Top 5 Recruitment Strategies for Attracting Top Talent for Your Business

by Maricel Rivera | Updated Aug. 5, 2022 - First published on May 18, 2022

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Attracting the best talent is no walk in the park. Here, we discuss proven recruitment strategies you can start implementing today.

In Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends, researchers found that “finding qualified talent is among recruitment’s biggest challenges.”

According to Erica Volini, a Deloitte principal and leader of Deloitte’s Global Human Capital team, that’s partly because of the increasing automation adoption rate, which calls for technical skills that many in today’s workforce don’t possess. She adds that employers, for their part, believe many college graduates lack teamwork, communication, collaboration, and complex thinking skills -- all necessary skills to thrive in the modern work landscape.

There’s also the fact that senior employees are retiring. Add all these together, and it’s no surprise that recruitment has evolved into an intensifying war for talents.

So how can your company win this war? In this guide, we’ll discuss five HR recruiting strategies you can adopt in 2020.

Here are 5 effective recruitment strategies to attract top talent:

  • Create a candidate persona
  • Launch an employee referral program
  • Improve your employer brand
  • Leverage social recruiting
  • Embrace recruitment automation

Recruitment strategies you can use to attract the best candidates

When you look at everything that’s required to replace an employee -- advertising open jobs, screening and selecting candidates, new employee onboarding, training, etc. -- it’s easy to see why the hiring process is such a costly endeavor.

Hiring the right candidate is a key part of every company’s strategic HR management process, which is why it’s critical that your recruiting methods and strategies are optimized for maximum benefit.

1. Create a candidate persona

You don’t want just anyone responding to the jobs you’re posting. You want the best possible candidates to notice the positions you’re advertising -- and not after waiting weeks or months. But first, you have to define who your ideal candidate is. You do that by using research, data, and facts to create a candidate persona.

Example of a candidate persona

Here’s an example of a candidate persona. Image source: Author

In marketing, a buyer persona is a fictional representation of the ideal buyer. It allows you to target specific groups for advertising, use specific sales offers for specific market segments, and so on. In other words, with a marketing persona, your marketing initiatives are targeted, very much unlike the “see what sticks” approach.

In recruitment, a candidate persona is a fictitious profile that represents your ideal job candidate for a specific role. It includes their characteristics, skills, qualifications, educational background, where they’re from, interests, etc. When you know exactly what you’re looking for in a future employee, you can tailor your recruiting strategies toward attracting the right people.

With a candidate persona, you can:

  • Optimize candidate sourcing: When you know exactly who you want for a specific role, knowing where to find them is easier. For example, if you need a pay-per-click (PPC) specialist for your various social media campaigns, a targeted ad on Facebook or LinkedIn will likely yield positive results.
  • Create more effective recruitment marketing content: One cardinal rule inbound marketers follow to make content resonate with their target audience is knowing who they’re writing for. With a candidate persona, you can create content that connects with your target audience.
  • Write better job descriptions: The job descriptions you put out there are the bridges, if you will, between your company and the right candidates. They identify the skills and qualifications you’re looking for. They ensure that more qualified candidates apply and that you waste less time screening unqualified applicants.
  • Improve applicable HR metrics: When done right, your candidate persona can be likened to a beacon guiding your employment recruiting strategies from start to finish. As a result, recruitment metrics -- e.g., time to hire, offer acceptance rate, applicants per opening, and even employee retention rate -- are likely to rise.

Tips for creating a candidate persona:

Let’s say your company is ramping up, and your staffing plan includes the need for several Java development specialists. To create a candidate persona for Tim, a Java developer:

  • Start with a questionnaire: List every relevant question that can help you define your persona, such as skills and background, frequented social networking sites, hobbies, interests, preferred benefits, etc. Be careful not to encourage discrimination or any form of bias in any of the questions.
  • Look at the data you already have: Start finding answers using information already at your fingertips. Look at performance data from your people analytics system. Analyze the background, experience, and career paths of your best employees in a similar role. This information can help you outline the career experience and background of future hires.
  • Interview your best-performing employees: Talk to your top performers. Survey them. Get a 360-degree view of them. Talk not just about their jobs but their goals, what motivates them, their hobbies and interests, and so on.
  • Research job boards and analyze what top performers share online: Check job boards to see which qualities other employers are looking for. Use the internet to find out what ideal employees do and share online, and with whom. This can give you insight into what interests or motivates them.

2. Launch an employee referral program

According to a study by LinkedIn, employee referrals are a main source of quality hires, alongside social networks and online job boards, which makes referrals one of the most effective recruitment strategies out there.

An employee referral program is a structured program in which employers ask their employees to recommend suitable candidates for open positions. Your employees know the types of candidates you’re looking to hire better than other sources, which is why most employee referrals make a better match right from the beginning. This means lower turnover rate, reduced recruiting costs, faster time to hire, and better workforce planning, among other benefits.

Steps for creating an employee referral program

Now that you’re ready to include employee referrals into your arsenal of recruiting tactics, here’s an overview of the steps to follow to get your referral program off the ground.

Step 1: Identify your priorities based on needs and resources.

Determine whether you’d like referrals for each open position. If your hiring budget doesn’t allow for it, a more targeted referral program works, too. Examples of position types that will benefit from this recruitment strategy include:

  • Positions that are hard to fill
  • Positions you need to fill quickly
  • Critical positions that cannot be left unfilled or vacant for any amount of time
  • Senior positions
  • Positions requiring niche expertise

Step 2: Create a referral policy.

Your referral policy must clearly communicate your hiring expectations, the referral process, the list of eligible positions, and the corresponding incentives and fringe benefits. It’s good practice to document your referral policy and make it available on-demand in the company’s intranet or HR software system like Zenefits or BambooHR.

