The Top 12 Most Effective But Easy-to-Implement Recruiting Tools

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 1.11.42 PMCorporate recruiting leaders and recruiters, as well as hiring managers who operate in small businesses, are constantly searching for new and effective recruiting approaches. There is certainly no shortage of new and emerging recruiting approaches, but unfortunately, most of the approaches that you are likely to run across are either expensive, overly complicated, or they are extremely difficult to implement. So if you’re looking for highly effective but cheap and easy-to-implement recruiting tools, here is a descriptive list of my top 12. Each one has already been proven effective, so you won’t be the first to try it.

The Top 12 Highly Effective But Cheap and Easy-to-Implement Recruiting Tools

  1. “Give me five” proactive referrals — referrals are No. 1 in producing quality hires, but this approach is the most effective among all referral approaches. The goal of the “give me five” approach is to identify the names of top performers in a functional area, using a type of referral.  The approach is where you proactively ask your own top-performing employees (usually during a break at their team meeting) and you ask them for five referral names under specific target categories. This approach is effective because employees often “draw a blank” when asked the general question “do you know anyone?” However if you prompt them with specific categories, you will get superior names. Simply ask top performers to identify the top five people who they know in their field in each of these five categories (This is why the approach is called “Give me five”).
    The best performer you ever worked with?
    The most innovative idea person?
    The best technologist?
    The best manager?
    The best at working under pressure?
    If an individual’s name is mentioned two or more times within the five categories, contact them immediately, because they are a star. Because these identified individuals are already known by your employee … ask them to contact them and try to convince them to apply. Obviously you can substitute other categories including customer service, problem solver, best coder etc.
  2. Boomerangs /rehiring previous employees — the best way to ensure a high-quality hire with a clear record of performance is to re-recruit performers who previously worked at your firm (i.e. boomerang rehires). Many of these individuals might now regret their decision to leave but still be hesitant to reapply. A simple note as they are leaving your firm or a phone call from a recruiter or an employee in their former department reassuring them that they would be welcomed back. This might be all it will take to re-land proven talent.
  3. Reference referrals — on the anniversary date of new hires who turn out to be exceptional employees, call the references back and thank them. Then ask them “Who else do you know who is equally as good?” Because these individuals have given good references once, it is highly likely that the new names they provide will also be of high quality. Also consider hiring the references themselves.
  4. “Same level” calls — many individuals simply refuse to return calls from recruiters. Instead, have someone at their professional level in their discipline call them and you will get as much as a 10 times higher response rate.  The reason for this is “professional courtesy” and the opportunity to learn from someone in their profession. The most effective calls are those from CEOs and senior executives. The gender of the caller may also affect the return call rate.
  5. Revisit previous high-quality candidates (silver medalists) — oftentimes you can save resources by simply revisiting the star candidates who got away. Reach out to candidates who voluntarily dropped out of the hiring process, turned down an offer, or who were finalists in a slate where a super candidate ended up getting the job. Times change, and it’s not uncommon for candidates to regret their decisions. Also look at candidates from a year ago who were almost qualified, because after another year of experience, they may now be fully qualified.
  6. Develop a “company sell sheet” — many managers do a poor job selling the company to potential recruits. Rather than trying to build up their sales skills, survey your key employees to identify the specific factors that make your firm superior to your competitors. Then compile a list of these “compelling features” that hiring managers and recruiters can use to better sell your firm. Also provide them with a side-by-side opportunity comparison sheet showing where your firm’s opportunities are superior to each of your competitors. You can also attach a version of this sell sheet to your hardcopy application form and show it on your application website immediately before the application process begins.
  7. Make your job postings exciting — many recruiters use dull job descriptions that were written long ago. Hiring managers and recruiters should work together to rewrite them so that they sell the exciting aspects of the job. At the very least, they should be tested against your competitors’ descriptions to ensure they are more compelling. Video job descriptions can also provide a compelling alternative that allows the prospect to better “feel” what the job and the team are like.
  8. Ask candidates for their job acceptance criteria — selling top-quality candidates is always difficult, but you can make it much easier if you start out by asking each candidate up front to identify their expectations and the key factors they will consider when evaluating an offer. In addition, have them outline “dealbreaker” factors that would cause them to drop out of the process or not consider an offer. Tailor your assessment/selling approach so that you end up providing them with compelling information demonstrating that you meet each of their acceptance criteria.
  9. Ask for names during the hiring and the onboarding processes — directly challenge the industry knowledge of your best candidates by asking them (as part of the interview) to list the names of the outstanding individuals they know. If you ask enough interviewees, you will get a pretty good list of the top names in any field. In addition, make it a standard practice to ask all top new hires during onboarding “who else is good at their former firm and in the industry?” Next ask the new hire to help you recruit any desirable individuals who they know.
  10. Referral cards — this is a simple but underused practice. Provide your best highly visible employees with referral cards that sell your firm and that let the individual they know that they are special. They can be similar to business cards or electronic cards. Make sure that the card both praises the work of the person and mentions that it appears that they would be a perfect fit for your company.
  11. How would I find you again? profile — in order to identify the best recruiting sources, turn to your own top employees and ask them “if I was recruiting you today, how would I go about finding you again?” This means that you have to put together a profile covering “where they hang out.” Do that by asking your best employees what industry, professional, and social events they attend, what magazines and journals that they read, and what social media and Internet sites they frequent. Assume that other top professionals hang out in the same places, so use the gathered information to identify the places where corporate branding, company information, and job announcements are the most likely to be seen and read. You should also be recruiting those who speak a second language (i.e. French or Spanish), so you must also find the places where they will see and read your postings that are written in their language.
  12. Recruit on the right day — when recruiters initially contact desirable individuals who currently have a good job, they often respond with a resounding “no.” But these same individuals may change their perspective almost immediately after they experience a negative “triggering event” at their current firm. This negative event might include the fact that their boss/friend just left, their budget has been cut, or a major project proposal of theirs has been rejected. In the same light, when a competing firm is undergoing stock price reductions, staff reductions, mergers, or other turmoil, it makes sense to immediately increase your recruiting efforts and to target all of the troubled firm’s best people.

Final Thoughts

Everyone knows that the competition for top talent is intense, but fortunately you don’t need complicated technology, Internet, or social media tools in order to successfully find, attract, and sell the best. If you work under limited budget and resource constraints, you will find that these approaches have a high impact even though they are easy to understand and to implement. And in most cases you won’t need centralized HR’s approval in order to implement them.

About the Author

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Dr. John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions. He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.