Creating a Successful Recruiting Strategy

November 23, 2020 | Article

Hiring top performers is key to the success of every business, but it’s not as easy as just posting a job and picking a candidate. A successful recruiting strategy is imperative in order to hire the right candidate the first time. Current job postings number in the millions, so top candidates have many options. And with the cost of turnover for an employee earning $45,000 per year hovering around $15,000 per person, strong companies will have a process for selecting talent.

So, what are the elements of a successful recruiting strategy?

Identifying the Need and Creating a Position
Before starting the recruitment process, you must identify the need. Is the hire a replacement, a new hire due to increased business or a brand-new position within the organization? Is there anyone on your current team or within the organization willing and/or able to take on some or all of the tasks identified? If there isn’t anyone internal, you will need to find an external candidate. At this stage, you will want to picture the perfect candidate. What would they do? What experience would they have? What kind of person are they? What is missing from your team?

The answers to these questions will help you create the profile of the non-existent candidate, otherwise known as a purple unicorn. While you may never find the purple unicorn, the exercise helps you create a list of skills and experience you value most. Review the list and identify the “must have” traits versus those that are “nice to have” but not required.

Next, it is time to create the position description. Within the description, it is important to outline the exact tasks that need to be performed and the experience, education and skills that are needed to make the individual and your overall team successful.

Create an Interesting Job Posting
The second step in a successful recruitment plan is creating a strong job posting. Try not to use the job description as the job posting; instead, present key job responsibilities and required experience in an appealing/interesting way that makes people want to apply for the position. This may include sharing examples of situations the employee may encounter during a workday or interactions they may have with coworkers or customers.

Ask yourself: why would someone want to work for you and do this job?
The answers should be included as part of your job posting.

Once you have the job posted, be sure it can easily be found by job seekers:

  • Post the position to your website
  • Share the job posting on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram)
  • Use college job boards (alumni or club/organization sites)
  • Post the position on professional association websites

Next, use your network to spread the word. There are several sources that require little-to-no effort or financial resources, but still result in qualified leads:

  • Internal Talent: When there is already someone within your organization who has the skills and the interest in the position, this is called “upskilling talent.” This may include someone already on your team or someone else in the organization whose skill set you are unaware of.
  • Employee Referrals: Notify current employees and encourage them to share the posting with their networks. You could even consider offering a referral bonus if an employee’s referral results in a hire.
  • Network Contacts: Share the open position with colleagues you know in the industry.

Reviewing the Candidates
Once resumes (and/or applications) start coming in, review them quickly (at least once per day) and respond to all applicants to let them know you received their resume, appreciate the interest and will be in touch with next steps. This extra touch may seem small, but it will have a meaningful impact on your recruitment strategy.

If you have a great candidate, reach out to them immediately to set up a time to talk further. Ideally, conducting a phone interview with strong candidates within a couple of days of receiving the resume or application is a best practice. Spending just 15-30 minutes during a phone interview with a candidate can tell you a lot and save you significant time in the overall hiring process. During the phone interview, you can share information about the organization and position and ask questions that will allow you to weed out the less-qualified candidates.

Possible questions include:

  • Why are you interested in this position and our company?
  • Why did you leave your previous/current employer?
  • Have you ever been terminated from a position? What was the situation? What did you learn from it?
  • Tell me about your experience that relates to this position (the key responsibilities you identified for the job posting).
  • When are you available to start?
  • Do you have the legal right to work in the U.S.? Would you require sponsorship to work for our company?

Keep in mind you will need to check your state employment laws to determine if you can ask questions regarding previous or current compensation history and/or criminal history. Pay equity laws have made this practice illegal during the hiring practice in 17 states and localities across the U.S. with many other states considering similar laws.

An Important Reminder
Never ask questions related to an individual’s gender, age, ethnic background, race, color, religion, disability, genetic history or veteran status. Keep your questions related to the job.

Interviewing Candidates
After you’ve conducted phone interviews, it’s time to schedule in-person interviews with the top candidates. Have the candidates take care of process-related steps, including completion of an application and submission of employment-related reference contact information. Be sure to send rejection notifications to those who were not selected for an in-office interview.

The interview serves as an opportunity for both the employer and candidate to provide a positive impression. Interviews allow you to learn about the candidate and whether they have the skills and experience to do the job, and for the candidate to learn about you and whether you and your company are a good fit for them.

Before a candidate comes in for an interview, it is important for you and your team to be fully prepared so that the interview is effective. Identify key individuals within your organization to include in the interview. This team should be made up of at least one peer, the supervisor/manager, and an executive.

