SHRM Foundation Guide Outlines 4-Step Recruitment Process

By Roy Maurer May 9, 2016
Reuse Permissions

For a talent acquisition process to be consistently successful, it must begin by establishing recruitment objectives and a specific action plan to meet those objectives, and end with an evaluation of the results.

That’s the thesis of the SHRM Foundation’s newest report, titled Talent Acquisition: A Guide to Understanding and Managing the Recruitment Process.

“It shows employers how to develop a focused recruitment strategy that takes into account the job applicant’s perspective, targets and reaches specific types of candidates with a well-crafted message, and secures the most highly qualified candidates for the organization,” said SHRM Foundation Executive Director Mark Schmit, SHRM-SCP.

The report is part of the SHRM Foundation’s Effective Practice Guidelines series, which includes more than 20 titles. The series integrates research findings with expert opinions on how to conduct effective HR practices. To ensure the material is both practical and research-based, the reports are written by subject matter experts and are then peer-reviewed by both academics and HR professionals.

This report, authored by James Breaugh, professor of management at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, presents a model of the ideal recruitment process, broken up into four parts:

  • Establish objectives.
  • Develop a strategy.
  • Carry out recruitment activities.
  • Measure results and evaluate efforts.

“Recruiting the right employees can be challenging, but the rewards of a well-constructed strategy can be enormous because effective recruiting is the foundation on which any talent management program is built,” Breaugh said.

Step 1: Establish Objectives

Recruitment objectives should be aligned with the strategic objectives of the organization. For example, if an organization has a strategic objective to be a leader in customer service, this should be kept in mind when deciding whom to target for recruitment, Breaugh said.

“Ideally, those involved in the recruitment function should have input into key business strategy decisions. If an employer wants to open a new location in an area where labor demand exceeds supply, for example, a knowledgeable person from the recruitment function should explain to hiring managers the need to design competitive rewards packages and to expect longer-than-typical time frames for filling positions.”

Common objectives to consider when planning a recruitment campaign include:

  • Number of open positions to be filled.
  • Date by which positions should be filled.
  • Cost-per-hire.
  • Number of applications desired.
  • Types of applicants sought.

“For example, if an organization wants to fill three job openings in customer service, an objective might be a 30-day time frame to fill those positions,” Breaugh said. “One of the most important objectives, however, is to determine the types of applicants being sought, such as the type of work experience and skills the organization needs. Many employers focus on prehire outcomes such as whether open positions were filled in a timely manner, but increasingly, employers are also paying attention to post-hire outcomes, such as new hires’ initial job performance.”

When establishing recruiting objectives, there are two additional points to consider, according to Breaugh. First, there should be agreement on how the objectives will be measured. Will the quality of a new hire be evaluated based on objective performance data, a supervisor’s judgment or customers’ ratings? Employers must also be aware of the dynamics of specific labor markets before designing recruitment campaigns.

Step 2: Develop a Strategy

This phase involves establishing a specific plan of action to meet the recruitment objectives. Some of the questions an organization might address when developing a recruitment strategy include:

  • Who should be targeted for recruitment? Does the organization want to hire recent college graduates, passive candidates who work for competitors or diversity candidates, for example?
  • What recruitment message should be communicated?
  • How can the targeted individuals best be reached?
  • When should the recruitment campaign begin?

“To answer these questions, an employer may need to do some research, such as evaluating past recruitment efforts to determine what sources of recruits worked best in the past,” Breaugh said.

Step 3: Carry out Recruitment Activities

Once a strategy is agreed upon, recruitment activities like posting job ads, sourcing through social media, utilizing employee referrals and operating recruitment programs can be tailored to match it.

Step 4: Measure Results and Evaluate Efforts

The final step of measuring results is vital to determining whether an employer’s recruitment objectives have been achieved, yet many organizations do not formally evaluate their recruitment efforts, Breaugh said. In some cases, this is because they haven’t gathered data on important recruitment metrics such as the time to fill a position, the cost-per-hire, the yield ratio for each recruitment method, the retention rates of new hires and hiring managers’ satisfaction with the recruitment process.

“Although many employers do not currently evaluate their recruitment practices, the growing use and availability of talent analytics is expected to change this in the near future,” Breaugh said.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Staffing Management page

Subscribe to SHRM’s Talent Acquisition e-newsletter

Reuse Permissions


Choose from dozens of free webcasts on the most timely HR topics.

Register Today

Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You


Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies

Search & Connect