January is one of the best times of the year for hiring. For small businesses, that means the always-raging war for talent is at its hottest at the beginning of the year.

The most effective way to land top talent is to follow a plan, and the best plans all follow smart schedules. Before you add new faces to your team in the new year, add the following tasks to your calendar:

1. Create strong recruiting content.

Create content that provides an inside look at what life is like within the organization. Interview people in departments looking for new hires. Showcase the types of projects they tackle, the fun ways they come together as a team and the perks they enjoy working at the company.

Young people are especially interested in working for companies that understand social responsibility. If the brand stands for something noble, talented recruits will be more likely to pay attention when they start looking for work.

2. Communicate warmly after interviews.

Even for people who don’t make the cut, schedule time after interview rounds to follow up. 

Many companies don’t speak at all to rejected applicants. Courteous ones send a generic email thanking applicants for their time. Smart companies, however, recognize that even rejected applicants can become brand ambassadors. Those companies follow up with personalized communications and encouragements to maintain positive relationships.

3. Speak to all the stakeholders.

Don’t just work with HR to plug holes in departments that need more hands. Talk to managers and teams to find out what needs to improve and what kind of person could help.

Take the extra time to talk to everyone involved. Talk to the hiring manager to find out which functional competencies the right candidates should possess. Work with HR and cultural leaders in the office to avoid hiring someone who could disrupt the company vibe in a negative way.

Don’t forget to include the affected team in the hiring process. Ladders advises leaders to include teams to feel out potential candidates. Not only does this make team members feel valued, but it also makes the onboarding process easier when the team already knows the new hire.

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