Creating an Organizational Recruiting Strategy

Feb 6, 2009

It’s hard to believe how fast time goes by when our days as recruiting professionals are easily filled with overwhelming amounts of day-to-day operational activity. As the days, months, and sometimes years pass, inevitably the dreaded question will come — “What’s our recruiting strategy for this year and the years to follow?”

The usual recruiting leader response: “Hmmm … let me get back to you on that!”

The more the global recruiting landscape continues to change and shift, the greater the need for recruitment planning. Recruiting strategy is probably one of the most misunderstood and misused terms tossed about in our industry today. Try asking your clients and colleagues to define the term, and we guarantee that you will get very different responses. Recruiting strategy means entirely different things to different stakeholders (line managers, hiring leaders, HR professionals, recruiting professionals). Try Googling the term or searching through respected and trusted recruiting industry resources. Good luck … you won’t find much of relevance or interest!

Whenever we get the chance, we put the recruiting strategy definition and conversation to test with industry experts and leaders. We usually spend a good hour or two talking about the tired-and-true recruiting hot buttons:

  • Recruiting processes and policies
  • Recruiting programs
  • Candidate attraction and sourcing techniques
  • Recruiting technology (ATS’s and career websites)

These things are most definitely enablers, tools, or drivers of your overall recruiting strategy, but are not in themselves an organization’s recruiting strategy. So what exactly is a recruiting strategy then, and how do we as recruiting professionals create one for the organizations we work for? We don’t claim to have all of the answers, but the working definition we discuss and circulate with our clients goes something like this:

“An organization’s recruiting strategy is a blueprint consisting of levers or enablers (structural and organizational delivery design, strategic programs, policies, and technology) that drive desired recruiting outcomes (quality of hire, world-class hiring leader, and candidate experience, etc.). “

Think of an organizational recruiting strategy as a framework or model — a blueprint to drive desired outcomes. A great place to start in creating your organization’s strategy is to define the desired outputs of recruiting. These outputs should be closely linked to your organization’s unique mission, values, and goals.

Your organization’s desired recruiting outcomes will most likely touch on some common themes:

  • Better fit hires who are more productive and stay on the job longer (quality of hire)
  • World-class hiring leader and candidate recruiting experience
  • Ability to meet peak demand of recruiting cycle or reduce costs and overhead during slower periods
  • Key recruiting metrics and reports are readily available

After you have successfully outlined your organization’s desired recruiting outcomes, start outlining potential drivers of these outcomes. Some common drivers are:

  • Structural delivery options (in-source, outsource, hybrid)
  • Recruiting organizational design (centralized, decentralized, hybrid)
  • Recruiting talent level and competency
  • Hiring leader and other stakeholder recruiting capability
  • Recruiting processes and policies
  • Recruiting programs
  • Candidate attraction and sourcing techniques
  • Recruiting technology (ATS’s and career websites)

One of the biggest challenges we are faced with as recruiting leaders and professionals is getting on the same page with our clients, internal or external. How we define recruiting strategy with our clients is critical to expectation setting. If our mission is to build best-in-class recruiting capability, then we need to think macro and educate our clients accordingly. Ensure that you are speaking the same language as other recruiting stakeholders, or be prepared for disappointment. Recruiting or HR should not be creating an organization’s recruiting strategy in isolation.

Get the business side of your organization actively involved in the creation of the recruiting strategy. The recruiting strategy should be presented and approved in the same fashion as any other critical organizational strategy, the sales and marketing plan, the financial plan, or the overall talent or human resources strategy. As successful recruiting leaders, we need to be as focused on the big picture plan and objectives as we are on the details of our day-to-day accountabilities.

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