How to make improvements to your recruitment strategy

October 2021

When your business is growing, recruitment can feel like it sucks your time away. That’s why leaders need to develop a recruitment strategy that enables them to attract – and retain – a talented workforce.

Many of the most innovative recruitment methods are simply about changing your mindset.

Too often, the word recruitment is associated with posting job ads and finding fresh talent. The problem is this recruitment strategy can force you to overlook one of your strongest assets – your internal team.

Reflecting inwardly in your approach to recruitment can be beneficial in many ways:

  • By promoting internally, you save on recruitment costs and staff resources

  • Addressing the gaps in your current employees’ skillset and identifying where more training is required allows you to invest in existing staff

  • Displaying a positive approach to staff mobility creates a culture where staff feel valued and can see opportunities for promotion

Think about your internal recruitment strategy

By committing to employee investment, your company will in turn look like a more attractive proposition to external candidates looking in.

1. Always consider internal applications

Some of the best organisations encourage employees to apply for roles outside of their established skillset. It may seem like a risky tactic, but don’t shrink at the idea just because your employee might not have all the required skills. Passion, attitude, and drive can go a long way to succeeding in a role.

If retraining your sales manager to work in marketing increases their job satisfaction, it’s worth the investment. You’ve moved them out of a role that they weren’t committed to anyway, plus investing in their personal development will increase their motivation in their new role.

2. Be adaptable

It’s common for companies to encounter obstacles when they have to recruit for senior positions. Not only is the talent pool smaller at this level, but with such high salaries at stake, bad hires are costly.

3. Develop a strong workplace culture

Introducing the two measures above will be significant drivers in fostering a positive workplace culture. This kind of environment makes people choose to stay in a company and commit to furthering their career with you.

As part of your recruitment strategy, make sure you’re showcasing your culture externally. Culture has become an important factor for applicants deciding where to work.

  • Encourage employees to use social media and post on sites like Glassdoor to talk about the benefits of working at the company

  • Ask staff to share job ads when you’re recruiting

  • Apply for workplace awards to raise your company profile as a great place to work

Attracting external candidates

Even with an impressive staff retention rate, there will always be times when you need to bring in new recruits, especially if your business is going through a period of significant growth.

The traditional recruitment cycle – search for candidates, go through a selection process, interview, present a job offer and then negotiate terms – doesn’t necessarily need to be revisited. There are a number of innovative recruitment methods that tweak the process, however.

Prioritise “active” job seekers

By definition, “active” job seekers are those actively looking for a new role; “passive” ones are those who are not. The assumption goes that recruiters should seek out passive job seekers to widen their pool of potential candidates – even if they aren’t looking to move, they can be persuaded.

But fascinating evidence from a LinkedIn survey revealed that there are some significant differences between the two groups to factor into your recruitment strategy.

Consider this. For passive job seekers, the top factor that would encourage them to move jobs would be more money. For active job seekers, the number one priority was better work and career opportunities.

A higher number of active job seekers also reported that they are passionate about their work and engaged in improving their skills.

None of this means that you should disregard passive job seekers. But, if your strategy relies heavily on encouraging people to move away from roles that they weren’t intending to leave, you might be wise to redress the balance.

Revisit your attitude to culture fit

Hiring for culture fit can leave you treading a fine line. On the one hand, it makes sense to recruit people who will fit in well with your current team (especially if you have a strong workplace culture). On the other, you risk developing a team that lacks diversity and different mindsets.

Businesses that struggle with this contrast probably need to revisit their definition of culture fit. Many people assume that demographics (gender, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation) are at the heart of culture fit.

Simply shifting this focus onto recruiting people who have a shared understanding of workplace values can solve the problem. This will still bring in likeminded people, but they will come with a diverse range of perspectives, experience, skills, and backgrounds.

Diversify your recruitment channels

Do you always use the same recruitment method to find potential candidates? If so, then it probably isn’t working as well as it should.

Relying on one recruitment method alone can cause issues. For example, staff referrals may seem effective (and often are) but can result in a similar demographic if used on their own. Alternatively, if you rely too heavily on recruitment agencies, you might find yourself faced with too many passive candidates.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to building a recruitment strategy. But using a range of methods – instead of relying on just one – is often a good approach.

The importance of interviews

As an interviewer, your role is just as important as the candidate’s if you want to get the best out of them. Use the following advice to get into the right mindset.

  • Do use the job description to map out your questions

  • Do take notes during the interview. You might benefit from a simple scorecard to note down how candidates measure up with the essential and desirable skills in the job description

  • Do invite promising candidates back for a second interview, and even consider taking them out for a team lunch to see how they respond to a less formal environment

  • Don’t treat candidates differently. Use the same interview panel and the same set of questions to assess them fairly

  • Don’t talk too much – give a brief introduction and answer their questions at the end, but let them take centre stage

Analyse your hires

Good recruitment doesn’t stop when you hire someone. Complete the recruitment cycle by taking time to analyse how successful the appointments have been. Ask yourself:

  • Are they still at the company? If so, how long have they been employed so far?

  • How satisfied are they with their role? Use staff appraisals and manager feedback to find out

  • Are you pleased you hired the individual and would you do the same again?

  • Looking back, what aspects of recruitment worked and what didn’t with this individual?

Remember that a successful recruitment strategy extends beyond the time period when you are actively hiring. To attract and keep the right candidates, you will need to build an attractive working environment and reflect on the part you play in the process too.

How to improve your recruitment strategy

Develop an attractive working environment and consider your role in the recruitment process to help you attract and retain the best staff.

1. Consider internal candidates

Invest in your existing staff to improve employee satisfaction and create an attractive workplace culture.

  • Consider all internal applications, even those who would require retraining

  • Adapt to the situation. Could mentoring help fill a skills gap, for example?

  • Develop a strong workplace culture that staff want to tell others about

2. Create a strategy for external recruitment

There will always be times when you need to bring in new recruits.

  • Focus on active job seekers. They tend to prioritise career opportunities above money and be more engaged in developing new skills

  • Adjust your definition of culture fit. Instead of focusing on demographics, recruit people who believe in your company values

  • Use a range of recruitment methods. Relying on just one way to attract people can be problematic

3. Recognise your role in the process

Your role in the recruitment process is equally as important as the candidate’s.

✔ Do use the job description to map out your questions

✔ Do take notes during the interview

✔ Do hold second interviews and introduce them to the team

X Don’t treat candidates differently

X Don’t talk too much – allow them take centre stage

Analyse the success of your recruitment methods

Good recruitment doesn’t stop when you hire someone. Check in with new employees six months down the line and find out how satisfied they are with the work. Look at how they’re performing and think about ways your recruitment strategy could be improved in future.



This article was written and originally published by The Productivity Group (trading as Be the Business). Be the Business is an independent, not for profit organisation set up to help business owners and leaders improve the performance of their business. © Copyright 2021 The Productivity Group.  All rights reserved.

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