Careers Succeeding at Work Top Ideas for Recruiting Great Job Candidates Share PINTEREST Email Print Andrew Baker / Getty Images Succeeding at Work Human Resources Hiring Best Practices Job Search Resources Glossary Employment Law Employee Motivation Employee Management Management Careers Management & Leadership Employee Benefits Table of Contents Expand Pre-Building Your Candidate Pool Recruiting Your Ideal Candidate Tap Your Employee Networks Take Advantage of Your Contacts Use Your Website Maintain Contact With Candidates Become an Employer of Choice Recruit Using the Internet Use Headhunters and Recruiters Use Temporary Agencies and Firms Learn About Your Ideal Candidate Recruit Through Your Good Deeds By Susan M. Heathfield Susan M. Heathfield Susan Heathfield is an HR and management consultant with an MS degree. She has decades of experience writing about human resources. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 07/30/19 The smartest employers, who hire the best people, recruit a pre-qualified candidate pool of potential employees before they need to fill a job. Or, as Harvey Mackay, well-known, irreverent, author and speaker, says about networking, "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty." Pre-Building Your Candidate Pool You can develop relationships with potential candidates long before you need them. These ideas will also help you in recruiting a large pool of candidates when you have a current position available. Read on to discover the best ways to develop your talent pool and recruit employees. The earlier you adopt these practices, the better your organization will do in the upcoming war for talent. (And, trust this statement, you will experience wars for talent as the baby boomer generation retires.) Read on to discover the best ways to develop your talent pool. Recruiting Your Ideal Candidate A job description that tells potential employees the exact requirements of the position is useful. Even more useful is the process you use to develop the job description internally and the behavioral characteristics of your ideal candidate. Assemble a team of people who represent the best qualities of the people who currently hold the same or a similar position, and don't forget to include the hiring manager. Develop a job description that delineates the key responsibilities and outputs of the position. Then, define the behavioral characteristics of the person you feel is your ideal candidate. Finally, list your 5 to 10 key responsibilities and characteristics you will use to screen resumes, perform phone screens and eventually, establish the questions for the candidates you interview. Sound like a lot of effort? It is. But, you'll have a much better idea about the characteristics of the ideal candidate you want to attract to your company when you do this planning via email or a recruiting planning meeting. Tap Your Employee Networks Spread word-of-mouth information about the position availability, or eventual availability, to each employee so they can constantly look for superior candidates in their networks of friends and associates. With online social and professional networking, the chances are, you and your employees are instantly connected to hundreds, and even thousands, of potential candidates. Tap into this potential audience on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to name just a few. Use trade show booth time to meet and get to know potential candidates as well as customers. Encourage employees to gather business cards from, and develop relationships with, high potential possible employees. And, don't stop with employees alone; tap the networks of your social, board, funder, and academic connections, too. In a client company, the sales manager referred a childhood friend, who was moving back to his home state, for a position. Out of touch for several years, the now new employee had contacted all of his friends when he needed to relocate from Chicago to the Detroit area. The client benefitted from the sales manager's network and hired an outstanding employee. Make sure you publicize your interest in employee referrals. In some companies, employee referrals, especially for hard-to-fill positions, are even rewarded with cash bonuses. Posting all open positions, announcing openings at the company meetings and sharing growth plans with company members will help spread your message. Take Advantage of Your Contacts Pay for employees to participate in and network in industry groups, conferences, and trade shows. Periodically, create master lists of industry leaders and other potential employees from customers, colleagues, coworkers, and friends. Develop a plan for contacting these people systematically and regularly. Be prepared to share your job description with them through the mail, email, on the internet, and by fax. Follow up on every good lead. Use extensive telephone networking. Bring people in for interviews before you have an available position. You may even want to consider starting a periodic company newsletter to keep your master lists of potential employees, customers and interested others up-to-date about company progress and happenings. You can use online and/or mail distribution to send these out. Looking for the "right" associations to join? Check out this resource: Find Associations, People, and Businesses from the American Society of Association Executives. Use Your Website for Recruiting Candidates Does your "Join Our Team" section of your company website tell and even, "sell," potential employees about the vision, mission, values, and culture of your company? Do you present a message about how people are valued? Do you express your commitment to quality and to your customers? If not, you are missing out on one of the most important recruiting tools you have to appeal to prospective high-potential employees. Instead of the typical, dryly-written job listings about available positions, your website needs to include this vision, this information that sets your company apart from others in your industry. Your job listings must sparkle with a personality so that a potential candidate thinks, "this organization is for me." And, now that you have their attention, you also need to provide a way for candidates to easily submit resumes for consideration for future positions. One company recruiting website has a "Talk to the President" link and, you better believe, people do. They receive a constant stream of resumes and contacts through this invitation and even hired a Director of Production who made his first contact here. Another company's HR team post generic position descriptions for positions that frequently need applicants. People respond. website recruiting works. Maintain Contact With Interested Candidates Don't let these potential employees submit their resumes and never hear from you again either. You'd lose all the momentum you just spent time developing with the favored few. Just as it was recommended earlier with employee networks and professional contacts, continue and nurture the relationship. Enable interested candidates to subscribe to the company newsletter; consider writing a mini-newsletter just for them. Follow-up all website submissions with a greeting that says thank you for your interest in our company. Send a periodic update about your job openings. Invite the potential employee to visit your organization