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Not Hiring? You Still Need a Recruitment Plan. An always-on program to find the people you need is table stakes for the new world of work.

This story originally appeared on Principal Financial Group®


When Trey Winthrop, CEO of Bob's Red Mill, learned that a 30-year employee was thinking of retiring, he started recruiting — even though that post-work date wouldn't happen for another two years. It's just part of the company's ongoing recruitment strategy. "As an employee-owned company, we have collaborative teams who continually seek to improve processes and identify the right people are in the right positions. This mindset allows us to leverage employee owners' institutional knowledge to attract, train and retain highly qualified candidates," Winthrop says of the whole-grain foods manufacturer and Principal® client based in Oregon.

Typically, companies search for a new hire when needed. But in today's hiring landscape, where job openings continue to outpace job seekers, developing an always-on recruitment plan just makes good business sense.

"We have a phrase: Always be recruiting," says Michael Anderson, head of talent acquisition at Principal. "If you ask any business leader what their most valuable asset is, they'll say it's their people. An empty room doesn't make any money, and people are driving your engine of success. There's going to be a return on investment for you to have a good recruitment strategy in place."

Here's how to develop one that may fit your business plans and today's workforce.

Define (and refine) your brand

Who are you, and how do you share that with the outside world? That's key to developing a recruitment strategy, Anderson says. "Candidates are applying to jobs, then researching companies, and to stand out you have to smarten up messaging and the channels where you share that messaging," he says. "How are you different?"

Define evergreen job positions

Will you always have a head of IT or an administrative assistant? Update these job descriptions continually. If there's an opening in a key position, you won't be left scrambling to figure out duties and skills for new candidates.

Be thoughtful with recruitment

Mass market job postings only equals mass applicants, Anderson says. Instead, address how you can make positions appealing to the most qualified applicants. Different jobs may suit different channels, too. For example, an open management position may warrant a LinkedIn posting, while a technical spot may best be served by connecting with certified training programs.

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Measure past efforts

What's worked in the past — and what hasn't? That's important to note (and update) in your recruitment strategy.

Involve your team

At key points in a recruitment strategy, you may want to involve business partners, who in turn connect to their own networks of qualified individuals. "A recruitment strategy should detail how you communicate those needs so you can sell what you have," Anderson says.

Learn where the talent is

With more companies enabling fully remote or hybrid positions, you're competing for talent not just locally, but nationally. In other words: It's a candidate-driven market for the moment, and the more constraints you have, the fewer applicants you'll get.

At Principal, that's equaled an evolution in recruitment strategy, says Amy Hunold-Van Gundy, vice president of talent management. "Right now, over 75% of all jobs are posted nationally and we are experiencing 40 to 50% of hires outside of the Des Moines area where we're headquartered," she says. "That's provided access to more diverse talent."

Emphasize your culture and benefits

Part of your recruitment strategy is identifying the benefits that are key drivers for potential employees. "What do you have that others don't?" Anderson says. "Your benefits reflect your corporate culture and show what you value."

That's Winthrop's approach to the company's culture. "When employee owners are getting ready for their workday, whether it be at midnight or 6:00 a.m., we want them to look forward to what their day holds," Winthrop says. "Our goal is to have employee owners heading home feeling challenged and proud of what they have accomplished."

Refine your interview process

Anderson's team leans in to fewer, high-quality interviews with more robust assessments. "We're asking the same questions that are all job related so we can objectively look at feedback and reduce bias," he says.

Anderson also suggests using your recruitment strategy to figure out how to shorten the time from job posting to job fill. "That gives candidates less time to get a competing offer," he says.

Detail career trajectories

Future candidates aren't just interested in the job available, but how to advance, too, be it gaining skills or moving up in responsibilities. At Bob's Red Mill, Winthrop and team have outlined those very steps as well as formalized a review process. "It really helps people to understand where they are in the organization," he says — and can help you explain that to future candidates, too.

Focus on onboarding as part of your recruitment strategy

Recruiting offers no value if you're not able to keep the people you hire. Anderson points to the first three months as key. "It's the most important time to shape their whole tenure," he says. "Get them off on the right foot, make sure they understand your structure, and help them feel like part of the team."

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The subject matter in this communication is educational only and provided with the understanding that Principal® is not rendering legal, accounting, investment or tax advice. You should consult with appropriate counsel, financial professionals, and other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax, investment or accounting obligations and requirements.

Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Company®. Plan administrative services offered by Principal Life. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., member SIPC and/or independent broker/dealers. Referenced companies are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.

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