A Strategic Recruiting To-Do List for the New Year

Recruiting managers are constantly saying that they need to be more strategic. But few take the time to step back and make a list of strategic actions that they should be taking. Since it’s the start of the new year, here are some suggestions on what strategic recruiting ideas should be on your list. Incidentally, unless you allocate FTEs and budget to these items, putting them on your “to do” list becomes little more than a wasted exercise. A Strategic “To Do” List for Recruiting Managers

    1. Develop a written recruiting strategy. Few recruiting departments ever get around to writing up and distributing their recruiting strategy. Without a written strategy you can’t get everyone on the same page. In addition, research has shown that having a written strategy impacts business results.


  1. Prepare for the return of high volume recruiting. Be ready for an increase in recruiting activity and have a plan to “explode out of the box” when the upturn begins.
  2. Begin a search for recruiters. Every firm will soon realize it needs more recruiters. Smart recruiting managers have already begun the search process to identify great recruiters. This is a difficult task, because so many great recruiters are not presently in recruiting.
  3. Develop a complete set of recruiting metrics. What you measure (and reward) in recruiting eliminates all doubt about what is important. Crucial steps in metric development must include measuring the performance of new hires and converting metric numbers to dollar impacts.
  4. Measure and develop your brand. A majority of recruiting managers ignore the long-term recruiting tool with the greatest impact: employment branding. It’s essential that you assess what potential applicants in your industry think about your firm. Next, build programs to develop that image so that you become the “talked about” firm in your industry.
  5. Prepare for the return of large-scale retention problems. Be ready for a dramatic increase in turnover, especially among top performers. If you don’t currently “own” retention, seize it now. Remember, if retention is not done well, the increase in vacancies only means an increased burden on recruiting. Take responsibility for ensuring that those you hire stay on-the-job long enough to make a difference.
  6. Build internal relationships with the CFO, PR, and branding. Ask for help from key internal functions like the CFO for developing metrics, people in cost accounting for calculating dollar impact, and people in PR and branding for building up the firm’s external employment image.
  7. Blow up the website. Recruiting managers must realize how ugly and dysfunctional their current corporate career websites have become. A resume posting site with boring technology and dull messages sends a clear message to top applicants that your firm just doesn’t get it.
  8. Develop a workforce plan. Recruiting managers have “winged it” for too long. They must begin to develop multiple scenarios and practice “what ifs” with their managers to ensure that they are ready for the most likely occurrences.
  9. Measure manager satisfaction. It’s no longer okay to assume that managers are satisfied with what we do. Develop a process for periodically measuring manager’s satisfaction with all recruiting services.
  10. Prioritize jobs and managers. When budgets are tight, one of the smartest things any recruiting manager or recruiter can do to improve their performance is to prioritize their recruiting activities so that the most effort and resources are focused on the highest priority business units, jobs, and managers. Doing all recruiting at the same speed and with the same resource allocation guarantees overworked and stressed out recruiters ó as well as mediocre results.
  11. Focus on referrals. Not only are referrals cheap, but as their percentage of all hires increases, it frees up a great deal of time for recruiters to work on more strategic things.

Other Things To Do

  • Realize how important it is to provide bonuses to internal recruiters.
  • Require all new corporate recruiters to complete recruiter training before they are allowed to begin their position.
  • Forever ban “generalists” from any major recruiting role. In general, they just don’t have the attitude or the skills to do it well.
  • Consider separating recruiting and talent management from the bureaucracy of HR.
  • Work with compensation to develop processes so that managers are measured and rewarded on how well they do recruiting and retention.

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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