San Francisco HR Consultant
Human Resources + Management + Consulting since 1993

Recruitment Strategies

Now that we have discussed development of the job analysis, job description, and job specifications, and you are aware of the laws relating to recruitment, it is time to start recruiting. It is important to mention, though, that a recruitment plan should be in place. This plan can be informal, but you should outline where you plan to recruit and your expected time lines. For example, if one of your methods is to submit an ad to a trade publication website, you should know their deadlines. Also of consideration is to ensure you are recruiting from a variety of sources to ensure diversity. Lastly, consider the economic situation of the country. With high unemployment, you may receive hundreds of applications for one job. In an up economy, you may not receive many applications and should consider using a variety of sources.

Some companies, such as Southwest Airlines, are known for their innovative recruitment methods. Southwest looks for “the right kind of people” and are less focused on the skills than on the personality of the individual (Carey, 2011). When Southwest recruits, it looks for positive team players that match the underdog, quirky company culture. Applicants are observed in group interviews, and those who exhibit encouragement for their fellow applicants are usually those who continue with the recruitment process. This section will discuss some of the ways Southwest and many other Fortune 500 companies find this kind of talent.

Zappos has developed and posted a series of YouTube videos called “Why Do I Like Working at Zappos?” The videos show the culture of the organization and provide a great tool for recruitment.


Some organizations choose to have specific individuals working for them who focus solely on the recruiting function of HR. Recruiters use similar sources to recruit individuals, such as professional organizations, websites, and other methods discussed in this chapter. Recruiters are excellent at networking and usually attend many events where possible candidates will be present. Recruiters keep a constant pipeline of possible candidates in case a position should arise that would be a good match. There are three main types of recruiters:

  1. Executive search firm. These companies are focused on high-level positions, such as management and CEO roles. They typically charge 10–20 percent of the first year salary, so they can be quite expensive. However, they do much of the upfront work, sending candidates who meet the qualifications.
  2. Temporary recruitment or staffing firm. Suppose your receptionist is going on medical leave and you need to hire somebody to replace him, but you don’t want a long-term hire. You can utilize the services of a temporary recruitment firm to send you qualified candidates who are willing to work shorter contracts. Usually, the firm pays the salary of the employee and the company pays the recruitment firm, so you don’t have to add this person to your payroll. If the person does a good job, there may be opportunities for you to offer him or her a full-time, permanent position. Kelly Services, Manpower, and Snelling Staffing Services are examples of staffing firms.
  3. Corporate recruiter. A corporate recruiter is an employee within a company who focuses entirely on recruiting for his or her company. Corporate recruiters are employed by the company for which they are recruiting. This type of recruiter may be focused on a specific area, such as technical recruiting.

A contingent recruiter is paid only when the recruiter starts working, which is often the case with temporary recruitment or staffing firms. A retained recruiter gets paid up front (in full or a portion of the fee) to perform a specific search for a company.

While the HR professional, when using recruiters, may not be responsible for the details of managing the search process, he or she is still responsible for managing the process and the recruiters. The job analysis, job description, and job specifications still need to be developed and candidates will still need to be interviewed.

Fortune 500 Focus

In 2009, when Amazon purchased Zappos for 10 million shares of Amazon stock (roughly $900 million in 2009), the strategic move for Amazon didn’t change the hiring and recruiting culture of Zappos. Zappos, again voted one of the best one hundred companies to work for by CNN Money (Sowa, 2011) believes it all starts with the people they hire. The recruiting staff always asks, “On a scale of 1–10, how weird do you think you are?” This question ties directly to the company’s strategic plan and core value number three, which is “create fun and a little weirdness.” Zappos recruits people who not only have the technical abilities for the job but also are a good culture fit for the organization. Once hired, new employees go through two weeks of training. At the end of the training, newly hired employees are given “the offer.” The offer is $2,000 to quit on the spot. This ensures Zappos has committed people who have the desire to work with the organization, which all begins with the recruiting process.

Campus Recruiting

Colleges and universities can be excellent sources of new candidates, usually at entry-level positions. Consider technical colleges that teach cooking, automotive technology, or cosmetology. These can be great sources of people with specialized training in a specific area. Universities can provide people that may lack actual experience but have formal training in a specific field. Many organizations use their campus recruiting programs to develop new talent, who will eventually develop into managers.

For this type of program to work, it requires the establishment of relationships with campus communities, such as campus career services departments. It can also require time to attend campus events, such as job fairs. IBM, for example, has an excellent campus recruiting program. For IBM, recruiting out of college ensures a large number of people to grow with the organization1.

Setting up a formal internship program might also be a way to utilize college and university contacts. Walgreens, for example, partners with Apollo College to recruit interns; this can result in full-time employment for the motivated intern and money saved for Walgreens by having a constant flow of talent.

Professional Associations

Professional associations are usually nonprofit organizations whose goal is to further a particular profession. Almost every profession has its own professional organization. For example, in the field of human resources, the Society for Human Resource Management allows companies to post jobs relating to HR. The American Marketing Association, also a professional organization, allows job postings as well. Usually, there is a fee involved, and membership in this association may be required to post jobs. Here are some examples of professional associations:

  1. Professional Nursing Association
  2. Society of Women Engineers
  3. International Federation of Accountants
  4. Institute of Management Consultants
  5. United Professional Sales Association
  6. National Lawyers Guild
  7. National Organization of Minority Architects
  8. International Federation of Journalists (union)
  9. International Metalworkers Federation (union)
  10. Association of Flight Attendants (union)

Labor unions can also be excellent sources of candidates, and some unions also allow job postings on their website. The key to using this as a successful recruitment strategy is to identify the organizations that relate to your business and to develop relationships with members in these organizations. This type of networking can help introduce you to people in your industry who may be looking for a job or know of someone who needs a job.

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