I had a recent conversation with a very frustrated hiring executive: The conversation resurfaced some ‘best practices’ around recruiting quality talent.
He was frustrated with the current recruitment efforts on critical to fill positions in his department. While they had gone through great lengths to deploy a sourcing strategy to drive quality, passive talent into the recruitment process, the vast majority of candidates they were interested in were “bailing” out of the process.
Pondering the situation, I asked a few simple questions to try and identify the root cause of the defects (for those that sat in on our 7-Deadly Sins webinar – - you know what I am talking about )).
- How are you engaging candidates into the process?
- How quickly are you engaging candidates into the process?
- Who are they meeting with on their first visit?
- Where are they meeting?
- Does the candidate fully understand the next steps after their first meeting?
The answers I received from the recruiter/hiring manager might not surprise you:
- “Well we have them go through the normal process. If they are interested, we ask them to go online to register in our system”.
- “Once they hit the system, the recruiter is calling them within 24 hours – - hopefully – - to do a pre-screen with them.”
- “We like to have them come into the office and meet with the recruiter first – - then meet with the hiring manager. Ideally, we like to get a slate of candidates to come in and interview all the same day/afternoon. It is much more convenient for the hiring managers.”
- “Ideally – the office. It makes it easier for us.”
- “We let them know that we are interviewing several candidates and will have feedback within 3-5 business days.”
I think you know were I am going with this!
So after listening to his answers, I reflected and responded:
“So your managers are requesting the recruitment team to find the highest quality (often passive) talent possible but . . . you want the passive candidates to engage on your TERMS?
- Fill out paperwork before I will talk to you
- Come to my office
- Sit in lobby with other candidates
- Wait for a response
I don’t know about you folks, but if the University of Alabama used these technique to ‘recruit’ the most talented football players – - I bet they would not have won the national title last year!
While I don’t want to make light of this situation, I find this dilemma within hundreds of companies throughout the country. Simply put:
They are trying to recruit quality, ‘Passive’ candidates with their ‘Active’ candidate process.
Organizations that excel in recruiting top talent, take a holistically different approach to the passive candidate recruitment efforts.
Some Best Practices
1. How are you engaging candidates into the process?
Once the recruiter makes contact with a top prospect and does a preliminary pre-qualification (hopefully on the same call), they immediately seek to set up a “cup of coffee” meeting with a dynamic hiring manager. No initial paper work. We can take care of that later. No resume? No problem, lets just meet and have an exploratory conversation.
2. How quickly are you engaging candidates into the process?
Immediately (as outlined above)! I have worked with hiring managers that literally say – - if you get a top notch person on the phone, I will meet anywhere, anytime.
3. Who are they meeting with on their first visit?
While I am not saying they shouldn’t meet with a recruiter on the first visit, the quicker you get them connected with a dynamic hiring manager the better. From experience, it is much easier to engage a talented professional to have a “confidential, exploratory discussion over a cup of coffee” if for nothing else – - to network VERSUS – getting them to come for an interview with a recruiter!
4. Where are they meeting?
When you are not looking for a job, the last thing you would want is people to THINK you are looking. Coming to a competitors office for a visit – - in this day and age of LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. – - is very risky at best. And to ask them to sit in the lobby with other “candidates” is disrespectful in my book.
5. Does the candidate fully understand the next steps after the first meeting?
If you meet someone and like them, you should recruit that person. What is wrong with showing your excitement for taking the next steps – ask them their availability to meet with a key executive – - BEFORE you leave that first meeting? I am not implying an offer? I am just showing sincere excitement about moving forward and keeping the positive momentum during our courtship!
These are simple best practices I have seen successfully deployed by organizations that don’t fall into the trap of trying to recruit quality, ‘Passive’ candidates with their ‘Active’ candidate process.
If you find yourself in this dilemma, please share this with your hiring managers )