Hiring an employee may seem like a simple job that anyone can do: Post a job opening online, interview a candidate, and then hire them, right? Recruiting new employees should be treated just as any other important business function would, with experienced professionals taking the reins.
Your employees are your company's most significant asset; a bad hire can cost your business up to 30% of their first-year earnings, so it is important to choose employees wisely.
"Your employees are the difference between success and failure, yet the [recruitment] process that is used is generally ad hoc, rushed, and has little strategy beyond a post-and-pray approach," Joe Mullings, founder and CEO of The Mullings Group, told business.com.
Put yourself in the best position to recruit and hire top talent by understanding what recruitment is and how it works.
What is recruitment?
Recruitment is the process of attracting, screening, interviewing, and selecting candidates for an open role in an organization; it can also include hiring and onboarding the chosen candidates. [Read related article: How create a hiring timeline.]
Businesses recruit new employees because they are either growing and need to fill a new open role, or someone is leaving the company and they need to refill their position. Companies can use recruitment software to find qualified new employees, or they can seek assistance from external agencies.
What are the different types of recruitment?
There are two types of recruitment you can administer: internal and external. Internal recruitment is conducted by looking to your company's internal network as a source of potential candidates. You can ask current employees for professional referrals, or you can promote an internal employee. If you have more than one business location, you may consider transferring an employee from one location to another.
External recruitment can involve various strategies such as advertising on job boards, posting the open position on your company website and social media accounts, and connecting with educational institutions. Most employers find it beneficial to perform a combination of these recruitment strategies.
"If your company doesn't have the bandwidth to support all of their open recommendations, a recruitment technique they can adopt is to work with an agency to fill roles more efficiently," said Sarah Dewey, recruiter and career expert at Jobscan.
Who handles recruiting?
The person(s) who recruits for your organization will vary depending on factors such as your company size and available resources. For example, a small business might delegate recruiting and hiring to the employee who will manage the new hire – also known as the hiring manager. If a company has an in-house human resources (HR) department or HR manager, these professionals will screen the candidates and then consult with the hiring manager before making any final selections.
Companies with internal recruiters or partnerships with recruitment agencies are in the best position, as they can entrust recruiting responsibilities to these experts. A recruiter may consult with an HR manager or hiring manager during the recruiting process, but they do the bulk of the work, such as posting the job, sourcing and screening candidates, negotiating salaries, and placing employees.
What does recruitment involve?
The recruitment process for your company may vary based on the business or individual role you are hiring for. The full recruitment cycle generally, however, includes six steps: defining the open position, sourcing job applicants, screening potential candidates, interviewing qualified candidates, selecting a candidate and extending an offer, and onboarding new hires.
1. Defining the open position
Before you can search for qualified candidates, you need to define the role you are seeking to fill. Identify the key needs the position will fulfill, outline job specifics (e.g., qualification requirements, anticipated start date, pay range, reporting structure, etc.), write a clear job description, and create a standard set of interview questions. Having this information defined ahead of time streamlines the hiring process.
2. Sourcing job applicants
Seeking job applicants is the next step in the recruitment process. You can have a recruiter or recruitment agency handle sourcing; you can ask employees or trusted colleagues for referrals; or you can source candidates through various means, like posting the open position on your company website, job boards, and social media accounts.
There are two types of applicants: active candidates (those who apply to the job directly) and passive candidates (those who are qualified but haven't expressed direct interest). If you are reaching out to a passive candidate, you will need to tailor your recruiting strategy based on their current level of engagement with your brand.
According to Mullings, candidates will fall into one of these three categories for engagement:
- The individual knows you, will take your call and will engage with you because of an existing relationship in the marketplace.
- The candidate may not know you or your company, but they have been referred to you by someone else or may be familiar with your company and/or hiring brand.
- The individual is not familiar with your company and will require further education about your company and its brand.
3. Screening potential candidates
Once applications start rolling in, you need to filter them to find qualified applicants. Evaluate resumes and cover letters, and then conduct a phone screening for candidates who appear to be a good match. This screening should be brief. Ask each candidate the same set of screening questions to determine if they are qualified for the role. Choose the most qualified candidates to advance to the interview process.
