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Best recruitment strategies to attract top talent

To build a successful recruiting strategy, it's important to identify your goals, combine various techniques, measure the results, and then choose the best recruitment strategies that work specifically for your business.

Christina Pavlou
Christina Pavlou

An experienced recruiter and HR professional who has transferred her expertise to insightful content to support others in HR.

recruitment strategies

Your company’s needs, priorities, and strategy can vary depending on size, age, location or industry. But there’s one thing you have in common with all those other companies out there if you want to succeed and grow as a business: you need to hire exceptional talent. You can do that with the right recruitment strategies.

The processes that you’ll build, the places where you’ll look for candidates and the methods you’ll use to attract them depend heavily on your business goals and organizational structure. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, though, when you’re developing a recruitment strategy. Start with tried and true methods and customize based on what makes sense for you.

Here are the most successful recruiting strategies for different scenarios and challenges you may be facing:

If you have a limited recruiting budget

You’re probably thinking: “If only I had the money, I could post premium ads on every job board to get the message out to as many candidates as possible.” And while premium job postings (i.e. job ads with company logo prominently displayed, plus other features) increase visibility, you don’t have to dismiss free advertising options.

Free job boards are effective hiring tools considering that you can choose to advertise your jobs on some of the most popular sites, such as Glassdoor and Indeed (even if it’s for a limited time). But your options aren’t limited to that. Job seekers also look to social media to learn about job opportunities, so don’t underestimate the power of sharing your open roles on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

There are more strategies that you can implement if you want to find employees for free, or at a low cost. For example, you can set up a referral program with incentives for employees who recommend good candidates. Or, you can attend job fairs and host career days, so you can get in front of a large pool of candidates in a single day.

What’s most important, though, is to track the results of each hiring strategy that you experiment with and see which ones bring the best results. Then, allocate your budget accordingly and get the most bang for your buck.

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If your company is located in an unpopular area

Who wouldn’t want to work in the heart of the action in a city like New York or London? Many employees would also enjoy working with a beautiful view of a Greek island or a picturesque town in France.

Unfortunately, your company’s location doesn’t resemble any of those scenarios. Whether it’s financial or other business-related reasons that drove you to choose this particular location, you know that it’s not the dream work setting for candidates. However, you can still attract great candidates with some smart strategizing.

For instance, you can make up for a less desirable office location with great in-office amenities, such as a fully-stocked kitchen and in-house gym. You could also offer flexible work schedules and allow employees to work remotely (e.g. once a week).

More importantly, though, if your company’s location is not your greatest asset, think about what makes your current employees stay with you. And then communicate that to potential candidates. If you want to compete with those companies who are in a better location, play to your strengths and craft a recruiting strategy based on your unique employer brand.

How do you develop a recruitment strategy from scratch? Start by breaking down each step of the recruiting process: from finding and attracting candidates, to hiring and onboarding employees.

If you want to increase diversity

There are many reasons why diversity and inclusion should be part of your overall recruiting strategy. There’s the proven business and financial benefit associated with diverse teams, the social aspect of fostering equal opportunities for everyone regardless of gender, race, age, creed, and other protected characteristics, and finally, the required legal obligations associated with diversity – for instance, EEO.

Here are some examples of recruitment strategies for diversity and inclusion in the workplace:

  • In your job ads, use gender-neutral language and avoid referring to candidates’ age (e.g. “We’re looking for a youthful salesman”).
  • Proactively reach out to overlooked groups of candidates, such as minorities, people with disabilities, and former prisoners.
  • Aim to build gender-balanced teams, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields such as in tech and in leadership roles.
  • Structure your interview process in a way that all hiring team members base their decisions on objective criteria instead of personal biases.

If you’re looking for top tech talent

Great developers are hard to find – not because there’s few of them, but because their profession is among the most in-demand jobs. So, if you want to attract and hire tech candidates, you have to invest in modern recruiting techniques that’ll help you stand out.

Candidates who learn about your open roles, or candidates that you proactively source, will likely look up your company before they decide to join your hiring process or consider a job offer. This is where you can make a difference. Recruitment marketing activities will show that you value your tech team members and boost your employer brand.

Build a section in your careers site that’s dedicated to your IT or Engineering department. Ask your employees – and help them – to write interesting content about the tech they use, the projects they work on and their recent accomplishments (e.g. new product releases). You could also prompt them to participate in meetups and conferences as speakers where they can present their work and engage with fellow developers.

Want to learn what are the best recruitment strategies for developers? Get some ideas from this mini hiring guide. For a deeper dive, here are our takeaways from our events in Boston and London on the topic.

