How an Intervene-Earlier Sourcing Strategy Can Multiply Your Pool of Top Candidates
Sourcing toe-tippers can be far more effective than fighting for the leftovers
We're currently conducting a major research project on how top
people look for new jobs. This research will offer great insight
into what companies need to do to better align their current
sourcing efforts with market realities. If you'd like to take part, just
send this survey link to all of your best candidates
and those you've recently placed. Even though the current research is preliminary,
one thing is already obvious: the best people don't look for new opportunities the same way
average candidates do. Over the next few years, those companies that
aggressively redeploy their resources and technology to match how
the best seek out new opportunities will be those that hire the
lion's share of them. While not simple, it starts by understanding
how the best people look for work.
Here's a typical four-step process that most good people who are
fully-employed follow when they decide to enter the job market
voluntarily. It suggests that contacting these people earlier in the
process might be a far better sourcing tactic than wasting money
posting jobs where the best people never see them.
The 4-Step Search Process Top People Follow When They Decide to
Look for New Jobs
1. Send out Feelers. Step one starts when a top
person starts experiencing some level of job dissatisfaction. He
or she then starts exploring other opportunities on a very casual
basis, usually networking with friends and former co-workers. This
lasts about 30 days. A good portion of these people find jobs this
way, but an equal number take themselves off the market as
conditions with their current jobs improve.
2. Expand the Network. This begins in earnest if
job conditions don't get better and step one doesn't pan out. Top
people then begin to more aggressively network with a wider group
of people, proactively seeking other networking opportunities.
This is typically through friends of friends. They'll also
casually start calling a few recruiters they know just to put
their names in the hat. Concurrently, they'll use Google to see
what's available and quietly check out a major board and a few
niche job sites to see what's out there. Since they're not yet
desperate, they'll be looking for jobs that either stand out, are
easy to find, or offer something special. Towards the end of this
phase, they will formalize the networking, join appropriate
groups, and start attending the meetings of the professional
groups of which they're already members. They also might check out
the big, well-branded employers in their industry or seek out some
way to gain an employee referral. By this time, the original pool
of top prospects will shrink by about 50% with many people finding
jobs this way and some others taking themselves off the market.
3. Start a Formal Search Process. This phase
begins if the current job situation gets worse and making step two
connections doesn't lead anywhere. Under these conditions, people
will get more aggressive and implement a formal plan, giving
themselves three to four months to find a significantly better new
job. First, they'll be more aggressive contacting recruiters.
Then, they'll go online. Since they're still not desperate,
they'll avoid the cumbersome requisition-driven navigation process
currently built into every career website, every Applicant
Tracking System, and every job board. Instead, they'll start a
top-down process, first looking at growth industries where their
skills can be useful, then for the strongest companies in these
industries. From here, they'll start looking for jobs by
classification, e.g., accounting, customer service, sales, and
engineering. In parallel to this, they'll start checking out more
niche sites, seeking out more networking opportunities (e.g.,
Facebook, alumni, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo), sending letters and e-mails
directly to managers, and more aggressively trying to find some
way to get referred into a company through an employee. They'll
also post their resumes online in some database. Since these
people are very good, most will find jobs this way.
4. Accelerate the Job Search. If the current job
situation continues to deteriorate and all the above leads
nowhere, the remaining top candidates will then put their egos
aside and succumb to the maze-like bureaucratic rules most
companies have imposed, lower their expectations, and look for a
decent job close to home. Not surprisingly, since they are top
people, most will find a good job within a few weeks.
It seems misguided to spend too much effort targeting this
leftover pool of top talent, since it's a small fraction of its
original self, yet most companies unknowingly do just that. Instead,
I'd like to suggest that an intervention-based strategy for finding
candidates who are somewhere in steps one, two, and three of their
job search will be far more effective than waiting until they get to
Here are some ideas for implementing this type of "intervene-earlier"
Implement an employee referral tip-toe program.
To do this, first contact every single person you've
hired this past year and have them identify every single great
person they've ever worked with in the past. In parallel, have
them contact as many as they can through MySpace, Facebook, or
LinkedIn with the idea of making these connections a formal part
of their extended business networks. The objective here is to have
these people contact your employees first whenever they get the
itch to consider something else. This type of early intervention
strategy will give your company first dibs on the best people the
moment they tip-toe into the job market.
Leverage your referral program. Make sure
your recruiters personally contact every great employee referral,
first to recruit them and second to network with them. During
these calls, recruiters should target getting at least two to
three more great referrals and then repeat the networking process
with the next set of referrals. Networking this way can leverage
your employee referrals at least two to three times. Make this a
formal process with consistent messaging and train your recruiters
to cold call and network this way. Also, create a dedicated
mini-website as part of your candidate relationship management
(CRM) process to nurture all of these referrals.
Build a proprietary pool of top prospects and
candidates and then creatively nurture it. You'll need
some technology to support this, but the idea here is to
proactively build a humongous resume database of every referral
you obtain, making sure every one is pre-qualified, and then have
an ongoing series of CRM events to keep everyone in the database
warm. When specific opportunities come up, you'll want to
automatically reach out to the people in this pool. If your
mini-site and nurturing are professionally done, top people will
check out your opportunities on a regular basis, often before step one.
Use talent hubs and aggregators to drive traffic to
your existing open requisitions. During steps two and
three, top people will google for jobs searching on the job title,
location, and the term "jobs," looking for something readily
available. Aggregators like indeed.com push jobs to candidates who
look this way. A talent hub is a private career-oriented
mini-website that combines all of a company's jobs within a
functional group, like accounting or sales, while presenting a
high-level career opportunity message. The site is designed to be
found by appropriate candidates based on search engine
optimization techniques. The top-down approach dramatically
increases the size of the candidate pool by being positive and
non-exclusionary. Once on the hub, candidates are then funneled
into appropriate open jobs or into the proprietary resume database
for further networking and nurturing. Jobs2web.com is taking the
lead on developing these talent hubs.
Tap into the power of third-party recruiter
networks. All good third-party recruiters focus on
finding candidates somewhere long before they get to step four.
Typically, most have more good candidates than searches.
BountyJobs.com has emerged to create a market for these "extra"
candidates by tapping into groups of recruiters who all work with
the same types of jobs. With a network of recruiters working this
way, you're likely to find a top person very quickly. Since the
fee is contingency-based, it's worth trying.
While there are many other tactics you could deploy, developing
an "intervene-earlier" sourcing strategy is the real message here.
Although it might not be exactly as described above, good people do
follow a multi-step job search process, getting more and aggressive
if necessary. Sourcing programs built around this concept can enable
companies to pick off some great talent before they become generally
available. To pull it off, you'll need to expand your
employee-referral program, train your recruiters to be great
networkers, develop a proprietary database of hot prospects with
expanded CRM and nurturing functionality, build some talent hubs
that can be found, and tap into the emerging third-party recruiter
network market. This is what an "intervene-earlier" strategy would
look like once implemented. It shouldn't cost any more than what
you're doing today, and it will certainly result in more top
candidates being hired than waiting around for the leftovers.