Finding great active candidates isn't an impossible dream
We're into the third week of our eight-week program on becoming a top 10% recruiter. Aside from reading the
two previous articles, there were four other things you had to do to get to this point: 1)
take the online recruiter diagnostic to see where you are today; 2) email me
about the biggest change you need to make to become a better recruiter; 3)
sign up for a comprehensive survey
and 4) begin tackling the reading list presented in the previous article.
Now you're ready to find some top candidates.
The recruiting and hiring process can be divided into three basic
categories: attraction, assessment, and acceptance. These are the
three big As. What some people fail to recognize is that you must be
good at all three to have great hiring results. Being great at one
or two and weak in the third will result in failure.
On the other hand, you don't even need to be great at all three:
Being good enough in all three can provide great results. Good
enough is good enough. What a lot of HR and
organizational-development people and other so-called experts fail
to see is that hiring top people is a three-part system. For
example, sometimes a great assessment tool can minimize the number
of top people who apply because the tool is boring or demeaning. A
behavioral interview or competency model actually might be useful,
but not if managers find it too cumbersome to use or if candidates
can game it.
Designing subsystems that defeat the objective of the main system
is called suboptimization, and it's a common problem that good
recruiters have to fight every day. The underlying theme of this
eight-part series is to give recruiters the tools to deal with the
bureaucrats who forget that the real objective is hiring great
people every time.
In this week's session, we'll focus on the attraction piece: what
it takes to find top people who might actually use the Internet, job
boards, and career websites to look for jobs. While it shouldn't be
your dominant focus, sourcing active candidates should represent
about 25-35% (resume databases and advertising) of your total
This is shown in the following chart.
Total Candidate Pool by Major Sourcing Channel
Active. Resume database and pipelines:10-15%
Active. Online or print advertising and career website
targeting active candidates: 15-20%
Passive. Advanced sourcing of passive candidates, including
the use of third-party recruiters: 15-20%
Success sourcing active candidates using advertising or resume
database-mining techniques is dependent on good marketing in
combination with effective technology. First, let's divide the
active candidate pool into two big groups: good active candidates
and not-so-good active candidates. Good active candidates are those
you want to hire. Unfortunately, these good people don't use the job
boards and the Internet to find jobs the same way the not-so-good
people do. So, you'll need to design your active sourcing programs
to meet the needs of the good people.
Here are some basic characteristics you'll need to consider:
2 Types of Good Active Candidates
Those who are fully employed and whose jobs sometimes get
frustrating. When their jobs do get frustrating, they'll
look for a better job for an hour or so on an infrequent, but
regular basis. When they look, they are quite impatient, since they
need to get through long lists of possible jobs very quickly.
Knowing this, does your process address this type of candidate's
need for speed?
Those who are fully employed, but underemployed.
Their jobs might not be fulfilling or growing at a fast enough rate.
During certain soul-searching moments, these strong people decide
it's time to move on and they begin a low-key search. When they do
look, though, it's for both a better job and a better career.
Similar to their Type 1 counterparts, they look on an infrequent and
irregular basis, yet, while they're impatient when looking, they'll
deliberate longer before deciding about getting serious. To meet
their needs, your career opportunities should be easy to explore and
evaluate without making much of a commitment. Does your process
allow for this?
I call these two types of active candidates the "sourcing sweet
spot." The key to successfully hiring these great people is to
design your active sourcing channel strategy around their needs —
not your IT or applicant tracking system needs, or your lawyer's
needs, or your administrative needs.
To attract and ultimately hire these great people, here are the
most important factors you need to consider.
The quality of the ad. If you take the advice
of your direct marketing team, you know that you have only 30
seconds to capture the attention of these less active candidates
who are more discriminating buyers. This means the title of the ad
and the copy — particularly the first few lines — must stand out.
Email us if you'd like a
sample ad for an account manager
which does both. The title is "Wild and Crazy Account Manager." Who
could resist reading this if it was one of the top six ads on any
board? As part of your resume database efforts, you should send
this type of compelling job ad to everyone who's in the ballpark.
Ask if the person is interested and, if so, have the person send
in a new resume with a half-page write-up of a major job-related
accomplishment. Make it easy for the person who is not interested
to send a referral. If the ad is compelling enough, you'll get a
Use some type of web analytics tool to track your ad
response by every page. Talk with your web person to set
this up for you. Your marketing department already uses something
like this, so just tap into its subscription. Some of the
following points require the use of this type of analytical tool.
The number of people who see the ad. If top
people can't find your ad, it really doesn't matter how good it
is. To get this part right, you need to reverse engineer every ad
you write to see if a less active candidate can find it. Type in
the title, keywords, the location, and the word "jobs" into Google
or Yahoo, or use the "Search for Jobs" tool at Indeed, JobCentral,
or Jobster (job aggregators) to see if your posting appears. If it
doesn't, figure out what it takes to get to the top of the list
and then make sure you get there. (By the way, I just did this for
a few Java and J2EE jobs in Dallas and was underwhelmed by the
quality of the copy and titles that showed up.) This represents an
enormous opportunity for a creative company to find some great
The number of people who read the ad. You
must track how many people click the ad and actually read it. If
the 43 companies who were on the top of the listing actually did
this, they would quickly realize how boring their jobs are. They
only appeal to the non-best candidates in the active pool. These
are people who aren't discriminating and just want any job. Do
your job descriptions jump out and say "read me" to discriminating
active candidates who are looking for better jobs and better
careers? This is an easy fix — and an important one. Even passive
candidates will eventually read this online job description,
especially those who are part of the employee-referral program.
The number of people who start applying and actually
finish. Great ad copy isn't so great if no one applies.
If a lot of people read the ad, but few apply or finish applying,
it means your application process is flawed. As a test, you should
personally apply for one of your company's jobs. Process
bottleneck problems will quickly be revealed. Generally, it
usually takes too long or the knock-out questions are demeaning,
or there are too many questions. Also, get the reaction of those
that have already applied. Then, start fixing the problems that
prevent the best less active people from applying. Don't forget
this is your ideal target audience, so don't come up with some
bureaucratic excuse as to why you won't change.
The quality of the people who apply. Up to
this point, all you're doing is fixing the basic stuff and getting
into the game of hiring some top people who are less active. Now
we need to get serious. You'll need to start tracking the sources
of the best less active candidates. Build a matrix that compares
job boards by position by quality. Within a few months, you'll
know which sites and boards are best for every position.
Reengineer your career website. You should do
everything described above for your career website. Your company
career website should be your primary less active candidate
sourcing tool. So if your jobs take too long to find and/or your
ads are boring, you are eliminating a great source of good people.
Worse, passive candidates who have been contacted by your
recruiters or your employees as part of an employee-referral
program will generally go to your website to see if the jobs are
any good before applying. If they can't find them and/or they're
boring and/or it's hard and/or demeaning to apply, many
Collectively, this is nothing more than generally accepted direct
marketing concepts applied to recruiting, so it's not rocket
science. Unfortunately, too many recruiting managers want to skip
the basics and implement one of 20 other great, surefire ways to
solve their sourcing problems. You'll do a lot better when you go
back to basics.