6 proven recruitment strategies

This article was written specifically for the Tony Robbins blog by talent strategy expert, Elatia Abate.

Getting the right people in the door seems to be a perennial challenge for business owners and leaders. Common complaints – from Fortune 500s to early stage startups – center around how hard it is to find good people, the lack of effective recruitment strategies, and that there isn’t enough time to focus on it.

The exciting news is that recruiting can be both simple and, more interestingly, it can support and drive your business growth when done correctly. All that’s required for successful recruiting strategies is to move the people of your business to center stage by simply shifting your mindset.


One of the principle reasons business owners and leaders find hiring so challenging is that they create a false mental (and sometimes real operational) separation between “the business” – the urgent tasks of generating revenue, increasing sales, growing market share – and recruiting.

When this is the case, it is easy to see why recruiting understood as a distinct activity gets relegated to the back burner. There are so many other things to concern yourself with, business-wise, that recruiting slips from the forefront of your mind – but it shouldn’t. The truth is, having the right people on your team can make or break your business.

In the United States, 68% of employees are disengaged or highly disengaged at work, which costs companies billions of dollars in lost productivity annually. Or, as Darren Hardy in The Entrepreneurial Rollercoaster states: “When you’re hiring the wrong person, you’re not only paying them, you’re paying them to light piles of your money on fire, spread a cancer through your building, and run your rollercoaster [business] right off the tracks and into the ground.”


One of the recruitment strategies that can quickly help you bring best hiring practices front and center is to understand how similar the hiring process is to your current sales processes. Your customers and clients buy your products and services because of the value they add to their lives. You reach your target audiences by understanding who they are, how they communicate, where to find them and what they need. You meet the customer where they are and offer them things they can’t access on their own.

You can apply the exact same logic to the recruitment process. Talented candidates are consumers of the opportunities and experiences that working in your company can provide.

Designing personas of who your ideal hires are, including interests, past experience, critical thinking capabilities and cultural fit can make evaluating the candidates who do apply more objective.

A critical question to ask yourself when you think about your strategy is, are you reaching your target audience in the right places? If you are looking for an accomplished user experience designer, you are probably not going to find them through an ad on Craigslist.

If you’re truly seeking A+ players, they are probably gainfully employed and not necessarily looking for new opportunities. Rather than posting positions on one of the million job boards, could you go to a conference, open-source coding room, or industry event where concentrations of talented people spend their time?

Finally, how are you talking about the opportunities you have? Are you using language that speaks to the talent you seek? Are you recruiting on sites or at events that attract talented people in your industry? If you have a culture of innovation and collaboration, but you use language on your website that reads more like tax code, you are not going to bring the talent you want in the door. Meet your talent halfway. You not only need to locate people who will revitalize your brand, but you need to present your company as a viable option for them.


In order to bring the right people in, you have to have a clear understanding of where your business is today, and where you want to take it moving forward. By understanding these two things, you can prioritize which hires need to come first and where to allocate valuable hiring resources.

One of my clients is a co-founder of an early stage online startup in the beauty industry, on the brink of closing their first round of funding. The business has already achieved a certain amount of success. To move the company to its next phase of growth, they have to quickly increase revenue. So, they know that their first two investments in people once the checks clear will be in online digital marketing and sales.


When deciding whom to bring on board, you can think of the ideal candidate being made up of two main factors – skills and style. In other words, is the candidate capable of executing the tasks they will need to perform the job well? Do they have the skills? That may seem basic, but if a hiring executive isn’t clear about what is needed, even this part can be a shot in the dark.

The second piece is style, or cultural fit. If your company is an energetic, collaborative and innovative place, someone who is a great individual contributor but doesn’t like working in teams isn’t going to work well for you. You need someone who will seamlessly merge with your team. When someone doesn’t have to worry about how they fit in socially at your company, they’re better able to collaborate with their peers and focus on the task at hand.


The idea that recruiting takes up “too much time” is something you hear from many executives. This is a place where you can make the hiring process itself work for you.

One of the main reasons that the recruiting process takes up too much time is that companies create low barriers for candidates to apply, resulting in wasted time evaluating candidates.

Post an ad on Craigslist that says something like “Looking for rockstar salespeople who can produce great results and want to be a part of a fun team. Send your resume to this email if you’re interested.” What do you think you’re going to get? Hundreds or thousands of resumes from unqualified people that you or someone on your team has to review.

Instead, create a process that has a high barrier to entry. When I ran recruiting for Dow Jones, we built a summer innovation lab for which we hired talented, creative college students. In addition to asking for a resume and cover letter, we invited candidates to answer essay questions about their own creativity and innovation, as well as do recorded video interviews. This process ensured that only the most interested and dedicated talent applied, and that those who we did invite for interviews were highly vetted before they walked in the door.


Preparing more strategically for the interview itself can help you bring the right people in the door. Instead of entering a social conversation to “get to know” the candidate, be deliberate and strategic about the questions you ask. Why are you looking to bring someone new on board? How long do you envision them staying at your company? Why does their past experience speak to you?

If you know the role you are hiring for requires flexibility under pressure, creative thinking and obsessive attention to detail, have the candidate offer you specific, measurable examples of where they have demonstrated these three qualities. Don’t settle for answers that simply offer a yes or a no. “Tell me more” is a great way to dig into the information that will get you the talent you need to drive your company’s growth. Always have specific questions that align with an open role, and most importantly, don’t forget to keep your brand’s ultimate vision in mind.

About the Author

Elatia is an entrepreneur and thought leader on the future of work, talent strategy, and building cultures of creativity and innovation. She works with organizations that range in size from Fortune 500 to early-stage start-ups. She is a sought-after speaker and lecturer, having recently delivered a TEDx titled, “Pioneering The Future of Work.” In a former life she served as Vice President of Human Resources at Dow Jones & Company, and Global Director Talent Acquisition at Anheuser-Busch InBev. Learn more at elatiaabate.com or by following @elaabate on Twitter and Instagram.

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