Recruiting talent is a huge part of any successful business. But how can you find these individuals and how can you optimize the recruiting process to bring them to your business? The bright side to an uncertain economy is that the job market is more competitive than ever, which can ultimately bring you more qualified applicants–ones with more experience and more education. Here are a few tips for smarter staffing as you begin to further develop your talent base:

Develop a culture to be desired

Culture is becoming more and more important, especially for young people. Long gone are the days of stagnant nine-to-fives with staunch policies and meager rewards. Young people are becoming more partial to the start-up culture because of the “perks,” which adds to their happiness and not necessarily their wallets. Perks include dog-friendly offices, flexible hours, the option to work from home and free snacks/meals. Facilitating an inviting culture can not only invite fresh talent, but can also make current employees happy enough to recommend their workplace to a friend, which leads me to my next point.

Begin a referral program

Employee referral programs can be extremely beneficial to both the company and the applicant pool. Individuals applying for jobs essentially get a trusted recommendation and the company gets a host of people who are interested in the jobs and have been pre-screened by a current employee. Your current employees are often great ambassadors, especially when they enjoy their work and are rewarded for doing it. If you already have a referral program in place but have not seen great results, you may want to offer an incentive for any employees who refer hired candidates. This can help ensure that employees are out in the community networking and discussing your business to potential new hires.

Act upon the trends

The way in which people look for jobs (and are hired) is changing all the time, especially in the realm of digital. Even three years ago, no one was utilizing social media as a hiring tool. As our world has become more social-centric, it is very common for people to search for job openings via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In fact, 52% of all job seekers have used Facebook to look for work, 38% have used LinkedIn, and 34% have used Twitter (Forbes). Likewise, 39% of companies report using social media to screen candidates as a potential fit. Therefore, it is imperative that your hiring process incorporate social initiatives.

Use data for staffing optimization

Since we’re all about data usage, it is important to mention how data can be used to make hiring decisions. Firstly, data can be used to make your actual hiring process more synced to your business’s natural fluctuations. By examining your sales data, your business can ultimately decide when to increase or decrease staff, improving efficiency and maximizing profitability. For example, in retail, you can examine the sale trends over time to optimize your employee’s shifts. Even by examining things like the volume of customer service inquiries, you can determine how many people need to be dedicated to the task during different times of the year. Secondly, by looking at your sales + marketing data, you can determine what products or services are your most profitable and hire accordingly. Knowing this information can prompt you to look for candidates with the necessary experience to expand these services or products.

Create an internship program

Internship programs are not just beneficial to the individuals within them. Your company can benefit highly from having well-qualified interns as well. As interns are able to take some of the more tedious work off their hands, current full-time employees will be granted extra time to devote to other tasks, improving their output. In addition, interns will be equipped with fast-track training that could earn them a full-time spot in your company or elsewhere. The knowledge and experience they gain is irrefutable, and you have the unique opportunity to shape them into an employee you would hire.