In theory, hiring an employee might seem like a simple task that anyone can do: Post a job opening online, interview a candidate and hire them. But when you know what’s at stake, the process is much more complex than that. Your employees are your company’s most significant asset, and they can make or break your business. To put yourself in the best position to recruit and hire top talent, learn what recruitment is and how it works.
Recruitment is the process of attracting, screening, interviewing and selecting candidates for an open role in an organization; it can also include hiring and onboarding the chosen candidates. [Read related article: How to create a hiring timeline]
Businesses recruit new employees either to fill a newly established role or to refill a position when an employee leaves the company or takes on a new role. Companies can use recruitment software to find qualified new employees or to seek assistance from external agencies.
There are two types of recruitment: internal and external.
Although internal and external recruitment are both effective options, internal referral hires tend to have higher employee retention rates and job satisfaction than external hires, according to Jobvite.
As with any other important business function, recruitment should be treated seriously, with experienced professionals taking the reins. People in charge of recruiting for your organization will vary depending on factors such as your company size and available resources.
For example, a small business might delegate recruiting and hiring to the employee who will manage the new hire, also known as the hiring manager. If a company has an in-house human resources (HR) department or HR manager, these professionals will screen the candidates and consult with the hiring manager before making any final selections.
If you don’t have anyone internally to lead your recruitment strategy, you can seek help externally.
“If your company doesn’t have the bandwidth to support all of their open recommendations, a recruitment technique they can adopt is to work with an agency to fill roles more efficiently,” Sarah Dewey, talent sourcer at Meta, told us.
Companies that have partnerships with recruitment agencies (or internal recruiters) are in the best position, as they can entrust recruiting responsibilities to these experts. A recruiter may consult with an HR manager or hiring manager during the recruiting process, but they do the bulk of the work, such as posting the job, sourcing and screening candidates, negotiating salaries and placing employees.
The recruitment process for your company may vary based on the business or individual role you are hiring for. However, the complete recruitment cycle generally includes six steps: defining the open position, sourcing job applicants, screening potential candidates, interviewing qualified candidates, selecting a candidate and extending an offer, and onboarding new hires.
Before searching for qualified candidates, you need to define the role you seek to fill. Identify the key needs the position will fulfill, outline job specifics (e.g., qualification requirements, anticipated start date, pay range, reporting structure, etc.), write a clear job description and create a standard set of interview questions. Having this information defined ahead of time streamlines the hiring process.
Seeking job applicants is the next step in the recruitment process. You can have a recruiter or recruitment agency handle sourcing; ask employees or trusted colleagues for referrals; or source candidates through various means, like posting the open position on your company website, job boards and social media accounts.
There are two types of applicants: active candidates (those who apply to the job directly) and passive candidates (those who are qualified but haven’t expressed direct interest). If you are reaching out to a passive candidate, you will need to tailor your recruiting strategy based on their current level of engagement with your brand.
According to Joe Mullings, founder, chairman and CEO of The Mullings Group, candidates fall into one of these three engagement categories:
Once applications start rolling in, you must filter them to find qualified applicants. Evaluate resumes and cover letters, and then conduct a phone screening for candidates who appear to be a good match. This screening should be brief. Ask each candidate the same set of screening questions to determine if they are qualified for the role. Choose the most qualified candidates to advance to the interview process.
For applicants who did not meet your expectations, thank them for their time, and inform them that you are not continuing the recruitment process with them. Job applicants would rather hear a “no” than radio silence.
“Be responsive, and don’t burn bridges,” Dewey said. “If you have candidates that aren’t a fit for anything you’re currently hiring for, it does not mean you should ignore them. They may be a perfect fit for something down the road.”
If you want to perfect your candidate screening process, check out our article on how to conduct a phone screen interview, where we provide a step-by-step phone screen process, sample screening questions and things to look for during a phone screen interview.
The next phase of the recruitment process involves the hiring manager interviewing prospective candidates. They should ask competency-based interview questions and evaluate whether the candidate would be a good fit for the team and company culture. This stage may consist of one or more rounds of interviews. During this phase, you will want to contact the candidate’s references.
After you interview and evaluate each candidate, select the one you think would be the best fit. Draft an offer letter, and extend it to the potential employee.
During this time, you may want to conduct a criminal background check. In your offer letter, state that the job offer is contingent on the background check results. Be sure to comply with federal and state laws as you conduct the background check.
Inform the applicants you did not select that you have chosen another candidate, and thank them for their time. End on a high note; you never know if you may want to reconsider hiring this candidate if your primary candidate doesn’t accept your offer or at any point in the future.
When the candidate accepts your job offer, the final step is the hiring and onboarding process. This step is usually handled by your company’s HR professionals to ensure the new employee signs all the necessary employment paperwork and is integrated into your business in accordance with labor and employment laws.
A bad hire can cost your business up to 30 percent of its first-year earnings, so it is important to choose employees wisely. However, recruitment is often where employers misstep.
“Your employees are the difference between success and failure, yet the [recruitment] process that is used is generally ad hoc, rushed, and has little strategy beyond a post-and-pray approach,” Mullings said.
To build a successful recruitment process, you must be strategic. The experts we spoke with identified three best practices to help your business recruit top talent.
It is important to foster clear communication among recruiters, HR professionals, hiring managers and job applicants throughout the entire recruitment process. Good communication entails posting accurate job descriptions, quickly responding to job applicants (whether it is a yes, a no, or a simple update) and informing all hiring parties about the status of each candidate.
Employee recruitment is a continuous process; it occurs several times throughout the life cycle of a company. As such, an employer should brand their hiring process to attract and hire top talent when needed.
Mullings suggested that companies use the Hum, Sing, Shout method to stand out from other companies that are recruiting and to attract the type of candidates they have in mind. Here’s what it entails:
It is important to track candidates during the entire talent acquisition process. Whether you’re using HR software, an applicant tracking system or other means, it is important to have a standardized approach so that no one is overlooked and no detail remains unnoticed.
Below is a list of our top choices for HR software that include recruiting and onboarding capabilities:
Paychex Flex: With Paychex Flex, you can publish all of your job openings to top career sites and social media platforms simply through the dashboard. Paychex can even connect you with background check services to screen your applicants before you hire them. Learn more in our full review of Paychex Flex.
BambooHR: From recruitment to offboarding, BambooHR helps you manage all stages of the employee life cycle. You can post and track job openings and distribute them via social media. The software also allows you to review and rate candidates and send offer letters and new-hire documents with electronic signature capabilities. Learn more in our complete review of BambooHR.
Rippling: Rippling is our choice for the easiest HR software to implement. According to the company, users can onboard new hires within 90 seconds. With this solution, you can completely customize and automate the onboarding process. It can also run candidates through background checks and e-verification. Learn more in our comprehensive review of Rippling.
“Do your due diligence, and make sure you’re keeping track of what’s going on in your pipeline,” Dewey said. “This helps being able to see your own progress and areas of opportunities. Keeping track of all your candidates and the stages they’re in (along with your data) will save a lot of sanity when hiring managers ask for reports.”
Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.