How to Find Employees: Proven Strategies for Identifying Top Talent

<div class="grey-callout"><h2>In This Guide You'll Learn</h2><p><ul><li>Why you need to make use of multiple recruitment channels to find suitable job applicants.</li><li>The pros and cons of different channels and the order in which you should use them.</li><li>Some recruitment channels to avoid.</li></ul</p></div>

You Need Applicant Flow

To find the right person for your job, you need to attract enough applicants to choose from – you need sufficient Applicant Flow. (Also, when you receive a good number of applicants you can see if your Great Performance Profile is realistic. See guide: Writing a Job Description (aka a Great Performance Profile)</a> to find out about these and how to put together your own.)

Use Multiple Applicant Attraction Channels

To achieve good Applicant Flow you’ll to need to use multiple Applicant Attraction Channels. Recruiters often run into trouble because they don’t understand the advantages and disadvantages of these, don’t make optimal use of them and end up with a smaller number of applicants than they might otherwise have achieved.

In general, I recommend that you employ Applicant Attraction Channels in the following order:

1. Employee referrals and employer career pages. Start off with these. It can take time for referrals to throw up promising applicants so it’s good to begin early. If you happen to have an employer career page then publicise the job there too. Neither of these cost much to do and it’s worth giving them a go at the beginning of your search. (There’s more information on how to get employee referrals in guide: Getting Employee Referrals).

2. Job sites or flat-fee recruiters. These tend to deliver applicants quickly and cheaply. Jobseekers look for openings all over the place so you need to make sure that your advert has good coverage in order to reach as many of them as possible. You’ll need to place your advert on a sufficient number of job sites (not just one!) or work with a flat-fee recruiter who will do this for you. Flat-free recruiters can also write your job adverts and filter CVs for you should you want them to. For more on flat-fee recruitment, see guide: Choosing a Flat-Fee recruiter.

3. Social media. Promote your job opening on your social media channels. Include in your posts a prominent link which takes people straight to the advert. It can be handy to ask your employees to share the link on their own accounts, too.

4. Recruitment agencies. Even though you don’t pay agencies until they find you applicants, go to them only once you’ve tried all the other Attraction Channels. The problem with agencies is that they search on the same job sites that you have access to, so if one of them sends you a CV for an applicant who you later find for yourself then you’ll have to pay both the site and the recruitment agency. To improve their chances of earning a fee, agencies often send the same applicant to more than one employer, which can push up salaries and therefore recruitment fees, again increasing your costs. There’s also a different kind of downside to using agencies: some jobseekers simply don’t trust them and much prefer to apply direct.

5. Headhunters. These are only really worth using for specialist and senior roles where the pool of applicants is very small.

Common Exceptions

For most jobs, this is the best order in which to use the Applicant Attraction Channels. There are a few exceptions to this, however:

  • Recurring roles. If you need new staff constantly then you should use multiple channels all the time so that you that you’re not sent into a panic when you lose someone. Anonymous adverts are best because jobseekers might interpret regular recruiting as an indication that your company has a problem holding onto people.
  • Time-sensitive roles. It’s best to start off trying to find someone yourself using flat-fee recruiters or job site advertising – for a week or so – that way you’ll avoid recruitment fees for candidates that you could have reached on your own.
  • Retail and hospitality. A good approach is to put an advert in a shop window with clear instructions about how to apply.
  • Confidential roles. For these, place anonymous adverts on job-sites or have them placed through a flat-fee recruiter.

Avoid These Recruitment Methods

There are a few channels that I’d recommend you actively avoid:

  • Newspaper and industry websites. Many traditional publications have tried to make up for falling revenues by setting up their own job sites, but editorial skills don’t imply recruitment know-how and these sites aren’t likely to be any better than general job sites.
  • Games. Some prominent employers have tried to use games to attract applicants. While these might be fun and generate publicity, they’re in no way guaranteed to find you suitable applicants.
  • PR agencies. Recruiting the right people requires a specific set of skills and these aren’t the same as those used to build brands or celebrity egos.

<div class="grey-callout"><h2>Key Takeaways</h2><p><ul><li>To get sufficient Applicant Flow, use multiple Applicant Attraction Channels.</li><li>In most cases, use these channels in the following order: employer referrals and career pages, jobs sites or flat-fee recruiters, social media, recruitment agencies, headhunters.</li><li>There are exceptions to this order in the cases of recurring, urgent, and confidential roles, and for retail and hospitality roles.</li><li>Don’t bother with newspaper and magazine job sites, PR agencies and the gimmicky games that some organisations try to recruit with.</p></div>

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Geoff Newman has dedicated his entire career to recruitment. He has consulted for many well-known international brands, and worked with over 20,000 growing businesses. He has helped fill over 100,000 jobs.

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We literally wrote the book on...

The secrets of great recruitment

The Secrets of Great Recruitment is a top-seller. It is easy to read and wastes no time in giving powerful actionable strategies you can use straight away.

Book cover for The Secrets of Great Recruitment