Just because we have made it to 2018 doesn't mean we can hit the reset button on our recruiting efforts. But as the war on talent becomes more fierce, now is as good of time as any to assess your 2017 recruiting efforts to help guide you in 2018.

The most recent jobs reports show the unemployment rate holding around 4 percent with new jobs being added in manufacturing, healthcare, professional and business services. This is great news, of course – unless you’re hiring. In that case, you’ve got your work cut out for you as the competition for qualified talent has created a fury in the market. So what’s an employer to do?

Dig in to the data

First things first: it’s time to assess your existing recruiting strategy. Throughout 2017, the unemployment rate decreased from 4.8 percent to 4.1 percent. Through a talent acquisition lens, this means that some 800,000 potential hires found jobs. That’s 800,000 fewer candidates scouring your job site, looking at your job postings or sending in their resumes. Make time to explore the outcome of your recruiting efforts this year. How many candidates did you screen? How many did you interview? And ultimately, how many reqs did you fill?

Know where your candidates come from

Once you have a handle on this basic info, take a long hard look at how you found your candidates. The results may surprise you. Research indicates time and time again that employee referral programs are among the most fruitful ways to find new talent. Think about it: you’re more likely to meet someone or try something new if a friend makes the recommendation. Similarly, knowing what served you best in 2017 is apt to serve as the basis of your 2018 approach.

Create a passive candidate strategy

Feeling confident going into the New Year opens up the opportunity to enhance your recruiting efforts. Going back to the recent jobs reports, one big factor in your 2018 strategy will be the tight job market. For employers, this means it’s time to get crafty. With so much talent already employed, chances are you will need to shift your focus to passive candidates. A working talent pool is difficult to reach given that they can’t return calls during business hours. They can, however, chat or text – opening up new avenues of communication and helping carve out a competitive advantage. Look into technologies that allow recruiters to send messages directly to candidates. For quick chats, consider using text, Facebook or LinkedIn. For more in-depth conversations consider chat events.

Consider the rest

Other ideas to consider: cleaning up old data lingering in your applicant tracking system, refreshing that employee referral program, escalating your diversity and inclusion efforts or expanding your events strategy. Putting emphasis on reaching new candidates, whether active or passive, is the best way to up your game.

The new jobs report becomes available Friday, January 5, 2018. While it’s too early to predict what the whole year will bring, early takeaways from 2017 indicate that recruiting challenges abound. Know before you go and get ready for the road ahead.

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