How to create a strategic hiring plan

There's no simple formula when it comes to finding the right candidates for your organization, yet hiring is a crucial process to get right. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30 percent of that individual's first-year potential earnings.

When considering how to create a hiring plan, it is important to first develop the right job description to attract the candidates you want. Then, throughout the process, hiring managers must ask the right questions and provide candidates with a positive experience so that when it comes time to extend an offer, there's no reason for candidates to say no. Below are five key steps associated with developing a strategic hiring plan that puts the right employee into the right role—and fast.

1) Assess Your Specific Needs

A strategic hiring plan begins with defining what you are looking for in a candidate. Speak with key stakeholders to define goals for the role and discuss expectations. Dig into how success will be measured, and ensure you thoroughly understand the responsibilities of the role. These are questions candidates will ask, and it is important to be able to answer them honestly.

Talking to the candidate's future manager can be useful as well. Ask them what they value in an employee, what skills they'd like to see and dig into their management style—knowing these details will help you find a match that is suited to the role and fits in well with company culture.

2) Get the Job Description Right

When thinking through how to create a hiring plan, writing the right job description should be at the top of your list. The majority of hiring managers—72 percent—say they provide clear job descriptions, but only 36 percent of candidates say the same.

A job description should be informative, but it must also do more than simply list desired skills. It should get applicants excited about the role, explain what makes your company unique and describe key responsibilities. Speak to someone who has previously held the role to make sure you accurately describe the position.

If you will be posting on external job boards, investigate how similar positions are being advertised. As you contemplate how to create a hiring plan, think of your job posting as a marketing tool—what can you include that will make the candidate you want apply for the position?

3) Identify the Right Places to Look

There are many places to source candidates: external job boards, social media, employee referral programs and career pages on your company's website. Depending on the type of person you are targeting, your hiring plan may include posting on all of these platforms, or just on a few of them.

When creating a strategic hiring plan, add passive candidates to your list of options as well. According to a LinkedIn study, 90 percent of global professionals are open to hearing about a new job. Seek out passive candidates at industry conferences, networking events or on social sites like LinkedIn.

You may also want to consider sharing the job posting with company board members, partners in your community or trusted business associates who may be willing to recommend a candidate or share the role with their respective networks.

4) Plan How You'll Conduct Interviews

Thoroughly preparing for the interview process from start to finish should be a key part of your hiring plan. During the initial screening process, plan to focus on the candidate's resume and online presence to assess how well they match the job description. During a phone screen, make sure skills align with your expectations. If any red flags come up, move on. Use in-person interviews to answer final questions and make sure the applicant is a cultural and behavioral match.

Candidates may sometimes look perfect on paper, but simply not mesh well with current employees. If possible, plan to involve internal staff in interviews, especially if they will be working directly with the new hire. Set aside time to gather everyone's feedback on the candidate—a fresh perspective is always valuable, and existing employees may catch something you overlooked.

And don't forget to think about the hiring process from a candidate's perspective. The smallest negative interaction could lead to rejecting a job offer. Make sure the interview process is well-organized, easy to navigate and professional.

5) Prepare to Close the Deal

Once you've found the perfect candidate, prepare to move fast with your offer. You don't want to compete with another offer or risk losing the candidate because they are tired of waiting for you to respond.

After closing the deal, don't forget to use recruiting data to track your successes. By analyzing metrics such as where best hires come from, how long it takes to make a quality hire and how many candidates you need to interview to fill a position, you can reshape your next strategic hiring plan to invest effort in the places where it will pay off most.

But remember, successfully making the right hire is just the tip of the iceberg. Prioritizing employee engagement, nurturing a strong relationship and ensuring job satisfaction are an equally important part of a strategic hiring plan. By dedicating the time, effort and research needed to make the right hire, you can avoid past mistakes, build a strong company culture and ultimately retain your best employees.

Want an easy way to create a strategic hiring plan for your organization? Cornerstone's HR Suite is a flexible and cost-effective solution that allows you to identify future talent gaps, identify top performers using data, compare talent metrics against industry peers and more.

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