Having a candidate interact with various position levels can tell you a lot about the person and how they may behave in the work environment. It also allows the candidate to connect with future coworkers, which makes it easier for them to picture themselves working for you.

The team should meet ahead of time to identify specific questions each interviewer will ask of every candidate to determine skills, experience and abilities. Questions should focus on a candidate’s previous experience and not “what would you do if…” situations. Each team member should be assigned specific information to share with the candidate regarding the position and organization, including:

  • What a day in the job is like
  • The work environment and culture
  • Organization growth and goals
  • Perks and benefits
  • How performance is evaluated and rewarded

Interviewers should prepare for the interview by reviewing the resume or application and identify questions that can be asked based on the resume, in addition to their assigned questions. Interviewers also need to arrive to the interview on time and should not leave a candidate waiting in a conference room alone.

It’s important to watch out for your own biases during the interview process:

  • The Halo Effect: You like them, so you only see the good.
  • The Horn Effect: You don’t like them, so you only see the bad.
  • Just-Like-Me Syndrome: They remind you of yourself and you are the best there is. Therefore, they are the best fit for the position.
  • Stereotyping: Assuming they will behave a certain way because of one characteristic.

When it’s time to interview your candidate, introduce yourself by providing your name, position title, and how long you’ve been with the organization. Ask your questions, provide information and don’t forget to ask the candidate if they have any questions. Be sure to let the candidate know your timeline for making a decision. When the interview is over, walk the candidate out and take care of parking details. Don’t forget to thank them for their time.

Want to get the best candidates? Don’t be this type of interviewer.

If your candidate requires relocation, go the extra mile to coordinate a trip that will showcase your city in a way that appeals to the candidate. That may include delivering a basket of local “goodies” to the hotel room with a note welcoming them to the area, setting up a realtor tour for the candidate (and their significant other, if they have one) and scheduling a meet-and-greet dinner with the candidate, individuals from the interview team and all significant others the night before the interview. Simple actions like this can help an out-of-town candidate feel welcome and connected to the organization and the location.

Making a Decision on Who to Hire
After the interview is complete, it’s time to make a decision. If you like the candidate, let them know immediately. If you have other interviews scheduled, let the candidate know that you were impressed and will be in touch soon, and to please contact you if something comes up on their end. If a candidate lacks the skills or experience or are not a good fit, let them know within two days of the interview that you are not pursuing them further.

If you are ready to extend an offer, do so to avoid losing a strong candidate to a competitor. If offers are made prior to references being checked or a background check being conducted, you will want to make the offer contingent on those results. References should be conducted with the candidate’s previous employers, so ask the candidate to provide you with names and contact information for people who will speak with you. You will also need to comply with states laws on the timing of the background check in your process. For some states, this must be done after extending a job offer.

Do not hire anyone without conducting a background check to confirm previous employment, education, and criminal records and credit and/or driving records if necessary for the position. Once a candidate has accepted an offer, it is a best practice to send a notice to other candidates letting them know the position was filled and they were not selected.

Extending an Offer
Have all of your offer details figured out before you call the candidate, including

  • Position title
  • Compensation, including a signing bonus or other offer-related bonus
  • Relocation package (if applicable)
  • Potential start date
  • Offer deadline
  • Contingency clause related to references and/or background check results

Verbally extend the offer (and be excited when you do!) and then follow up with a written offer letter that outlines all the details.

There are several important HR trends to keep in mind as you hire employees.

Employment Law
Keep in mind employment laws as you develop your recruitment process, as they prohibit discrimination in specific areas:

  • Title VII: race, color, national origin, gender, and religion
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act: pregnancy, childbirth or medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth
  • Equal Pay Act: pay cannot be based on gender
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act: age 40+
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: disabilities; provide reasonable accommodation
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act: genetic information including the individual or their family members

Next Steps in Your Recruitment Strategy Plan
An employee is a significant investment for a company, so the proper amount of time and energy should be focused on selecting the right candidates. By preparing ahead of time, you are better equipped to identify and find what you need AND create a favorable impression of your organization for the candidate. How well the process is managed tells the candidate a lot about your organization and can leave them with a favorable impression, making them far more likely to buy what you are selling.

Although this may sound daunting, know that we can help you.

Eide Bailly’s HR Consulting Services professionals are here to assist you with developing a recruitment process and tools for you to implement and/or finding that “difficult-to-find” individual who can make an impact on your team.

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