Talent Rule #2: “She’s Just Not That Into You!” Saving Time and Money through Vetting Candidates


Every recruiter knows that if you are serious about hiring the best possible people, you have to be even more serious about finding and attracting the best possible candidates. Nine times out of ten, the best candidates were not the ones that came to you, they were the ones you found.  In this market, that is still true, but the new concern is that once you find them, you have to make sure you are at the top of their list!

So, first of all, why do so many companies limit their search to traditional, over-played—and less than optimal—sourcing methods? According to a 2014 study by HR software provider SilkRoad, the three most popular recruiting methods are:

  • Looking internally.
  • Posting to the corporate website.
  • Online job boards.

But popularity doesn’t equate to best results.

Most often, the popularity of a recruiting method is directly correlated to the ease of implementation. And that’s only logical. Corporate HR departments and even internal recruiting professionals are overwhelmed. When people are stressed they will almost always follow the path of least resistance.
So what’s wrong with this approach?

The simple answer is that these methods are primarily focused on active job seekers. While they may yield a positive result, they also tend to create hiring problems:

  • Candidate quality suffers because you fail to attract top performing passive talent.
  • Time to hire is lengthened.
  • Weaker hiring decisions are made (as managers settle for the talent they see).
  • Turnover increases (due to hiring less than perfectly matched candidates).
  • Costly mis-hires are made because you are comparing the low hanging fruit to other low hanging fruit!

To hire better, get strategic about sourcing.

When a business develops a strategic plan, it defines clear objectives and evaluates its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – and then determines a clear course of action for achieving corporate goals. The same process needs to be applied to recruiting.

You need to:

  • Determine where your ideal candidate is currently working.
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your organization and the specific job and why these people would leave their competitor for your role!
  • Create a game plan for locating and attracting the individuals you want.
  • Streamline your recruiting methods and process to make it easy for talented candidates to express their interest.
  • Figure out who is best to help land these folks and unhinge them from their otherwise gainfully employed status!

A few tactics for strategic sourcing.

While there are dozens of methods you can use to attract top talent, here are several to consider. The first, and most effective, is to directly recruit top talent from your competitors and industry leaders. But you can’t do this on your own, and this is the #1 value professional recruiting agencies bring to you.  Other tactics to consider include:

  • Building and nurturing talent communities.
  • Social events such as recruiting cocktail parties.
  • Employer branding (online and offline).
  • Alumni networks and boomerang hiring (get those former top performers back).
  • Extreme referral incentives.
  • Creating hobby careers (job opportunities for retiring employees).
  • Referral networks (building and nurturing relationships with talent referral sources).

Headhunting is not a dirty word.

To source more strategically, constantly look at the methods you are using to attract talent, and then optimize your recruiting methods for each hire. It’s time to get more proactive. It’s time to go after the people you really want—wherever they are working now. It’s time to be a headhunter!

In this market, if you are going to build an internal recruiting team, you are not paying to find the names.  Anybody can do that with the right Google search string!  You are paying them to sell your company, do a PR campaign, get the word out, and then have the skills and experience necessary to hand-hold a candidate through the process to a successful start.   Keep in mind, as you are the client and not a third party agency, this is hard to do in that most candidates will tell you whatever you want to hear and not be as honest as they would with their “agent” or “executive recruiter” as you only represent your company and not several positions.  So if you ask a candidate if they are interested in a specific area, they will most likely say yes (or specific commute, salary, etc.) until you find out later when they have taken another job offer, or worse yet, started with you and then quit 2 months in.  One way to get around this is to test the candidate.

Testing the Candidate

  • Tell them about two opportunities within your company that have two different responsibilities to see where they fall (often to find if someone really wants to be in sales for example, we will show them an Account Manager role that is available and 90% will bite!)
  • Make them prove it in their history!  (Have they done the commute before?  If not, they most likely won’t be thrilled with it now.  Get references and double check.)
  • Are they just shopping your offer around?  (Yes, this is happening left and right.  Ask them if you have the right to accept on their behalf should the offer come in at what has been discussed!)

The main thing to realize here is that the perfect candidate for you is not the perfect candidate on paper nor the one that you may be chasing. It’s the one that thinks you are perfect for them for the foreseeable future and can do, has done, and will do your job at a high level of execution and satisfaction.  It does you no good to go after people that simply don’t want to work at your company long-term, who will end up a costly mis-hire because you oversold the role and didn’t screen them out well enough.  People will ultimately get buyer’s remorse and leave if you sell too high, but they will also overlook your role if you don’t sell enough.  Talk to your recruiters about how to pitch the job and which selling points and hot buttons are important.  See if they will come out and help train your hiring managers on how to help land the A players, or at least keep them warm while you guys decide, so that the decision is at least up to you!  (See Chapter 2 “Sex Sells and So do Puppies”)

If you’re going at it alone, take the time to figure out your pitch for the opportunity in the short and long term for truly talented folks.  Think about what you would want to hear.  Then have a second pair of eyes on your candidate to make sure you’re not looking through rose-colored glasses!  Typically, this would be another hiring manager who can remain objective and has no pain of this role being open.  This is the person who can say to you “Yes, Jack is great, but it’s so obvious that he’s just not that into you!”  Unbiased opinions in this situation are what will save you time and money by avoiding a fall off.

publishingsAisha Quaintance