Step 3: Simplify the referral process.

No matter the types of employees you’re looking for, whether a contract employee or a senior manager, your employee referral program should be easy to use.

  • Post all open positions needing referrals in one place, such as on your company’s intranet system, your website’s career page, applicant tracking software, or in a weekly email.
  • Provide canned content employees can post on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Prepare email templates with links to your careers page and social media accounts.
  • Use a dedicated email address such as [email protected] to funnel all employee referrals into a specialized hiring pipeline.
  • Look into the benefits of a referral tracking system. Choose one that comes with automation and gamification features to make the referral experience fun and engaging for employees. Workable is one example.

Step 4: Show appreciation through rewards and recognition.

Your rewards package can include a mix of monetary and non-monetary incentives. For non-cash rewards, there’s no shortage of options. The idea is to get creative.

Examples include paid time off, gift cards or certificates, travel or leisure packages, flexible working hours, plaques or certificates of appreciation, a publicly announced thank you, e.g., in the company’s monthly newsletter or the paging system for everybody to hear, and mentoring sessions with a senior executive.

Step 5: Evaluate the program’s success.

As is typical of people management and employee programs, you have to measure their success to know what’s working, what’s not, and what can be improved. Metrics to track include:

  • Percentage of referral hires
  • Employee participation rate
  • Total number of referrals per employee

Also, look into how satisfied the candidates, referring employees, and hiring managers are with the program.

3. Improve your employer brand

Your company’s reputation is your brand, and your brand is shaped by a whole gamut of things: logo, typography, packaging, your value proposition, customer service, the quality of your products or services, and so on.

Your employer brand, on the other hand, is your reputation or popularity among current, past, and future employees. It’s how the market perceives you as an employer. Having a positive employer brand in today’s highly competitive job market is one way to dominate in the war for talents.

Tips for improving your employer brand:

According to LinkedIn, an employer’s brand is a key consideration for 75% of job seekers. Thankfully, there are simple strategies you can use to boost employer reputation.

  • Start a company blog: Have company leaders and employees write articles for your blog. Post updates, news, and highlight initiatives that reflect your commitment to employee satisfaction and wellbeing.
  • Turn your current employees into brand ambassadors: Let employees use social media to share their experiences at work, but remember to create a social media policy so they know what and what not to post. Organize fun events they’ll be happy to talk about on Instagram or Facebook.
  • Treat candidates as customers: Word of mouth is a powerful marketing strategy. Be sure to treat every candidate professionally, as negative word of mouth can come back in the form of top talents withdrawing their application.
  • Improve diversity in the workplace: Hire for diversity. Cultivate an inclusive company culture, starting from the upper levels. Consider training your employees on the merits of diversity. Offer flexible working schedules, or provide child care incentives for working parents.

4. Leverage social recruiting

Social recruiting is the use of social media sites, job boards, online forums, and blogs to recruit candidates. Gone are the days when social hiring was solely used to augment more traditional forms of recruiting. As a matter of fact, it’s gone mainstream, with 84% of organizations now using it.

Practices that fall under the social recruiting category include:

  • Identifying potential candidates on LinkedIn and messaging them
  • Using Facebook to post a job opening
  • Tweeting links to open jobs and using applicable hashtags
  • Sharing photos or videos of employees and company-sponsored events on your official Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube accounts

Tips for social recruiting:

  • Put a spotlight on the company’s culture: Everything you post should directly or indirectly highlight what your company stands for. Give potential employees a snapshot into what it feels like to work for you.
  • Ask your employees to participate: Encourage employees to share their work experiences on social media. Again, sharing should be guided by your social media policy.
  • Engage with your audience: Reply to comments or questions, as these indicate interest. Be personable. Your goal is to build relationships.
  • Stay consistent: Your messaging should be consistent across platforms. This way, you don’t confuse potential candidates.

5. Embrace recruitment automation

Recruitment automation is a human capital management strategy that uses technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics to automate recruiting processes you would otherwise execute manually. This, in turn, reduces cost per hire, accelerates time to fill, boosts recruiter productivity, and improves the overall quality and effectiveness of an organization’s workforce.

It’s used by companies hiring at scale and those looking to achieve optimum hiring results within a limited amount of time using as few resources as possible.

Tips for recruitment automation:

The following hiring processes can benefit from recruitment automation:

  • Job advertising: In a nutshell, programmatic job advertising is the use of software instead of actual people to buy, place, and optimize job advertisements.
  • Social recruiting: Social recruitment platforms like HireRabbit let you create Facebook and mobile career sites. They also come with team collaboration features such as calendars, automatic reminders, task managers, and alerts.
  • Applicant tracking: Applicant tracking systems organize, filter, and sort job applicants. They keep track of the stage an applicant is in and allow the hiring team to collaborate more effectively.
  • Candidate pre-screening: Pre-screening tools such as resume scanners rank and grade candidates based on their skills, experience, and other characteristics. This allows you to pinpoint the most qualified candidates in less time.
  • Interview scheduling: With interview scheduling software, candidates see which interview time slots are still available, allowing them to reserve a time slot without having to call, message, or email your team.
  • Offers: Once you’ve chosen your candidate, you update your human resource planning software, which then automatically generates an offer letter, employment contract, and other related documents.

Getting recruiting right with proven strategies

Recruitment is no easy feat. Companies hire for different roles and different forms of employment -- independent contractors, salaried and hourly staff, people amenable to at-will employment, part-time employees, freelancers, etc. If you have limited resources, the amount of work alone can take a toll on your recruitment team and impact the quality of your hires.

With the above recruitment strategies, you have a better chance of attracting and onboarding top talents.

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