What is the best way to start an effective recruitment strategy? Renae Jackson, head of HR at Search Laboratory, considers the ten tangible steps to better recruitment.

Nothing is more important for company growth than getting the right people through the door. But where do you start? Candidates are more accessible than they’ve ever been: contactable through LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat, Spotify …even virtual reality recruiting is poised for take-off.

The world has its head buried in a smartphone with all the latest apps, but for business owners and recruiters this can be incredibly daunting. We live in technology-driven times, and undoubtedly marketing and recruitment tactics need to reflect this.

An effective recruitment strategy though means mastering a run before starting the triathlon. Before you reach for Periscope and Pinterest, how does your company fare against these strategy must-haves?

1. Build your employer brand

Work out what your company stands for; what are your USPs? Involve your staff in defining this and, once you can articulate it clearly, push this message out consistently across as many channels as possible.

We are continuously building awareness to our brand and shouting proudly about being a Sunday Times Top 100 Employer.

2. Build and nurture the pipeline

Gone are the days of posting an advert, sitting back and sifting through a pile of CVs. We’re realistic enough to know the best candidates don’t jump ship after receiving one InMail! Moving jobs is a big deal and we respect this.

Passive candidates won’t be checking the job boards so our long-game is providing valuable content that represents the award-winning agency we are. We provide market-leading content on LinkedIn, and share fun company updates on social media and Glassdoor.

3. Have a data-driven approach

Undoubtedly there will be recruiters still adopting a post-and-hope approach. But decisions must be driven by data. This means using digital analytics to understand the candidate journey: what is driving traffic successfully to your website? Where on the site are they landing and how long are they staying when they get there?

Use relevant keywords with high search volumes in your job adverts, and check to see where visitors are dropping out of the application process. Regularly analysing recruitment spend and ditching what isn’t working is vital.

4. Convey your company’s personality

Really bring your company culture to life (which you’ll be ready to do after completing step 1). Personality and working environment are key in today’s candidate-driven market. If your office looks like a throw-back to the 70’s, unfortunately you’re going to struggle. You don’t need to go all-out with Google-esque sleep pods, but you’ll need to have a desirable environment you can showcase on social media and a dedicated careers page.

The image you’re transmitting needs to be congruent with the reality, and a strong Glassdoor presence with positive reviews should reinforce your message.

5. Know your audience, and creatively reach them

It’s not a one-size-fits-all affair. Most of us have awakened to the fact a large chunk of the candidate pool aren’t looking for jobs for life anymore: They want to know where they’ll be to in 2 years, not 20 years’ time.

Really get inside the mindset of those you’re trying to attract. The end goal is to define a 2 or 3-tiered recruitment strategy for each of your key positions. What is your most-proven approach? Failing that, what do you do next? This will require an exhaustive trial and error approach.

Find out what works and be realistic about what isn’t. Some of our roles are incredibly hard to recruit for and we must think creatively about how to widen the net.

We have successfully targeted London-based candidates with links to Yorkshire on their CV; enticing them away from soaring house prices with the promise of free Yorkshire tea and a delightful commute.

6. Use job boards……effectively

There’s definitely still a place for job boards. You’ve had a bad run-in with your boss and, at a particularly low point over lunch, you decide to peruse the local competition. As long as we’re using the right (potentially niche) boards, and writing adverts that speak to candidates in the right way, these can be very effective.

Remember that scrolling through pages and pages of text on an iPhone will be tedious. Adverts must be mobile and tablet friendly, and they should be: “here’s what you can expect from us”; rather than, “this is what we expect from you”.

We use visual job ads on Facebook, and inject our passion and quirky culture into more traditional adverts.

7. Have a referral scheme

Your biggest advocates will be your current employees. Ask them to share your jobs on social media to reach as wide a network as possible, whilst having an attractive referral bonus up for grabs.

8. Recruit from within

Some roles are just harder to recruit than others. Can your succession planning policies include getting staff ready for these roles internally? Much better to promote, motivate and retain a valued employee, than struggle needlessly to recruit externally.

Also, we want our staff to have the same positive experience when they exit, as when they joined us. We’re all swimming in a small pond; who knows when a valued employee may breast-stroke back. Consider how you might encourage re-hires. A staff alumni even?

9. Improve the candidate process

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. We adopt this philosophy with everything we do.
In detail, map out your current candidate journey and analyse every stage for potential improvements.
Throughout the whole process, we go the extra mile for the candidate to demonstrate we care. It’s the little touches, like sending a card to someone’s house before the join, or making sure they feel confident and comfortable in the interview process, that make a big difference.

10. Do a few quirky things…but do them well

So yes of course, there’s a place for more quirky recruitment channels. These foundations need to be in place first though. If you’re going to have a strategy for Twitter or Instagram, that’s great: but focus on only one or two channels at a time and work hard to master them. Unless you have extensive recruitment resource, you’ll spread yourself too thinly and dilute your brand message. It takes a lot of thought and effort to do these things well, so make sure your plates are spinning properly before adding more to the mix.

Innovative and strategic recruitment is a process rather than an event, so it’s impossible to hang your hat on just one thing that makes it effective. Technology continues to play a key role, and going forward we all need to keep our finger on the pulse. Technology alone is not enough though, and it’s the combination of these activities – and doing these things consistently – that works well for us.





Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.