about the other benefits that your company offers when advertising, messaging and discussing the role with your potential new future employees," said Barrow. "Things like working from home, flexible schedules, learning opportunities, conferences to attend and even [the] office environment will factor into a candidate's decision to make a move to your company."
Other aspects to highlight to candidates are the efforts your company goes to create a culture of diversity and inclusion, and the opportunities for advancement that are available to employees.
A career or job change is a big decision in the lives of many candidates, said Barrow. It impacts not only them, but their families and their future.