In today’s hiring environment, companies face numerous challenges when identifying and attracting top executive talent. Most agree that talent acquisition and talent management are of strategic importance to their company’s future growth and that hiring top-tier staff is therefore critical. You must first recruit them before you can hire them, though, and that can be challenging.

Even in a recession, it can be difficult to fill certain types of jobs. To overcome this, it is important to design a strategy on whom to target, what message to convey, and which positions are most critical. A poorly designed recruitment process can miss attractive job candidates that never hear of the opening.

The goal of recruiting is to attract the best employees – those that match the company’s culture, add value, and will stay for the longer term. Here are several ways to find and attract them:

  1. Employee Referrals – Your employees can offer a realistic picture of your company’s strengths and weaknesses to potential candidates. You can also contact former employees for referrals. Referrals are often the strongest method to locate the best talent.
  2. Company Website – Your company’s website says a lot about your organization and its values. It can be the first place to make a good impression – or a bad one – so never underestimate its value in attracting future talent.
  3. Job Boards – Active job seekers use job boards such as Monster, CareerBuilder, and Craigslist so this should be part of your recruitment tactics. However, keep in mind that these sites cast a wide net, and many of the applicants will likely be unqualified for your top positions.
  4. Social Networks – LinkedIn has become an integral part of the recruitment process. You can easily find individuals in competing businesses. LinkedIn can also be used to obtain recommendations for potential employees.
  5. Creative Recruiting Approaches – To target specific types of employees, several companies now consider prospective employees to be “customers” that need to be wooed. Visit places of business and recreational events that your targets frequent. You can also attend networking conferences to attract employees from competitors within your industry or from similar industries. These include financial management conferences or networking groups. Some companies also send direct mail to relevant mailing lists, including professional associations and clubs.

While developing your current employees will always be important, the keys to a successful workforce are planning your talent acquisition strategy and developing a step-by-step approach to finding the best talent in the marketplace. Many companies are focused on their short term needs, but now is the time to become more strategic about finding the best talent. Effective workforce planning requires a clear understanding of your current talent and what is required to be successful in the future. Utilizing some creative techniques can help to secure top talent beyond the traditional methods.