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Welcome to 2015, the year that recruitment will become more social, more mobile, and, oh yes, more time-consuming than ever. At last count, it takes companies an average of 39 business days -- nearly 8 weeks! -- to fill job openings in the IT and tech sector. (For some context, that’s on par with how long it typically takes people to find and buy a home.)

At face value, this may not be surprising. After all, choosing the perfect candidate is just as critical of a decision as choosing that perfect place to live. But as recruiters, hiring managers, and talent acquisition leaders, this means that as you plan out your recruitment strategy for the year, you need to look ahead. Three months ahead, to be exact. With time to fill at an all-time high, the sooner you can start promoting your recruitment campaign for a role, the better off you’ll be at filling your headcount needs on time. So what’s the best way to structure all of this planning? It helps to look at your recruitment strategy as a marketing campaign.

Cover all your bases.

It’s been a long time since recruiting has had a fixed 30-day “post a job” to “grant an offer” timeline and even longer since the days when a single job post brought in a whirlwind of qualified applicants. With IT job postings up 10% from this time last year, the market to hire developers has never been more competitive, so don’t leave your candidate pipeline up to the luck of the draw. Draw from your marketing team’s efforts to develop fully fledged recruitment campaigns that will attract active candidates, reach passive ones, and give your recruiters and developers opportunities to interact with potential candidates as often as possible. Look into longer-term listings, cross-promote multiple roles at once with employer branding campaigns, buffer your campaign with social media and seek out meetups in your area where developers congregate. In sales, they call this “surrounding the sale.” Applying this concept in the context of recruiting can boost your results.

Get in front of your target candidates.

Just like in any consumer-facing brand campaign, the more exposure you have in front of your target audience, the better. The age-old rule of traditional marketing is the “rule of seven” -- that is to say, it takes seven consistent touch points over a one-year period to get your message to stick with a consumer. Given the lengthening recruitment cycle from candidate-to-offer, you can increase the likelihood of bringing candidates down your funnel faster by getting your name out as frequently as you can. Learn as much as you can about your target candidates to determine what channels would work the best for your campaign.

Rework your image.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: You don’t need a ping pong table to get developers to want to work for you. When developers evaluate new job opportunities, they prioritize elements such as having an opportunity to learn and grow, working with a smart team, and working in an environment with good management. Knowing what you know about what developers want, take inventory on what elements of your work environment would best resonate with the type of candidates you’re looking to hire. If you’re not sure what makes your company developer-friendly, just ask your current team what they like the most about working there. This should be the leading theme throughout your job advertisements.

Build brand equity.

We know, we know -- it’s easier to target candidates who already have wandering eyes and are looking for new jobs. After all, the primary goal of marketing is to reach consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions. That said, recruitment (like marketing) is a long-tail game. Candidates who learn to love your employer brand from an early age will be more likely to come back to you for their next job, even if it’s years down the road. The most tested example of how brand equity fills pipelines is through robust internship programs. After spending a summer wooing college students, you not only have a chance to vet potential hires by the end of the next school year, but also benefit from interns sharing their experience with their peers once they return to school. But even without the bandwidth to foster a fully developed intern program, there are plenty of ways to leverage digital media and in-person events to promote your company’s brand to the right people.

Despite the increased time-to-fill across the board, you don’t need to fear your headcount numbers, so long as you plan ahead. Reset the expectations of your management and executive teams to move away from the 30-day mindset to the reality of it taking nearly eight weeks to fill openings. Structuring your recruitment strategy in a way that supports these changing market conditions will keep you ahead of the game, rather than behind the curve for 2015.

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