when they are in the area. Your professional, ongoing contact with interested people ensures recruiting success. Become an Employer of Choice Think about what a potential employee considers before agreeing to join your organization or business. Are you stable, making money and growing? Are you employee-friendly? Does your mission catch the mindshare and/or the heartstrings of the people you most want to recruit? Will a new employee feel part of something bigger than themselves if they join you? Will your organization nurture their talent and provide exciting opportunities for challenge and professional growth? If you can answer these questions affirmatively, analyze every component of your recruiting process to make sure that you are sending these messages. If you want to be an employer of choice, you must act like an employer of choice. Furthermore, you must communicate this commitment to your prospective employees. People look for little things — that are really big things — such as noticing whether you return phone calls promptly. They observe when all interviewers repeat the same questions. They are aware that you responded to acknowledge receipt of their resume. They appreciate a phone call when someone else is picked for the job they wanted. (Yes, you still need to send a letter to the people you interviewed, but the more informal follow-up is appreciated.) They feel welcomed when they can communicate with you via email. In addition, being an employer of choice is a reputation you build in your industry that is a powerful tool in attracting top talent. Recruit Using the Internet The internet, in addition to your own organization website, has quickly developed to become the key tool in recruitment in terms of its usefulness to employers, potential employees, and society, in general. Learn how to use the internet to find and attract great candidates. These are options you can currently consider. Post your positions on professional association websites. This includes local chapter websites or professional associations related to the job. (This is an excellent method for finding local talent.) Post open positions on websites that private vendors or your state and/or local government provide. Your own state or country will have equivalent resources for you to use. Post your classified ad on newspaper-related websites. Most newspapers have an affiliated website where you can post ads. These ads are either included in the price of a classified print ad (does anyone use these anymore except for close local job postings?) or you can pay for online posting only. Make sure that your recruitment ads "sell" the vision and the advantages of your organization. Effective ads portray your company as an exciting and rewarding place to work. Effective job postings make people want to apply to your firm. Use Headhunters and Recruiters Sometimes, it is worth your time to use headhunters, recruiters, and employment placement firms. The best firms have done much of this homework and candidate pool development for you. Expect to pay 20-35 percent of the cost of the new recruit's annual salary. But, for some positions, and in some industries, the cost in your department's time and the time invested in a possible failed search, are worth it. Health care, for example, is an industry where specialized recruiting can be critical, especially at the senior level. Here is a list of the best health care executive search firms. Additionally, recruiters have an already-developed pool of candidates. They provide a second pair of experienced eyes to help you with your search. Some of them are very good. An HR associate met with a recruiter recently and offered him a sales job in a client organization on the spot. Believe this, he was that good. She could definitely see him finding great candidates for employers. When you work in an HR role, calls from potential recruiters come several times a week. Ask for references and check them out. Talk with non-competing firms to get referrals of recruiters with whom they've been pleased. You can also research recruiters at any number of websites online. Looking for additional ideas about recruiting employees who are potential star performers? Here are several more of my favorite ideas for recruiting employees. Use Temporary Agencies and Firms Consider using temporary staff as a solution to "try a person out in a position" or to staff a position you are not sure you need for the long haul. Temporary employees can also provide a useful buffer for the ups and downs of the business cycle so that you do not have to affect your core staff during downtimes. Temp firms will recruit and screen to your specifications and guarantee your satisfaction. They save your staff immense amounts of time as they provide testing, drug screening, reference checking, background checks, and anything else you'd like, for a nominal fee. By the time HR staff meets with the selected group of candidates, most of the work, other than a personal job interview, has been completed for them. Additionally, as the firms become familiar with your needs, just as headhunters and recruiters do, they will seek out and suggest talent they believe meets your criteria for star candidates. Many companies work with two or three agencies and many companies hire only the top five percent of temporary staff members, so they hire great people. Learn About Your Ideal Candidates Identify what your needed candidates read; notice the websites they visit; study the listservs on which they participate; determine the industry magazines and newspapers they read. Identify their favorite news sources, forums, discussion groups, and places to practice social networking. In other words, find out everything you can about the types of people who make up the top ten percent of your current employees and the best of your talent pool. Use this information to screen resumes, of course, and to develop effective interview questions. Most importantly, use this information to develop creative, fun recruiting strategies for your potential openings. Sit with an interested group that includes members of the group you are trying to recruit and brainstorm other potential ways to locate a well-qualified pool of candidates for each position. Some examples that have been seen include a very funny ad in a staid newspaper. It literally jumped off the page because it stood out so strongly from the pack. (The ad was looking for a creative for an ad agency; You can bet that they found their perfect candidate.) People have been recruited as potential staff members while browsing in a bookstore because of the books they were reviewing. People recruit at trade shows from the people visiting their booths. Recruit Through Your Good Deeds Here's a bonus thought about recruiting great employees: The publicity your organization receives in the news media, in print, on television, on the radio and online is tremendously important for recruiting. A few good words, an interesting article or a piece about your mission that reflects your organization in a favorable light, will result in potential employees coming to you. And, that is the best way of all to find great potential employees for your candidate pool. Ideas for recruiting are endless and endlessly challenging, but the time and effort you invest are worth it when they result in top talent for your organization.