3 Plays Every Recruiter Needs for Competitive Hiring

We’re coming upon the time of the year where the air is getting a bit crisper, leaves are changing colors and everyone’s scheduling their fantasy football drafts. If you know recruiting, you know the hiring landscape is competitive, both on the football field and in employment.


Like fantasy football, no matter what number pick you land, there will always be a missed opportunity once the season ends. Thankfully, in the land of talent acquisition, it doesn’t have to be a wait and see situation. With the right competitive hiring approach, you’ll be getting your first draft pick, every time. You don’t need a huge recruitment budget, you just need a winning recruitment strategy.

Hiring campaigns come and go, but in recruiting getting top talent on a fiercely competitive playing field takes consistency, planning and guts. Here is how to create a winning playbook that gets you the talent your company needs to move forward.

Make them an offer they can’t refuse

Before you extend that final offer, there are a lot of steps, for you and your candidate. The very first step is the job advertisement. The candidate your company needs to hire is out there and probably even looking for your job ad. Unfortunately, unless the position you’re advertising excites them, you probably won’t get the right resumes.

How do you grab the attention of talent you don’t even know is looking? Don’t fall victim to the belief that only the big name companies can attract high potential candidates. Instead, create the best job advertisement as a springboard.

Our research shows that 46% of job seekers admit they’re more likely to apply for a job that has a well-written job advertisement than to a job that simply has a recognizable brand.

A great job advertisement is the voice of your organization. It will divulge the hard work and challenges, but highlight all the amazing opportunities employees are granted. And don’t forget to speak to the actual audience you hope to attract. If that means you need to bring someone in from the department to ensure accuracy, then do it. It will pay off to use the industry speak the candidate will most recognize.

The Playbook for a Winning Job Advertisement:

Eye-Catching Title: Grab their attention up front with something MORE exciting than “Accounting Specialist II”!

Get Specific: They know their title but not what they’ll be doing. Include 3-5 bullet points about the job. Bonus points for aligning these specifics with how they affect the company.

BAD Bullet: Fill order requisitions weekly.

GOOD Bullet: You’ll create order requisitions for our most valued clients on a weekly basis.

Gotta have it? Make sure you separate your must-haves from your nice-to-haves. A laundry list of skills could affect the right person from applying. Did you know in a study outlined by HBR women only applied for jobs when they met 100% of the qualifications? Be judicious.

Let’s be honest, please: Avoid exaggerating about how great the role is. If it is ideal for a certain segment of the population (night owls, working parents) say so, but don’t pretend it’s a plum job if it isn’t.

It’s NOT all about the bennies: Benefits are changing rapidly. Some folks might want a 5% match in their 401k, while others are more attracted by a work from home day once per week. Mention the things that are true like “great rooftop terrace” or “terrific healthcare plan” and don’t feel bad about what you can’t offer.

Let’s talk compensation: People want to know a salary range. And while it’s scary to put numbers out there in cold, hard text, it’s better they (and you) know ahead of time, before you waste time interviewing someone out of your price range.

Say you, say me: Instead of words like “successful applicant” “the employee” and “the ideal applicant”, use phrases that put them in the middle of the action, like “you will be assisting the VP of Marketing” and “Your responsibilities will include”. But don’t forget about your company, give them insight into the values and culture of your company toward the end of the advertisement. If they’ve read that far, this should be the clincher.

Get in touch: How should they contact you? A specific and assertive next step section (email a cover letter or call (415-867-5309 after 10am) will help you weed out those who follow directions and those candidates who are just “kicking tires”.

Keep an eye on the best scouting prospects

Want the best? Then be where the best are. As a recruiter, you know how important making connections can be to finding the right talent or partnerships. This can be an overwhelming realization since you may have found one of your best hires in the most unusual way. Get probability on your side by observing where you see candidates biting the most and placing a job advertisement there.

Our research continues to show that the digital age reigns supreme with job seekers using online job search sites first and foremost. Next up is social. Make sure your company continues to hold presence on social media, but don’t neglect your own accounts. If you look knowledgeable, present and positive on your profiles, those candidates who search you after reaching out will associate your shining personality with the company.

Social Recruiting Dos and Don’ts:

  • DO: Use company logos and cover photos sized to fit social media sites.
  • DON’T: Blast your audience with job requirements. Great recruiters use a 4:1 ratio. Four helpful and educational posts to every ONE job opening.
  • DO: Use photos of your awesome culture. From Taco Tuesday to your new group of interns, show off your company and its employees.
  • DON’T: Forget to answer job seekers and people who ask questions or converse with you on social media.
  • DO: Ask your employees to review your company online!
  • DON’T: Put your social accounts on autopilot.
  • DO: Use hashtags and groups to find qualified people.
  • DON’T: Forget to ask your employees and colleagues to join you on social!

Did you know that 62% of job seekers visit social media channels to evaluate an employer’s brand?

Show off your spirit

You may not have a mascot, but you do have a brand and it goes far deeper than just a logo and slogan. When it comes to attracting and grabbing talent, your management of the employer brand can be a secret weapon in today’s competitive hiring environment. Even those big name companies aren’t a match for the startup who knows how to create and show off their unique culture.

In the big scheme, your career page should be easy to navigate and appeal to your intended candidates. If you weren’t a part of the planning and development of the site your company uses, you will have to get a little creative when inspiring action from desired candidates.

Use what you do have control of, like a careers account on social media filled with imagery of the office and company outings. If that’s out of your hands, always fall back on the way you approach the job advertisement. There are some necessary elements to include, but how you present them and what you highlight will drastically affect the impression it leaves on job seekers.

Speed it up…but don’t rush

You also have the ability to show off your team spirit in the interview process; from phone screen through on-site. Standardize your process so it’s the same for every hire (or at least interdepartmentally), align interviews with values and the hiring team and then debrief immediately after the interview.

Standardization can be as simple as an application and an in-person interview on-site, or as complex as a phone screen, video interview, on-site visit with the hiring team and then a follow up assessment; it depends on your culture, need and industry. Whatever your best hiring process, turn it into a template so you can run your hiring like any other aspect of the business.

Train management on core values so the candidate understands what they are and why they’re important during the interviewing process. Chances are, your company has more than one central tenet, so give each interviewer a value to explore with the candidate during any type of interview.

Create a template for hiring managers or decision makers so you can get feedback quickly and snag the hire you want before anyone else does. This is where having a standardized process comes in very handy. Your hiring managers and the rest of the team will come to expect these questions 24-48 hours after every interview and will be able to supply you with ready answers. Ask for general feedback on personality, skills, assessment scores (if applicable) and then ask the questions that matter:

  • Why should we hire this person?
  • Is this the best person for the job?
  • How do you see this person working on XXXX team?
  • Will this person make us a better company? How?
  • Does this person raise the bar?

You can use some of these questions or all of them, but in the end, ask each person on the hiring team to “vote”. A standardized process alongside a defined timeline gives you freedom to let the candidate know when you’ll be able to get back in touch. The values alignment and debrief and voting selection ensures you’re making the right decision when you make that phone call.

The best talent doesn’t have to consider every team and with that reality in mind, you can dedicate your time to showing how much you have to offer. Want your scouting strategy to outshine the competition?

Nexxt is a recruitment media company that uses today’s most effective marketing tactics to reach the full spectrum of talent – from active to passive, and everything in between. Learn more about hiring with Nexxt.

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