A New Perspective on Sourcing Top Talent – Eight New Ideas You Need to Consider

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Consumer marketing ideas have overtaken traditional sourcing approaches faster than anyone could have imagined. Job boards are dead; talent hubs are alive. Skills-based postings will soon follow the dodo bird into extinction, and will be replaced with ads focused on the future, not the past. They will be crafted with the latest search engine marketing concepts in mind. If you want your fair share of tomorrow’s talent, you’d better start changing how you source them today.

Here’s what I see as the fundamental ground rules for sourcing top talent, circa 2010. Implementing them now will give you a reasonable head start.

  1. Target the early-birds, not the leftovers. If many of the best people you find tell you they’ve just accepted another job, or are close to it, you have a leftover sourcing strategy in place. Of course, you didn’t plan it this way, but most companies don’t think about ensuring that their opportunities are discovered by the best people at the moment they enter the job market. The best people, generally fully-employed, but somewhat concerned about their future growth, tend to look for new careers in a particular way. It starts by networking with close associates, or perhaps calling a recruiter or two. If nothing happens, they’ll expand their networking efforts, start Googling for jobs, do some company and industry research, and maybe start looking at some niche sites. One of the last things they’ll need to do is look at a company’s career site and apply for a job. An early-bird sourcing strategy involves figuring out what top people in your area of need do when they just enter the job market, and then making sure your messages are highly visible to them. Go to the original copy of this article located at the bottom of this page and click on the short video podcast to give you a taste of this early-bird strategy. After you’ve watched the podcast, contact us if you want to better understand this or participate in one of our upcoming sourcing summits.

  2. Provide candidates an opportunity to “just look,” rather than forcing them to buy. When first entering the job market, the best people are just looking around exploring opportunities, not quite ready to buy, or apply for, a job. Unfortunately, most companies have set up their hiring processes with a “you must buy now” mentality in mind. Some examples will help clarify this critical concept. For one thing, it’s hard to find actual jobs on most career sites unless registering or submitting a resume. Companies also make it hard for candidates to talk with recruiters or hiring managers on an exploratory basis before formally applying. Even worse, most job descriptions are turn-offs, written more to prevent unqualified people from applying, rather than offering the best people an opportunity to simply consider your company as a place to explore career opportunities. Go to the resources section of adlerconcepts.com for some articles to help you implement this concept.

  3. Implement proactive early-bird networking. Stop asking your employees or your prospects who they know who’s looking, and stop waiting for them to refer someone. Instead, ask them who they’d give a great recommendation. Now get all of your employees to use LinkedIn to connect with these people. Get your recruiters to call each one personally, offer them a chance to stay connected, obtain some type of short profile, and then stay in touch with these people every month or so. Now make sure that these highly regarded people call you first whenever they get itchy, or just want to explore some opportunities. Go to the training section of adlerconcepts.com to learn how to train your recruiters to do this starting tomorrow.

  4. Stop using job descriptions that define and attract average people. When you think about it, job descriptions listing skills, experience, qualifications, and academics really represent average people, certainly not top performers. Worse, since they’re boring and exclusionary, only average people would consider applying. For proof, just think about why so few top people apply for your jobs. If you want to write job postings that attract better people, consider the two types of great people traditional job descriptions ignore. The first group represents those who thoroughly enjoy doing the work involved and have many of the skills listed. The second group are those that see the work involved as a learning experience or as a stepping stone to something else, but who don’t have all of the qualifications listed. Few job descriptions are written to attract these two groups of top performing people. To address this on your next search assignment ask your hiring manager what the best people like most about the work involved. Then ask why a top person with all of the experience listed would want this job. Follow this up by asking what other types of experiences a top person would likely have if this job were seen as a growth opportunity. This should give you enough information to write a more compelling ad that emphasizes the actual work and opportunities involved, rather than a list of qualifications. To help your hiring managers in this area, send them to one of our trainings, or gift them a copy of Lou Adler’s Hire With Your Head Book & Lou Adler’s Basic One-Question Interview Audio CD.

  5. Eliminate job requisitions and archaic architecture as a core process, and start using talent hubs. The only reason we post job requisitions is because this was the business model that made the most sense for job boards. Using out-dated technology like pull-down menus to find these boring jobs exacerbates the problem. A talent hub combines all similar jobs (e.g., all ASIC designers, accountants, tax advisors, etc.) together in a microsite. By offering a bigger target, a site like this will attract more of the right people using basic search engine marketing techniques. Once at the site viewers can then be offered multiple opportunities to stay connected with the company, or apply for a specific job. We’re working with Shaker Recruitment Advertising on creating these types of talents hubs. Join us for a free webinar to find out more about this emerging and important new sourcing tool.

  6. Become a partner, not a vendor. Recruiters must become equal partners in the recruiting process. Few line managers would consider their sales team as unqualified, unimportant, or subservient, yet this is how most recruiters are viewed by their clients. Recruiters need to step up here and become true partners. This means they must clearly understand real job needs, be able to quickly find and recruit top performers in their field, be stronger interviewers than their clients, and be able to effectively negotiate and close offers based on career opportunities, not compensation. Being a partner means 100% of your candidates are seen without question, your advice and counsel is sought when opening an assignment, your judgment about candidate competency is highly respected, and you are asked to attend your client’s staff meetings, especially when hiring, performance reviews, or workforce planning issues are discussed. Recruiters who are partners make 50-100% more placements per month, so becoming a partner is a huge issue. If you want to become a better recruiter, start by becoming a partner.

  7. Speed up – be an early adopter. Don’t wait for these ideas to be proven out; by then it will be too late. From a marketing and competitive advantage standpoint, diminishing returns set in once 25-30% of a group starts using any new advertising idea. Those who get the most benefit are those that try something after the initial bugs have been worked out, but before the idea becomes widely adopted. All of the ideas here are based on common sense consumer marketing and advertising ideas, and proven Web 2.0 concepts. The only difference is that they are not yet universally applied to recruitment advertising. Early adopters will have a significant competitive advantage over those who wait. To maintain this advantage you’ll then need to become a consistent early adopter on new recruitment advertising ideas.

  8. Slow down – drop the transactional sales model and implement consultative selling. While you want to try new marketing and advertising ideas before everyone else, you’ll want to slow down the actual recruitment process to a pace consistent with how top performers make important career decisions. Too many recruiters rush to close. This is a turn-off to top people who are considering your job as an important career move. See our article on SPIN Selling and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which you’ll find useful. It combines the idea of using solution selling, career consulting, and job satisfaction as a means to allow top performers to fully evaluate your job opportunities. While you want to push your candidates forward at a reasonable pace, there are ways to do this that are seen as advising rather than pressuring.

While technology is changing the game of sourcing and recruiting, ultimate success requires more relationship building with both clients and candidates. This will require new recruiting and sourcing strategies, better ways to utilize the latest technologies, and more highly skilled recruiters. However, without bold recruiting and HR leaders, little progress will be made, and the same laments we hear today will only be louder tomorrow.

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