Steps In Developing A Recruiting Strategy, Part 2

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

There are no shortcuts in developing a recruiting strategy. It takes a logical process and numerous interrelated steps. Steps 1 through 7 were covered in Part 3; the remaining steps are outlined below.

8. Select your measurable recruiting goals.

Now that you know where the organization wants to go, it’s important to set measurable goals that ensure that recruiting will make a major contribution toward the firm’s and the HR’s department’s priorities. If you already have a current set of recruiting goals, start with them. Then add to the list any “new” goals that the changing business environment requires. Finally, delete any goals which are no longer necessary.

If you don’t have a current set of goals to start with, you can begin designating goals by:

  • Selecting a goal that corresponds directly with each major business goal.
  • Requiring each individual recruiting program or service to set up its own set of goals.
  • Trying “brainstorming,” and using that process to identify other potential goals.

The first lesson to learn is to avoid setting goals that are vague or difficult to measure. Examples of bad goal setting might include “work smarter” and “pay attention to sourcing.” Excellent goals, in contrast, are easily understandable and are always quantifiable and easy to measure. An example of an effective recruiting goal is: “Increase the applicant satisfaction rate in key jobs to over 90% being “very satisfied” with the recruiting process.”

When finalizing goals, it is important to note that recruiting program goals can occur in each of five different measurement areas. Here are examples of each:

  • Quantity (the number or volume of output) — e.g. “Hire 300 new engineers.”
  • Quality (did it work?, error rate, quality of any number) — e.g. “Have 25% of all new engineer hires rated as superior in on-the-job performance during their first six months.”
  • Time (when done, response time, time to complete, met deadline) — e.g. “Have 95% of these engineers hired within five days of their ‘need date.'”
  • Money (cost, revenue) — e.g. “Keep the cost per new hire below $4,000.”
  • Satisfaction (liked the process or result) — e.g. “Over 95% of all new hires are very satisfied with the process.”

After selecting your initial set of goals, narrow them down to a manageable number. Make sure that every major recruiting program or service has at least one measurable goal. Many organizations further condense these separate recruiting program goals into a manageable number of strategic goals for the entire recruiting department.

9. Prioritize these recruiting goals.

Next, prioritize the goals you selected and developed in step 8 above. Even though everything you do might be important, there is seldom sufficient time or resources to do everything well. By prioritizing or weighting each goal, you make it significantly easier for recruiting managers to make resource decisions. Goals can be given a “weight” (where the weight of all goals add up to 100%); they can be listed in descending order of importance; they can be given an “A,” “B,” or “C” designation to mark their relative importance.

10. Determine the “passing score” for each recruiting goal or sub-goal.

For each goal that was identified in step 8 above, designate a numerical “failing,” “passing,” “very good” and “excellent” score. A numerical passing score tells a recruiting manager upfront what level of performance they must reach in order to be assessed as failing, passing, as very good or as excellent. By assigning a numerical score to a goal, you take away a lot of the guesswork in assessing whether a strategic recruiting goal was met or not.

11. Select your targets in each of the 12 elements of a recruiting strategy.

Recruiting strategies are complex and may contain up to 12 distinct elements. In order to develop a complete recruiting strategy you must make choices (select targets) in each of the twelve recruiting strategy elements:

  1. The primary goals of recruiting
  2. The prioritization of jobs
  3. The performance level to target
  4. The experience level to target
  5. The employment status of the candidate to target
  6. When to search
  7. Where to search
  8. Who does the recruiting
  9. Primary sourcing tools
  10. What skills to assess
  11. How to assess skills
  12. Primary selling points to offer

Each of these elements of a recruiting strategy were covered in great detail earlier in this article series.

12. Identify the individual recruiting programs and services that must be strong in order to meet these prioritized recruiting goals and to “fit” the selected strategy elements.

The next step is to identify which recruiting programs must be changed or strengthened in order to reach the goals selected in step 8 and the strategy elements from section 11. The best way to do that is to identify the strengths and weaknesses in your current programs and service offerings through a recruitment audit.

Finalize your assessment by making “lists” of recruiting programs and services that fall into each of the following areas:

  • Assess what you do really well right now and that you must keep doing. Identify your strong recruiting programs that directly impact your ability to meet your overall goals. Strong programs are designated as those that are well received by management and that also produce significant results that impact business goals.
  • Assess what you do not do well now but need to do better in the future. Identify the “weak” recruiting programs that, even though they contribute directly to meeting your goals, need significant improvement before they can live up to your expectations.
  • Assess what you are not doing at all now, but that you should be doing. Identify the new recruiting programs that you need to develop from scratch.
  • Assess what areas of recruiting that you need to do better than your competitors in. First identify the areas within recruiting where what you do must be clearly superior to what your competitors does. Next, complete a competitive analysis to determine which recruiting programs need improvement in order to be superior.

