7 Innovative Recruiting Strategies for Finding Top Talent

7 Innovative Recruiting Strategies for Finding Top Talent

In today’s tight labor market, recruiters are competing with one another to attract and engage top talent. At the same time, given an increase in remote, hybrid, and other flexible work arrangements, qualified talent has more options than ever before to find their next opportunity. Because of this, many traditional recruitment strategies aren’t as effective as they once were and recruiters are having to think outside the box.

If your recruiting team is facing challenges with finding and attracting new team members who possess the right skills and qualifications for your open roles, consider experimenting with creative recruiting strategies. Each time you try a new recruiting strategy, have a process in place to measure overall effectiveness and determine which strategies will drive the best long-term results for your organization.

Examples of innovative recruiting strategies include:

  1. Encourage team member referrals
  2. Consider past candidates
  3. Welcome back former workers
  4. Invest in sourcing tools
  5. Embrace alternative staffing solutions
  6. Gamify candidate screening
  7. Host virtual job fairs

1. Encourage team member referrals

While countless recruiting channels are available, your best source of qualified candidates may be your existing team members. When individuals on your team refer former colleagues or professional connections to your open roles, you can save time and money typically spent on recruitment advertising, manually reviewing applications, and other steps early in the hiring process. Referrals are also likely qualified candidates, as your current team members will want to work with others who will help drive positive business outcomes for the company.

A 2022 study from Aptitude Research found that, of the 322 vice presidents of human resources and talent acquisition they interviewed, 82% had worker referral programs in place. However, while internal referrals are considered a top source of hires, many programs fall short of company expectations. This is in part because less than half (48%) of companies with such programs in place inform team members about referral opportunities.

Some ways to encourage team member referrals include:

  • Implementing a simple, defined process for workers to submit referrals
  • Adding a job application field for candidates to share whether they were referred by an existing team member
  • Communicating referral opportunities across internal channels, such as email, messaging apps, and the company intranet
  • Circulating pre-written social media content with links to open jobs for team members to share
  • Offering referral bonuses, gift cards, or related incentives

2. Consider past candidates

Even if candidates don’t join your team the first time they apply for a role, they may be qualified and the right fit for a different opportunity in the future. Past candidates have already expressed interest in your company and may have previously completed initial screening steps, which can reduce overall hiring time.

Ways to engage past candidates include:

  • Supporting a positive experience for all prospective team members, including sharing feedback with qualified individuals who don’t receive an offer
  • Connecting with individuals on LinkedIn or other professional networks
  • Maintaining a database of candidates using your applicant tracking system (ATS) or a related tool
  • Sending newsletters and other communication highlighting company updates to your database
  • Leveraging data from your ATS to match former candidates to the latest open roles

3. Welcome back former workers

In addition to reengaging past candidates, another unique option is to consider reaching out to team members who previously worked for your company, commonly known as boomerang workers. Research from LinkedIn shows that boomerang workers accounted for 4.5% of all new hires among companies on the network in 2021, up from 3.9% over the same period in 2019.

Some former team members may not be interested in returning—either because they’re taking a career break, are satisfied in their current role, or for a number of other reasons. However, others may have left the company because your team didn’t have the right opportunities available to evolve or grow their skills, but now your team may have additional resources to offer a position that aligns with the worker’s current skill set and career goals.

Former team members are often an untapped source of talent and offer companies a wide range of benefits. Returning workers will bring new skills, perspectives, and insights that they learned while away from the company. Since they were already a part of the team, they’re also familiar with your company culture and day-to-day processes, which will speed up onboarding and boost productivity. In fact, a study of nearly 13,000 hires from Cornell University found that boomerang workers were nearly always more productive than new workers.

Another option to engage former workers is reaching out to independent professionals who successfully completed projects for your team in the past. By maintaining a talent bench of independent professionals, you can build long-term relationships and quickly connect with trusted experts whose skills align with your immediate business needs.

4. Invest in sourcing tools

Research from Gartner shows that while recruiting is one of the top five priorities for HR in 2023, 36% of the respondents to their survey say their sourcing strategies are insufficient for finding the skills they need. Rather than spending a significant amount of time and resources manually reaching out to individuals across multiple channels, talent sourcing tools can streamline the process and help recruiting teams expand their talent pool.

Sourcing tools offer many features to simplify recruitment, such as:

  • Databases to search for and identify qualified talent
  • Automated tasks to reduce manual processes
  • Communication capabilities to send personalized outreach to talent
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) technology to rank and prioritize talent with the right skills
  • Data-driven insights to improve sourcing over time
  • Integrations with common tools recruiters use such as applicant tracking systems, email providers, calendar apps, and messaging platforms

Related: The Best Sourcing Tools for Recruiters

5. Embrace alternative staffing solutions

Given the ever-evolving labor market, recruiters recognize that traditional approaches to staffing—such as exclusively posting open roles on job boards, requiring lengthy applications, conducting in-office interviews, and relying primarily on full-time, in-house workers with set hours—are no longer effective.

