Are your recruitment efforts hitting a brick wall? It might be time to shake things up. Here are seven ways to elevate your recruitment strategy.
If your recruitment strategy isn’t as fruitful as you’d hope, it might be time to revisit your recruitment strategy.
Mark Puncher, CEO of Employer Branding Australia, shares how lazy or ill-informed recruitment can have a serious impact on your organisation’s success, and offers some alternative approaches to attract top-notch talent.
1. You’re viewing recruitment as a negative transaction
The problem: If you’re treating recruitment as a distress purchase – an urgent need to tick a box and fill a position – you’ve already lost.
“If you only think about recruitment when someone resigns, you’re always going to struggle to find great people,” says Puncher.
And the same goes for ignoring red flags with a candidate, just to fill a role. For example, if the applicant’s values don’t align with yours, or if they aren’t interested in what your company does, there’s a good chance they may not last very long at your company.
The solution: Listen to your gut.
“The second you resignedly say, ‘I guess we’ll just hire that person,’ – don’t hire that person,” says Puncher. “Start again and find someone who you are excited to have join the team.”
You need to change your recruitment approach from a box to tick into an opportunity to truly grow and enrich your business.
“Recruitment is an ongoing conversation. It’s not a hat that you don when someone resigns.
“If you only think about recruitment when someone resigns, you’re always going to struggle to find great people.” – Mark Puncher, CEO of Employer Branding Australia
“You need to do the work upfront so when you do need to fill a role, you are spoiled for choice.”
2. Your job ads need improvement
The problem: Your job ad may be working against you. Here are some things Puncher says you may be doing wrong.
- Talking too much about your company, but never the candidate
- Not demonstrating how the job could benefit a candidate
- Having too many bullet points in the ‘what you need’ section
- Succumbing to degree inflation and overloading it with skills the role doesn’t need
The solution: Tailor each ad to the person you hope to attract.
“If your job ad reads exactly the same as everyone else’s, why would somebody engage?” says Puncher.
Write to your audience, not at them. Involve them and inspire them to see themselves in the role. Reflect on what you actually need from a successful applicant. If you overload your ‘what you need to have’ section with skills that aren’t necessary, you’ll potentially scare them off.
Puncher suggests reviewing your ads to determine:
- What skills and qualifications are mandatory?
- What’s nice to have?
- What can you lose?
Critically though, make sure your ads use real language – don’t hide behind cliches.
3. You employ external recruiters on a pay-per-hire model
The problem: Outsourcing recruitment can help you widen your net of applicants. And when they’re invested, strategic recruiters can bring a huge amount to the table.
But if you’re employing multiple recruitment agencies on a pay-per-hire basis, you risk causing yourself real problems
For example, an agency may be less likely to put in the hard yards to find the right person. They may end up pitching candidates to you who aren’t right in the race to beat out other agencies.
The solution: Select any external partners carefully, and build a strong relationship with them, says Puncher.
If they intend to represent you and genuinely help you shape your future workforce, they need to truly understand you, your people and your culture. That takes skill, care and time.
Alternatively, you could ask your employees to help you find great candidates. Very often, your team members have networks of people who could thrive in your company, so an internal referral program could reap benefits.
Puncher also suggests involving employees by featuring them in testimonial videos, getting them to help create job ads and sitting in on interviews to answer questions about the job and culture. They could also be in the room when a hiring decision is made.
4. You’re not displaying your authentic culture
The problem: Nobody wants to be sold an idealised job and then face a different reality once they start. When you’re starting your recruitment campaign, be upfront about the company, its culture and the role.
“Your recruitment campaign shouldn’t be a glossy version of your company. It should be real,” says Puncher.
“Let’s say you’re advertising a role for a telco. Why would you have career videos with satellites and galaxies if their days will be spent in a call centre or a van? Show the vans, the call centres and the people in them!”
The solution: Share the reality: feature the office they’d be working in and the people they’ll work with, and give them an understanding of what their day-to-day work would look like.
Part of being upfront means articulating the less-than-ideal elements of the job. For example, consider adding a line to your job ad that says “Here’s why we hope you’ll love working for us, and here’s why we fear you may not,” says Puncher.
