5 Key Steps to Great Recruiting in 2017

By on January 10, 2017 in

Welcome to a new era of recruitment

88% of professionals under the age of 34 say your commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR), is a factor in their decision to accept a job with your firm. 50% will not apply to you for a job if they are unable to find evidence of CSR activity. Welcome to recruiting in 2017, a year when the competition for professionals is as tough as the war for talent has ever been and many times more complex. Leading firms have always known recruitment is not about matching. Winners in talent acquisition understand it’s about having the ability to research for the best talent, the credibility to bring that talent to the table and the negotiating expertise to bring a complicated process to successful outcome.

Hiring known unknowns

Much of the real cost associated with recruitment is buried in lost opportunities. Review sites like TripAdvisor, have altered how we make a range of decisions, including job change. When did you last check your company’s reviews on Glassdoor.ie? Employer branding has huge influence on whether passive candidates engage with you or desirable active talent, applies to you. Do you audit what internet searches say about your firm? What messages filter through to your employer brand from these results? How can you ensure candidates have a positive moment of truth, searching online for your company in 2017?

Your employee value proposition

Candidates are not just interested in role and responsibilities, they want to know about the total experience of working for your organisation. No doubt there are many great aspects to your company that rarely get communicated until an employee actually starts. These form part of your overall employee value proposition (EVP). So how will you share this in 2017 with target talent pools? How will you in externally promote career paths, learning or the quality of your current employees? How can you share about the autonomy and challenge you offer, the time off you give for personal matters and other non-tangible benefits that your firm provides?

Five key steps for great recruitment in 2017

Talent acquisition is infinitely more complex today than at any previous time, talent is scarce, candidate decision making processes have changed and the channels through which we intentionally or unintentionally communicate to talent pools, are many and varied. We’ve put together, five key steps for 2017 to ensure that your organisation is at the head of a candidate’s preferred list, when they consider looking for and accepting a new challenge.


It may sound obvious, but be completely ready to hire before you engage in a hiring process. Delayed or stalled recruitment processes create a negative impression with your target talent. Employer brands can benefit from smart use of social media, but also suffer damage on career websites by not having a committed recruitment process. When ready to hire, develop a comprehensive profile of the person you seek, separating the essential experience elements from the ‘nice to haves’. Identify what companies your organisation currently hires well from in each function and list other preferred donor organisations. Make sure all stakeholders agree on hiring priorities and create a hiring road map to ensure the availability of all during the process. Relying simply on a job specification to communicate needs is inadequate. It is little more than a list of responsibilities a person might perform that is rarely updated. In addition to the ‘challenge’ the role provides, articulate clearly your culture, working environment, location and all else that makes up your EVP. These must be out there, in front of any interested candidate at the beginning of a process.


Advertising is risky and unlikely to attract passive professional talent, however it does work for some levels of appointment. Make your ad’s interesting and avoid using job specifications as text content. For engineering, science and other technical roles, provide great detail on role responsibilities and highlight technology that you use. Highlighting technology is key for IT positions too, but go into detail on the application and why it matters. For financial positions, identify the objectives of the role and the specific problem that the appointment will solve. For HR roles, explain the purpose of the position, how it aligns to organisation purpose and give evidence of the role that HR plays in your organisation. Emphasise future developments in your organisation, for marketing and supply chain professionals and how their roles will support change management. When hiring lawyers, focus on career path and the content of work. If possible, highlight the reputation your firm has in that area of law and the quality of colleagues. The reputation of a Partner and their department are significant decision making criteria for legal professionals.


