These are interesting times for human resources professionals who are tasked with recruiting. During the recession many organizations deeply cut their human resources and recruiting budgets; organizations that were not hiring new staff enjoyed a short-term cost savings as a result of these cuts. However, now an increasing number of organizations are finding they do need to hire new staff, as employees are needed to replace those lost to attrition and upturns in business are creating a need to add staff.
Many companies are now finding they lack staff and resources to recruit needed employees. Recruiters are caught in the middle and are being asked to do more with less. Here are my suggestions for successful recruiting on a tight budget:
Build an Employment Brand
Coordinate with your marketing resources to promote your organization as a positive environment for employees so that candidates and prospects will already be 'warmed up' and interested in coming to work with you. Cost-effective ways to do this include building your web presence (the HR page on your company's main web site, a Facebook Fan page, and Twitter, for example), nominating your company for awards such as Best Places to Work contests, being involved in community events, and making yourself available for PR efforts so your messages can be communicated via the media. Having interested candidates contact your company is obviously the most cost effective way to recruit; the challenge is earning the reputation that puts your company in that position.
Utilize your Current Workforce
If your professional recruiting resources are limited, deputize other employees and have them participate in recruiting efforts. Referral bonuses and other financial incentives for bringing in candidates and/or signing new employees will motivate your employees to become involved in your company's recruiting efforts. Involving co-workers in awareness campaigns and giving them incentive to do so is a cost-effective way to recruit and build morale at the same time.
Spread the Word
Let people know you're hiring and what they can specifically do to help. Cost-effective ways to do this include updating your company web site and email signatures with links to details on open positions, and letting customers, suppliers, partners and others know what positions you have open. Be as specific as possible; telling them "we're hiring" is not as effective as saying "we need a chemical engineer with 8-10 years experience." You'd be surprised at how word travels.
Network, Network, Network
Identify the professional associations, affinity groups, and other industry events and groups that are most important to your organization (and for what reasons) and then make sure you are properly and consistently represented in those groups. By way of example, if you are looking for an accountant, you could contact the Massachusetts Society of CPAs and the Boston Chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals in Accounting and Finance. Not only will this help you build a candidate pipeline but it can also help you spread the word about open positions faster and more effectively.
Try Alternative Job Boards
While the major job boards like Monster and Careerbuilder can be effective, they are also expensive. If your budget is tight, look into free and low-cost alternatives. Some reputable alternatives include Craigslist and Google Base. Local papers will often also have an inexpensive job posting section in their online edition. Social networking sites such as TweetMyJobs and business networking sites like LinkedIn have also become increasingly popular as alternatives to job boards. In addition to having a LinkedIn company page that can build your brand and advertise jobs, recruiters can search profiles within their network to discover potential candidates they might already be connected to. Joining groups within these social and business networking sites also allows you to advertise your openings for free via discussion boards. Leverage other online networks and community sites that specialize in your industry or in the career specialty that you want to recruit, including diversity organizations that assist job seekers. If you are seeking entry level or part time candidates, reaching out to local colleges that will often have resources to help their students connect to employers (such as job boards on their websites or career centers), is often a free and easy way to find candidates.
While utilizing staffing firms costs money, they can be a cost effective solution in many instances. If you have limited resources and time, paying a staffing firm for a successful contingency search can be less expensive than the alternative. If you don't have an up-to-date network/candidate pool it can be quite costly in time and opportunity cost to start a search from scratch.
In addition, staffing firms can typically provide temporary employees or short notice as well as temp-to-hire candidates that you can test out prior to making a decision and/or while you look for a permanent hire.
Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)
If you have a large number of similar positions to fill, RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) could be a cost-effective option. RPO means transferring all or part of your recruitment activities to an external vendor. Those recruiting activities can include sourcing, screening, testing, interviewing, background checks, coordinating offer letters, and orientation. The RPO provider is an outsourced recruiting department equipped with a package of skills, tools, technologies and activities. With RPO, you avoid paying an agency for each search and you get access to more and better resources than you could likely afford by doing it yourself.
The above-mentioned tactics work in any economy, and will be useful to any of my fellow recruiters who strive to maintain quality hiring practices on a limited budget.
Aaron Green is founder and president of Boston-based Professional Staffing Group and PSG Global Solutions. He is also the vice chairman of the American Staffing Association. He can be reached at Aaron.Green@psgstaffing.com or (617) 250-1000.
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Featuring human resources advice and columns from The Boston Globe's On Staffing and Hire Authority writers.