Four Sources of Candidates

As a recruiter, I've found that there are four basic sources of candidates. Or, to put it another way, there are four ways in which I can organize and make best use of my candidate resources. These sources are:

1. Candidates I own.
These are all the people who I already have in my database. I don't own them in the literal sense, of course. The term "candidates I own" simply applies to the people who are in my contact files-and my files are something that I own.

The candidates I own are the people I already know about or whose contact information, profiles or resumes are in my database. Whenever I start a search, I turn to these people first, not only because they're the most accessible, but because over the years, I've gotten to know many of them, and I've qualified them, sent them to interviews, and maybe even placed them.

I feel like if I already have a history with people, and they trust me, and I've invested time in developing them, then those relationships will result in better decisions on my part as to whether they're right for a job. And certainly, someone I have a good working relationship with will make for a more reliable and generous source of referrals. Even someone I've only spoken to once a long time ago is an owned candidate, because there's some degree of history between us.

2. Candidates I rent.
These are candidates whose names or resumes are made available through job boards, resume banks, databases, directories and split networks. I call them "candidates I rent" because they're in the public domain, and they're available to any other recruiters who are willing to pay a subscription fee or join a network in order to gain access. Once I make contact with the candidates I rent and import their records into my own files, they can be merged into my community of talent, that is, the candidates I own.

3. Candidates I cultivate or find through original research.
Let's say I do a Google search and I discover someone who's written an article or a technical paper and the person's got really good skills. Or say I get a referral from a candidate who mentions the names of three of his peers during the course of a sourcing call. Or let's say I visit a trade show, looking for applications engineers and I strike up a conversation with someone at a booth, and she gives me her business card. These are candidates I found through original research, and after I get to know them and add them to my files, they also become candidates I own.

4. Candidates who come to me through my pipeline.
These are people I reach out to or attract by virtue of all the things I've done to market my services, advertise my expertise and build my brand and reputation. If you have an account with LinkedIn or Facebook or MySpace or Twitter or any of the social networks, your contacts are a major force in your pipeline.

Pipeline candidates are also the people who visit my Web site and send me their resumes, or respond to a job posting, or ask to receive my newsletter or candidates who are referred to me by word of mouth. Pipeline candidates are people who hear about a workshop I'm giving on interviewing techniques, or see an article I wrote in a trade publication.

I take my pipeline very seriously, and I set it up and maintain it for the express purpose of magnetizing people and drawing them into my community. Once they find me--or we become "friends' "they too, get merged into my files as candidates I own.

The Power of Ownership
I'm a big believer in candidate ownership, because when you own your candidates, you're less dependent on other sources, and you won't need to spend your hard-earned cash on rental candidates who are accessible to any number of other recruiters. Given the choice, I'd rather be self-sufficient and in control of my own resources.

Another reason to own your candidates is that-and this is a slightly advanced concept-once your database reaches critical mass, it'll begin to have an asset value unto itself. And what that means is that your inventory can then be leveraged. So, for example, if a company or a recruiting partner or a third party is looking for a particular type of candidate that you have a reputation for owning, you have leverage. So if you choose to do so, you can earn a higher fee for a placement, or do a split on favorable terms if you decide that sharing the candidates in your database would be a good business decision. With ownership, you have that control. If you're just renting candidates everyone else is renting, your control becomes very limited or even non-existent. Of course, it goes without saying that this is the strategy that works best for me. The most important thing is to find what works best for you and stick with it.

By Bill Radin
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
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