How to Plan a Recruiting Strategy in Uncertain Times

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One primary factor that HR and Talent Acquisition leaders face in the midst of a global pandemic is that it’s difficult to plan and set up a recruiting strategy when we don’t know what next week or next month looks like. Because this is unlike anything we have experienced in our work lives to date, we’re working without a playbook. What we can do is focus on what is in our control and rely on time tested foundational strategies, like change management.

While we haven’t been faced with a global health crisis before, we have had to work within periods of economic uncertainty, keep up with rapidly changing technology, and adapt to changes in federal and state laws that impact recruiting. In the past, we have built our recruiting strategies on a foundation of change management that allow us to manage significant changes within our organization.

Using Change Management to Plan a Recruiting Strategy

In the broadest sense, organizational change refers to the actions a business takes to change or adjust a significant component of its organization. This may include company culture, internal processes, underlying technology or infrastructure, corporate hierarchy, or another critical aspect. HR is at the forefront of organizational change, responsible for planning, coordinating, and carrying out change within an organization. The goal is not to just implement change, but ensure that it is sustainable over time.

Once the need for change has been identified, we then develop a plan for change, which includes:

  • What goals does this change help the organization work toward?
  • How will success be measured?
    • What metrics need to be moved?
    • What is the baseline for how things currently stand?
  • What steps and actions will the project include?


Planning a Recruiting Strategy on Change Management

In general, we’re focusing on how to plan a recruiting strategy, and the steps in change management can be a guide. We begin with understanding what goal we are trying to meet - for example, filling X number of positions with skilled talent in X number of months. This identifies the goal as well as how it supports the needs of the organization.

The next step is to identify what we are measuring, or the key performance indicators that establish whether or not our efforts are successful. We first consider what data is available: do we have a segmented and targeted list of potential candidates in our talent pool? What was the engagement on our last recruiting email, which CTA performed best, which digital campaign returned the highest results?

Then we identify what data we want to consider. Source of hire based on success metrics from our last new hire class, for example, could be our baseline or benchmark. If we isolate the most successful source of hire and target that specific channel for our upcoming campaign, we have a better opportunity to improve on campaign reach, engagement, and applicant to hire ratio.

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Your Recruiting Strategy Should Be Fluid, Agile, and Dynamic

In change management, every process has starting conditions (point A) and a functional endpoint (point B). The process in between is dynamic and unfolds in stages and, as such, must be agile and flexible in order to pivot based on immediate data or feedback. The steps and actions to include in your recruiting strategy will vary widely based on what your organization wants to achieve, but using past data allows us to work quickly, efficiently and effectively. Additionally, your plan should account for any unknowns or roadblocks that could arise during the implementation process and would require agility and flexibility to overcome.

Finally, your recruiting strategy during uncertain times is very similar to how organizations handle change management for technology - if a change takes too long to implement, it could become irrelevant. Because we are dealing with a job market and economic landscape that is shifting wildly from month to month, we have to be able to move very quickly, make decisions in hours and not days, and have access to real time data that will enable us to make those decisions.

Topics: Recruiting Strategies

Updated August 26, 2020