Proactively Recruit Passive Candidates


If there is one certainty in the job market, it is that the workforce, workplace and work itself will continue to change.  These changes are being driven by technology, AI and the fact that Millennials and Gen Z will represent over 70% of the workforce worldwide by 2025. If you have not recently upgraded the way you source, interview, hire and onboard new hires, you could be sabotaging your ability to hire the BEST talent.

Three challenges faced by most companies are sourcing and hiring, engaging. and retaining the top talent hired.  Traditional processes are no longer effective.    According to LinkedIn, companies spent $2.5B on job board ads last year, but only attracted 15% of the workforce. The remaining 85% of the talent pool (passive candidates) are currently working but would consider a career move if the opportunity represented their next career move.

It’s important to understand top four current candidate concerns:

#1 – Employers only care about filling a job, not about what is important to them.

To address this concern, do not pitch a specific opportunity until you understand what is most important to each candidate.

#2 – Jobs are often misrepresented during the interview process.

Take time to break down your opportunities into percentages.  Explain how much time will be spent on each area of responsibility to provide a clear picture of your job.

#3 – Culture and core values described during the interview were not accurate.

Culture and core values are not what is listed on your website.  Be aware of how your culture and core values may vary in different locations or departments.

#4 – Uninformed how they will be evaluated after 6 or 12 months.

This can be resolved by sharing five performance objectives during your interview process.  This alleviates confusion and improves engagement and retention.

Chances are this top talent will ignore the email, voice mail and InMail from your competitors who are pitching jobs before they know what is most important to each candidate.  When you effectively address these four concerns, you will have a tremendous competitive advantage and candidates will return your call when you ask what is most important to them in their next career move.

So where do you source the best talent?  Let’s start out with one of the greatest resources of top talent – your internal employee referrals.  Your current employees are either your “army of recruiters”, or they are being recruited away by your competitors.  This includes your Leadership and Management Teams who often have large professional networks and contacts that could greatly assist your Talent Acquisition Team.  If 40% of your new hires are not internal referrals, it is time to upgrade your employee referral program.

The next best resource for top talent is recruiting passive candidates.  You don’t want to rely on candidates who reach out to you or the 15% of the talent pool who are answering ads or website postings.  Recruited candidates possess the education, expertise and experience your Hiring Managers need to achieve their goals.

Before you make a recruiting presentation, practice your brand statement which differentiates you from everyone else.  Your brand statement is your track record of success.  Let me share an example: “In the past six months, I’ve helped several IT professionals with experience very similar to yours advance in their career with our company.  Once I know what’s most important to you, I’d love to provide you with those same results.”

The favorite topic for most people is to talk about themselves.  When you approach top talent, share your track record and ask them about what they envision as their next career move, they will be more willing to communicate with you. If they are not interested in making a career move, they can also become a great resource for referrals.

However,  if you ask someone who is working “who they know” or if they can “provide you with referrals of top talent,” you will almost always hear, “I don’t know anyone!”  Of course, they know people they could refer to you.  A more honest response would be, “I don’t know or trust you, why would I give you referrals.”  The common perception is that you are asking them to provide names of their co-workers, which makes them uncomfortable because they have a sense of loyalty to their current employer.

This is where the extremely powerful six words will dramatically change your results when you’re making recruiting calls.  Those six words are, “from your last place of employment.”

You will ask, “Who is the best (job title) from your last place of employment?”

This prevents the response, “I don’t know anyone” because of course they remember who the best people were in their profession from their last place of employment, where they had no loyalty.  As a result, this question almost always results in them providing you with a name. If your conversation is moving along smoothly, ask them for the best (job title) from all their past employers.  You will use these six words in all your recruiting presentations.

Review your interview process to make sure you can expedite timing when you have sourced hard to find talent.  If you want to remove emotion or unconscious bias from your interview process, consider combining interviews into a panel interview.  Utilize a score card that is based on the performance objectives for each position, and you will hire the candidate who has the best chance of becoming a successful retained employee.

Pre-close throughout your entire sourcing, recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process to know what offer a candidate will accept without hesitation.  Quantify answers “on a scale of 1 to 10” when questioning level of interest, or level of expertise to clarify answers provided.

Once hired, realize onboarding begins immediately after an offer is accepted. Whenever possible, have the new hire fill out paperwork, go to lunch during their two-week notice with a co-worker or manager, share swag and have them begin to align with your company.  To ensure they do not accept a counteroffer, now is a great time to ask for referrals of other employees from their current company.  Also include the appointment of a mentor during your on-boarding process.

When you implement any of the ideas shared, you will upgrade your sourcing, recruiting, interviewing or onboarding process which will help you hire the BEST talent and improve engagement and retention of the candidate you hire.

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