RECRUITING skilled employees is a perennial challenge for businesses of all sizes, particularly at the professional and technical staff levels.

To attract the best, companies must continually come up with creative and attention-grabbing recruitment strategies.

Here are some tips to turn your company's recruitment campaign into a success:

1. Think like a job seeker

Competitive compensation and the prospect of stable employment are no longer sufficient to attract top candidates.

Candidates are increasingly seeking meaningful work and career development opportunities. Employers need to consider the unique needs, interests and preferences of a broad spectrum of employees.

2. Implement a double-internship model

Interning is an effective way to maintain a pipeline of talents. It allows firms to try out students for full-time employment, while training them in the company.

Maximise an internship programme by having students work in different areas of the company, depending on their interests and abilities.

The opportunity to build skills by working on new areas helps sustain interest and increases the likelihood of the student returning as a full-time employee to the company.

3. Make recruitment an ongoing process

Companies that attract and hire the best employees are always recruiting, even if they have no vacancies. Continue to look out for potential candidates.

Keep an active database of the names and resums of candidates whom you have met or who have expressed interest in your firm. Share these with your human resource department for future position openings.

4. Apply the competency-based interview technique

The competency-based interview (CBI) is a technique used to judge candidates on the same criteria with a focus on establishing job fit.

During the interview, candidates are asked to describe their behaviour according to the following:

* Situation:

The candidate is asked to detail a situation in which he has been called upon to exhibit a certain kind of behaviour. Example: "Tell me about a situation when you had to deliver some unwelcome news."

* Approach:

Here, the candidate details how he set about handling the situation. It is important to understand the full process undertaken. Example: "How did you go about breaking the news?"

* Outcome:

The candidate must demonstrate specifically why he feels the outcome was successful. He should ideally include independent feedback by someone else. Example: "What was the result? How did they take it?" Probe with additional questions where necessary.

5. Boost referral bonuses

Often, the best source of candidates is right in front of you. Your staff may know of talented professionals who may be available on the market.

Be sure to spread the word among your staff when you have a vacancy to fill. Post the complete job description in the pantry or on the company Intranet, so employees are aware of the criteria.

Also, increase the amount of the referral bonus your current employees will receive. Firms who practise this report an increase in the number and quality of people hired through employee referrals.

6. Consider temp-to-hire arrangements

An employer can evaluate a candidate's "fit" with the team, company's overall culture, and the specific position in the long-term by hiring individuals on a temporary basis initially.

7. Emphasise flexibility during recruiting

Work-life balance is a concern for more employees today. Companies should emphasise ways they can help staff manage work and personal issues. For example, make part-time or flexible work arrangements available for mothers returning to the workforce.

8. Counteract entry-level 'ennui'

Tedious work in the early years of one's career is the norm. Employers need to cater to the changing demands and expectations of employees.

Make these positions more appealing by offering more opportunities for continuous learning. And strike a balance between challenging and routine assignments. It is critical to develop fast-track career paths out of entry-level positions into more significant roles for potential employees.

Show appreciation

All candidates aspire to work for an organisation that appreciates them and facilitates their career advancement in the long term.

The key to attracting the best talents during the hiring process is to consistently communicate to candidates how the firm values its employees.