For applicants who did not meet your expectations, thank them for their time, and inform them that you are not continuing the recruitment process with them. Job applicants would rather hear a no than radio silence.
"Be responsive, and don't burn bridges," Dewey said. "If you have candidates that aren't a fit for anything you're currently hiring for, it does not mean you should ignore them. They may be a perfect fit for something down the road."
4. Interviewing qualified candidates
The next phase of the recruitment process involves the hiring manager interviewing prospective candidates. They should ask competency-based interview questions, as well as evaluate whether the candidate would be a good fit for the team and company culture. This stage may consist of one or more rounds of interviews. It is during this phase that you will want to contact the candidate's references.
5. Selecting a candidate and extending an offer
After interviewing and evaluating each candidate, select the one you think would be the best fit. Draft an offer letter and extend it to the potential employee.
During this time, you may want to conduct a background check. In your offer letter, you should state that the job offer is contingent on the results of the background check. Be sure to comply with federal and state laws as you conduct the background check.
For applicants whom you did not select, inform them that you have selected another candidate and thank them for their time. End on a high note, as you never know if you may want to reconsider hiring this candidate if your primary candidate doesn't accept your offer or at any point in the future.
6. Hiring and onboarding
When the candidate accepts your job offer, the final step is the hiring and onboarding process. This step is usually handled by your company's HR professionals to ensure the new employee signs all the necessary employment paperwork and is integrated into your business in accordance with labor and employment laws.
Recruitment best practices
The experts we spoke with for this article identified three best practices that can help your business successfully recruit top talent.
It is important to foster clear communication between recruiters, HR professionals, hiring managers and job applicants throughout the entire recruitment process. Good communication entails posting accurate job descriptions, quickly responding to job applicants (whether it is a yes, a no, or a simple update), and informing all hiring parties about the status of each candidate.
Hum, Sing, Shout
Employee recruitment is a continuous process – it occurs several times throughout the lifecycle of a company. As such, an employer should brand their hiring process to attract and hire top talent when needed.
Mullings suggests companies use the Hum, Sing, Shout Method to stand out from other companies that are recruiting and to attract the type of candidates they have in mind:
- Hum: Your hiring brand should have a low "hum" in the marketplace. What this means is that your company is "always on." That is, you are advertising, networking, and are using appropriate branding strategies for your company on social media platforms that are best suited for your company and industry.
- Sing: During this stage, your company and your efforts to find qualified talent are visible to job seekers. You're not looking to immediately fill the position, rather, you're perusing a broader and deeper volume of candidates.
- Shout: You are ready to hire. You are leveraging social media, job boards and your network to quickly fill the open position. Be sure in the communication platforms you're using that you are explaining why someone would want to join your team and how they benefit by working with your organization.
It is important to track candidates during the entire talent acquisition process. Whether you're using HR software, an applicant tracking system, or other means, it is important to have a standardized approach so that no one is overlooked and no detail remains unnoticed.
Below is a list of our top choices for HR software that include recruiting and onboarding capabilities:
Paychex Flex review: With Paychex Flex you can publish all of your job openings to top career sites and social media platforms simply through the dashboard. They can even connect you with background check services to screen your applicants before hiring them.
Bamboo HR review: From recruitment to offboarding, Bamboo HR helps you manage all stages of the employee life cycle. You can post and track job openings and distribute them via social media. The software also allows you to review and rate candidates and send offer letters and new hire documents with electronic signature capabilities.
Rippling review: Rippling is our choice for the easiest HR software to implement. Additionally, they claim users can onboard new hires within 90 seconds. With this solution, you can completely customize and automate the onboarding process. It can also run candidates through background checks and e-verification.
"Do your due diligence, and make sure you're keeping track of what's going on in your pipeline," said Dewey. "This helps being able to see your own progress and areas of opportunities. Keeping track of all your candidates and the stages they're in (along with your data) will save a lot of sanity when hiring managers ask for reports."