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How to create a recruitment strategy: the fundamentals [A practical toolkit]

Hiring is hard. Hiring brilliant people who contribute more, stay longer, and become a true brand ambassador is even harder. But with a considered, thoughtful recruitment strategy, hard can feel a whole heap easier. 

Keep reading and we’ll explore what recruitment strategy is (and what it definitely isn’t), the essential components of a great strategy, and some practical tips for developing your own.

Let’s dive in. 


What is recruitment strategy? And what isn’t strategy? 

Recruitment strategy is a plan that takes your recruitment function from where you are now to where you want to be. 

It’s about choice. There are a million-and-one things you could do – but what will you do? Where will you focus resources? (These questions are especially important if, like many teams, you’re battling resource reductions). 

The idea’s simple enough, but the waters are muddy because any term relating to ‘strategy’ is bandied around willy-nilly.

Recruitment strategy isn’t a synonym for recruitment marketing, for instance. Recruitment marketing is one approach you’ll likely use in your overarching recruitment strategy, but it’s one part of the picture. 

It’s become common to refer to approaches or tactics – like, say, building your employer brand or graduate recruitment – as ‘strategies’. It’s fair to say these are strategic tools – a counter to reactive, firefighting recruitment – but they’re not really strategies. 

Recruitment strategy in its classic sense is the overarching plan for how your organisation will hire the people you need. Taking a more strategic approach to recruitment starts with developing a recruitment strategy.


What should a recruitment strategy include?

Your recruitment strategy outlines a realistic, considered plan to realise your talent acquisition goals within a defined time-period. As a basic skeleton, then, your strategy should outline:

  • Your goals 
  • The approaches to realise those goals
  • The resources you’ll need for those approaches 
  • The ways you’ll measure if it’s working


Deceptively simple. But good recruitment strategy is like an iceberg: a heap of work happens under the surface to keep everything floating. To create and execute recruitment strategy effectively you’ll also need to understand:

  • What’s the wider organisation, HR, and marketing strategy?
  • What market conditions could impact recruitment?
  • What’s your recruitment budget? 
  • What challenges could recruitment face?
  • What practical limitations and processes must you consider?
  • What wider skills, workforce and jobseeker trends might have an impact?
  • What’s your employer brand and employee value proposition?
  • What’s your ideal candidate profile?

This context is crucial to your recruitment strategy. It’s why no two strategies are the same. (Although, of course, there are recruitment best practices that’ll likely appear in most teams’ strategies – like improving the candidate experience.)


How to build a recruitment strategy

Setting the right goals

A recruitment strategy is a roadmap to achieve your goals. If you don’t have the right goals, the whole strategy falls down.

Goals should be:

  • Connected to the wider organisational and people strategy
  • Specific and measurable within a stated timeframe
  • Realistic based on your broad understanding of context
  • Focussed – think 3 goals, not 33

Depending on your organisation, you might get involved early in the strategic workforce planning and headcount planning processes. In other organisations, you might be given a headcount target and work from there. Either way, there’s still plenty of work to do, to set the right goals for the recruitment team. 

When you go deeper down the rabbit hole, perhaps you’re attracting plenty of applicants but they’re the wrong type of applicants. Or you’re attracting plenty of great people but they’re dropping out at offer stage because you’re too slow. Or because your interview process needs work. 

There’s a long, long list of recruitment best practices. Goals identify which bits you’ll focus on first, because they’ll move the needle for you most. 

Choosing the right approaches 

Once you’ve outlined what you’re trying to achieve, now’s when you detail the approaches or tactics you’ll use to get there.  

Say you want to grow your management talent pool by 30%, to support long-term growth. But how? Will you:

There’s no sweeping right and wrong answers here. Unless you have unlimited resources (HA!), here’s where you use your deep expertise and broad contextual understanding to make choices. 

Assigning the right resources

You want to grow your management talent pool by 30%. Great. And you’re planning to run two new recruitment marketing campaigns plus headhunt management talent from your major talent competitors. Excellent. 

But what does that mean from a resource perspective?  

Perhaps you’ll need one full-time team member to focus on headhunting, for example, and they’ll need to attend training. Perhaps you need to consider recruitment software with CRM functionality, to make creating, running, and tracking campaigns easy. 

A meaningful recruitment strategy isn’t pie-in-the-sky. It’s deeply pragmatic, outlining how you’ll assign the resources you’ve got and often making a case for new resources you need.

Measuring success

Your recruitment strategy today is the starting point for future strategies, because it’s how you learn. The most brilliant strategy is nothing without excellent visibility into the end-to-end recruitment function, to ensure you can track, measure, and refine.

Did headhunting work? If not, why not? Did your recruitment campaigns work? To what extent? Why? Why not?

The answers to these questions feed into future action. Maybe one recruitment campaign was excellent, but the other fell short so you need to evaluate your messaging and work on your EVP for managers, for instance. 

Or perhaps the campaigns saw fantastic engagement but you lost candidates at interview stage, so you might need to work with senior leaders to create change there. 

A recruitment strategy is, above all, a foundation for future growth. It might not always be 100% successful – and if you’re being ambitious and trying new things, that’s likely – but it should always help you learn and evolve.   


Tribepad is the trusted tech ally to smart(er) recruiters everywhere. Combining ATS, CRM, Video Interviewing, and Onboarding, our talent acquisition software is a springboard for fairer, faster, better recruitment for everyone. 

Trusted by organisations like the BBC, Tesco, NHS Professionals, and Subway, 25-million people in 16 languages use Tribepad.

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