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Create a Strong Recruitment Process: Plan, Steps, and Tips

Published: Dec 11th, 2023

Finding, hiring, and retaining quality talent is an essential component of running a successful business. It can also be one of the most challenging.

Qualified candidates are sometimes hard to come by. And even when you do find them, you have to ensure not only that they're a fit but also that your offer is better than others they might be receiving.

Fine-tuning your company's recruitment process can help you achieve the best outcome in your search for employees. But what does this mean exactly, and what steps should you follow?

Ahead, answers to these questions, along with best practices and detailed insight into the recruitment and selection process.

What is the recruitment process?

The recruitment process is a step-by-step operation involving searching for, selecting, shortlisting, screening, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding employees. While it's usually led by a manager or HR recruiter, the recruiting process often involves a small team of people from multiple departments.

What are the benefits of a strong selection and recruiting process?

The fact is that hiring talent can be time-consuming and costly. However, refining each stage of the process can actually reduce your expenses and free up some of your HR department's valuable time. What's more, sprucing up your recruiting protocol will likely help you attract better candidates.

Here's what you should know.

Attract better talent

Remember that as you evaluate potential employees, they're also assessing your company as a potential employer. Your recruiting program is one of the first impressions candidates will have of your organization. As such, the more organized and professional your process is, the better talent you'll attract.

Speed up your hiring process

A streamlined, efficient system will also help you identify high-quality talent, filter applicants, and shortlist potential interviewees in a timely manner. On the other hand, when things move slowly, companies risk candidates losing interest and seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Establish tracking data

Your recruitment process should become more valuable over time. With a system for tracking recruitment metrics, you can look back at your data from previous positions to see where your top candidates came from. You can also see what strategies worked (and didn’t work) for attracting hires.

Lower hiring costs

With a strong recruiting process in place, you’ll lower your hiring costs because your approach will be more focused. For example, you won’t spend as much time and money on duplicated efforts or on talking to the wrong kinds of applicants. Create designated duties and well-thought-out steps to cut your costs.

Lowering your hiring costs frees up more resources to help you hire the best employees. According to the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) Human Capital Benchmarking Report, it costs companies an average of over $4,000 to fill a single position.¹

Here's a breakdown of recruiting process costs:

  • Salaries paid to the internal recruiting team
  • Fees paid to outsourced recruiters
  • Job posting advertisements or listing fees
  • Overtime pay to cover a vacancy
  • Administrative expenses
  • Training and onboarding hours
  • Equipment or office supplies purchased for the new employee

Recruiting Process Benefits

  • Attract better talent
  • Faster hiring process
  • A more trackable recruiting effort
  • Lower your hiring costs

Increased employee productivity

It's not uncommon for recruitment teams to feel overwhelmed at the thought of hiring a new employee. After all, it takes roughly 42 days to fill a vacant position,¹ not to mention substantial effort and additional time from those leading the endeavor.

All that said, a strong recruitment process can make everything go much more quickly and efficiently. This will minimize productivity loss by freeing up your human resources department, allowing them to focus on fostering relationships with potential candidates. Your HR team will be able to spend more time onboarding new hires and less time on finding them.

What does a strong recruitment process look like?

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to hiring employees. What works for you might not work for the next company, and vice versa. However, a strong recruiting process demands a leader-led team, with designated duties for each member.

A solid hiring process will also include a set of steps with clear guidance that can be referenced by everyone on the team. Whether it's a recruitment process flowchart, a multi-page guidebook, or an internal document shared among the group, having the stages not only outlined but easily accessible will help things go more smoothly.

There should be some sort of data collection system that tracks applicant names, contact information, credentials, experience, references, and whether they've been contacted or interviewed.

You can also note who is not a fit for your company or the specific position. Not only will this organized information be useful when filling the current vacancy, but it will also help you filter the applicant pool for future roles.

Recruitment process steps

Recruitment process steps

Now that you have an idea of what the recruitment process should look like, let's get into the individual steps. The full life cycle of recruiting (aka the recruitment life cycle) consists of eight stages:

Since the stages have to be accomplished in order, having a clear outline will help the recruiting process go quicker. Find details and guidance for each step below.

1. Recruitment planning

What is the first step in the recruitment and selection process? Recruitment planning is all about identifying your needs and objectives, whether it's filling a vacancy for an existing position or hiring someone for a new role.

Of course you won't find what your company needs if you don't know what you're looking for. Be sure to analyze requirements and pinpoint the type of person who would best fit the job. Note the desired skills, experience, education, certifications, or other credentials, including must-have attributes and areas in which you can be more flexible.

Next, connect with the recruiting team about the recruitment process plan. Get on the same page regarding the timeline, as well as who will be responsible for completing each task. Decide who will post the job opening, review resumes, and conduct phone screenings.

2. Preparing the job description

Next, you'll prepare the job description. This step is critical, as it tells potential candidates and external recruiters what you're looking for. With an inadequate description, you might attract the wrong talent, which could set you back in terms of time and money.

Reach out to the department head for information about the specific duties, responsibilities, expected workload, and physical or educational requirements for the role. If the person who previously held the position is still employed by your company, you can also ask them to provide a general outline.

