How to Create a Culture of Recruiting

At companies with a strong recruiting culture, hiring is a team sport. Employees don't need recognition for making referrals or speaking with a candidate over the phone. Everyone understands that hiring is a part of their job that helps their company grow.

With every employee on board, you can leverage your entire organization to find the best talent. You have a pool of employees who can give you great referrals and articulate your culture and values to candidates. Recruitment won’t feel like a chore--employees will happily take the time to meet with candidates and tell them what it’s like to work at your company.

I've worked at companies that have a strong recruiting culture (along with a few that didn't). Here are five strategies I've learned for involving an entire organization in the recruiting process:

1. Get executive buy-in

In the early years of Amazon, Jeff Bezos met with every interviewee and assessed their experience. When Sheryl Sandberg worked at Google, she interviewed every candidate for her business operations team. These leaders knew that each employee played an important role in their developing companies, so they got involved and evaluated each new hire themselves.

Executive involvement can have a huge influence on candidates, too. In one of my previous jobs, a candidate was feeling wishy-washy about their offer. We had one of the company founders send a quick email saying: “Hey, I hear you're talking about joining and just wanted to let you know that we look forward to having you on the team.” The candidate immediately accepted.

There are a few key ways you can get your executive team involved in hiring:

  • Ask them to contact candidates who are considering an offer. Executives' time is valuable, so don't ask for their involvement with every candidate. It's better to ask for their help with especially valuable candidates who are on the fence. Give a tangible justification for their involvement, like “the candidate is interviewing for the product owner role that we need in order to hit our revenue goal.”
  • Have them speak at job events. Having an executive speak with potential candidates at events can help make a strong impression and encourage them to apply.
  • Leverage their network. Executives have a wide network, so they can suggest contacts that candidates might enjoy connecting with, or refer people who are a great fit for an open position.

The influence of executives filters down to employees. When employees see that their executive team prioritizes recruitment, they become more willing to do the same.

2. Make it easy for employees to get involved

As a recruiter, you need to make sure that your job openings are reaching the passive candidate market.

Employees are a great way to reach that market. Many of their friends and family are potential candidates, plus employees attend industry events—like conferences—where they can spread the word about your job openings.

Make it easy for your employees to recruit and advocate for your company by informing them about all job openings—then, they can decide if and how they want to promote these roles. Here are a few ways you can keep co-workers updated on the latest open positions at your company:

  • Internal email announcements: If you're at a small to medium-sized company, send a monthly email to employees about your current job openings. Even better, link to a LinkedIn search with pre-set role criteria so employees can easily find which connections might be a good fit for the role.
  • LinkedIn: Ask employees to link their LinkedIn accounts with your company's page, if they haven't already. Then, they can view the job openings you've posted on the platform, and their connections can see that they know someone at your company when viewing the open positions.
  • Internal job board: An internal platform where employees can review job openings is ideal for large companies with a growing team and many job openings.
  • In-person communication: If you're a smaller company, you can announce your open job positions to employees at team-wide meetings.

It’s important to make sure your employees are speaking to potential candidates because they want to, not just because they're told to. Employees are only powerful brand advocates if they're authentically praising your company.

3. Ask for referrals with a goal in mind

Referrals are a great way for employees to get involved in hiring. However, it’s important to be very thoughtful about the end outcome you're trying to achieve when setting up a referral program.

If you offer the same referral incentive for every open position, you could accidentally establish a culture where employees make referrals because they want a bonus, not because they know someone who is a great fit. You may also end up wasting money on incentives for jobs that are easy to hire for.

Instead, save referral incentives for roles that are difficult to fill. If incentives aren't the norm, help your employees understand that they should make referrals to help their company find talented people, not just to get a monetary bonus.

For example, you might pay employees for field sales rep referrals because the role is travel-intensive and difficult to hire. On the other hand, you may not need to give a referral bonus for hiring a temporary retail specialist position when people are lining up for seasonal work.

To build a referral program without hurting your recruiting culture, follow these tips:

  • Save referral incentives for roles that are tough to hire. Give employees an extra push to make referrals if you're having trouble finding strong candidates.
  • Articulate why you give different incentives for different roles. As soon as you give bonuses for some jobs and not others, employees will want to know why you're favoring positions. Provide visibility by explaining your rationale for different referral bonuses.

4. Show off your culture with team interviews

Involving your entire company in the interview process creates a better candidate experience and recruiter experience. Candidates get a better sense of your company culture by talking to employees about what it’s like to work there. Create an engaging atmosphere, use fun business cards, offer company swag like t-shirts or custom embroidered hoodies, and always keep in touch with employees to establish a better company culture. As a recruiter, you get a more holistic view of candidates by hearing non-recruiter employees’ perspectives on the applicant.

The key is to make it easy for employees to engage in interviews. Here are a few key ways to get more of your company involved in interviewing:

  • Plan your interview questions in advance. Have a script for every interviewer to follow, and you'll avoid repeat or weak questions in the interview process. Collaborate with hiring managers and other interviewers to figure out questions that are relevant for the role. For inspiration, check out these seven proven interview questions.
  • Coach interviewers to help them deliver questions. Even with scripted questions, you don't want hiring managers to sound robotic when they interview candidates. Offer to do a practice interview session with them to help them find a natural, conversational tone.

5. Use data to strengthen the culture you’ve built

After encouraging employees to get involved in hiring, use metrics to measure the effectiveness of the culture you’ve built.

If you don't track metrics, you won't know what to focus on when something goes wrong. That lack of accountability ends up hurting your recruiting culture—employees are unfairly blamed and lose trust in the hiring process.

Say, for example, you realize that it's taking 90 days to hire candidates, and you're losing 25% of them because they're taking other jobs. Without checking metrics, your first instinct might be to yell at your recruiters to make the time-to-hire faster. But after checking your metrics, you find out the real problem—employee interviewers are cancelling 75% of their interviews, so the time-to-hire is long and candidates are disappointed.

To figure out the weak links and improve your recruiting culture, track these key metrics:

  • Percentage of employees who participate in recruitment
  • Number of interviews per quarter
  • Number of offers from referrals
  • Interview feedback
  • Interview cancellation rate

By measuring these metrics, you can dig deep on hiring issues to figure out where to make adjustments and strengthen your culture.

Hire top talent by leveraging your entire company

A recruiting culture looks different for every organization.

Whatever way employees get involved in recruiting, strive for a high level of engagement. An active recruiting culture allows you to do your best work as a recruiter, and can help improve the overall candidate experience. Whether you need help with candidate sourcing or interviewing, you have employees that are ready to pitch in to make hiring a team sport.

This article was originally posted on the Google Hire blog

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