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Adapting your candidate attraction strategies to suit your vacancy

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

Employment rates have never been higher, and competition is certainly ‘hotting’ up in the hiring market. Attraction strategies have never been more important to improve your accessibility to the top-tier Candidates.


When it comes to attracting top talent to your organisation, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Your approach will depend on a whole host of factors: the size of your business, your short and long-term ambitions, your company culture and the sector you operate in - not to mention the specific responsibilities and seniority of the position you are recruiting for.

These elements all come in to play as you set out to source and secure the best people – after all, what sparks engagement with one audience won’t necessarily work with another. The most successful talent acquisition strategies take this into account and are adjusted to attract the right Candidates for the specific roles for which they are recruiting.

Having the aim of finding Candidates who are the right fit for your organisation and capable of achieving the goals of your strategy, your mission is to understand the unique differences that drive Employees within their particular roles, specialisms and age brackets. Your hiring process may follow a specific formula that ensures efficiency and minimises the loss of productivity in your business, but if you are to attract high-potential talent, diversifying your recruitment style is a must.

Find your recruitment style

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Recruiting for different disciplines

Above all, the key to success in recruitment is an understanding of what motivates your Candidates. This is true for all organisations, no matter their size, specialism or industry; it applies to any hiring manager seeking to incentivise talent to join their organisation.

Each Candidate may be unique, but the disciplines in which they specialise will undoubtedly influence their opinion of an opportunity and influence their priorities in the job hunt. What inspires an Administration Assistant, for example, will differ significantly to what drives a HR professional – similarly, an enticing proposition to a tech specialist will not look the same as a perfect opportunity for a finance professional.

They may overlap in their day to day preferences, and naturally, your Employees will still need to share a workspace and be on board with the same processes, but there are still ways in which you can customise your offering for each segment of your staff base.

Get to know the demands of each role

Targeting the right talent requires an Employer to analyse each position in the company; it asks leaders to look at the skills of the staff they currently have in place and determine which are essential to the role and what kind of person thrives in this position. Beyond the day-today competencies that your Employees must possess, what attributes make them shine? What additional attributes will see them excel in this position? These key differences will define your approach, from the salary, benefits and perks you offer to the elements of your culture you emphasise in the recruitment process.

Create profiles for the people you need

Only you know the kind of Candidate that will do best within your business and the kind of person who will meet your current and future demands. Before you can start diversifying your hiring style, it’s usually a good idea to go back to the drawing board and determine what kind of talent you need within specific teams. From here, you can segment your pool of prospective Employees depending on the demands of their job and their top priorities from potential Employers.

The profiles you create for each role should include key characteristics that a person in this position will need to be successful – for a HR professional, obvious ones might be strong interpersonal skills, communication and self-discipline, for example. A list of attributes will help to focus your hunt for the idea Candidate – it might even help to write up short descriptions of how this person would deal with specific scenarios or events.

Draft compelling descriptions and ads for each position

Generally speaking, most job descriptions are penned at the point of need. However, by thinking ahead and getting to know the requirements for each role, writing a job description becomes a valuable lesson in understanding the unique drives of your Employees. This will help you in building profiles to enhance the recruiting process – in turn, you can start to create job ads based on these personas.

Remember, your job ad is a prime opportunity to promote the ambitions, culture and strengths of the organisation: your ideal Candidate doesn’t want to have to scroll through a wall of text to understand what they’ll get out of the role –with this in mind, you should try to keep things short, simple and free of business buzzwords or industry jargon.

Having taken the time to build Employee profiles, you should be able to tailor the wording to suit your target audience, accentuating the incentives you have determined are the most important: it might be learning and development or career progression for some, while for others you might highlight the remuneration package on offer or the bonuses associated with the role.

Customise your recognition schemes

Never underestimate the power of recognition: not only does the promise of reward incentivise your existing Employees, it encourages high performers within the talent pool to explore the opportunities available within your company. According to research from Deloitte, respondents from businesses whose rewards strategies were highly aligned with organisational goals were the most likely to anticipate growth of 10 per cent or more.

Companies leading the charge in this area are creating recognition schemes that compliment individual preferences and are based on an Employee’s overall contribution to the team and the wider business. Done correctly, this personalised approach to rewards can act as a competitive advantage in the recruitment process. With this in mind, the benefit schemes you offer should be customised as per the roles you are recruiting for; they should echo the nuances of each position.

If the Candidate will be required to spend a lot of time on the road conducting client meetings, for example, the reward for bringing in a certain amount of new business might be financial. If an Employee must work consistently on the same project for a month to completion, their incentive may be based around holiday allowance / paid time off.

Adjust your interview strategy

If you want to ensure your next hire is the right fit, it’s important to sketch out the questions and examples that you will use in the interview to find the Candidates who meet your business requirements. At this stage, determining specific evaluation criteria will help you in tailoring your interview approach – you may have a standard set of questions that you use to determine culture fit, motivation and skill-level, but be sure to customise these and cross-reference them with the specific responsibilities for the role so that you can determine whether or not the Candidate is suitable for the position.

