To start off our series on strategic planning for the recruiting function, I am going to focus on how to attract people to your company, how to excite them about it, and how to develop a relationship with them. This is what recruiting is all about. Some companies are moving recruiting to the marketing function because marketers seems to know this and understand what it takes to get people interested in something, whether it’s a product, a service, or a firm. Here are several tips on getting better at what is ultimately what you do – getting people to say yes! Use print advertising to attract people to your web site. The corollary to this is to make sure your web site is worth being attracted to. All your corporate advertising should include messages for potential employees. Make every salesperson a recruiter by supplying them with business cards telling people to log onto your web site. Pass out flyers at events that promote your web site. Use employees to do the distribution by offering them free passes to shows and other events on the condition that they give out flyers or cards. Let your imagination guide you in developing inexpensive programs that attract people to your web site. The web site should be the primary recruiting tool. It should be interactive, tailored to the audience, and frequently updated. I will write more about this in later columns. Most companies probably don’t need a recruiting ad agency. They can use the firm that does their marketing or product advertising to help come up with novel ideas to attract people to the all important, powerful web site. Treat every candidate exactly how YOU would like to be treated. Make perfect customer service your goal for 2000. Once people do come to visit your web site, make sure you respond to every applicant with an acknowledgement and with a follow-up message a few days later. Do this even if they aren’t even close to what you are looking for. Why? They each influence at least 3 other people, anyone of which may be the perfect candidate. Never treat an inquiry or potential candidate lightly! Spend the money and time to answer the phone or respond to emails and give candidates meaningful and correct updates on their status. Follow up interviews with feedback. You will be shocked at the response when you provide information to candidates on why they were successful or not. Sometimes in the follow-up you can even find other positions in the firm where they better fits. Ask them for referrals to other candidates and refer THEM to other firms where their skills may be a match. Make this whole process one of relationship, of mentoring, and of mutual respect. These people are way too valuable to be treated superficially in the way recruiters have done for decades. Some candidates are worth more than others. Capitalize on Potential candidate differences. All candidates are not the same. Don’t treat them that way. Know who your most valued (valuable) potential candidates are and develop special programs for them. Offer a person who has a particularly desirable set of skills an express interview process. Offer them VIP treatment during the interview and provide them with extra information or access to key senior staff. But use these tools just for the best. Use some program for every candidate, and make them all feel special, but be sure to place extra effort on those candidates who can really add value to your company. This differentiation of candidates is critical to successful closing, and well-qualified candidates expect the best. Focus your marketing on these special candidates. Get to know the type of candidate that is most valuable to your firm and focus your marketing and advertising on them. Send them emails or letters; go to the events they attend, work on developing a list of key people you would like to have work in your firm. This can be broken out by function. They can work for competitors. They can never have heard of you before. What you have to do is develop a relationship with them via email or in person. Offer them information and seek their permission to send them updates and additional facts about your firm. Many will agree to this. Then you have to make sure you have good material to offer. Over time you will be able to attract many employees by developing this relationship. Cisco and others have created “Make a Friend” programs where anyone who visits your web site can ask to be matched with someone with interests or skills similar to theirs. We will continue next week.