Many recruitment agencies have a difficult time recruiting top quality applicants for the very demanding jobs they are trying to fill. Baby-boomer driven retirements coupled with a shrinking labor supply suggest that the recruitment challenge will only get tougher.
The recruitment challenges faced by small private human service agencies may be very different from those faced by the largest state, county and city public agencies. Yet they face many common challenges – some requiring basic systemic changes, and others that can be addressed in the short term. Both must be addressed if recruitment agencies are going to be successful over the long haul in attracting applicants with the needed education, experience and competency sets.
Closing the Recruitment Gap
Your gap analysis may have revealed that you need to attract more and better-qualified applicants. Ultimately, the applicants you hire are only as strong as those in your applicant pool.
The following steps will help you develop a gap-closing recruitment strategy to better attract more applicants and to build a pool of high-quality applicants.
- Identify your Recruitment Strategy Team
- Brainstorm possible recruitment strategies
- Select the best recruitment options to investigate and pursue
- Draft plan
- Get leadership buy-in
Step 1: Identify the Recruitment Strategy Team
Form a workgroup whose primary objective will be to develop a gap-closing recruitment plan for your agency. The team should include:
- Key Human Resources personnel.
- Staff who have knowledge and responsibility for day-to-day operations.
- Other work units as appropriate given your agency’s size and organizational structure.
- Individuals with networking contacts to community resources such as other human service agencies, and University Schools of Social Work and/or Criminal Justice.
Bringing together a Recruitment Strategy Team from different parts of your agency offers a number of advantages:
- Team members may have a variety of networking contacts.
- Team members may bring new perspectives that result in creative ideas that surface through brainstorming.
- Team members may become more invested in the recruitment process and support/encourage involvement of their respective organizational units.
Step 2: Brainstorm Recruitment Ideas
Your first team meeting should be a brainstorming session to generate as many approaches to recruiting quality applicants as possible. (Your Recruitment Strategy Team may need more than one meeting to brainstorm ideas.)
As with any brainstorming exercise, encourage “out of the box thinking”– some of the best long-term strategies evolve from ideas that initially sounded impractical.
Ask the following questions to help prompt the team to think broadly about gap-closing recruitment strategies:
- Why do we have difficulty recruiting enough qualified applicants?
- How can we recruit more applicants?
- How can we recruit better-qualified applicants?
- How can we improve the diversity of our applicant pool?
- Can we design our recruitment strategy to reduce unwanted turnover?
- Do we need to fill vacancies faster? If so, how?
- Do our recruitment and hiring activities need to be timed to coincide with the commencement of new employee orientations or formal training sessions?
- Are our recruitment efforts hampered by the regulations of a central HR agency? If so, what can we do to alleviate the situation?
- Any other relevant issues?
Step 3: Determine Feasibility
Early in the planning process – perhaps following the first meeting – team members should begin researching the feasibility of promising ideas.
Ultimately, your team will have to come to agreement on the recruitment strategy, commit it to writing, and obtain whatever approvals are appropriate for the agency’s culture. Including a cost-benefit analysis or Return on Investment (ROI) data may facilitate the approval process.