6 Tips for Hiring: Compete for Talent As If Your Business Depends on It

Written by Jill Krumholz and Susan Kreeger

According to a national survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder, “The U.S. job market is turning a corner as the pace of hiring is increasing. Employers are adding staff more than at any time since the start of the recession and up more than 12% from last year.”

With so many more companies hiring, employees are now listening to new opportunities and are willing to make a change for the right one. Even top employees who have been engaged and committed until now, might be lured away. This has resulted in a shift from an employer-driven to a candidate-driven marketplace, bringing with it greater competition for employers to find talent, longer time to fill positions, and a demand for more competitive salaries.


Faced with these hiring challenges, companies need to create a well-defined and –executed recruitment strategy. Whether you are the CEO of a small start-up or a more established business, a recruitment strategy that reflects the needs of the marketplace will give you the edge to stay ahead of your competition and ensure your business success.

Building a Recruitment Strategy

Your recruitment strategy should be based on business goals. Just as you put in place the right technology or marketing strategy to support your business growth, you need to have the right recruitment strategy to attract and recruit the most appropriate talent. As Holger Mueller of Constellation Research said “If you can’t attract and hire the right people, you can’t grow your business.”

Consider these questions about the right recruitment strategy to achieve your business goals:

  • Are you planning to expand or change your business and what skills are required to accomplish this?
  • Do you have the right talent in place with those skills and if not, what additional talent do you need?
  • Once you determine the talent that you need, are you attracting the best candidates to fill those needs?

Here are six recommendations for building a recruitment strategy:

1. Talent Branding

Just as branding a product or service establishes a presence in the market to attract and retain loyal customers, the same is true with talent branding. Talent branding is the messaging that promotes your company to prospective employees. It conveys who you are, what you stand for and how you differentiate yourself from your competition. Developing a clear, consistent and recognizable brand and promoting a positive company culture has significant impact on attracting the best candidates to your company. We recommend that your recruiting team partner with marketing to develop a talent branding strategy that is consistent with the overall branding of the company.

2. Embracing Technology

Shifts in technology are changing the recruitment process. More emphasis is being placed on getting the message out, engaging candidates quickly, and creating followers who are interested in your company and spreading the word. The use of mobile devices to access the internet is the new norm. Candidates expect to be able to search, connect and engage with organizations on their mobile devices. Last year, Google reported that nearly one-quarter of all Google searches that contain the word “job” came from mobile devices.

With technology experiences dominated by online retail and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, candidates expect organizations’ recruitment systems to be simple and rewarding to use.

Company websites and recruiting methods that embrace these technologies will have more success with attracting talent. Your IT team can help to develop the right technology tools for your needs and keep your company up-to-date on what is available.

3. Building a Talent Pipeline

Get to know the talent in the marketplace before you have an immediate need and before the best talent is looking for their next job. Talent pipelines create long-term relationships with potential candidates for future opportunities. This requires a shift from reactive recruiting to proactive recruiting – from recruiting to fill an open position to thinking about who your company will want and should hire in the future.

Building a talent pipeline is a longer term strategy that takes time to develop and requires a strong commitment, but is worth the investment. Your recruiting professionals should lead the initiative to identify and build relationships with individuals in the marketplace who have the potential to be a good fit for your organization. A strong branding program is an important part of this strategy.

4. Evaluating Compensation Practices

As the economy picks up and candidates receive multiple job offers, salary will become a critical differentiator for employers who want to attract top candidates. It is essential that you know if your company offers salaries and benefits that are competitive within your industry. With the help of surveys and compensation experts, you can benchmark your programs and practices against the competition.

The information you gather will help you to make the best decision about offering, and counter-offering, competitive compensation packages to top candidates. Also, attracting and hiring the candidate you want may mean getting creative with sign-on bonuses, additional vacation or other perks – although be mindful of your internal compensation structure for current employees and any inequities you may be creating.

5. Hiring for Potential

In the current hiring environment, where there is so much competition for certain skills, you will not always be able to find or afford the perfect candidate and you may not have the luxury of time to continue looking. The process can become so challenging that you might be tempted to settle for a less qualified candidate. Consider a different approach – hire based on a candidate’s potential for learning, with the intent of training for the skills needed. In the interview process evaluate a candidate’s ability to learn new skills and apply them on the job. Look at the candidate’s work history to determine if he/she has been able to “learn on the job” in the past. There are great advantages to hiring less experienced candidates who you can train and develop in a way that best suits your company.

6. Developing Internal Talent

Recruitment and internal talent development are all part of the process to attract and retain the best talent. It is important to invest in the development of your existing employees, providing them the opportunity to move into positions you would otherwise fill externally. Building employee skill sets and increasing employee capability help to develop internal bench strength, build institutional knowledge and increase loyalty and commitment to the organization. It also saves money otherwise spent to hire and potentially rehire.

Companies are growing and significant competition for talent has produced a level of challenge that has not been seen in many years. Companies that expect to meet this challenge and hire the best talent must develop smart and effective recruiting strategies. It is critical that they build their recruitment strategy around their business goals in order to compete for talent in the same way that they compete for market share.