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How to build a robust recruitment strategy

In today’s candidate-led talent market, getting the best people into a business is hard. Quality candidates are in short supply, and employers need to ensure they gain an upper hand in attracting the best people.

As with any area of business, approaching recruitment strategically is the key to success. By planning ahead and optimising the key touchpoints of the candidate journey as well as ensuring employee engagement within the organisation businesses can reduce attrition and increase return on investment (ROI).

Success doesn’t come to those who wait, however, and smart businesses need to take a proactive approach to talent attraction and retention. In order to recruit the best people, business owners need to define exactly what they want to achieve with their recruitment strategy. Giving this question the appropriate level of consideration can be the difference between mediocrity and enabling long-lasting, sustainable organisational change.

All recruitment teams aspire to build an effective recruitment strategy. While there’s no silver bullet, here are six things that all HR professionals and recruiters can do to set the ball rolling.

1) Define the job before defining the person

All too often, companies recruit for positions that change so much over time that they become no longer aligned with the candidate’s skill set. To avoid a high turnover rate, businesses should instead work backwards.

First, they need to specify the goals and milestones that define a particular role. Then, they should define the skills necessary to achieve them. Instead of focusing on outputs, managers should focus on defining and measuring outcomes.

But what do we mean by outputs and outcomes? Outputs refer to volume - the activities that a candidate is expected to carry out. Outcomes denote value - the meaningful change, whether intended or unintended, that a candidate can have on the business. 

If businesses put too much emphasis on outputs (volume) and use that as the yardstick to measure success, that is where people’s energy will be directed. As such, they are unlikely to pay enough attention to how well they are delivering outcomes (value).

Most come into a business wanting to enact positive change. If internal processes place undue emphasis on measuring outputs, values-driven people are likely to feel stifled. Not only will this contribute to attrition, but it will also hinder a business’ ability to deliver on its promises to its clients and/or customers.

2) Define typical on-the-job tasks

What are the real day-to-day challenges in the organisation that a new person will need to address? For managers, coming up with a thorough answer to this question is important. By being transparent about the actual nature of working for the business, recruiting teams can write more accurate job descriptions that set realistic expectations for prospective candidates. This, in turn, will help improve the candidate experience.

Committing to an honest and transparent hiring approach is a win-win situation for employers and candidates alike.

In interviews, for example, recruiters can ask candidates to find a way of improving a currently flawed process within the business. Though some candidates may not be an expert on the business they are applying for, they are likely to appreciate the honesty and opportunity provided by the recruiter.

At the same time, the way that candidates approach such a task can provide the recruiter with valuable insights into their thought processes and problem-solving skills — two factors that influence their suitability for the role.

3) Define company culture

A company’s ‘culture’ can be articulated in many ways. One study suggests that the primary determinant of a company’s culture is its rate of change.

Fast-growing, flexible companies with limited resources must quickly collaborate, make decisions and respond to changing market conditions, implementing continuous process improvement programmes.

On the other hand, stable and mature organisations are more heavily structured and depend on a lengthy review cycle. As a result, implementing cultural change is more complex and decision-making can be much slower.

From small businesses and angel-backed start-ups to multinational corporations, getting a handle on culture is vital to the recruitment process of any business. But before they can help spawn a culture, business leaders need to understand how the structure of their business can facilitate this growth.

This idea of self-awareness also applies to the interview process. When meeting with candidates, managers should analyse their own decision-making process, including whether they are cautious, how they deal with ambiguity, and how fast they can change direction.

Doing so can help them ascertain just how aligned these traits are with the wider company culture.

4) Define the manager’s leadership style

As one of the biggest factors to impact motivation and performance, the leadership style of the manager is pivotal to recruitment success. Poor leadership can lead to workforce turnover, which, in turn, costs a business valuable time and money. Good leadership, meanwhile, can galvanise a team and bolster retention.

Getting a clear handle on the individual leadership styles of the managers within a business is vital. By understanding how managers communicate, organise, motivate, engage, support, coach and give feedback, an organisation can recruit people who are best suited under particular methods of management. Finding out where candidates have previously excelled (as well as the role their former manager played) can also improve recruitment accuracy.

5) Define the team

New hires need to be able to support and collaborate with people in an organisation. One way to improve engagement in any business is to enhance social relationships between colleagues. Not everyone needs to have the same personality — in fact, it’s preferable if they don’t — but leaders need to assess how well new hires will fit within the team.

6) Define the behaviours that a candidate should display

Which behaviours need to be displayed to be a success in an organisation? What do top performers do consistently that the rest don’t?

There are several ways to answer these questions. Managers can observe the top performers and work out what makes them successful. In interviews, questions should be positioned to help to reveal that behaviour. Recruiters should ask all the interviewees the same questions and compare their responses in a quantifiable and objective manner. Guidant Global, for example, employ a structured interview process to eliminate bias.

Although a person might occasionally demonstrate the right qualities, the best people will do it consistently. This is where traditional competency-based interviews asking questions like “tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult customer” fall short. It’s important for recruiters to collect evidence of consistency and not just treat it as a one-off. Rephrasing the question to revolve around habit-forming and consistency can help to elicit more useful examples.

At Impellam for example, we identify consistent behaviours in our people and use it to define our culture of virtuosity. Our Virtuoso programme alters perspectives, helps people to think laterally and brings about a shift in mindsets to truly unlock potential.

The takeaway

When taking all these considerations together, it becomes clear that recruitment is something that needs to be taken seriously as a fundamental component of top-level business strategy.

Recruitment permeates every aspect of a business — including attrition, performance and company culture — so it’s imperative that recruiting strategies permeate every aspect of the talent acquisition process, however tenuous the link.

From the moment a recruiter sends the job posting to a passive candidate to the moment he/she turns up for their first day, consistency of messaging is key. Externally, this helps the company foster a reputation as top-quality employers, thus attracting more job seekers. Internally, it helps to consolidate the employer brand and ensure that company values are ubiquitous throughout the business.

Impellam’s culture is grounded in trust, the golden thread that runs through all our managed services and specialist staffing brands. To learn more about Impellam’s Virtuoso culture, click here.

 

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