Recruiting Strategies, Methods, and Tactics for Success

If there was ever a profession that involved strategy, it’s recruiting. Recruiting strategies are essential to success, there are no two ways about it.

But before we kick into high gear, let’s set the stage with a definition. Because clearly defining the parameters is almost always a prerequisite for success.

What is a recruiting strategy?

A recruiting strategy is formal plan of action involving an organization’s attempts to successfully identify, recruit, and hire high-quality candidates for the purpose of filling its open positions. However, this plan extends to and involves any search consultants or recruiting agencies that the organization enlists in its attempts to hire.

What are some examples of recruitment strategies?

However, strategy is not needed in just one instance. Or even just a couple of instances. We’re talking about strategy at every single stage of the recruitment process! There are two reasons for this. First, recruiting is a sales profession. Second, there are people at both ends of the sale. There are people everywhere, and all of them can object to the sale at the last possible minute.

So if you’re looking for a comprehensive recruiting strategy plan, then you brace yourself. That plan is comprised of many, smaller plans, each of which focuses on one part of the process. The good news is that this gives us the opportunity to present examples of recruitment strategies.

Now keep in mind that this blog post is primarily intended for search consultants and recruiters. It’s not primarily intended for internal recruiters or hiring managers, although there is some overlap when discussing recruiting strategy in regards to all parties. In other words, search consultants may require more strategy because it’s necessary for them to deal with more stages of the process. An example would be finding clients and getting job orders. Hiring managers don’t have to find clients or get job orders, but search consultants do.

Recruitment strategy examples for hiring process stages

With that in mind, it’s nearly impossible to present a recruitment strategy example for every single stage of the process. However, it is advisable to have a strategy for the most important stages. Those stages are as follows:

  • Finding clients
  • Getting job orders
  • Sourcing candidates
  • Recruiting candidates
  • Closing placements
  • Collecting fees
  • Avoiding fall-offs

So what are we going to do in this blog post? You guessed it! We’re going to explore these many, smaller plans that focus on one part of the process. And as mentioned above, we’ll be focusing on some of the most important parts of that process. Because when you focus on what’s most important, you dramatically increase the chances that you’ll be more successful.

So let us embark upon our journey . . .

Recruiting strategies for finding clients

How do recruiters find clients? Well, there are a number of different strategies that they can take. The best approach is a comprehensive one. In other words, employing multiple strategies is more effective than employing just one.

Below is a short list of recruiting strategies for finding clients:

  • Cold calling
  • Email marketing
  • Referrals
  • Social media
  • Job posting websites

Another factor is that of personal preference. This may sound crazy, but some recruiters don’t like cold calling. (Whaaaaaaa?) Others don’t like email marketing and so on and so on. In many cases, the strategy that a recruiter likes the best is the strategy that works the best for them.

Recruitment strategies for getting job orders

Job orders are the lifeblood of any recruiting agency. If you have a lot of them, that’s great. If you don’t have a lot, that’s not. So there’s always pressure to get more. (You can never be too thin or have too many job orders.)

With that in mind, below is a list of five recruitment strategies for getting job orders:

  1. Fill your existing job orders quickly and with excellence.
  2. Build and cultivate relationships with hiring managers and hiring authorities.
  3. Market MPCs (most place-able candidates).
  4. Work the job orders of other recruiters through membership in a split fee recruiting network.
  5. Offer contract staffing services, so that clients will give you contract job orders.

Note: contract staffing is a great way to get more job orders from existing clients, in addition to securing job orders from new clients.

Effective recruitment strategies for sourcing candidates

Even though job orders are the lifeblood of a recruiting agency, you still can’t make placements if you don’t have candidates. That’s why you need an effective recruitment sourcing strategy. In fact, in a candidates’ market (like the one that we’re currently experiencing), having an affinity for sourcing passive candidates is like the “Midas Touch.” Every job order turns to gold.

Below are some effective recruitment strategies for sourcing candidates:

Now of course, not all candidates are created equal. The candidates who apply for your agency’s online job postings might not be the candidates that your clients want to hire. In that situation, you might as well have no candidates at all. That’s when you have to “dig a little deeper.”

Recruiting strategies for hard-to-fill positions

Recruiting passive candidates often requires a relationship approach. The problem with that approach is that it requires an investment of time. Building a relationship with top candidates over the course of years does reap benefits. But what if you don’t have that kind of time? What if your client doesn’t have that kind of time?

Below are two recruiting strategies for hard-to-fill positions:

#1—Membership in a recruiting network

Just like a split network can help when you need job orders, it can also help when you need candidates. And not just any candidates, either. We’re talking about hard-to-find candidates for hard-to-fill positions. Sure, you have to split the fee . . . but half of something is better than absolutely nothing!

#2—Contract to direct placements

If you can’t find the “perfect candidate” for your client’s hard-to-fill position, then perhaps you can convince them to hire a candidate into a contract position first. Then, if they like the work that the contractor does, they can convert them to direct hire employment. The good news for you? You get paid for every hour that the contractor works, and then you receive a contract-to-hire conversion fee when the contractor goes direct! (But you must have contract conversion language in your fee agreement. You do have that, right . . . right?!)

recruitment strategy

Recruitment ideas for actually recruiting candidates

It’s one thing to source candidates. It’s another thing to successfully recruit them. Just because they exist does not mean that they’re going to be automatically interested in your client’s opening. No, they’re going to need a little crystal-blue persuasion. (And no, I don’t mean the Breaking Bad kind. Or any kind that you think is bad.)

