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10 Simple Recruiting Tips You'll Be Happy You Learned

By George Dickson on April 13, 2016

A truly successful recruiting strategy involves your entire team and several areas of your business that you might not expect. We've shared ten simple recruiting tips to demystify the process and help you consistently attract top talent.

1. Promote employee referrals

Laszlo Bock shared the secret sauce behind Google's recruitment success in his recent book, Work Rules! If you haven't read it, definitely get a copy — it's packed full of useful insights from one of the world's top people operations practitioners.

In the book, he describes the challenges Google faced in their journey to hiring the best candidates for an exponentially scaling organization. Throughout the process, several priceless learning experiences presented themselves.

Although they did generate plenty of press, zany interview questions and billboard puzzle easter egg hunts weren't the most effective strategies Google used to bring in great candidates. Some of the most effective recruiting and candidate selection strategies were simple.

Google built its "self-replicating hiring machine" through several rounds of trial and error, but just like any great achievement, it started with one step. As Bock explains:

"The first step to building a recruiting machine is to turn every employee into a recruiter by soliciting referrals."

Sometimes the simplest strategies are the best:

  1. Hire the most amazing people you know
  2. Keep them consistently challenged and happy
  3. Encourage them to bring their most talented friends
  4. Provide an excellent candidate experience
  5. Repeat (until this process inevitably outgrows employee networks)

By the time you get to the point where you're unable to repeat this process, it's likely you've begun to develop a dedicated in-house recruiting team.

2. Prioritize candidate experience

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Designing an outstanding candidate experience provides multiple benefits. Getting it wrong can give your organization a reputation that it's hard to come back from.

Never forget: candidate experience is the first interaction a potential employee with your organization and its culture. 

When candidate experience is designed skillfully, top candidates get the impression your organization cares about its people even before they're on the team.

That's an extraordinarily powerful (and positive) signal to send  not just to candidates, but to new hires and longstanding employees. You're reinforcing the importance your organization places on its people at every level. You're also providing a behavioral standard for other employees to emulate throughout the hiring process.

If their experience with your organization is exceptionally positive, even candidates who aren't accepted will still have great things to say about engaging with you.

A poorly-designed candidate experience will invariably leave a sour taste, not only for the candidate came in to interview, but also for the employee who made the referral.

You can guarantee that if an employee sticks their neck out and provides a candidate referral, and you treat that candidate poorly, they'll be reticent to do it again.

It doesn't matter how much you're paying, or how great the projects you're working on are: if you fail to treat candidates with the same esteem you'd treat a longtime colleague, you're doing the organization a disservice.

Here's a quick checklist to make sure your candidate experience is on the right track. Did you:

  • Provide an accurate up-front description of the job duties early on?
  • Show up on time?
  • Come prepared?
  • Provide a warm introduction them to the team?
  • Exchange feedback with the candidate?

Keeping this quick checklist in mind will help keep the process on track to greatness if it's already good, and help fix it if it's broken.

3. Have a great offboarding process

It may seem counter-intuitive, but part of having a great offboarding process is a major element of a great recruiting machine. Not all employment relationships terminate on bad terms, and a great deal of that hinges on the way employees are offboarded.

Sharlyn Lauby explains the importance of having a solid offboarding program in her HR Bartender article, "Offboarding Is Just As Important As Onboarding":

"We’re so focused on creating the perfect onboarding experience that it takes a little nudge to remind us how important post-onboarding events can be."

Just like current employees who love your organization enough to act as recruitment ambassadors and recommend it to their friends, past employees can do the same. Sometimes past employees can be an exceptional source of referrals for new candidates.

Past employees aren't just potential ambassadors, either.

Former employees who loved working for your organization, and were offboarded amicably are more likely to return. If and when they do, they'll be bringing bring back the unique skills you hired them for, and likely some new ones.

4. Use modern tools

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There has been an explosion of tools you can use to improve the effectiveness of your sourcing and hiring processes, both at large and small scale.

GapJumpers is a tool that allows organizations to host blind auditions. Blind auditions offer an opportunity to strictly judge candidate performance, rather than resume bullet points, GPAs, pre-existing relationships, or any other number of unconscious biases.

Why are unconscious biases so important?

There are many scenarios where an excellent candidate might be passed over because of a factor that wouldn't be determinate of their success in the actual position you're hiring for.

On the other side of that coin, blind auditions can help prevent candidates who would be less suited to a position (but better looking on paper) from making their way in.

Textio is a tool to help organizations draft better, and more effective job descriptions. Although that may not seem like the top priority in your recruitment strategy, it's one of the first things a candidate will see.

There are a number of unnecessary descriptors, and types of language that could be considered unappealing or off putting to a great candidate.

Once you've drafted the perfect job description, there are some excellent platforms that can help you reach and interact with the perfect audience.

ZipRecruiter is a great recruitment force multiplier. It's a platform that allows you to draft a single posting and distribute it across 100+ job boards.

You can also manage social recruiting, applicant tracking, and screening  all within a single platform. (Full disclosure: ZipRecruiter uses Bonusly!

Looksharp is an incredibly useful tool for any organization working to build an internship program, or on the lookout for recent college grads to add to the team.

If you're only looking for a few candidates, there's a free basic version you can get started with.

