Innovative recruitment ideas to help you beat your talent competitors

Last updated:
June 30, 2021
February 1, 2023
min read
Brendan McConnell
Table of contents

Attracting and retaining top talent has never been harder. That’s a reality that most recruiters are facing now.

Baby Boomers are retiring at ever-increasing rates, freelancing is becoming more and more popular, Gen Z is entering the workforce, and improvements in AI and automation mean that the jobs of yesterday may not be here tomorrow. As a result, recruiters are facing ever more obstacles when it comes to finding and hiring the right people.

Luckily, improved technology has also led to an explosion of innovative recruitment possibilities that can be leveraged to improve your odds of consistently finding the best hires.

Hiring the right fit for your company and the position is important for many different reasons. Good hires drive revenue and growth, contribute to great company cultures, and even attract more top talent by their mere presence at your company. Bad hires, on the other hand, can be an expensive mistake and disruptive to business as usual.

To find this top talent, companies are using increasingly out-of-the-box and innovative techniques for recruitment that help them stand out from their talent competitors. Being different – while maintaining a clear strategic vision and – helps these companies consistently find, screen, and hire the right talent at a sustainable rate.

In this post, we’re going to list some of the most popular (and unique) innovative recruitment ideas that are being used in the talent market today. Not every one of these ideas will necessarily fit your needs or strategy, but this should serve as food for thought to help guide your recruitment initiatives going forward.

For the sake of this article, we’re going to break these innovative recruitment ideas into the following categories:

  • Sourcing
  • Screening
  • Process optimization
  • Employer branding improvements

Together, these tactics can be used to move the dial on each stage of your recruitment process. As always, consider these tactics within the context of your own recruitment strategy, and think about how they can be integrated to give you a competitive edge.

Let’s get started!

21 innovative recruitment ideas

Hiring the right talent starts with sourcing the right candidates. Get that wrong and your hopes of finding that perfect hire go out the window.

To help you with that, here are some innovative sourcing ideas you can incorporate into your strategy.

Innovative candidate sourcing ideas

1. Inclusive job ads

Writing recruitment ads is an art: one that requires you to write eye-catching ad copy, while also ensuring that you’re not alienating a portion of your target candidates.

This type of writing promotes diversity recruiting, and is a sound tactic for optimizing the reach and effectiveness of your ad. Recruiters have access to a wide range of online tools and AI technologies to help create and audit job ads to ensure that they’re as inclusive as possible.

2. Alternative websites

The Internet is a big place, and chances are your target candidates will flock to one of the many websites out there tailored to their interests. Because of this, “alternative” websites (as in not recruitment sites) are gold mines for finding the exact type of candidate you’re looking for.

Take some time to research who your target candidates are, what they like, and where they hang out on the web. Then, seek them out and contact them on their platform of choice.

3. Programmatic advertising

This innovative recruitment technique allows you to automate the posting of job ads onto your “usual” list of job sites.

ATS platforms, such as Recruitee, allow you to create job ads targeting specific traits and skills that you’re looking for to fill a given position. Your ads are then put in front of the right target audience, giving you a higher likelihood of landing a quality applicant.

Programmatic advertising can also be used on targeted, alternative websites.

4. Employer review sites

Like it or not, employer review sites have become a go-to source of information for job seekers. That means that your company and culture – warts and all – may be an open book on websites like Glassdoor.

Innovative recruiters can leverage this source of information to identify their weaknesses and make improvements to their internal processes and employer brand. Likewise, you can be proactive and engage with comments on these sites to gather more information on specific issues, and to show job seekers that you actively care about improving.

5. Social media

Social recruiting is simply a given these days. With Millenials and Gen Z now dominating the workforce, most job seekers will use social as a primary source of information when searching for a job. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are all powerful tools for showcasing your employer brand and interacting with candidates.

Lately, we’ve even been seeing innovative recruitment on social media channels like Tinder, SnapChat and Bumble. The key here is to know your target, know where you can find them, and to not be afraid to use unconventional channels that are available to you.

6. Freelancers

The rise of the “gig economy” and freelance sites like Upwork have created a new world of alternatives to hiring full-time employees. Often, companies need new talent to complete a specific task, or to be part of a one-off project. In these cases, hiring a full-time staff member doesn’t make financial sense.

If you’re struggling to find the right candidate to fill a given role, and need work done immediately, then this innovative recruitment idea might be a good option for you and your team.

7. Passive candidates

Leveraging your professional networks and building relationships with qualified but inactive candidates is a great way to backfill connections for future openings. Building these relationships via LinkedIn, for example, will put your company at the top of the candidate’s mind if and when they decide to start looking for a new job.

This innovative recruitment idea works best if you’re active within your industry, and are diligent about building and maintaining relationships with qualified professionals.

8. Boomerang employees

Lastly, keep your mind open to boomerang employees. That is employees who leave your company but then want to come back for a second stint. While many companies will automatically reject these applicants, they are missing out on a wealth of ready-to-work knowledge and experience that already knows how their company operates.

Instead, think of boomerang employees as people who are already a perfect culture fit, already know your processes, and who have spent time gathering a wealth of outside experience that they can bring back to your organization.

The next step in innovative recruitment is to find new and effective ways to screen your candidates.

Innovative screening ideas

9. Video interviewing

Video interviewing is an innovative recruitment tactic that’s gained steam with the improvement in teleconferencing technologies. Interviews and pre-screens through video allow you to widen your geographic search area dramatically, increasing the size of your candidate pool. They also save time you would usually spend with in-person interviews.

There are even some video pre-assessment platforms that provide intelligence into verbal response rates, eye movement, body language, and non-verbal cues that can help you objectively analyze video interview results.

