Ask the Expert: HR VP Talks Recruitment Strategies

recruitment strategies

The New Year brings resolutions about job switching and potential employee turnover. It also heralds new business goals and the potential for bigger talent budgets. It all amounts to big challenges for recruiters. As Bright Horizons' vice president of recruitment and temporary staffing, Eileen Smith is charged with overseeing the hiring of more than 8000 people annually. Here she answers some questions about recruitment strategies at Bright Horizons.

The economy is making it even harder to find the right talent these days. Do you have recruitment strategies for hard-to-fill positions?  

We've been actively refining our networking and social media strategy on sites including LinkedIn. It's been a game changer, allowing unprecedented access to talent. If we're looking for a particular skill or for a hard-to-fill slot - let's say for example a niche IT position - we'll do a search and then cold source through InMail. But we recognize it's not a one-and-done thing. IT professionals and most talent are in demand in this economy, meaning candidates have lots of choices.

So you want to develop a relationship with prospects and be persistent. Research shows that it takes roughly seven to ten contacts to convert someone. We might start with an email, invite the prospect to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, set up an informational phone meeting, and later invite them to an event. In short, if you've found an interesting prospect for a tough-to-fill role, it pays to show you care. When the time is right, they'll make the move to come.

Are there recruiting advantages to set you apart from other prospective employers?

The number-one recruiting advantage for Bright Horizons - and in fact any organization - is culture.

We've always been very culture oriented. Our values statement - our HEART principles - and our commitment to being a top place to work illustrates who we are. We understand working in a Dream Company with a positive work environment and culture. As our CHRO Dan Henry often reminds us, that's becoming more important than dream jobs.

And that culture factors prominently in our recruiting strategies. Our Bright Horizons Careers site and Facebook pages are designed to broadcast our culture through videos, photos of events, professional development opportunities, and giving back through the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children events. We also protect our brand through careful monitoring and responses to feedback on our Glassdoor page - good advice for all employers.

Happy employees refer their friends and we see this advantage tangibly play out in our recruiting. Our number-one source of hires is, hands down, our employees. They like working here and because of that they're happy to recommend Bright Horizons' jobs to their friends. We've had success with our employees promoting openings through their Linked In or Facebook networks. As a result, our employee referral program is incredibly successful.

Since it never hurts to offer an incentive, we often reward employees with a gift card for a qualified lead plus a bonus when hired. Promoting the referral program also supports our diversity efforts by tapping into different networks. In addition to bringing us lots of people, it's also an exceptionally effective retention tool. People brought into Bright Horizons through referrals have an 89% retention rate, which says these new hires heard about their friends' experiences and they're coming for our specific culture.

We also have a solid success rate with people who come back. One of the things IBM talked about on our recent webinar was their Talent Ecosystem; the fact that they make sure all employees - even departing ones - have positive experiences because they all remain within your employment universe in some capacity. We believe that, too, so much that we actively recruit former employees. Ideally, these contacts should be personal; we'll have a former manager reach out with a phone call. And they come back - we call it the Boomerang Concept. It's another way we know our culture is really having an impact.

If you've got that kind of positive relationship to your employees and applicants, I highly suggest reaching out at strategic intervals.

What are some effective recruitment strategies when experiencing a spike in growth?  

Recruiting for large numbers of people is something we understand since we're often on the lookout for early educators and contact center representatives. The challenge is to cast a wide net without compromising your culture and position fit. So what you need are approaches that help you effectively cull through many candidates at once to look for specific qualities. Our philosophy for non-exempt employees is to hire for potential and train to unlock.

When it comes to recruitment strategies, one thing that works well for us is video interviewing. That allows recruiters to review large numbers of prospective hires and their answers to key questions. It's a time saver for hiring managers since they're able to review videos at their convenience. As in all of our recruiting efforts, we want candidates to get to know us while we get to know them. To that end, we schedule events - such as educational workshops or webinars - that allow people to get to know our culture on an informal level. Prospects might come in for a tour or "coffee/ cookies or cocoa, and conversation or a brown bag lunch." We also do open houses and group interviews which really help us get to know a lot of people at a time.

When volume hiring is needed, the most important element is to make sure  the hiring managers are ready to make decisions; they have to know who they're looking for. And when they spot someone in whom they're so confident, they need to communicate their sincere interest on the spot and move forward with the offer and hiring process quickly.

In all of the instances, culture is key. Because on the flipside, having a clear picture of your culture - who will have potential, be a fit, and unlock at your organization - also helps you hire the right people and avoid a revolving door.  

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.