Write down all points, then organize them into requirements, "nice to have" qualities, and general expectations of the job. Taking care at this stage will aim your recruiting process at the right target.

Job description checklist

Your recruiting documents or guidebook should include a job description checklist the team can reference when drafting a new posting. Here's what to include:

  • Job title of the open position
  • Job description
  • Department and/or who the employee would report to
  • Examples of job duties and responsibilities
  • Requirements (education, experience, certifications, training, etc.)
  • "Nice to have" (but not required) attributes
  • Job location (city, in-person, remote, flex, etc.)
  • Hours (full-time, part-time, weekends, varied, etc.)
  • Benefits and job perks
  • Salary range or a note that pay is based on experience
  • Notes on company culture and core values
  • CTA (call-to-action) indicating how to apply or where to send a resume

Following a job description checklist can standardize your posting process. That saves time, and ensures consistent posting quality."

Create a comprehensive job description with specifics about the position to recruit the right candidates. However, it's generally best to avoid drawn-out paragraphs. Bulleted lists and brief summaries (one to three sentences long) are ideal.

Also, be sure to proofread the job description several times. As mentioned above, candidates are evaluating whether they want to work for your company, and the job description is one of the first impressions they'll have. Get this part of the recruiting process wrong, and you’ll scare away valuable talent.

3. Searching for the right candidates

Once you have your job description ready, you can start the search. There are a few ways to go about this, including posting to job sites, uploading the description to your company's careers page, or using a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider. You can also use internal recruiting strategies, external sources, or both.

Internal recruiting

Hiring from within typically means a high-performing staff member will be promoted to the vacant role. They’ll take on more responsibility and will usually expect a raise in pay. Though it depends on your company's organizational structure, this could mean you'll have to backfill their position.

Hiring internally can also mean a current employee makes a lateral move into a position that makes more sense for their skillset. In any case, internal recruitment can save you time, money, and effort. In the meantime, it can motivate your existing staff with opportunities for career advancement.

External recruiting

External recruitment widens your candidate pool and may help you find the exact right fit. Not only that, but you'll have an opportunity to diversify your staff and potentially grow your company.

You can post the description on job portals, use a job-placement agency, run advertisements, post on social media, pass the baton to an outsourced recruiter, or sign up to attend job fairs like those hosted by JobFairX.

4. Shortlisting and screening candidates

With the vacancy announced and the job description posted, you can expect applications to start flooding in. Your recruiting process should have a system in place for organizing and filtering candidates.

Narrow down the applicant pool, first based on those with the minimum qualifications, then those who check other boxes, like industry experience or a relevant college degree. This will help you identify who should be shortlisted and then screened.


Shortlisting the right candidates can be as simple as a phone interview or a quick video call. An online test is a fast addition to a screening process."

Screening can involve a simple phone interview, a brief video call, an online test, or reviewing work samples. At the stage of the recruitment process, you should also highlight any questions or concerns you have about their resume so you can bring them up in the formal interview.

5. Interviewing candidates

The next step of the recruitment cycle is interviewing shortlisted candidates that passed the screening. Whether in person or via video meeting, we recommend conducting formal interviews within a week of the initial screening. Dragging it out too long can pose the risk of potential hires losing interest or seeking other opportunities.

During the interview, you should also communicate when you plan to make a decision and when you'd like to fill the role (the estimated onboarding date). In the case of multiple formal interviews for a single candidate, try to schedule them no longer than a week apart. Clear communication will streamline your recruiting process.

6. Evaluating candidates

After all formal interviews have been held, the recruitment team can meet to evaluate the candidates and make an official decision. For those who didn't make the cut, you should send a polite email thanking them for their time and informing them that you decided to move forward with another candidate. (Your recruiting materials should include a template for this).

7. Making a job offer

The process of recruiting talent is full of ups and downs, but the next step is one of the most fun: making a job offer. This is usually done over the phone by the hiring manager or department head.

Though the call may be brief, you should clearly state what's to come, including an emailed offer letter and the expected onboarding date. You can wrap up this stage of the recruitment process in as little as an hour, though it might take a bit longer if the candidate negotiates their salary, benefits, or schedule.

8. Onboarding the new employee

employee onboarding quote

Recruitment doesn't end the moment a candidate accepts an offer. Onboarding is a crucial step, helping to familiarize employees with the company and get them situated in their new role. In addition to first-day paperwork, you’ll need to manage introductions, tours, training, shadowing, mentoring, and everything in between.

Recruitment tips for startups

Startups often begin with one or two employees (the founders) and slowly expand to a small team and eventually a full staff. If you're new to the recruiting process or need to fill specialty roles, such as IT recruitment, consider the following tips.

  • Outline your current and future vacancies, including the title, duties, and qualifications.
  • Craft a brief description of your brand and company culture.
  • Use a candidate-filtering system, such as an application form or resume-sorting software.
  • Create a recruitment timeline.
  • Outline steps and strategies for finding and hiring talent.
  • Post the job description via multiple channels.
  • Save contact information and resumes for those who could potentially fill future positions.

Streamline your recruitment process

While creating a consistent, streamlined recruiting process will take a bit of effort up front, it can save you substantial time and money in the long run. Think reduced hiring costs, a better candidate pool, employee retention, and increased productivity for your organization as a whole.

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