If your brand is not popular

You might be the new kid on the block or a small startup that’s not as broadly known as a well-established business colossus. In any case, the challenge is real: you struggle to attract top talent, because your job ads are overshadowed. That’s a sign you need to tweak your recruitment strategy.

Don’t dismiss job boards completely, though. Instead, try adding new candidate sources to your recruiting mix. Referrals are among the most successful small business recruiting strategies. That’s because your existing employees, your existing partners and customers can testify for your work environment and attract potential candidates from their network.

Instead of trying to compete against the many other job ads out there, you can get proactive and reach out to promising candidates directly. Since your brand is not that popular, make sure to share as many details as possible about the role and your company when you’re sending a sourcing email. Finally, you can grab candidates’ attention with creative recruitment strategies, such as gamification.

If you’re hiring for hard-to-fill roles

While you might have designed and implemented effective recruitment strategies in the past, there are some roles that still challenge you. These roles are usually in high demand, such as software developers and digital marketers, or require hard-to-find skills (e.g. data visualization and cybersecurity).

How do you hire for these roles? You need some fresh recruiting ideas. When traditional, “post and pray” methods fail, consider some out-of-the-box recruiting strategies. Start looking for candidates in the most unlikely places.

For example, if you’re hiring developers, look for qualified candidates by joining the conversation on Reddit and Slack. Also, participate in events where your targeted candidates (e.g. tech-related meetups) usually hang out and get to know them in person.

If you’re still struggling to find candidates with the right background, perhaps it’s time to reconsider your requirements. This doesn’t mean you should lower your standards; it’s about keeping a broader mindset – cast a wider net, so to speak.

Maybe your “ideal candidate” hasn’t attended a high prestige school, but instead they learned the job through an online course. Or, maybe they lack some skills, but are very passionate about the field and willing to go the extra mile. In short, if you stop looking for the candidate who’s perfect on paper and start considering non-traditional candidates, you’re more likely to fill these jobs faster.

If your industry suffers from high turnover rates

You may not have a problem finding employees, but you struggle in retaining them. This leads to an evergreen hiring process, which ultimately leaves you with a small candidate pool. In other words, if you’re constantly hiring for the same position, where are you going to find new candidates?

First, let’s assume that the reason behind turnover is the nature of the role or the industry, and not necessarily due to an unhealthy work environment. For example, if you’re only offering entry-level positions (e.g. retail salespeople or warehouse workers), it’s to be expected that at some point employees will look for more senior positions elsewhere. And when this happens, you need to plan one step ahead.

For instance, start connecting with potential candidates before you need them. Attend job fairs to build relationships with job seekers. Host your own career days where you can invite recent graduates and other candidates into your offices. Stay in touch with past candidates who reached the final stages in your process but weren’t hired. All these are people you can reach out to when you have a job opening. You’ll be able to speed up the hiring process, as they will already be familiar with your company.

Read our interview with Fiona Tanham, Head of HR at Boojum, to learn how to build a recruitment strategy plan if you’re in an industry with low retention rates.

If you’re hiring remote employees

Whether you’re regularly hiring remote employees, building a new remote-only team or making an exception for a stellar candidate or a hard-to-fill position, you need to differentiate a bit in your recruitment tactics.

So how do you develop a recruitment strategy when you’re hiring remotely? Tweak each stage of your hiring process to accommodate remote candidates:

  • Attract candidates: Highlight your company values on your careers page to engage like-minded people. Put a special emphasis on how your distributed teams communicate, what kind of benefits you offer (e.g. access to coworking spaces) and mention any company-wide meetings and retreats you organize.
  • Advertise jobs: While you can still post your job ads on popular job boards (mentioning that this is a remote position), it’s best to advertise your open jobs on niche sites, such as FlexJobs and We Work Remotely.
  • Evaluate candidates: If you try to schedule in-person interviews with remote candidates, you’ll lose valuable time. Instead, use specialized video interview software to interview candidates effectively no matter their location. At early hiring stages, you can also use asynchronous video interviews to overcome the difference in time zones.
  • Hire remote employees: Employment contracts for remote employees might need to have some additional or different terms compared with in-house employees. Study labor regulations to ensure you comply with local and federal laws about remote employment (e.g. in terms of compensation and benefits).

Here’s a detailed guide on how to recruit remote employees and a few hiring tips from Doist, a remote-first company.

Creating blended recruitment strategies

All these strategies for recruiting employees are not mutually exclusive. For example, you may want to increase diversity but, at the same time, have a limited budget. Or, you’re a recently- founded startup that wants to hire remote employees.

It’s best to identify your goals, combine various techniques, measure the results and then choose the best recruitment strategies that work specifically for your business.

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