Written by
Shelley Hoppe

16 Nov 2016

Attracting the right candidates

16 Nov 2016 • by Shelley Hoppe

If there is one constant in business, it’s change. It’s a principle that applies across the organisation, often most evident in the need to hire new team members, either to support growth, a shift in direction or simply to replace those who have moved on.

As anyone involved in recruitment will know, finding the right people isn’t always the simplest task. Top talent is in high demand and it can take time to fill certain roles. However, there are things you can do to ensure you’re attracting the right candidates for your company. 

Know your audience

The first step is to develop a clear picture of the kind of person you’re trying to engage. One way to do that is by creating a candidate persona for each role or type of role. This is a detailed representation of the characteristics, behaviours, experience and skills of your ideal candidates. By understanding and defining aspects such as their professional ambitions, personality traits, interests, media habits and cultural preferences you can plan a recruitment strategy that hits the right touch points with the right messages.

For example, you might realise that the kind of people who are most suited to a given position have a tendency to use a specific social platform or visit a particular trade website. You may also determine that some roles call for strong leadership skills and the ability to think strategically, in which case you can prioritise those qualities when producing recruitment content. 

Getting creative with content

As in the world of marketing, advances in digital technology have opened the door to a wide variety of opportunities for delivering messages to stakeholders, whether that’s customers or potential employees. Traditional job adverts still have their place, but there is scope for so much more.

Research suggests that people process visual information 60,000 times faster than text, which is worthy of consideration in today’s highly competitive job market. Content such as video adverts or infographics can help to capture attention and deliver complex or detailed messages more simply and effectively.

Employee value proposition (EVP) videos are another valuable tool for sharing insights into your company culture and values, or to showcase the benefits of working for your organisation, as this stand out example from Dropbox clearly demonstrates. Similarly, a well constructed ‘join us’ page or career blog on your website can say more about your organisation than a two-dimensional job advert could ever hope to convey. Having this kind of content easily available on your site will enhance your existing recruitment activity among both the active jobseekers and those hard-to-reach or passive candidates, who may stumble across this material while on the hunt for other information. 

Selecting the right channels

Once you’ve created your content you need to think about how to make it visible to the people you need to reach. We’ve already talked about the value of interesting recruitment focused content on your website, but there is much more you can do.

A study conducted earlier this year by the The McQuaig Institute among 450 HR professionals set out to determine the most effective channels for bringing on board top talent. The respondents reported that employee referrals deliver the highest quality candidates over online job boards and recruitment agents. While enlightening, this isn’t overly surprising when you consider that your ideal candidates are probably not dissimilar to your ideal existing employees. This finding also highlights, once again, the power of personal recommendation and the high levels of trust that exist between personal contacts.

Once you know how valuable employee referrals are within your recruitment strategy you can implement initiatives to encourage more of this activity. That could include employee incentive schemes and the use of employee advocacy tools that stimulate the sharing of recruitment content, like the great EVP video we mentioned earlier.

The same McQuaig Institute study also showed that 69% of HR professionals are using social networking sites as a recruitment channel. Our own research conducted earlier this year revealed LinkedIn and Facebook as the most popular social platforms for recruitment, with 68% and 63% respectively rating them as highly or somewhat effective. These figures increase to 76% for both platforms when considering the value of paying to promote recruitment content on social media, suggesting that allocating budget for this kind of activity can deliver real results.

Combining the old and the new

While it’s great to think about new and innovative ways to enhance your recruitment activity, it’s also important not to forget about tried and tested methods. The McQuaig study showed that 51% of HR professionals still work with traditional recruitment consultants, with 16% saying that they deliver the highest quality candidates.

In June, we hosted an event designed specifically to discuss the role of the recruitment agent in the 21st century. We invited a broad spectrum of guests, from recruiters and HR managers to business owners and marketers, in a bid to better understand whether recruitment agents have a role to play in this internet-driven age. 

After a morning of discussion, deliberation and good-natured debate, it was widely agreed that the recruitment agent is still highly valuable, particularly in niche areas. As has happened with other vocations – accountancy, for example – digital’s rise has prompted a significant alteration in what a role actually entails. Where once a recruitment agent would have been the conduit through which applicants could locate jobs, they are now acting more as a screen, sifting through applicants and picking the best ones so HR doesn’t have to.

If you do choose to work with a recruiter then make sure they are well armed with all the stimulating, creative recruitment content you’ve created. Your chosen agency or consultant should become part of your content distribution plan, helping to ensure that your material reaches the right people and does its job of promoting your organisation as an attractive place to work. 

Test and learn

As with any communications activity, some things will work better for one business than another. The key is to find the most effective approach for attracting your ideal candidates for your company. Start with small budgets for new activities, set the right KPIs and measure the results, in order to understand if that route works for you. It’s then that you can increase your budget in that area; if not, move on to something different until you find the mix that really delivers.