Moving from reactive recruitment to a proactive resourcing plan can be a daunting task, but for smaller and mid-sized businesses, it’s the one and only way to compete for top talent. 

When considering that losing out to bigger businesses in the talent market can have a severe negative impact on the bottom line, creating a more comprehensive, forward-looking recruitment strategy seems like a small price to pay. 

To help you out on your journey, at COLLABZ we’ve created a blog miniseries that set out exactly how to go about transitioning to a proactive model. 

To win in the talent market, what do I need?

  1. A strategic hiring plan 
  2. A proactive recruitment strategy 
  3. A professional and engaging candidate experience 
  4. Extremely collaborative and engaged hiring managers 
  5. A highly productive recruitment team with the right skills 

Our previous blogs looked at creating a strategic hiring plan, and outlined the seven pillars companies must consider when building a proactive recruitment strategy. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss the operating model and infrastructure required to build a truly proactive recruitment strategy.

Read on to find out how to get your new proactive resourcing strategy up and running. And once you’re ready to start work, be sure to use the information and resources from our SME Leader’s Proactive Talent Acquisition Toolkit to help you out. 


Okay we admit it: process reviews aren’t the sexiest task. However, it’s important to have a systematic approach to hiring with processes that deliver a great experience. 

Consider the following:

  • Do we have a robust, streamlined process which produces the quality we need and saves time and money? 
  • Is our process aligned to the people we want to attract? For example, could assessment centres be the best form of process for our ‘high volume, low skills’ hires? 
  • Are we expecting too much pre-application and within our recruiting funnel to attract passive talent 

Companies should always seek that fine balance of obtaining the information they need without deterring a candidate from exiting the process because of poor user experience. It’s important to map these processes out for both the candidate and hiring manager journey and remove any friction. 

Document these processes and make sure it’s clear who owns which part of the process and what is expected of them to make sure each step is efficient as possible. Implement ongoing monitoring of processes to remove any bottlenecks.  

People and Skills

Once you’ve mapped out the processes, it’s time to allocate people to the tasks that sit at each stage, and think about what skills are needed to meet the needs of the wider strategy. 

This could form part of your wider skills gap analysis: What do we have now? What do we need moving forward? Where are the capability gaps?

With the in-house sector and the role of recruiters changing almost beyond recognition, it’s vital to appreciate the new disciplines which now exist within the business function, and to think about the complexities of the activities you’ve indicated in the seven pillars

Consider the following points:

  • Do we need employer branding and recruitment marketing skills?
  • Do we need an analyst to help with our data? 
  • Do we need a different style of recruitment expertise to drive passive sourcing? 
  • Are our current recruiters resilient enough with the hiring managers to influence direct sourcing over their pet agencies? 
  • Do we need more sourcing over business partnering? 

We would recommend drafting a concept organisational design of how you want to service the business based on the demand. Will you opt for a centralised or decentralised model? Or maybe build a centre of excellence which is supported by an outsource partner? 

Once confident with your structure, the gaps will now become clear. You will then see what gaps need to be filled by training and development, or perhaps where you would prefer support or a larger headcount. Consistently consider the experience of new employees coming into the business. How will we engage these people? What career path can we provide? What professional training should we offer?

Technology, products and services

Now it’s time to consider what third party tech, services, and products you’ll need to support your new strategy, processes, and people. 

Technology is advancing at an electric pace in the HR/talent space. From analytics to machine learning and candidate screening to automated scheduling, even with heavy investment, it’s possible to feel like you’re still missing out. 

Focus your investment on the must-haves for an effective recruiting effort. This will ensure you’re not being held back initially. Once you’ve experienced a clear ROI, start to introduce more advanced tools to boost it further. The more you can integrate the better; even if the cost is slightly higher at purchase, it will be well worth it in the long run.  

Here’s our list of must-haves:

A demand planning tool: At a simple level to encourage managers to forward plan. At an advanced level to automate your plans.  

An applicant tracking system (ATS): To manage the end to end recruitment process workflow (an onboarding module would be ideal) 

A candidate relationship management system (CRM): To develop and nurture relationships with talent and house pipelines. Look for platforms who have invested in video/audio.  

A content management system (CMS): To manage your careers website and your library of employer brand assets 

A Referral Capability: Support the organisation to generate referrals from their employees.   

Handy Tools and Tips 

Create Templates

In this era of personalisation, tailoring your messages to candidates is vital, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Modify templates to reach out to passive candidates, schedule interviews, and create job offers.

Have a playbook  

Playbooks are concrete and easy to manage. They help your hiring team prepare for the entire hiring process or one stage (e.g. interview, onboarding). By using playbooks with checklists, you’ll remember important steps.

Send surveys 

Craft surveys asking candidates and hiring teams for feedback on their experience of your hiring process. This way you can discover where to improve. You can use a tool like SurveyMonkey or Typeform to create effective surveys.

Revise your job descriptions

Job descriptions are your first official communication with job applicants, and making a good first impression is essential. Simple, concrete, and attractive job ads encourage qualified candidates to apply.

Draft a recruitment policy

Companies often leave the mechanics of the hiring process up to each individual manager. This translates into time lost when recruiters and hiring managers try to organise hiring. Draft a recruitment policy to clarify details of your hiring process and provide advice.

How should I budget for this? 

Consider the following questions:

  • Is my function a cost centre, investment or a profit centre? 
  • How are recruitment costs budgeted in the organisation, and does this drive the right behaviors for our strategy? 
  • Do we use a centralised HR budget or is it decentralised through the hiring managers P&L?
  • Do we charge our internal customers for using our expertise? 
  • Who has visibility and control over what we spend? Does rogue spending occur, contradicting our strategy? 

It’s also important to consider who is ultimately sponsoring this project. This means when the hiring manager complains that their agency tap has been turned off temporarily, you’re able to remain true to the plan. 

The most forward looking organisations who are winning with their hiring have had a mindset shift. They are now viewing their hiring budget as an investment in the same way they would view a marketing budget, but repurposed to attract ideal candidates aligned to business goals, instead of acquiring customers. 

A quality hire can contribute on average 3 times their employment costs, while a bad hire can cost double the amount it cost the business to hire the employee in the first place. With this in mind, the economics of agreeing a sensible budget to enable the acquisition of good hires add up. 

Ready to start creating your new proactive talent acquisition strategy? You can find plenty of free resources and more information in our SME Leader’s Proactive Talent Acquisition Toolkit.

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