So much about the relationship between a talent acquisition firm and their customer is counter intuitive, particularly it seems in Ireland. Some hiring organisations feel that the more recruiters involved, the wider the net, when in fact it leads to a reduction in expertise, engagement levels and ultimately quality of results. Others keep line managers out of initial briefings to save their time, when often the nuances they bring to the process, considerably shorten the hiring process. If you are using an external recruitment firm, narrow down your suppliers and demand specific evidence of previous delivery in your area of need. Seek references from other clients as to capability and ask them to describe the processes and systems they use to ensure that they can find great talent. Ensure they do not rely on advertising and they understand the responsibility of managing your employer brand. Focus on building service value into the process, rather than deciding by price. The lower the latter, the lower the level of experience the recruiter representing you in the labour market, will possess. Meet with your recruiter, at least at the beginning of the relationship and regularly thereafter to evaluate their performance. Know who is representing your organisation and how they do it. Demand analysis of their activity around your hiring each week. Recognise where a role will require deep research and engage in a search process with one chosen firm.


Wherever possible, make sure no sign off or other related obstacles to hiring will arise during the recruiting process. If it is a possibility, flag it early so that you or your external representative can give early warning to candidates in whom you are interested. Be clear with candidates about the content of interviews in advance and the likely timescale between process stages. Avoid late and unexpected additional stages where possible. Delays in a process can arise for any number of genuine reasons; the commencement of a new senior executive in your organisation who wants to reorganise a role or for short term socio political factors or pending mergers. It is not always possible to share full information in such matters, but share as much detail as you can to ensure the candidate feels respected, this is the key to their continued engagement during the delay. If using an external talent acquisition firm, ensure they continually qualify all candidate’s commitment to your proposition, throughout the process. It is not enough that they ask if candidates are “interested”, they must qualify why this is so? Good talent acquisition (TA) partners will continually investigate what might arise to prevent a candidate accepting an offer if made to them? What would that offer, at a genuine minimum, need to be for them to accept it? When is the candidate’s next review? When is their bonus due to be paid? What contingency does their current employer have in place to cover for them should they leave and how susceptible are they to a counter offer? If they have a partner, how does their partner feel about them making this career move? Why would they undertake a long daily commute if relevant, when it might not exist with an alternative employer? Refused offers happen, but they shouldn’t. It generally means someone somewhere dropped the ball on qualification and didn’t pull the candidate out of a process at an early enough point.


Our own firm is twenty-five years bringing leadership talent to customer organisations. In that time, I have only ever met a handful of truly brilliant interviewers, HR practitioners generally, who can fully read a person’s disposition, likely future behaviour and articulate fit in a comprehensive manner. Interviewing alone is not an effective assessment process for most of us. We are big supporters of good psychometric assessment in a selection process, not as a deciding factor, but as a tool to support interview content. Where interviews are the primary assessment method, it is better to structure and rely on competency based interviewing (CBI) as a model. It creates great objective discussion points for summarising hiring decisions. When preparing an offer for a candidate in the year ahead, include all aspects of your EVP and not just compensation and tangible benefits. Include the steps you take to ensure the well-being of your employees and the flexibility you show around dealing with personal matters. Flexitime or additional time off, is as important today as money. Include recognition programmes your organisation runs and how these can benefit employees. Highlight how your company ensures respect is shown to all employees. Respect is the number one recruitment and retention factor for all professional disciplines. Share with prospective employees in writing at offer stage, how your organisation provides opportunity for employees to give back to the community through volunteerism. Include details of social activities that your organisation arranges to help co-workers get to know each other.

Many organisations today, provide a full written list of benefits, that alongside factors such as healthcare and pension, includes factors such as the firm’s employee assistance programmes (EAP), Cycle to Work schemes and tax efficient travel. If you are not talking about these elements, both in the process and at offer point, your competitors probably are.

Organisations that continue to lead their sectors, recognise TA is a standout HR strategy, which must be well-resourced and that line managers must fully engage in all aspects of the hiring process. Make sure you know what is being said about your firm externally and what your employees say to their families when they go home at night. Put considerable effort in to preparing your recruitment processes, engage the right TA partner for your firm and demand evidence of their activity and thoroughness. Recognise that the world of talent acquisition is not just changing, it has already substantially changed. Invest wisely, leverage the many great things that your company already provides, formally or informally as part of your EVP and hold your line managers accountable for speed and accuracy in recruitment processes, to attract and retain the best professional talent throughout 2017.