I’ve gotten the sense lately that employers that are hiring are doing so more quietly than they were even a year or so ago. The unemployment figures are still higher than they were a few years ago. The reporters keep touting how we handle tough economic times. The myriad of expensive political ads are all talking about creating jobs. Is it that employers that are hiring are almost embarrassed to be bucking the tide? Or are they afraid that they’ll see such a slew of unqualified candidates come down the pike that they are afraid to open the gates?I’ve been in and around the recruitment field in Colorado for many more years than I care to admit. There are ebbs and the flows. I’ve seen unemployment figures drop below 3% and rise well above 9%. We are at the higher end of the spectrum, yet employers ARE still hiring.

We speak every day with companies that have opportunities listed on their website, advertised with employment websites, are holding their own open house recruiting events, and more. These are all tactics to hire the current job openings. In many cases, these tactics have replaced the weekly classified ads.

Using the analogy that recruiting is like fishing, a human resources friend of mine referred to this as “pole” versus “net” recruiting. With “pole” recruiting, we wait until there is a need (we need to eat fish for dinner tonight), then we dip the bait in the water (place an ad). “Net” recruiting, on the other hand, takes a look at the long term (we need to eat for the winter). Let’s gather a group of fish (candidates) that we might like. Get them interested and bring them into our net. Then our pond is essentially smaller and we have a greater chance later of catching the one we want, when we want it, with our “pole.” The “pole” still works. It just works faster and more efficiently.

Building a recruitment strategy includes both a “net” vision and “pole” tactics. The “net” vision means speaking up. Step out. Buck the tide. Open the flood gates and let the fish swim on in. (And whatever other clichés we can throw at it.) The strategies include doing more branding through the corporate career site, job boards, social media, search engine optimization, and more. Companies should be continually doing “net” recruiting, whether or not they are hiring today.  That means gathering and attracting candidates that are interested in joining the organization at some point.  That might be today.  That might be during their NEXT transition.  The “net” effect is that the number of candidates do go up.

“Whoa! But we don’t need MORE candidates, we need BETTER candidates,” is a common concern. The reality is that the better candidates are there hiding in the “net.” They have developed a relationship with the organization even more applying to an open job.  The “pole” tactics allow us to use technology to wade through and find the best of the best. That means we can expand the content in our corporate career center to encourage the RIGHT candidates to apply. We have gathered a group of qualified candidates that we can proactively reach out to via email, text, or phone.  We can show job seekers what it’s REALLY like to work for us through video. Take a few extra minutes to write a job advertisement that says not only what we want for experience, but WHO would best fit. Use the tactics to hone in. Open the flood gates, then use finer and finer tools to catch the right minnows.

Shhhhhhhhh…. I’m hiring? No! Forget that. SHOUT it in good times and bad.  A strong recruitment strategy will take advantage of an increased candidate flow to cast that wider net.