“When you do that, candidates are more likely to trust you on the good stuff,” he says. “More importantly, they are more prepared for what they’re getting themselves into. So you can reduce the number of times someone says, ‘This wasn’t what I was sold.’
5. You haven’t considered your employer brand or employee value proposition
The problem: Your employer brand will shape how people inside and outside of your business perceive your company, and determine whether they think it’s worth applying for positions.
If you’re not dedicating attention to your company’s brand and EVP, you’ll struggle to capture attention, says Puncher.
Potential applicants want to know about the fundamentals of the job, of course. But they also want to know what it will actually be like to do that job. What will they ‘get’ from a career with you, and how will the experience feel?
According to LinkedIn research, the number one obstacle candidates face during the job search process is not knowing what it’s like to work at an organisation. Even more tellingly, 75 per cent of them will turn to your online presence and social media to find out. So reputation really matters.
The solution: Invest in your company’s employer brand.
That doesn’t mean jumping into a glossy marketing or PR campaign, or focusing on perks such as free lunches and ping pong tables.
“If people have a more negative view than positive, it doesn’t matter how good your ads are. It’s going to be a hard slog to get them to apply,” says Puncher.
Instead, he suggests that you reframe your thinking.
“A positive employer brand is the result of a company’s genuine commitment to connecting with and understanding its people – present and future.
“What matters to them and why should they choose you? What should they expect from you, and what do you expect of them? Remember, recruitment is the start of a truly important relationship – one that affects people’s lives and a company’s success.”
Start by involving your people, he adds. Get their insights on what makes your company different, why they love working there and what could be improved. Ask structured, meaningful questions and ensure an environment and conversation whereby people can and will tell you the truth.
From these insights, you can build a powerful, authentic EVP – one that doesn’t hide behind platitudes, fluff or insincerity.
“Remember: Your EVP is a promise that can inspire and excite. But it’s also one that you have to deliver on.”
When creating an EVP, Puncher advises homing in on:
- Who you’re hoping to attract
- The points of intersection of what matters to them, and what you can offer
- How each pillar of your offer is actually experienced – this can be a great way to differentiate from others
- What it’s like to work there
- What employees expect of you and what you expect of them
Read HRM’s article on how to personalise your EVP.
6. You’re making candidates jump through hoops during the interview stage
The problem: Expect someone to memorise all 112 pages of your company’s strategic plan? Laying elaborate tricks to catch them out in the interview? If this is your attitude, you’re not doing yourself any favours.
The solution: If you think interviewers have all the power, you’ve got it all wrong, says Puncher.
“An interview is your opportunity to inspire candidates to join you. More than that, it’s your chance to create a space for a safe and open conversation, whereby the candidate and the employer can truly figure out on both sides whether this could work.”
Oh, and please don’t ask them to list their weaknesses, he adds. That is, unless you want to hear a completely rehearsed answer and learn nothing new about them.
It’s important to discuss some of this, but you must do it meaningfully, rather than with a generic question that will drive a generic response.
Read HRM’s article on making your job interviews more effective.
7. You treat pre-boarding as an afterthought
The problem: Just because someone accepted your job offer, that doesn’t mean they’re definitely going to join you, or that they’re inspired and ready, says Puncher.
“That’s the point when they’re getting other offers or their current company is counter-offering.”
Pre-boarding and onboarding will be central to them joining and outlasting their probation period.
The solution: Invest time and money in pre-boarding.
Puncher suggests sending them a package before they start, which includes company swag and something meaningful – such as a handwritten note from the new manager. And regardless of whether they start remotely or in person, give them an idea of what the first day, week and month will look like in the job.
It’s also hugely important to prepare for their first day. This includes setting up their computer and the programs they’ll need, explaining home office stipends and helping them with their log-ins.
First impressions matter, so don’t let yours tell them they’re an afterthought. When it comes to those first days on the job, be as over prepared as you can.
At the end of the day, the biggest factor in achieving your company goals – the revenue, the profit, the impact – is people,” says Puncher.
“It’s about attracting great, diverse people with the right motivations to join, stay and shape the future with you. And when you truly connect, this vital partnership really will change lives.”
Parts of this article were first featured in the August 2022 edition of HRM Magazine.
Hear from Employer Branding Australia’s COO David Concannon CPHR about effective recruitment strategies at AHRI’s Convention on 15-17 August. Register today.