Being First: How to Win The Recruiting Challenge in a Tight Market


As a former coach of my son’s Little League team, I’ve been deep into this heated debate: do you give trophies to all the league’s participants or only award them to the winners? As someone who grew up long before “participation awards” became a reality, I struggled with the competing feelings of wanting to make the kids feel good about themselves, but was concerned that I was sending the wrong message based on our 1-12 record.  Fortunately, the kids I coached were 8 and 9 years old and not one is destined for a baseball career, so I couldn’t have impacted them too negatively.

In the recruiting world today, there is only a payoff when you finish first. In fact, second place or lower means you have lost money ̶ never a good outcome in business. There is no participation award in recruiting, and each loss has an impact. Given the reality of today’s job market, being first matters. First to source, first to contact, first to interview and first to offer are reasonable goals to set for your recruiting efforts. It may sound unrealistic but consider the speed with which top candidates are taken off the market today. In New York City, San Francisco and Boston, an experienced Software Engineer can be off the market in a week. At that pace, you may not even get a phone screen scheduled before the candidate is accepting an offer.

There is a volume of evidence that having a strong recruiting process (finishing first) delivers more to your bottom line than any other HR function you can employ. A number of years ago, Boston Consulting Group presented the results of a survey that showed the impact of a strong recruiting process. High performing organizations (those with strong recruiting) achieved 3.5X revenue growth and 2.0X profit margin over least capable companies (those with poor/slow recruiting). As so many organizations struggle to determine where to invest resources, it is clear from this research that they should be investing in building a powerful recruiting organization.

How can you up your game to get to candidates first? Here are a few suggestions:

Start where it’s warm

Your database should be filled with qualified candidates who have already expressed interest in your organization by applying to other positions or joining your Talent Community through your Career Portal. With an innovative ATS partner, you should be able to conduct robust searches of those candidates and build a powerful list of prospects to begin your outreach before you even begin your external sourcing efforts. Imagine being able to fill 20%+ of your open req’s with a candidate sourced from your own database.

Family Matters

Start with someone you know firsthand: existing employees. Companies with strong internal mobility typically have loyal and engaged employees. Consider that existing employees can be one of your most powerful and cost effective sourcing pools. In addition, you know more about existing employees than just what is on their resume. You have access to performance data, manager’s recommendations, and you have first-hand knowledge that they work well within your organizations culture. The challenge to most organizations is that they fail to build and articulate a clearly defined internal mobility structure. Progressive organizations can use Succession planning tools that allow their employees to build out a desired career path that automatically alerts the employee when a position matching their career path choice opens up.

Another way to tap into your employee base is through referrals. Who better to explain to a candidate what the work environment at your organization is like than your current employees? Empower them to be your best source for locating top talent. Clearly articulate what they will receive for referring strong candidates and make the benefit to referring a good candidate worthwhile (read: money).

Use All of the Tools in Your Toolbox

For most organizations, there has been a significant investment made in your ATS technology. Are you using that technology to its maximum capability? Have you upgraded your workflows to incorporate new functionality that has been released? Do you meet regularly with your ATS solution provider to do an audit of your recruiting workflow? If not, you should consider scheduling some time with your ATS partner. If you have the right partner, you can guarantee they have made significant upgrades and introduced new functionality since the time you first implemented their solution. Assign someone on your team to be responsible for reviewing the upgrades and new functions and then educating your team so they can incorporate the new tools in their daily processes. Why pay for something and not use it, especially if it will make your team faster and more productive.

Speed and productivity are keys to recruiting success. Set your sights on being first in all aspects of your recruiting efforts. As Will Farrell’s character said in the movie, Talladega Nights, “If you aren’t first, you’re last!” In recruiting, those words couldn’t be truer.

Learn how to speed up your recruiting; download our guide to see what’s new in applicant tracking, and see how you can finish first in the race for talent. 

And to see how PeopleFluent's recruiting software can help you be the first to source and the first to contact your ideal candidates, join us today, 03/23, for a demo of our award-winning recruiting solution. We'll see you there!

Related blog posts

Handling Objections in the Age of Glassdoor

Kurt Jones
Mar 04, 2016
recruiting; Glassdoor; hiring
It's a site that stops even the most confident hiring manager in their tracks: Glassdoor. Just a handful of disgruntled employees can create a wave of unhappiness within your ranks - and discourage talented candidates from joining your organization. Learn how to gracefully handle Glassdoor objections and reviews without damaging your employer brand from these real-life examples.

The One Simple Step You Can Take to Improve Candidate Experience

Kurt Jones
Feb 29, 2016
We've all heard how crucial it is to deliver a positive candidate experience in order to successfully recruit top candidates. But where should you start to craft that experience? Learn the most basic foundational element you should focus on to deliver an exceptional candidate experience.

Recruiting High-Performing Leaders: How Can You Ensure Success?

Kurt Jones
Feb 19, 2016
enterprise succession planning and leadership development
When it comes to recruiting for executive roles, the stakes are raised even higher. Here are some of the best ways you can ensure your executive search is successful.

Have you joined our mailing list yet?

Keep updated on the most current topics in talent acquisition and talent management via our free bi-weekly digest of our recent blogs. Light on your email inbox, heavy on useful HR perspectives and information!