Improve your Hiring with an Annual Hiring Strategy
By: Elaine Pofeldt
Many employers hire on an as-needed basis as the need arises. While that approach may have worked in the recession it doesn’t work in today’s strengthened job market — a market where competition for in-demand talent is steep.
“The power is now more on the employee side than the employer side,” says Bob Johnson, practice leader, workforce communications at The David Group, a Cleveland-based firm that designs recruitment and retention communication programs.
If you plan to hire in the coming year, an annual hiring strategy will help you develop a smart hiring plan that will support your growing company. These tips will help you get started.
Take stock of your hiring needs. Speak with your leadership team about your company’s talent needs in the coming year. To clarify these, Johnson recommends considering questions such as:
- What talent needs to be hired over the next several years? At what pace?
- Are there specific hiring events or cycles to consider?
Nicole Cox, chief recruitment officer at Decision Toolbox, a 112-employee recruiting firm, says her firm also does “tsunami planning” in its annual hiring strategy.
“We plan for the positive and negative scenarios: What if all of this business came our way? What if all of this business dropped off?” says Cox.
Hiring ahead of demand is not deemed wise, unless you have a signed contract for new business and make your offers contingent on a signed contract, says Cox. Decision Toolbox revisits its annual hiring strategy every quarter to keep it current, she says.
Evaluate your strategic goals. Consider your company’s strategic goals as you write your annual hiring plan, advises Dave Carvajal, CEO of Dave Partners, a New York City-based executive-recruitment firm for high-growth technology companies.
Map out your company’s strategic goals over time: what do you want to achieve in the next six, 12, 18 and 24 months?
Many companies aim for three to five major strategic outcomes in a given year in areas tied to market dominance. These areas might include revenue, profit margins, international expansion, entry into new markets and development of a new product line, product or service, Carvajal says. Considering those goals will help you determine what positions you need to fill in the coming year, he adds.
Coordinate hiring needs across teams. FreightCenter, a 133-employee third-party freight logistics company in Palm Harbor, Fla., made about 30 hires in the past year.
How did the company successfully grow its staff in such short order? By coordinating across teams.
In management meetings held every Wednesday, FreightCenter leaders share information about upcoming hiring needs with the company’s human resources manager, Tiffany Brown.
Brown then factors these needs into the company’s annual hiring plan. “We want to make sure we control costs, hire the right talent and keep up with growth projections,” she says.
Once you’re clear on your hiring goals, come up with a plan for your recruitment advertising, marketing and communications, Johnson advises. This plan should reflect your hiring timeline and budget.
Create a branded job template. A customized job posting template with your company’s logo and graphics will help your jobs stand out from the crowd and help reinforce your all-important employer brand.
“If I was communicating to software engineers in New York City, I’d probably promote where the engineers we’ve hired are coming from,” says Carvajal. “I’d talk about what their life is like at my company: `We follow an agile methodology. We have weekly hackathons.’”
Define the candidate experience. Creating a written interview guide for your team to use with each candidate, along with a standardized coring system, can make it easier to achieve the goals in your annual hiring plan in an efficient way, say experts.
You want your candidate experience to be seamless, especially if you are pursuing top talent.
“When candidates have a variety of choices, you don’t want them to jump through as many hoops,” says Cox. If the company’s career page, online application process or interview process are bumpy, candidates may not stick around, say experts.
Create a talent pipeline. You can avoid hiring on an as-needed basis by building a list of potential candidates to recruit.
“This can range from a simple database of all applicants to a full-out communications program,” says Johnson. “A cultivation program sends all those in the database recruitment content on a regular basis. This helps keep people connected to your company and alerts them to when a better-fitting opportunity may arise.”
Another way to build a talent pipeline is to host open houses at your company and invite candidates. “Start an almost-invitation-only courtship process,” Carvajal advises. “That way you will get to know them on a deeper level.”
Then, the next time to need to fill a new position, you’ll have avoided the usual mad scramble, thanks to your well-considered annual hiring strategy.