Companies are hiring more than ever, but finding qualified candidates also seems more challenging than ever in the past. If the average job opening receives anywhere from 100 to 200 applicants, why is it so hard to figure out how to recruit employees with the right skill set and experience?
The answer is, it’s complicated.
For starters, the way people approach their careers has changed. Most people change jobs at least a few times during their professional life, if not many more than that. This means at any given time, more people are looking to make a career move, meaning there will be a greater volume of applicants to sift through.
Technology has also made it much easier for those applicants to apply for as many jobs as they want. In the distant past, a candidate would have to fill out a physical application and either deliver it in person or wait for the US Postal Service to do them a favor.
Now, thanks to the internet, a person can apply to literally dozens of jobs in a few minutes time. This means some candidates are less discerning with where they’re applying, meaning more applications from candidates who are a mediocre or poor fit.
When you factor in a rising need for skilled workers, a widening skills gap, and higher candidate expectations, it’s no surprise most CEOs say finding competent workers is their number one organizational concern.
It frustrates recruiters, who must dedicate more time and effort to every hire. And yet, if we want to build a competent workforce with low turnover, it’s a challenge we must meet head-on with a comprehensive, contemporary recruiting strategy.
How to Recruit Employees in 2023 and Beyond
1. Establish recruiting KPIs
Before you even begin any recruiting activities, you need to set benchmarks by which you’ll measure your performance. Without KPIs, your recruiting efforts are like a ship adrift at sea, moving aimlessly without a destination (and probably costing a lot of money in the process). Your KPIs serve as both target goals and performance indicators.
Some of the most relevant benchmarks to measure are:
- Time to hire
- Cost per hire
- Source of hire
- Number of qualified candidates per job
- Offer acceptance rate
- Turnover rate
2. Create and use a recruiting funnel
A recruiting funnel is a process via which candidates are continuously sourced to develop a pool of qualified talent. The funnel comprises various touchpoints, or steps along the way, which are mapped-out strategies to attract and engage candidates. Not only does this help build talent relationships, but it creates a positive candidate experience and strong employer brand.
Building a recruiting funnel requires the use of various recruiting strategies, both inbound and outbound. Here are a few of the top strategies:
- Writing blog posts
- Posting on social media
- Creating employee spotlight videos
- Capturing employee testimonials
- Developing informational infographics
- Creating nurturing email sequences
- Running paid ads
- Messaging candidates on LinkedIn
- Scanning industry databases
- Sourcing candidates on forums
- Networking at conferences and other events
Most companies with a recruiting funnel fill it using a mix of inbound and outbound recruiting strategies. We break down both approaches in further detail here:
- What is Inbound Recruiting and Why is it Effective?
- Outbound Recruiting Strategies to Hire Faster in a Challenging Labor Market
3. Set realistic job requirements
It’s commonplace to see a job advertised as ‘entry-level’ but also to have a laundry list of not-so-entry-level duties and a requirement for at least three years of experience. Or, a job will call for 10+ years of experience but advertise a salary that’s barely above the minimum wage. With confounding descriptions like these, it’s no wonder good candidates don’t want to apply!
While we all want to do more with less, hiring managers must take a closer look at their job descriptions and ensure they’re engaging candidates and that the requirements are realistic. This might mean being more judicious about what responsibilities are critical to the job or loosening restrictions on the number of years of experience, academic credentials, and other criteria that aren’t essential to succeed in the role.
4. Focus on better, not more
Earlier, we touched on the problem that most recruiters face: too many unqualified candidates and too few good ones. While candidates who are mass-applying for jobs are partially to blame, much of the fault is on us. We’re attracting the wrong people.
We tend to think of having more options as a good thing, but consider it this way: each additional applicant costs you time and money. This is especially true in an era where ghosting has become so common. The longer it takes you to move forward with a high-quality candidate, the more likely it is they will have already moved on with their search.
To address this problem, recruiters must change their approach. Instead of recruiting more candidates, they must focus on attracting better candidates and eliminating weak ones before they apply.
The first way to do this is by niching down our recruiting strategies. Instead of posting an open job far and wide, for example, you might limit the post to internal candidates and a few niche sites that focus specifically on the skill set you’re after.
The second way to do this is to help unqualified candidates self-select out of the running when they’re not a strong fit. Some companies do this by offering skills assessments before the application submission. Candidates who receive a low score are less likely to follow through with their application, meaning fewer unqualified candidates for the hiring manager to sort through.
5. Leverage technology… but not too much
In the last decade, recruiting technology, like applicant tracking systems, has become the norm. Hiring managers have come to rely on automated tools to screen candidates, which can be a great time saver–but can also significantly hinder your efforts to find the right person for the job.
Automated tools make decisions based on a simple yes/no answer. Does the resume include the required keywords or not? And while they’ve definitely gotten more nuanced in recent years thanks to AI and machine learning, their skill lacks the uniquely human ability to weigh all available factors in assessing a candidate, which is how we really identify stellar talent.
Now, it seems a pendulum swing back in the other direction is in order. A more human hiring process where technology is one component–but not the deciding one–can help ensure great candidates don’t slip through the cracks.
Related: Trending Recruiting Technology
6. Focus on past performance
What’s the most accurate predictor of a new hire’s likelihood to succeed? Despite what some hiring managers would have you believe, it’s not the school they attended, the big-name employers on their resume, or whether they seem like a great “fit” for your company culture. It’s their past performance.
When assessing candidates, the bulk of the weight should be placed on their track record. Do they have a history of successfully completing similar tasks? Do they have concrete achievements to show for their efforts? Instead of asking fanciful interview questions like ‘What superpower would you like to have?’, focus on questions that prompt candidates to speak about the tangible outcomes of their work.
7. Recruit from within
Most organizations’ staffing challenges don’t just stem from recruiting; they’re also due to problems with retention. All of your effort to hire great people is for naught if you can’t keep them on the payroll. So, retention should be a key part of your recruiting strategy in the form of hiring from within.
One way to do this is by posting all openings internally before advertising them publicly and prioritizing in-house candidates. Not only do internal hires reduce costs and require less training, they also strengthen company morale and add value over the long term.
8. Use your data
It’s astonishing how many companies neglect to measure their hiring success. This would be like throwing a bowling ball down the lane and turning away before seeing if you knock down any pins. To make the metaphor more accurate, imagine paying a few thousand dollars every time you throw the ball! It’s crazy, and yet it happens all the time when companies make bad hires.
You can’t get better at recruiting if you don’t use the available data and analyze your results. Regularly monitor the KPIs you set initially and measure your performance against them. Then, use the intelligence to guide your future recruiting decisions.
The beauty of a recruiting strategy is that it’s not set in stone. It can adapt and morph as needed depending on your staffing needs, the labor market, the economy, and any other factor you can think of. By avoiding a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality and continuously optimizing your recruiting efforts, you’ll attract better talent and meet your staffing needs faster, at a lower cost.