10. Texting

Getting in touch with candidates can sometimes be tricky, especially if they’re of the younger generations.

To combat this, recruiters have begun using the communication channel of choice for most of the population – text messaging.Texts have a 98% open and read rate, and a 45% response rate, compared to just 6% for emails. That means, if you’re looking for fast and efficient communication, texting is the way to go.

Texting is as an innovative recruitment idea is perfect for checking in with candidates, scheduling interviews, or general engagement during the recruitment process.

11. Virtual reality

Like video interviewing, VR is increasing in popularity due to advancements in technology. Some forward-thinking companies like General Mills have begun to use VR to give remote applicants virtual tours of their facilities. It can also be used to provide simulations of the company culture and work environment.

Using VR will also show that your company is a cutting-edge, innovative place to work.

12. Structured interviews

While not as flashy as VR, structured interviews are a great tool for objectively screening and selecting candidates. Gone are the days when recruiters would hire “from the gut”. The cost of a bad hire is too high to allow for subjectivity in a hiring decision.

Structured interviews are a technique whereby all candidates receive the same questions, in the same order, and are graded using the same scorecard. This innovative recruitment tactic gives you the confidence that you’ve objectively made the right decision in who makes it through the screening phase.

Once you’ve incorporated innovative sourcing and screening into your strategy, the next step is to optimize your recruitment process.

Process optimization tactics

13. Data-driven processes

If you’re not using data-driven recruitment practices, then you should stop reading this article and make that your priority.

Collecting and analyzing important data around your recruitment lets you know which tactics are working, which aren’t, and what decisions need to be made going forward. It’s critical that you have established KPIs that you measure and react to on a regular basis.

Whether you use an ATS, and HRIS or any other HR platform, there is a plethora of useful and innovative data at your fingertips that should be driving your recruitment decisions.

14. Strategic alignment with company goals

I’m considering this an innovative recruitment idea because aligning with company goals is part of a trend toward recruitment being an integral part of a company’s overall strategic mission. Recruitment can and should have a seat at the executive table, and all hiring activities should flow in lockstep with the overall mission of the company.

Be sure to regularly meet with executives to ensure that your recruitment team understands the company mission, and where they fit into that vision. Understanding this will steer your decision making when developing a recruitment strategy. All activities should row in the same direction, with attaining your company goals as the finish line.

15. Talent pools

Platforms like an ATS allow you to keep a database of candidates to consider for future positions. These databases, or talent pools, can be searched and sorted to zero in on known prospects with the skills and experience you’re looking for.

This innovative recruitment idea is useful for various reasons. First, it reduces the need to constantly source net new candidates. Second, it can help with nurturing your relationship with certain candidates, as you’ll be more likely to reach out to them periodically. And finally, talent pools provide a backlog of high-caliber candidates that can be mined at any time when you have a new position to fill.

16. Managing the aging workforce

The Baby Boomer generation – the group that once made up the vast majority of the workforce, and currently holds the most experience – is well into the retirement phase of their lives. And, to make things more challenging, there are simply not enough young workers to fill that skill and experience gaps.

To combat this, companies are asking some of their highest performers to either delay retirement or stay on in a consulting or part-time position. Another option is to create succession and mentoring programs that match top performing Boomers with high potential new hires.

This ensures a smooth transfer of knowledge and skills, while also creating a complementary relationship of experience and fresh new ways of doing things.

17. Mobile-first candidate experience

Gen Z does everything on their mobile devices, and Millennials aren’t far behind. If your company is serious about finding and attracting these candidates, then a mobile-first candidate experience is simply a must.

The goal of this innovative recruitment tactic is to ensure the entire hiring process – from application to offer – can be completed seamlessly on a mobile device.

18. “Most-wanted” talent pipelines

This is similar to regular talent pipelines but takes on an “account-based marketing” approach to hiring. Essentially, this innovative tactic calls for recruiters to compile a shortlist of their “dream” candidates for a position. You then craft your messaging and outreach uniquely for each of those candidates.

This technique works best for very niche jobs or executive positions. The idea is that if you know what you want, and you know who can fill that need, then go after them.

19. Collaborative hiring

Lastly, collaborative hiring is an innovative recruitment idea that is picking up steam thanks to recruitment softwares like Recruitee. Collaborative hiring invites team members across departments to review applicants and give their opinion on the most promising applicants.

Collaborative hiring is a great way to harness internal expertise that you alone may not have, as well as to ensure that you have consensus around who would be the best cultural fit.

Finally, you should continuously look for ways to improve your employer branding.

Employer branding tactics

20. Authentic, story-driven branding

Nothing builds your employer brand better than real stories from happy employees. There is a noticeable difference between a careers page with marketing messaging and one with authentic testimonials from actual people.

To reap these benefits, it’s a good idea to implement an incentive program that asks employees to share their thoughts and personal stories about what it’s like to work at your company. Once you have these, share them proudly across your recruitment channels and websites.

21. Perks

Perks are often thought of as a side offer to salary in recruitment. But, in today’s talent market, an innovative approach to perks and special offers can help you stand out and improve your employer brand. This starts with knowing what your candidates want, and what their pain points in life are.

Let’s take Millennials for example. Most people in this age group will have some form of student debt they’re dealing with. Offering tuition reimbursement programs could be a huge game changer in how this age group views your job offer.

Likewise, you could offer moving expenses for out of town applicant, flex time and work from home options for young people who love their independence, or the ability to earn overtime.

The key is to understand how you can make your employees lives better, and relieve some stress, and offer perks that will reflect that reality.

Whether you use one or all of the innovative recruitment ideas listed in this article, you should also be sure that your tactics are aligned with your company’s overall goals. Tactics are only effective if there’s a sound strategy behind them, and a data-driven, measurable platform beneath them.

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