12 Great Sourcing Gifts for the Holiday Season
If you want to generate one great candidate day after day after day, follow my 12 golden rules for sourcing the best. These are this year's stocking stuffers whether you're hiring active or passive candidates.
- Know the job. I just took a director level IT assignment where I didn't know the job too well. As a result I sent in four turkeys before I figured out what the real job was. It wasn't the list of skills, experience, and qualifications. Once I figured out the real job, I sent in two stars. Knowing the real job can increase your productivity by 100-200%! Here's some of my own advice I should have followed when I took the assignment.
- Tell stories with your ads. Top people don't look for ads that match their skills and qualifications; they look for ads that offer challenges and growth opportunities. So lead with this. You'll get better response by describing how the person will use their skills on the job. For example, "Use your consumer packaged goods experience to lead the launch of our new snack food line." Then go on to tell a story about why this job is important to your company. (You might find this article I wrote a few years ago on this subject somewhat useful.)
- Use compelling titles. Your stories (ads) will be read if you have a great title. Use something other than the actual position title. For example, our 2007 outrageous ad winner used this title to attract optics engineers which was posted on a niche site: "O.G.S.K.S" sub-titled "aka Optics Geeks Seeking Kindred Spirits." A dozen great candidates applied within a few hours. Award winning creative ads do work. The key is they must stand out and scream, "I'm different!"
- Get creative. You need to be different and creative to attract the best talent. Harrah's invites companies to attend its annual MBA Poker Championship. 1300 MBAs will be attending the 2-day event this year in Las Vegas. Many companies, including 3-M, sponsor Pi Sigma Epsilon's annual on-campus Sell-a-Thon to find the best sales people. Contests, puzzles, virtual worlds and IM messages are a few tools you can use to find more candidates. Posting boring jobs on big boards that can't be found isn't very creative.
- Reverse engineer your ads. After you've written your great ad, go find it. First, Google it by putting in the standard title, the location, the word "jobs," and one skill term. Look at the ads that show up and figure out why they were on the top of the organic listings. Then do what they did including posting your ad on the top sites listed. If no one can find your ads the creative ad writing tips won't be too helpful.
- Think Top Down vs. Bottoms-up. When the best people look for something new they tend to think about industries, companies, and class of jobs (e.g., software developers) before they think about specific jobs with traditional titles. Few companies mimic this top-down or big picture approach; instead they force all candidates to find a specific open job in order to apply. A talent hub groups similar jobs and presents the value proposition first. From here candidates can apply to the class of job, or a specific job, if available. This technique will dramatically increase the quantity and quality of your response rate.
- Only call warm leads to good people. Top people only return calls to recruiters under one of four situations: 1) they know the recruiter personally, 2) the recruiter has been recommended by an associate, 3) they feel positive about the company the recruiter works for, or 4) the recruiter has a magical voice. The most consistent way to get calls returned is to limit 75% of your calls to only those people who have been referred and described as very strong. This way not only will the candidate call you back, but you already know the person is good. Of course, to do this you must be great at networking.
- Seek Out Employee Referrals. The best employee referral programs involve recruiters asking for the names of great people from current employees. Start meeting with a few top current employees every day asking for the names of every good person they've ever worked with in the past. Then pre-qualify the referral by asking why they're considered strong. Next call and recruit these people, mentioning the name of the person who referred them to you. During the call make sure you get 2-3 more names of other top people. A proactive employee referral program like this will increase your productivity since the candidates will all call you back. (FYI, we show you exactly how to do this in our Recruiter Boot Camp live and online training classes.)
- Recruit First, Network Second. People are more likely to spend time on the phone with a recruiter if they think there's something in it for them. That's why you need to first recruit and qualify the person, and if not appropriate for the job, ask for referrals. If you reverse this process you won't get as many qualified leads. Of course, during the recruiting never tell the person about the job until you obtain the person's background info first. This is the essence of applicant control, and if you don't know how to establish it, you won't make as many placements as possible.
- Don't make it about the money. Part of recruiting is shifting the candidate's decision away from compensation towards opportunity. Here are some articles on how to negotiate compensation based on growth rather than compensation. However, if the candidate brings up money during the first call, just ask the person which past jobs provided the most personal satisfaction. Then ask if the cause of the satisfaction was due to the money or the type of work performed. Since most people will say it's the type of work, go on to suggest, "Wouldn't it make sense to talk 5-10 minutes if the job offered a competitive comp package, but more important, a great growth opportunity?"
- Prevent objections by only asking "Yes" questions. Asking a candidate if she'd be open to explore a situation if it were clearly superior to what she's doing today, is guaranteed to get a "Yes." However, if you provide any more information like the title or the location you reduce the likelihood of a positive response. Preventing a "No" allows you to engage with the candidate, move the process forward, gain information, and get referrals. To prevent the "No" you'll need to anticipate the concern and reframe your questions accordingly. Here's an article with more on how to handle the "No" and prevent them.
- Don't take "No" for an answer. Of course, you won't be able to prevent all "No" responses by cleverly reframing your questions. In these cases the best advice is to ignore the "No." Most "No" responses are evoked due to limited time, not rational thought. Good recruiters recognize this, and when a candidate says he's not interested in considering your job, say something like "That's exactly why we need to talk." This attention-getting approach will allow you to say something like, "Are you aware you just made a long-term career decision using short-term information?" This will allow you to have a reasonable discussion with the candidate. A real "No" based on complete information is certainly okay, but most early-stage "No" answers are really stall tactics. Here is an article with more on how to handle these early-stage superficial objections.
If you implement these tips and ideas you'll be guaranteed to get a great Christmas present every day of the year!