This outdated approach leads to drawbacks such as time wasted on manual tasks, increased fixed costs for personnel, and a limited talent pool. As a result, more organizations are turning to alternative staffing solutions.

Some examples of alternative staffing solutions include:

  • Working with a staffing agency. Staffing agencies fill a company’s open roles while matching qualified candidates with the right jobs. They also manage the worker’s payroll, benefits, orientation, training, and more for the duration of their time with the company. Staffing agencies offer increased flexibility with hiring and extensive networks of candidates but can be costly.
  • Implementing outsourcing initiatives. This approach involves engaging an outside expert, agency, or other third party to complete tasks or projects for your team—such as designing a new logo or completing a research project. Through outsourcing, your team can benefit from outside expertise, fresh perspectives, and decreased costs. However, it may take time for outside experts to learn about your company and goals.
  • Engaging independent talent. As remote and hybrid work have become more widely adopted, companies are also making the shift away from relying exclusively on full-time, internal workers, and embracing independent talent. Engaging independent talent can help your organization access experienced professionals with in-demand skills, reduce costs, and increase agility, while offering the flexibility that today’s workers desire.

Related: Guide to Alternative Solutions for Your Staffing Needs

6. Gamify candidate screening

Hiring processes often involve the same traditional steps, such as pre-screening surveys, a few rounds of interviews, skills assessments, and reference checks. When individuals apply to multiple roles, following the same process for each company can feel repetitive and lead to disengagement.

To stand out from other companies and make candidate screening and assessments more interactive, consider integrating gamification into your candidate screening and assessments. According to a survey of 900 workers by TalentLMS, 78% of respondents say that gamification in the recruiting process would make a company more desirable. Gamification can also help recruiting teams better understand how prospective team members may apply their skills in real-world work scenarios.

Here are a few examples of companies that have experimented with gamification during recruitment:

  • Lego. The global toy brand leverages gamification to engage designers. Prospective design team members create videos making Lego designs. Top candidates are then invited to company headquarters to play a design game created by Lego that involves completing puzzles, collaborating with others, and working under pressure.
  • U.S. Air Force. The U.S. Air Force has faced hiring challenges in recent years and found that 86% of airmen ages 18-34 identify as gamers, so they embraced online gaming to attract more talent and drive engagement. Individuals interested in joining the U.S. Air Force can complete simulated, interactive missions, known as Airman Challenge, similar to missions airmen carry out on the job.
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. In 2019, the financial services firm began using neuroscience-based video games to help recruit interns. The video games assess social, cognitive and behavioral attributes and compare key attributes to the most successful team members at the company. Because interns may not have much prior work experience, this testing can help measure whether they’re likely to succeed on the team.

7. Host virtual job fairs

As more companies adopt remote work, prospective team members may be located across the country or on the other side of the globe. While this may limit the options for in-person job fairs and related networking events, virtual job fairs have emerged in recent years as a way to engage potential workers.

Several options are available for hiring events using virtual event platforms or video conferencing software. Some colleges or other educational institutions host events with multiple companies in attendance through a virtual event platform. Others may involve a list of companies recruiting for a specific industry or job function. Another option is hosting a virtual job fair on your own and encouraging prospective team members to learn more about your open roles.

Here are some tips to help your recruiting team host a successful virtual job fair:

  • Create a page for candidates to register and receive additional event information ahead of time
  • Include a set agenda on the registration page so individuals know what to expect
  • Promote the event on social media and through other channels
  • Start the job fair with a presentation that highlights your company, core values, mission, vision, and an overview of open roles
  • Showcase team member success stories during the presentation
  • Set up break out rooms using your video conferencing software, so attendees can have quick informational interviews with your recruiting team or network with current team members
  • Send follow up communication to attendees, including any details about potential next steps in the hiring process
  • Distribute a post-event survey to encourage feedback and improve future virtual job fairs

Ready to innovate? Hire a recruiting expert on Upwork

Implementing innovative recruiting strategies that align with your business needs can help your organization stand out from other companies in today’s competitive hiring market. However, prioritizing and executing different recruiting strategies can be time-consuming and may require some trial and error to determine what works best.

Whether you’re looking to identify the right recruiting strategies for your team or need additional support managing the ones you already have in place, partnering with an experienced recruiting specialist can help.

Skilled independent recruiting specialists are available on Upwork to help your team deploy and oversee recruiting strategies and engage qualified talent for your open roles. A recruiting specialist’s expertise in the latest talent trends can help improve your recruitment efforts. Find the best independent recruiting specialists on Upwork.

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Author Spotlight

7 Innovative Recruiting Strategies for Finding Top Talent
Beth Kempton
Content Writer

Beth Kempton is a B2B writer with a passion for storytelling and more than a decade of content marketing experience. She specializes in writing engaging long-form content, including blog posts, thought leadership pieces, SEO articles, case studies, ebooks and guides, for HR technology and B2B SaaS companies. In her free time, you can find Beth reading or running.

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