In order to really get under the skin of a Candidate’s behaviour, it’s essential to prepare some questions based on the behavioural traits or attributes you have outlined in your profiles. Say, for example, you were recruiting for a sales executive: confidence, persistence, passion and charisma might be the qualities you seek for the role. Ask questions that encourage the Candidate to provide examples of certain situations or scenarios in which they demonstrated this behaviour.

Getting to grips with generational identities

For the first time in history, there are five generations working side by side. For Employers, this poses a significant challenge with regard to the hiring process: not only must their approach be customised to reflect the responsibilities of each role, it must take into account the age of the Candidate and the seniority of the position.

Considering the distinct generational identities of four main age-groups, building a proposition that engages all Candidates at once will be impossible – after all, different generations will naturally come with their own needs and priorities; their lives will have been shaped by different cultures, events and their experience in the workplace.

Often labelled as job-hoppers, for instance, Millennials are driven to work for companies that are socially responsible; they value business leaders who are authentic and, on the whole, see work-life balance as a critical factor in their decision to work for a company. Meanwhile, Gen X workers are known for their entrepreneurial spirit; they favour independent working and Employers tend to find they are motivated by benefits such as flexible schedules, telecommuting, regular bonuses and recognition schemes.

Naturally, recruiters should take care not to pigeonhole Candidates by making assumptions based on their generation alone. However, gaining an understanding of the unique differences in motivations, preferences and requirements will enable hiring managers to create a more tailored offer that aligns with the values and expectations of each Candidate they are targeting.

Review and tweak your current practices

In order to attract high-performers from all age groups in the talent pool, Employers must create a strategy that speaks to the needs and interests of each generation. Evaluating your current practices will allow you to identify gaps in your company’s ability to successfully attract multi-generational Candidates and enable you to sell your Employer brand in a way that excites prospective Employees of all ages.

For instance, considering members of Generations X and Y are highly driven by the culture, values and environment within a company, you might update the copy on your careers page to highlight rewards, training programmes, work-life balance and diversity initiatives within the business. Alternatively, you may use the interview as an opportunity to build engagement and enhance the Candidate experience altogether by introducing them to the team and showing them real-life examples of recent initiatives undertaken by the business to improve Employee wellbeing.

Build a bespoke benefits package

According to a study from Barclays, six out of 10 Employees state that a comprehensive benefits package is essential when considering a job offer. Yet 85 per cent felt their benefits package failed to provide the support and flexibility required to meet current and future financial obligations.

The success of any reward scheme will largely depend on an understanding of how individuals can respond differently to the same rewards. As such, the incentives you offer your prospective Employees should take into account the nature of their role, their age-bracket and current seniority level.

For an entry-level position, your incentives might lean towards professional and personal development opportunities while those for a more senior Candidate might focus on financial compensation, health insurance and pension plans for example.

Experimenting for engagement

In an increasingly competitive market, a strong brand simply isn’t enough. Taking advantage of the digital tools available is critical to the success of your recruitment campaigns. While there are certainly a set few guidelines (or do’s and don’ts) of talent attraction, there isn’t a clearcut answer for how or where to engage your Candidates.

Just like a marketing strategy, your recruitment drive should be tested, measured and evaluated against specific metrics to improve your results and better target your intended audience. If, for example, you have two roles within the same team, but one is a junior position and the other is more managerial, this allows you the chance to test your messaging to determine what kind of language works to attract Candidates from different age-brackets.

Similarly, you may want to use this opportunity to ascertain which platforms drive the most engagement and to measure how each demographic responds to your recruitment campaigns.

Choose your channels wisely

Once you have an understanding of who your ideal Candidate is, you can select the right platform through which to engage them. Remember, not all job-seekers will be scrolling through job-boards, particularly if they are passive Candidates. Some may favour LinkedIn as a source of new opportunities; some may have preferred specialist forums dedicated to their discipline. Social media can be a powerful way to tap into a talent pool that isn’t actively looking for a change, but your success will, once again, depend on your understanding of the Candidate you are looking to recruit.


Finding the best fit Candidates is by no means an easy process; it demands commitment and care from hiring managers to develop a deep understanding of the skills and attributes that each role requires along with the specific drivers that motivate different kinds of Candidates. Finding a recruitment style that can successfully attract a diverse range of talent hinges on a hiring manager’s ability to customise their process according to the audience they are trying to engage.

By no means does this suggest you must you adopt a completely new approach for each vacancy – rather, your talent acquisition strategy should allow room for personalisation. By gaining an understanding of your Employees and the ideal Candidates you are seeking to attract, you can begin to diversify your process, test your practices and optimise your recruitment campaigns to better target your ideal Candidate.

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