How Onboarding Job Seekers Can Enhance Your Recruitment Strategy

May 5, 2016 | Stacey Rivers | HCI
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It was 5 p.m. on a Friday when I received an email from a colleague asking for help. She was looking to hire a developer and hadn't found any good leads on LinkedIn. We talked about her dilemma and where she was looking to source candidates. Although she had taken all the steps she knew to locate interested applicants, her search failed to yield any real results. While managers can struggle with filling critical roles for various reasons, is it too far fetched to imagine that great talent could already be in close proximity to your organization? "Close" is relative to how a thoughtful recruitment strategy can present opportunities for job seekers, internal and external to the organization. One way to accomplish this is to shift your onboarding strategy to include potential candidates. In my article, “Is Your Onboarding Program Designed To This?” I discussed the concept of onboarding existing employees as a retention strategy. Examining what it means to onboard an individual, one can argue that anyone can be onboarded at varying degrees.

We all know finding great talent is a challenge for many reasons, and the dilemma with identifying them is you never know who they are or where they may be located.  Further, the positive impressions generated externally by giving insight into the company’s culture can be tremendous. Having an overarching recruitment strategy that stays "on" is key to allowing talent to gravitate to you, but there is also something you can do to reverse-engineer the process:

Internal to the Organization

Beginning any candidate search effort with an internal focus first can surface skills in the organization that provides a dual benefit. Companies who leverage skills have a shorter ramp up to actualizing value, and in return employees are offered career opportunities with outcomes that support the organization’s larger mission.

External to the Organization

Searching out and aligning potential candidates for when opportunities are available can become a hit or miss game. How you stay in "ready" mode when they appear is by using onboarding tactics to engage potentials. Starting the recruitment process to commensurate with your hiring cycle can be ineffective; the key is to explore new ways to attract and engage candidates while giving them access to the culture so you become a destination of choice.

Using onboarding strategies to engage talent internal and external to the organization will allow companies to uncover the skills they are searching for using a variety of methods:

  • IKEA – Recently IKEA held its first meet and greet for potential candidates to engage with hiring managers and learn about the company’s culture. In addition it held “talent days” for current employees to discuss career paths and interests.
  • Google – No surprise here that Google would hire its former intern Jewel Burks in a role as an “entrepreneur in residence”. Burks illustrates diversity in hiring, diversity of thought, and diversity in roles; imagine how many millennial followers she has inspired.
  • Walmart – Thinking different about how to fill its skills gap for STEM jobs, Walmart’s SVP of Global HR suggested that the company wasn’t looking hard enough and subsequently found 1,000 employees with STEM skills in its 2.4M worker base.

Shifting the organization’s culture to include onboarding strategies for talent acquisition that everyone can support, starts with understanding:

  1. Recruitment is every employee's responsibility.
  2. Building the talent pipeline is crucial to infusing the organization with the right skills.
  3. Critical skills can be found in places you may not have considered.

Enhance Your Strategy and Onboard Potential Candidates by:

  1. Engaging – Is there a strategy to encourage potential candidates to participate in company-sponsored events (online or in-person)? If not, how can initiatives be piloted and measured?
  2. Educating – How are potential candidates educated about the organization, culture, and opportunities that exist now and in the near future?
  3. Exploring – What initiatives have launched that allow candidates (internal and external) to explore what the organization has to offer (i.e. products, services, culture)?
  4. Empowering – Are employees empowered to demonstrate their skills outside of their current role? What critical skills already exists in the organization that can be leveraged?
  5. Expanding – In what ways have the reach been expanded from normal sourcing pools to include new areas of opportunities?

Locating and engaging skilled employees is a challenge every company faces but only a few get right. When companies make a conscious decision to build their talent pipeline, experimenting with strategies for both internal and external engagement is crucial to future success.



Stacey Rivers is the Director of Technology Skills Analysis & Development for Turner (formerly Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc.), a division of Time Warner, Inc. Rivers is an HCI certified Strategic Workforce Planner (SWP) and Human Capital Strategist (HCS), and is responsible for resource optimization strategies for Turner’s Global Technology & Operations Division.