5. Practice collaborative hiring

Another recruiting tip you might not already have in place, but can make a big impact is collaborative hiring. It's important for several reasons. For one — and this is a big one — there's likely more than one stakeholder in your hiring process. 

Unless they're astronauts, your new recruits won't be working in a vacuum. 

Each new hire is going to impact the work of those around them. This doesn't mean you need every member of a department to sign off on a new hire, but they should at least be involved.

It's important to make sure you're hearing your team's thoughts on the matter, and taking them into consideration. They're in a unique position to provide insights about the position, and the candidates hoping to fill it.

Your colleagues can help the hiring process in other ways, too.

In her RecruiterBox blog article, "6 Ways to Remove Hiring Bias from the Recruitment Process," Erin Engstrom explains why this is such an advantageous practice in the recruiting process:

"Collaborative hiring helps to safeguard companies from a number of cognitive biases  the inherent thinking errors that humans make in processing information."

It's always good to be aware of cognitive biases when you can. Your colleagues can help you work to identify subconscious biases and understand them.

6. Write better job descriptions

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If you're not accurately describing the position you're hiring for, you're at a disadvantage from the beginning. It's crucial to be honest about the job to make sure that you're attracting the types of candidates who will be successful in it.

Maybe the job you're trying to recruit for isn't glamorous, or doesn't pay at the top of the scale. If that's the case, don't try to dress it up that way. At best, you'll have wasted everyone's time when the truth comes out.

At worst, you'll end up actually hiring a talented employee who learns later on that the job didn't fit their aptitudes, their interests, their financial expectations, or their personality. That employee is likely to be less engaged, and more likely to turn over as soon as they find a better match.

7. Value quality over quantity

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You've likely already found that a top performer produces dramatically stronger results than those around them. It can be a very effective strategy to bias recruiting and hiring processes towards bringing on great candidates, less often.

Why is that?

There's less overhead involved with hiring two outstanding employees who are a perfect match than there is for hiring three good employees that aren't. Less interviews, less onboarding, less ramping. 

There's also more potential for exceptional results. 

The team at LinkedIn recently shared a perfect example of this regarding their college recruiting strategy and how their program has changed over time in an article titled "Why the LinkedIn Recruiting Team is Waving 'Bye-bye' to Traditional College Recruiting."

"Ironically enough, LinkedIn is looking to broaden its talent pool with this new program, while at the same time dealing with fewer applicants."

Laszlo Bock also describes a similar scenario in Google's hiring machine:

"The hiring machine was overly conservative by design...because we would rather have missed hiring two great performers if it meant we would also avoid hiring a lousy one."

Keep quality in mind as you're working to build your team. You'll likely find that the extra time and effort spent in finding an outstanding candidate will pay dividends long into the future.

8. Communicate a strong Employee Value Proposition

In his article for the Edelmann blog, "Four Key Steps to a Great Employee Value Proposition," Andrew Collett offers an excellent definition of Employee Value Proposition (EVP):

"The EVP serves to define what the organisation would most like to be associated with as an employer and defines the “give and get” of the employment deal (the value that employees are expected to contribute with the value that they can expect in return)."

So what are the elements required to build a strong EVP?

There are a near infinite number of components you can combine as part of your EVP, but here are some common ones:

Salary — Are your salaries competitive?

Benefits — What type of benefits do you offer? Who is eligible?

Work environment / company culture — What are your work environment and company culture like? What does it feel like to work for your company?

Autonomy — Are employees micromanaged or are they in control over how they do their work?

Rewards and recognition  How are employees rewarded for their efforts (beyond salary)? Do you offer frequent bonuses or do you only reward those who have made it through the year or have reached a certain milestone?

Just like attracting customers and clients, to attract the strongest candidates, you'll need an offer that stands out.

9. Think like a marketer

As business evolves, so does recruiting. Just like sales and marketing were required to make a dramatic turn, recruiting is in a similar position. Technology has made it easier for people to learn a great deal about an organization with a few simple searches.

Many of us are aware of the groundbreaking Forrester research claiming that 70 to 90 percent of the buyer's journey is complete before first contact. If you don't think this relates to recruiting, you're missing the boat.

Just like potential customers, potential employees are spending ample amounts of time researching organizations before even applying. 

Sites like Glassdoor offer potential employees an unprecedented access and insights into the experience others have had working in your organization.

It can be a beacon for talent, or an embarrassment. That much is up to you.

Make sure you're developing an employer brand that employees are intrigued by and you'll see more candidates coming in on their own.

10. Ask better questions

When your goal is to bring in the most qualified candidates, it behooves you to ask them the right questions.

This can be different for each organization, and that's why it's such an important area to focus on. A list of interview questions for one company might be grossly inappropriate for another. 

For software engineers, these questions might come in the form of a programming exercise. For someone on the marketing team, those questions might be focused on how their work impacted revenue.

The point is, the questions you're asking should be relevant. 

There's no need to ask off-the-wall, quizzical interview questions unless solving those types of puzzles will be core to a candidate's regular duties. Ask questions that will help identify candidates who stand out as great fits for your culture, and the task at hand.

In summary

Building a talent magnet is no easy task, but these ten simple recruiting tips should get you off to a great start.


Now that you know how to attract great talent, are you ready to learn how to keep it?

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Written by George Dickson

George Dickson

George manages content and community at Bonusly. He's dedicated to strengthening organizational cultures through thoughtful leadership and frequent recognition.