6 Recruiting Best Practices for Finding and Closing Top Talent

Author: Matt Shealy

Matt Shealy

Matt Shealy

7 min. read

Updated October 27, 2023

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of unemployed persons per job in September 2019 was just 0.8—down significantly from the ratio of 5.8 seen at the end of the most recent recession in June 2009. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, those gains have disappeared – at least for the time being. 

Even with the economic downturn, top talent is still in high demand. It may be difficult for businesses to even think about potential hires at a time like this, but developing a strategy for retaining and attracting top talent will put them in the driver’s seat when things turn for the better. 

If you’re serious about continuing to grow your business and deliver against your biggest goals, you need to have a proactive strategy in place for finding and closing top talent. And to create this kind of plan, you must first understand how rapidly the process of recruitment has evolved over the past several years.

How Recruitment is Changing

These days, “recruitment” is only one part of the talent acquisition process. 

Recruitment encompasses the granular activities associated with hiring, such as posting job listings or calling applicants. In the past, this may have been enough for a company to fill its empty seats. But now the future of recruiting must be driven by a strategic talent acquisition plan that focuses on planning according to business objectives and growth projections. This isn’t something to consider changing far into the future, but a necessary recruiting adjustment that must be made today to stay competitive.

If your company doesn’t yet have a talent acquisition plan in place, start there. Until you have determined how your long-term strategic goals should influence the way you’ll find and connect with candidates, you won’t be able to implement the best practices described below.

6 Best Practices to Add to Your HR Arsenal

Once your strategic talent acquisition plan is in place, layer on the following best practices to get the greatest possible value out of your recruitment activities:

Best Practice #1: Make It Mobile

Mobile responsiveness isn’t just important for SEO. According to 2018 research by CareerBuilder and SilkRoad, 70% of job seekers are searching for opportunities on mobile.

If job seekers can’t access your site—or if their experience is disrupted by pop-ups or forms that aren’t optimized for a mobile environment—they’re unlikely to engage further (and may leave having formed a negative impression of your brand). Embedding mobile-first forms like Google Form builder on your site is an easy way to collect candidate information that’s incredibly user friendly. Also, consider posting jobs to job boards like Indeed and Monster for added exposure to your listings. 

Best Practice #2: Pay Attention to Your Social Branding

Branding across your social channels may seem more like a marketing concern, but—as hinted at above—it’s actually critically important from a recruitment perspective as well. In fact, a report by Glassdoor found that 55% of job seekers report avoiding certain companies after reading negative online reviews.

When it comes to recruitment, “social branding” might involve (among other activities):

  • Encouraging satisfied employees to leave positive reviews on sites like Glassdoor
  • Keeping your social media channels up-to-date and full of helpful information
  • Monitoring for negative brand mentions and working with your company’s marketing team to address them to keep them from influencing candidates’ opinions of your company

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Best Practice #3: Tap Into Your Existing Workforce

Your current employees can be powerful allies in your recruitment activities. In an article for Inc., contributor Ken Stirling shares a great way to leverage your workforce: 

“Provide each employee with a deck of “recruitment cards” to carry along with his or her business cards. That way, when your employee meets someone impressive in her daily life, she can slip him a card indicating that your company may be a great fit for his skills and experience.” 

Other opportunities at this stage include offering employees a monetary incentive for successfully referring new hires or simply asking employees to share your job listings on their social channels. Get creative here. Your pool of candidates becomes much larger when you tap into your employees’ networks. This leads to better candidate options and increased employee satisfaction when they know they’ve been part of growing a rockstar team. 

Best Practice #4: Find Candidates Who Aren’t Looking

Waiting for candidates to find and apply to your open positions is an inherently passive approach. Motivated companies know that the best talent out there isn’t necessarily looking for opportunities and must be solicited proactively.

According to Peter Capelli, writing for the Harvard Business Review, “the majority of people who took a new job last year weren’t searching for one: Somebody came and got them.” When you approach someone who isn’t outwardly looking to move on from their current job it’s best to be respectful of their current employer given they may have been loyal to them for years. Acknowledge the great work they’ve done at their current job, and gently approach them to find out what they’re looking for and what would make them move on. 

Best Practice #5: Get Comfortable with Technology

Monster’s 2019 State of the Candidate Survey found that 72% of respondents anticipate using video in their future job searches. Gap, Inc. is already using virtual reality in recruitment, while McDonald’s used Snapchat back in 2017 to hire roughly 250,000 workers.

The bottom line? You may not have the same budget or resources to work with as enterprise organizations like Gap or McDonalds. But if you aren’t courting candidates using all of the tech tools at your disposal, you could be missing out on powerful recruitment opportunities. 

The COVID-19 “shelter in place” order may be a blessing in disguise for some businesses who are forced to recruit using tools like video conferencing software and online candidate testing platforms. Get creative and embrace utilizing virtual tools when it’s necessary so it becomes a common practice for you and your team when it’s optional.

Best Practice #6: Offer Remote Work

All of the best practices above focus on finding great talent, but how do you close the deal once you’ve got the right candidates on the line?

One of the best tools at your disposal is the ability to offer remote work. Statistics abound on how much employees value this perk. The American Community Survey (ACS) found, for example, that 80% to 90% of the U.S. workforce says they would like to telework at least part-time

But in an illuminating post on her personal site, Steph Smith, senior analyst at The Hustle, shares the human side of the decision-making process that occurs when an opportunity does not offer location flexibility:

“I was recently contacted about an opportunity. On many levels, this opportunity ‘checked all the boxes,’ but there was one caveat: I’d have to move to San Francisco. For many (including a previous version of myself) that would be a dream. But for current me, it would mean throwing away the very life that I had spent the last 3+ years intentionally building.” 

Offering remote work may not be feasible in all cases, but it does shed light on the mindset required to find and close candidates in today’s competitive labor markets. If you want to attract great candidates, you need to make a compelling offer. Remote work is just one lever you can pull; your overall talent acquisition plan should cover others you can use to get top talent in the door—and keep them there.

Putting it all Together

From creating a positive brand across social channels to leveraging technology to engage with candidates during COVID-19, creating a systematic recruiting process is the best way to recruit and retain top talent. As you implement these strategies, it’s crucial to align talent acquisition strategies with overall company goals to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. 

Do that, and even in a crisis you can easily identify and recruit candidates that provide value for your team and naturally increase the chances of you and your team achieving your goals.

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Content Author: Matt Shealy

Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 chambers of commerce worldwide.