Recruitment strategy: 7 essential things to include

7 minute read

Posted by Chris Platts on 10 July 2020

Picture this scenario. You’ve just stepped into a new role as head of talent acquisition. It’s day one and you’re called into a meeting with the exec team – you don’t know much about the business yet but you’re keen to learn.

The CEO asks you straight up, “What’s your recruitment strategy?”

What do you say?

The bad answer to this question is to start talking about your strategy. After all, how could you possibly know what strategy to create if you don’t know what the overall business strategy is?

Your recruitment strategy should feed into the overall business strategy; it should be fully aligned to the business objectives.

So you reply, “I’m not sure yet, let’s start with the business’s strategic objectives and I’ll work back from there.”

Congratulations, you’ve made it clear to the exec team that the goals of TA are focused on achieving the business’ objectives. You’re now in the top 1% of TA leaders globally.

A clear recruitment plan should not only have an impact on business performance it should result in filling more jobs on time and avoiding costly new hire attrition. A good strategy needs more than just numbers. Recruitment budgets and vacancy volumes are important, but creating a killer hiring plan does beyond just the basics.

Here are 7 essential things to include in your recruitment strategy:

1. Needs and skills gap analysis

The first thing to do when crafting your recruitment plan is to conduct a robust needs and skills gaps analysis. You’ll need to:

  • Assess skills your company has already
  • Identify any new skills you’ll need in the future
  • Compare current with required skills and plan to fill the gaps

Of course, some skills gaps can be solved through training, so you’ll need to talk to HR to understand your talent development capabilities.

You should also speak with senior management to establish which departments need reinforcing and why. Discover what their plans are for future growth and complement their knowledge with any staff performance data you can get.

You’ll learn which skills your teams are missing and the ones you’ll need to establish through talent acquisition. You can then plug these holes and make sure your hiring aligns with both current and future hiring requirements.

2. Ideal candidate profiles

With a clear idea of where your skills and needs gaps are, you can start to determine what your ideal candidates look like. 

  • What key skills or experiences are needed for each role? 
  • What does a typical day look like in the role? 
  • What are the key tasks they will have to perform? 
  • What are the reasons why people leave this role?

Bring in hiring managers to discuss this aspect. And if you’re thinking of using customised pre-hire assessments to screen candidates against your ideal, then make sure you include your assessment provider in these discussions.  Hiring team collaboration will ensure a shared understanding of what the role entails and what is needed in order to fill it successfully. 

3. Job descriptions

Securing top candidates starts with crafting an attractive job description. Take the time to write compelling and inclusive job descriptions. 

Using your ideal candidate profile as a template, start thinking about what the job requirements should actually be. Consider the 8 areas laid out in the graphic below.

Once you’ve captured job requirements it’s your responsibility to turn a job into a compelling opportunity. Think about what unique aspects or benefits your company has to offer. Write passionately about the company ethos and goals and avoid listing generic job requirements.

Don’t shy away from displaying personality either. Job descriptions are there to sell an opportunity, as well as accurately outlining the role realities. And don’t forget to use text analysis tools like Textio to ensure your job advert language isn’t biased. 

4. Create a recruitment calendar

When you’ve established what requirements are needed for each role it’s time to establish your hiring timescales. An effective recruitment strategy enables you to plan ahead and estimate future needs in order to prepare for them.

It might be the case that you need to fill a role in Q3 that requires preparation for in Q2 or even Q1. It might be the case that your hiring funnel demands high volume hiring at peak times of the year.

Build a recruitment calendar to include positions you need to fill each quarter, the headcount for each role type, and a timeline for when each round of hiring must start and close. 

For example:

Recruitment strategy, recruitment calendar
Source: Workable

5. Candidate selection tools 

All recruitment plans must include a clear process for screening and selecting candidates. 

First, decide how candidates are going to be screened. Your screening process will depend on job seniority and applicant volumes. 

For example, for entry-level volume hiring CVs are unreliable methods to assess job suitability so you may want to opt for a Realistic Job Assessment. Whereas for senior finance roles, prior work experience and industry qualifications are a better predictor of job suitability so a CV review becomes both more acceptable and manageable to do. 

Next, how are you going to select a candidate? Many pre-employment assessment methods can be used alongside the traditional job interview. Cognitive ability tests can help with senior roles, peer interviews can provide you with a less biased view on culture fit.

Finally, think about who is tasked with delivering each part of the hiring process. Make sure it’s clear who is to make the final decision regarding candidate selection and who is involved at each stage as you’ll need to secure their time before you start hiring.

6. Build a recruitment budget

Once you’re clear on what skills you need to acquire, what roles need hiring, when they need to be filled and how you’re going to fill them, you need to create a recruitment budget.

You’ll probably want to base this on your cost per hire, and include space for special projects to improve the recruitment process.

Costs to include in your budget are:

  • Internal costs (e.g. referral programme costs and recruiter salaries)
  • External costs (e.g. agency costs, job advertising, recruitment tools and background checks)

Understand where your costs are going and what’s going to be needed in order to secure talent in the future.

7. Pre-boarding plan

Recruitment doesn’t end once the job has been accepted. The best recruitment strategy includes thinking about candidate pre-boarding and subsequent onboarding.

Who’s responsible for welcoming the new hire and making them feel welcome? Who’s responsible for making sure they actually start on day one.

Having clear roles and responsibilities on these issues will benefit the candidate and ensure the seamless transition from candidate to new employee.


Creating a recruitment strategy is hard work, but it will keep the hiring wheels turning when you’re not around.

It’s important not to standardise the whole hiring process though. Instead, look for different ways to change the experience according to each role type and candidate profile. Consider what concerns they might have throughout the process and make changes accordingly.

Finally, be prepared to make changes. A good recruitment strategy is one that is built with flexibility in mind. 


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