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How to Change Your Recruiting Strategy

Matt D'Angelo
Matt D'Angelo

Focus on establishing a process and measuring it, then change it for the better.

Finding good talent is a major challenge for any small business.

When the economy is booming and the unemployment rate is at historic lows, finding the right workers can feel nearly impossible. With several application tracking tools, endless recruiting avenues and several strategies, recruiting new employees can become a complicated task that requires a lot of your time.  

Developing a sound recruiting strategy is a good first step toward hiring the right workers. It can decrease the amount of time it takes to get someone hired, and it can lead to more productive workers. If you already have a recruiting strategy in place and you're still struggling to find workers for your business, it's important to analyze your current process and consider how to change your recruiting strategy. If you already have a recruiting process in place, there are a few tips at the bottom of this story. If you're new to the recruiting process, read on.

What is a recruiting strategy?

A recruiting strategy is a formal process for hiring workers. There are a few important components to keep in mind when developing a recruiting strategy:

  • Application tracking
  • Average time to hire a candidate
  • Best interview process
  • Recruiting avenues – social media, job boards, cold calling
  • Candidate referrals
  • Former candidate feedback
  • Online job posting services
  • Cost/benefit of making a great hire

Keep in mind that a recruiting strategy isn't necessarily a cookie-cutter approach to hiring workers. Instead, it's the culmination of what channels you decide to use, how you proceed with your interview process, what your training and onboarding strategies are, and how you track candidates through the whole process. The only "strategizing" really comes down to deciding what avenues to attract candidates and taking feedback from former candidates to improve your future recruiting strategy.

"Attracting top talent is no different from attracting and closing ideal customers, and your strategy needs to incorporate all levels of the funnel – from demand generation (sourcing and attracting candidates) all the way through to close (hiring a candidate who achieves results)," said Martyn Basset, CEO and founder of recruiting firm Martyn Basset Associates.  

Initial steps to building your strategy

The best first step toward establishing a recruiting strategy is to set up an application tracking system. There are software solutions you can use, or you can develop your own manual tracking system if you're running a very small operation. The key, however, is to know where each candidate is in the process and understand how long it takes you to get someone hired and onboarded. By doing this, you're establishing the necessary infrastructure to later judge the efficiency of your strategy.

Once you have a tracking process established, make a list of recruiting avenues. These can be social media channels like LinkedIn, job boards like Indeed or Media Bistro, or local advertising. Take note of your recruiting avenues so you can later measure where you have the most success. Many experts recommend targeting niche job sites, as these will attract the workers specific to your industry.

Make sure you have an established interview process in mind so that when you have a pool of applicants, you can dive right into finding the best person for your business. Some companies prefer to hire quickly, so as not to miss out on great talent, while others prefer to make hiring a slow and purposeful process.

As with most things, the best option is likely somewhere in the middle, but keep in mind that you should establish a process that's best for you and your business. This is where the cost/benefit analysis comes into play – if it takes you two months to hire someone, but they are very productive and a great fit for your company because you've been so thorough, it could be worth it to take your time. On the flip side, if you're in an industry with high turnover, it may be worth it to jump on a great candidate before they accept an offer elsewhere. Regardless of which strategy you choose, stay as transparent as possible with the candidate through the process.

Once you have a process in place, start screening candidates and measuring important metrics to improve your process over time. Measuring your strategy is the first step to eventually changing it, so it's important to establish some important benchmarks before you get started with this step.

How to measure your strategy's impact

The most important part of deciding whether you need to change your recruiting strategy is measuring the impact of your current strategy. This means establishing benchmarks and understanding where you come up short. According to Fletch Wimbush, CEO of The Hire Talent, the two most important things to measure when it comes to recruiting strategy are the time it takes to fill a role and new hire production compared to your other employees. Wimbush said the best way to address these two metrics is to measure them and make sure you have an overall process to improve upon.

"Too many companies wing it – they have no process," he said. "You can't improve a nonexistent process. Invest in a low-cost applicant tracking system, and then create a process that can be completed in a short period of time."

Once you have an understanding of your process, what's working and what isn't, then you can make informed decisions on how to improve it. Be critical of what you've established, and analyze where you may be coming up short.  

How to adjust your strategy

There are countless ways to adjust your company's recruiting strategy. Below are a few ideas to get started on. Chris Chancey, founder of Amplio Recruiting, said four ways to better your recruitment strategy is to survey former candidates, review your job descriptions, simplify your application process and consider alternative recruitment channels.

1. Survey former candidates.

This means asking for candid feedback from your recent hires. It's worth it to provide an anonymous survey to new hires so you can get an understanding of what's working and what's not when it comes to your recruiting strategy. Chancey also recommended reaching out to former candidates whom you didn't hire. They can often provide important feedback.

"The candidate experience can tell you a lot about the effectiveness of your recruitment strategies," he said. "Identify common areas of concern and use this feedback to improve."

2. Review job descriptions.

Your job descriptions are at the heart of your hiring process. It's likely the first time a candidate will read about your company, let alone the role that you need to fill. There are several different strategies for writing great job descriptions. Chancey said businesses should get into the details about what the position entails, work culture, unique perks and the ideal job candidate. Avoid typos and make sure your job descriptions reflect your company. Paige NeJame, franchise owner and coordinator for special projects with CertaPro Painters, said she focuses on spelling out day-to-day tasks an employee will have to complete.

"Many ads give a 'big picture' idea of the job: 'You will be responsible for $30 million in sales,'" she said. "But it gives the recruit no idea how that big picture breaks down to their day-to-day responsibilities." 

By addressing specific day-to-day responsibilities, you can write a job description that's clear, concise and accurate.

3. Simplify your application process.

Long and complicated application processes can be a turnoff for any potential candidate. By simplifying your process, you can attract more candidates. Remember that people looking for work are likely filling out several applications for several different jobs. Monotonously filling out contact information and answering the same employment questions can get old. Chancey said businesses should consider simplifying the overall application process where appropriate. The simplicity could lead to more applications.

"Make it easy for candidates to send in their resume and other application documents, and, more importantly, keep track of the application process," he said.

4. Consider alternative recruitment channels.

If you've had some job posts up on various recruitment sites for a while, it may be time to consider some alternatives. Do some research and find niche job boards or unique avenues for getting in touch with candidates who could thrive at your business. Remember that talent is everywhere, and you may not have to link up with someone who's "actively looking" to find the right candidate for your job.

"Get creative with your sourcing channels," said Chancey. "Leverage social media, events, recruitment drives and even recruitment consultants to help you identify top talent even for hard-to-fill positions."

Bottom line

Recruiting can be a difficult task, but if you're organized in your approach, it goes a long way toward helping your business. You can't change your recruiting strategy unless you have a process in place, and you won't be able to measure that process unless you establish some relevant benchmarks to your business's recruiting success. Once you have metrics in place, you can analyze your process and institute the changes that you need to.

Image Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock
Matt D'Angelo
Matt D'Angelo Contributing Writer
I've worked for newspapers, magazines and various online platforms as both a writer and copy editor. Currently, I am a freelance writer living in NYC. I cover various small business topics, including technology, financing and marketing on and Business News Daily.