What is a Recruitment Strategy

What is a Recruitment Strategy

In this article we are going to discuss the importance of having a strategy when you are recruiting and we are going to tell you how you can create your own recruitment strategy.

Any business activity carried out without a plan is likely to go wrong and recruitment is no different.

Using a recruitment strategy is important, not just to find the right candidate for the right job but it will also save you money and time. Basically, a recruitment strategy tells you where, when, and what you need to do in order to meet organisational goals.

A strategy also ensures that everyone on the recruiting team understands the priorities of the business and how this hiring can have an impact on the business. Using a logical and straightforward process to develop the strategy isn’t difficult, it is a step-by-step process.

Every time you are asked to recruit you must write a new strategy. For example the strategy you use to find a new member of staff in the accounting department would be very different to the strategy you use to find a new sales manager.

Developing and using a recruitment strategy is particularly important for small businesses. Business owners regularly fall into the trap of hiring people like themselves or just people they get along with. This will be dealt with in detail later but the best way to keep your recruitment professional and efficient is to us a written strategy every time.

You can find more basic information on recruitment strategies here.

The Steps to Creating a Recruitment Strategy


1. Inputs

Look closely at the medium to long range operating plan for the business so that you can make a Staffing Plan. A Staffing Plan should include all the positions you are likely to hire for in the next 12 months as well as changes to the business which could add to that volume.

You should have written, standardized Job Descriptions for every role in the organisation, this is your first major input for the recruitment process. If your organisation does not have written Job Descriptions then you will always have problems – not just recruiting but also in evaluating staff performance. Recruiting without a Job Description is like going to the supermarket without a shopping list – you’re likely to come home without some of the things you wanted and you’re likely to impulse-buy some things you don’t need just because you saw them on the shelf.

Next, work with the hiring manager to add to the Job Description the specific, current needs in this position. Often the position has changed since the Job Description was written. What particular strengths or attributes are needed which are not written in the Job Description?

The hiring manager’s input is to supply a clear list of realistic success factors and key performance indicators which are in line with the job description, the budget and also the current employment market. If this list is not realistic, or for example is out of line with the current market then you will waste your time in trying to recruit to fill the position or you will have a very high risk making a bad hire. You also need to understand not only the skills and abilities needed, but also the type of person that will be a good ‘cultural fit’.

What you are actually doing at this stage is developing something we call a Person Specification.

Now you have a clear description of the person you are looking for you must consider the current talent market. How are you are going to reach that talent and attract them to your organisation?

As an ongoing part of your job you should have as complete a picture as you can of the talent in your sector. If possible you should know who your major competitors’ key staff are, you should have a clear and up-to-date idea of salaries in your sector and where your company stands in relation to the whole sector. It sounds like an obvious thing to say but where you stand in relation to your competitors has a big impact on who you can recruit.

2. Actions

The second step in the process is to write an Action Plan based on the inputs from Step 1. The inputs have given you a clear specification of the person your organisation is looking for.

Now you must use your knowledge of the market to identify the best channels to use to source those people.

A channel is the pathway to the people you need, so you when you are thinking, ‘How can I reach them?’ you are preparing your strategy for building the channel to those people.

A recruiter must be creative and pro-active in developing channels. If you are in HR with responsibility for recruitment this should be a constant part of your work. Expect channels to change, last year’s good source might not work this year so always be on the lookout for new channels.

Of course you might look at the person specification and say to yourself that even if you spent hours searching on Linked In you wouldn’t be able to find this person. Or you might be looking at a senior hire where you know that the person is unlikely to respond to an advertisement of any kind.

This is the point where you contact an agency. As an HR professional one of the most important relationships to build is with a recruitment agency. The staff in an agency work full time on searching for people so they have huge networks. As a client of the agency you don’t only receive the services of screening, and shortlisting, it also gives you access to the recruiters’ channels.

Often the search you are running is confidential so you need a third party, one you trust with confidential work to search for you – but without using your company’s name. This happens for example when you are planning a replacement for an employee who is going to be terminated but the termination hasn’t happened yet. This is a great example of how a relationship with an agency can be very helpful.

Returning to our Strategy, list all the channels you plan to use for the search and then create a calendar or timeline for the work. Your strategy should have a clear timeline to meet your organisation’s requirements. Your timeline should include the following elements or content items with dates:

Open search – advertise (where) – screening period – shortlist closing date – interviewing period (multiple interviews are common so build your company’s policy into this item) – period for decision-making – offer stage – acceptance – starting – orientation and on-boarding – follow-up

You must be sure that you can move quickly at stages where speed counts. A common failure is to miss out on strong talent because of the internal decision-making process being too slow.  A second common mistake is to wait until you have the right candidate before deciding on the compensation package. This adds more decisions into the process at a stage when it is possible to lose a strong candidate. Throughout the process the fact that the candidate (particularly a strong candidate in an ‘in demand’ role) is probably considering more than one offer.

3. Execution and Evaluation

The third step in the process is to deliver the strategy that you have decided on within the timeframe you have set.

At the end of the process (hopefully when the successful candidate has been hired) you should carry out a written Review. Record which channels were the most efficient/productive, list the areas for improvement and assess if the information supplied by the Hiring Manager was detailed enough to make the recruitment process effective. If you used a recruitment agency record its performance, the quality of the shortlisted candidates that were sent and the responsiveness of their service.

If you would like more information about evaluating your recruitment process this article.


Email, print or share this page: