What Hewlett-Packard and Groupon Know About Smart Recruiting

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As the economy slowly rebounds, companies are having to compete harder for top talent. Add to that competition the proliferation of social media channels -- and their ever-changing levels of popularity -- and recruiters have to cover a lot of ground in order to draw the best people to their companies. And it's not just about using the latest bells and whistles; recruiters have a responsibility to make decisions that add value to the bottom line.

To find out what that entails, The Motley Fool talked with two of this year's Glassdoor Talent Warrior award winners -- 10 corporate recruiters selected from hundreds of nominees based on their innovative recruiting practices. Celinda Appleby, digital media strategist for global talent acquisition at Hewlett-Packard , and Dustin Carper, employment brand strategist at Groupon , explained to us via email how their work contributes to their company's bottom line.

The mature tech company and the young social deals site, of course, have different histories, business models, and markets, so it's not surprising that Appleby and Carper describe different approaches to recruiting -- one focused on pre- and posthire communication, one heavy on data analysis. But the strategies they use can be adapted by nearly any recruiting team. They're also indicators that a company's recruitment approach is focused on value.

Hewlett-Packard's employee-centric approach
"We place the employee at the center of everything we do," said Appleby. That's smart business in an age where employee word of mouth is amplified by the reach of social media. An emphasis on worker contentment is reflected by HP's frequent appearance on top employer lists, such as the Forbes list of 10 companies with the happiest young professionals.

HP Labs, Palo Alto, Calif. Image: Hewlett-Packard.

Clarify prospects' expectations
In order to get those people hired and keep them happy, Appleby focuses on transparency, making sure potential hires see clearly what they're getting into. "By leveraging a more honest look at life and culture at HP, we are able to recruit talent that understands what day to day life is really like here," she said.

While that emphasis on the everyday may not sound like a big deal, Glassdoor's research has found that six in 10 workers they surveyed had taken a job only to find it was markedly different from what they thought it would be -- and that mismatch between expectations and reality can lead to lower productivity and higher turnover. A smarter strategy is to be clear up front about what the work entails. Incompatible candidates may opt out, and those who do sign on are more likely to transition in easily and stay longer.

Court loyalty and referrals
Besides streamlining the recruiting process and keeping turnover low, employee-focused recruiting adds value in another indirect but important way: "More referrals because we make sure that people truly enjoy working here," Appleby said. This can shorten the time it takes to fill open positions and expand the pool of qualified applicants without extra effort by recruiters.

Groupon's emphasis on data
While Appleby focuses on transparency and employee satisfaction, Carper at Groupon digs deep into his numbers. As Groupon tries to work its way back from a 40% stock-price decline over the past year, bringing on the right people efficiently is crucial.

Focus on quality over quantity
"In my role, my main focus is improving the quality of applicants that we receive. It is not my job to add more noise to our applicant flow, so I hold myself accountable for the quality of the sources that we bring in," Carper said.

To do this, Carper carefully analyzes the channels Groupon uses to recruit talent. "I created a metric called 'quality of candidate.' This is calculated by figuring out the percentage of applicants reviewed that make it to a phone screen or interview stage," he said. "By using percentages, I am able to make consistent comparisons regardless of how many applications we receive per source or even how much we are spending."

Leverage data to maximize the budget
That number-crunching helps Carper see quickly what's working and what's not. "I then reallocate budget and start or stop campaigns based on efficacy," he said. Quarter over quarter, Carper added, his data mining has boosted source quality by a third, tripled the number of hires Groupon made from one source, and increased applications by 10%. "All without increasing budget a dime," Carper added.

Carper's strategies offer a smart way to reduce hiring time and costs, while Appleby's approach at HP seems tailor-made to bring on talent for the long haul. Companies that want to stay competitive, no matter what space they operate in, would do well to combine the long-term relationship building that HP focuses on with the more immediate data analysis Groupon uses to find quality prospects.

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The article What Hewlett-Packard and Groupon Know About Smart Recruiting originally appeared on Fool.com.

Casey Kelly-Barton has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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