The final list will contain recruiting programs that must be strengthened, developed, or eliminated in order to meet the goals that you have set in step 8. Incidentally, if you have selected a broader talent management strategy you need to also look at other closely related talent functions including compensation, orientation, relocation, branding, workforce planning and retention.

13. Determine what organizational structure is most appropriate, given the goals and the strategy elements that you have selected.

Effective strategy and implementation requires that the organization adopt the appropriate organizational structure. Those that are developing the recruiting strategy need to benchmark and understand which recruiting structure (shared services, centralized, decentralized, or “mixed”) works best with the selected strategy, and what the appropriate staffing and requisition per recruiter levels should be.

14. Set your budget priorities around these prioritized goals and programs.

It’s important to remember that a strategy development and goal-setting process that’s independent of the budgeting and the resource allocation process will invariably fail. To ensure that goal setting and budgeting are aligned, start with the list of recruiting programs that must be added or improved from step 12 above. From those, make a list of the recruiting programs and services that are the most important (given your prioritized goals from part 9).

Then, work with your finance person and the recruiting program managers in order to determine which programs and services:

  • Require a change in focus.
  • Require a budget increase if you are to reach your designated goals.
  • Require a headcount or increased time increase if you are to reach your designated goals.
  • Should have no change in budget.
  • Should have a decrease in their budget, to aid you in reaching your designated goals (i.e. cost containment, increase productivity etc.). These are the items that you should “not do” or that you should “stop doing.”
  • Require or can make a quantum improvement with the addition of technology.

15. Determine the major roles and accountabilities for accomplishing your recruiting goals

Setting and prioritizing goals will not by itself ensure success. You can dramatically improve your chances of meeting and exceeding your program goals if you also clearly assign roles and accountabilities to each goal and program. This ensures that everyone involved (both line managers and recruiting professionals) knows who “owns” the responsibility and who will be rewarded or punished if the goal is not met. You should also identify what experience, competencies, and skills each responsible individual will need in order to be successful.

It’s also important to remember that you can increase the likelihood that your goals will be met if you develop processes for coordinating recruiting programs and services that rely on each other for success. Functional “silos” within the recruiting department can severely hamper your success. Fortunately, shared metrics between recruiting units or interdepartmental rewards can help ensure that those working on completely separate goals and programs still coordinate and work together.

16. Set task deadlines and effectiveness metrics for each major task.

You can dramatically increase the chances that your strategic goals will be met if you develop timelines or program milestones to guide the process.

Timelines (including beginning and ending dates) for each major strategic goal and recruiting program should include periodic assessment points. These periodic assessment points help to ensure that the goal or program is on time, under budget, and making sufficient progress to ensure that the passing score measure will be reached by the end of the strategic implementation period.

While developing these milestones, be careful to include only the major ones, so that your overall timeline doesn’t get clogged, making it difficult to use and understand. There should also be a reporting mechanism set up to ensure that managers are periodically provided with metrics and are informed of program progress throughout the year.

17. Institute a “fresh eyes” review of your draft recruiting strategy.

After completing your draft strategy, it’s important to have it reviewed and critiqued by individuals who were not involved in developing the strategy. It’s best to have the strategy reviewed by at least one individual in finance, by several “line” managers, and where feasible, by an outside neutral consultant. Revise the draft strategy based on the feedback that you get from these “fresh eyes” individuals. The next review step is to have the strategy approved by senior management. Revise it one final time and then implement it.

18. The final step: Schedule a mid-course strategy review.

Even the best recruiting strategies can lead to failure if they are inflexible. This is because business strategies, HR strategies, and any “assumptions” about external business factors can change after the initial recruiting strategy is implemented.

As a result, it’s critical that you set periodic times to review the implement strategy and the results it is producing. I recommend at least two mid-course reviews. Obviously, at the end of the strategy year, you should also review your overall results and reward the individuals involved in developing the successful recruiting strategy. It’s important to have this “feedback loop” in order to ensure that your strategy development process improves each year.

Next week in Part 5, I’ll cover things to do after completing your recruiting strategy.

Author’s Note: If this article stimulated your thinking and provided you with actionable tips, please take a minute to follow and/or connect with Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn.

About Dr John Sullivan

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 to large corporations.

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