So You Have to Create a Strategic Recruiting Plan? The First of a Series to End the Millennium

Is it time to start thinking about next year yet? I know that many of you are about to start the process of developing your strategic recruiting plans for next year, or are doing this for the first time ever. And, it seems that the “old” issues keep coming up: should we be centralized or decentralized; how many requisitions can a recruiter handle effectively; how much money should we spend on the Internet vs. print advertising; which applicant tracking system is best; is behavioral interviewing the best way and how do we get managers to use it, and where is the best place and method to source candidates? Are there new issues to consider such as speed of hire, quality of hire, internal image management, long-term lead generation, and the evolving role of the recruiter. Over the next few weeks I will present a few thoughts on how to approach this task and probe into some of the issues I have listed above. Let’s start this week by simply looking at the component parts of a recruiting process in light of today’s market and the growing importance of the Internet. I break recruiting into these distinct roles:

  1. Workforce planning and needs analysis
  2. Article Continues Below
  3. Lead generation/sourcing
  4. Screening and evaluation
  5. Selling and closing
  6. Orientation and assimilation
  7. Retention

Here are some general thoughts and some of the issues that I will start discussing next week. Step 1: Planning. The hardest step of all, I think, because it really means getting involved with the hiring managers and it means that you have to be very familiar with the company strategy and longer-term goals. This should be far more than simply listing the jobs projected in the annual budgeting process and factoring in turnover. This is an evolving process, as opposed to an annual event, and will be the most dynamic and critical stage of your own planning. Almost nobody does this well. We will look at tools and ideas to help here. Step 2: Think Image and Brand. Develop a very well thought out strategy for building an image for your company. You have to answer questions like “What makes your company different or unique?” or “Why would I want to come work for you?” You should have answers to these and make sure your advertising, web presence (which is essential), and overall corporate advertising support this image. This has to be a CORPORATE effort with local support. Step 3: Examine your sourcing methods. Develop a multi-faceted sourcing strategy. Decide based on past experience what works best for you in locating candidates, and then build that sourcing channel to the max. But don’t neglect other channels. Make sure you are using referrals from current employees, your network of professionals, web-based advertising, and job boards. Also develop the PASSIVE recruiting strengths that are hallmarks of Microsoft and Cisco. This means you are snaring the unwary by attracting them to you or your company through products or services and then making the effort to recruit them. This means you have a very well thought out web site for recruiting. This also has to be a CORPORATE effort with local support. Step 4: Decide on how to qualify and screen candidates. Are you going to invest heavily in educating managers in behavioral interviewing? Are the recruiters going to be the main screening process or will you use testing and other tools? What role will be Internet play, if any? Are you going to look into using tools to attract and quickly screen candidates? How much will you rely on candidates screening themselves out or in? Step 5: Go electronic, go web! Buy a system or service for storing, sorting, screening, and distributing candidates (AKA an applicant tracking system) that has been web-enabled or is web-based. Great tools exist and are getting better. For web-enabled systems there are Personic Software’s web bench products, as well as Softshoe’s, Hire Systems’s, and Isearch’s web-based tools. But, whatever you choose make sure it fits your strategy and makes economic sense. All of these systems will let a manager play a significant part in the recruiting process. This is GOOD! If you are a really small company and cannot afford these systems, there are many PC-based systems that can stand-alone and many of the companies I have listed offer reasonably priced solutions for smaller firms. Step 6: Streamline your decision-making process. Make sure all managers and recruiters have a simple system for deciding on a candidate. As you know, speed is the real differentiator today, and the recruiter/manager who moves the most quickly will usually get the candidate. Eliminate unnecessary approvals and make sure your selection criteria are clear to avoid slowing down the process. Step 7: Meet with all the local recruiters if you are a decentralized firm, and together work out a system for who owns what. This is the critical element. If you all agree together then the areas of dispute will be limited. The rule I use is that corporate should set standards and establish corporate-wide systems. Local offices should participate in that process for the greater good of all. Then local offices can have great autonomy on the day-to-day stuff and can do local advertising, etc. within the bounds of the agreement. I have found that this works well. This is just the beginning. I will continue on and flesh these out more in the ensuing weeks of the year. Let me know of any particular areas you would like to see discussed more thoroughly.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


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