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Updated Nov 06, 2023

How to Recruit New Employees

Learn what the recruitment process is and how you can implement a successful strategy to attract and retain the best employees.

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Skye Schooley, Senior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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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.

What is recruitment?

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]

graphic of people next to website pages with potential recruits with star ratings

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.

What are the different types of recruitment?

There are two types of recruitment: internal and external.

  • Internal recruitment is conducted by looking to your company’s internal network as a source of potential candidates. You can ask current employees for professional referrals or promote an internal employee. If you have more than one business location, consider transferring an employee from one location to another.
  • External recruitment can involve various strategies, such as advertising on job boards, posting the open position on your company website and social media accounts, and connecting with educational institutions. Most employers find it beneficial to perform a combination of these recruitment strategies.
Did You Know?Did you know
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.

Who handles recruiting?

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.

TipBottom line
When you're determining the type of employee you are looking for, make sure to weigh the pros and cons of hiring an experienced professional versus a recent college graduate.

What does recruitment involve?

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

1. Defining the open position

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.

2. Sourcing job applicants

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:

  • The individual knows you, will take your call and will engage with you because of an existing relationship in the marketplace.
  • The candidate may not know you or your company, but they have been referred to you by someone else or may be familiar with your company and/or hiring brand.
  • The individual is not familiar with your company and will require further education about your company and its brand.

3. Screening potential candidates

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.

graphic of a person at a desk talking through a megaphone next to screens with faces of job recruits

“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.”

TipBottom line
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.

4. Interviewing qualified candidates

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.

5. Selecting a candidate and extending an offer

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.

6. Onboarding new hires

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.

What are some recruitment best practices?

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.

1. Communication

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.

2. The  “Hum, Sing, Shout” method

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:

  • Hum: Your hiring brand should have a low “hum” in the marketplace. What this means is that your company is “always on.” That is, you are advertising, networking and using appropriate branding strategies for your company on social media platforms that are best suited for your company and industry.
  • Sing: During this stage, your company and your efforts to find qualified talent are visible to job seekers. You’re not looking to fill the position immediately; rather, you’re perusing a broader and deeper volume of candidates.
  • Shout: You are ready to hire. You are leveraging social media, job boards and your network to quickly fill the open position. Ensure that you are explaining why someone would want to join your team and how they would benefit by working with your organization.

3. Tracking candidates

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.

author image
Skye Schooley, Senior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Skye Schooley is a dedicated business professional who is especially passionate about human resources and digital marketing. For more than a decade, she has helped clients navigate the employee recruitment and customer acquisition processes, ensuring small business owners have the knowledge they need to succeed and grow their companies. In recent years, Schooley has enjoyed evaluating and comparing HR software and other human resources solutions to help businesses find the tools and services that best suit their needs. With a degree in business communications, she excels at simplifying complicated subjects and interviewing business vendors and entrepreneurs to gain new insights. Her guidance spans various formats, including newsletters, long-form videos and YouTube Shorts, reflecting her commitment to providing valuable expertise in accessible ways.
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