Below are four strategies for recruiting candidates, especially top passive ones:

  1. Recruit on the opportunity.
  2. Recruit on the organization. (Because the opportunity is just one part of the equation.)
  3. Recruit on the company culture.
  4. Recruit on what the move will mean for the candidate’s career.

You must convince top candidates to consider your client’s opportunity. And remember: they will only make a move if that opportunity is better than the one they already have. If it’s not, then it might not matter how good you are at persuasion. (The crystal-blue variety or any other, for that matter.)

Recruiting methods and strategies for closing placements

You know the ABC’s of sales, right? Always Be Closing. Well, that certainly applies to the recruiting profession. As we mentioned, there are people on both ends of the sale. That definitely increases the degree of difficulty.

One such recruitment strategy is called the assumptive close. With this close, you act like the candidate is going to accept a job offer throughout the entire recruitment process. By using this recruitment closing technique, your confidence makes it harder for candidates to turn you down.

Industry trainer Bob Marshall has been in the recruiting profession for more than 30 years. He knows all about how to close candidates. Check out these blog posts by Bob that contain recruiting methods and strategies for closing placements:

Ultimately, the best recruitment strategy for closing candidates and deals is “WIIFM.” That means “What’s in it for them?” Focus on what’s in it for the candidate and close, close, close!

Creative recruiting strategies for collecting fees

The only thing better than making the placement is collecting the placement fee. So make sure that you collect your fee.

Of course, every recruiter would love to collect 30% fees. However, if you’re willing to creative (and flexible), then you can make sure that you not only collect your fees, but that you also collect them more quickly. Disclaimer: all of the creative recruiting strategies below involves lowering your fee percentage. BUT there is a trade-off in each instance.

  • Lowering your percentage, but in exchange for a recruitment agency exclusivity agreement.
  • You can also lower your percentage in exchange for multiple searches instead of just one. For example, instead of 25% for one search, you lower your fee percentage to 20% for three exclusive searches.
  • Lowering your fee percentage slightly (usually 2% or 3%), but only if the client pays your invoice within a certain time frame. This time frame is typically between 10 to 15 business days.
  • Lowering your fee percentage, but only if you’re being tasked with helping to hire an entirely new department or if you’re helping a start-up or new company build their organization.

Recruitment tactics for avoiding fall-offs

The last thing you want is to actually make the placement and then lose it because the candidate falls off. Talk about painful. However, there are things you can do to help prevent it from happening.

In fact, industry trainer Jon Bartos has written an excellent article for doing just that: “5 Ways Recruiters Can Minimize Turndowns and Fall-offs.” In that article, Bartos provides five recruitment tactics for avoiding fall-offs:

  1. Truly get to know your candidate.
  2. Encourage candidates to ask current employers for changes.
  3. Get a verbal agreement about a potential job change.
  4. Establish roles and set expectations.
  5. Get the candidates’ “skin” in the game.

In the words of Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over until it’s over.” When is it over? When the candidate works past the guarantee period and you don’t have to give your placement fee back.

How to create a recruiting strategy

Creating a recruiting strategy is like creating any other strategy. Ask yourself a series of questions to help you get started. The answers to these questions form the foundation of your recruitment strategy template. That series of questions is as follows:

  • What is the desired outcome?
  • What recruiting tools and resources do I have at my disposal?
  • Which of my personal experiences will help guide me?
  • How will the experiences of other people help guide me?
  • What research can I conduct that can help guide me?
  • What criteria will I use to track the effectiveness of my strategy?
  • How will my analysis allow me to improve the effectiveness of my strategy?

Recruitment strategy template components

An effective recruitment strategy template is comprised of a number of important components. The answers to the above questions is one of them. Other components include the following:

  • Identification of the stage(s) of the recruitment process being addressed
  • Identification of all of the variables involved in that stage, including the people involved
  • The timeframe involved
  • The expectations for all parties concerned during the stage
  • How those expectations are communicated
  • How all parties are held accountable for those expectations
  • What happens if and when expectations are not met

It must be kept in mind that creating a recruiting strategy and a corresponding recruitment strategy template is an ongoing process. In other words, for a strategy to be continuously effective, it must be updated and revised as necessary. That’s because things change—market conditions change, recruitment industry conditions change, and economic conditions change. So it looks something like the following five-step process:

  1. Create the recruiting strategy.
  2. Execute the strategy.
  3. Track the effectiveness of the strategy.
  4. Analysis the results.
  5. Make adjustments to the strategy based on your analysis of its effectiveness.

Once again, not only do you need an overall strategy for your entire recruiting process, but you need one for every stage of that process. The recruiting profession is nothing but multiple layers of strategy. Even its strategy has strategy.

However, like everything else, the more you do something, the better you’ll get. The more you create recruiting strategies, execute them, and learn from them, the better able you’ll be to generate the results that you’re seeking.

So what are you looking at? Get started!

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