As a business leader, it’s probably obvious that the Field of Dreams adage “If you build it, they will come”, while one of the most recognizable movie lines of all time, is very much a dream. Having a valuable product or service is not enough without a way to get it in front of the people who would be interested in the value it provides.
The same holds true for the opportunities you offer as an employer. You could have the most outstanding company culture, offer unparalleled benefits or pay 3x the salary of your competition, but if the people who you want to hire don’t know about the role, the results you see in terms of engaged applicants are going to be underwhelming at best.
Sourcing great talent is one component in what I call the 5 Components of High Performance Hiring, and it’s one to which most Employers dedicate insufficient attention & resources.
No matter the job market conditions, direct outreach is a critical Sourcing sub-component. If you want to hire people who are bright, hungry self-starters, and can make an impact early on, you’re going to be looking for people who are already gainfully employed and either passive job-seekers or not even thinking about new opportunities.
Implementing the following 5 Practices will dramatically upgrade the engagement you’ll see when you reach out directly to A+ Talent.
(Note: These practices & strategies are excerpts from my new book Hack Your Hiring: The Tactical Playbook to Find, Evaluate, and Hire A+ Talent, available now on Amazon.)
#1: Target Candidates Who Know a Colleague
When sourcing leads for recruiting outreach, target candidates who are connected on Facebook/LinkedIn/etc. to a current member of your staff.
In HIRED’s 2018 Employer Brand Survey, 45% of candidates said a primary reason they’ll engage with a company is if a friend or former colleague works there6t. So whether your colleagues put in the effort to provide referrals or not, it should not deter you from focusing your efforts on people they know and/or have worked with previously.
#2: Send Prospects a Free Gift
Empower Recruiters, Recruiting Researchers, & Recruiting Coordinators to send something of value to passive talent to get her engaged in the recruiting process. It can be something as simple as a link to an interesting article, video or product related to her discipline or area of expertise.
A-Players are already gun-shy when it comes to recruiting outreach, and it’s not surprising as to why. Most Managers and Recruiters initiate outreach the complete wrong way: By focusing on themselves. This “Look at me and my great opportunity” approach is a big turn-off to an uber-talented person who gets hassled about new opportunities on a weekly or even daily basis.
The gift you send does not need to be expensive or even have any material cost, as long as it provides value.
In addition to breaking the pattern of bad behavior and thus immediately getting her attention, you may trigger a concept known as The Reciprocity Principle. The Reciprocity Principle is a well-documented principle of persuasion. Simply put, people are obliged to give back to others when they receive a gift or service first to ensure the interaction is balanced.
#3: Send a Personalized Message
When initiating Outbound contact with a Prospect, reference specific details about her work history, current role or interests. Ask a targeted question about one of these areas that will entice her to reply.
Recruiters & Hiring Managers have a tendency to play the numbers game when it comes to candidate outreach, relying on templates and form letters for the bulk of their communication. In a candidate-driven market, the key to grabbing an A-Player’s attention is to make her feel special, like she’s not just another number. If you can convey to her that you did your homework and that you want to learn more about her unique experiences & interests, she’s far more likely to engage.
#4: Focus on HER Interests, Not Yours
When Sourcing passive candidates, spend the majority of the time asking about their current challenges and career goals, and then genuinely listening to their responses.
Everyone loves talking about their favorite subject: Themselves.
By asking simple, targeted questions about a job-seeker’s current & desired career conditions, you get them to open up and connect with you. Now that you’ve established a genuine connection, she’s more likely to become and stay engaged in your recruiting process.
NOTE: This is a great strategy for outbound sourcing, when candidates haven’t yet indicated interest in your or your opportunity. It can, however, also be useful with those who have already applied for the role.
#5: Share Salary Up Front
Whether it’s posted with your position description on job boards, or you keep it handy when having initial conversations with potential candidates, be transparent in letting them know what the salary range is for the role, as well as additional benefits the company offers (both material & intangible).
Compensation is consistently rated as one the top 3 reasons people decide to look for new opportunities. HIRED reports that 62% of candidates said a primary reason they’ll engage with a company is when they get the salary range up-front.
By sharing compensation details (salary, benefits, perks) early in the process, job-seekers will be able to decide if the salary range is aligned with their expectations.
Employers who go out of their way to obscure salary set themselves up for failure from the start, as they waste time evaluating candidates they can’t afford. And since platforms like Glassdoor allow current & former employees to submit their salary information that will then be shared publicly, why try to hide it?
I know from years of experience how frustrating it can be trying to fill open positions with awesome, talented people. My years as an executive — constantly dealing with the needs of a growing business and backfilling outgoing team members — served as an outstanding education.
Hopefully you’ll start to implement practices like the ones above and create real transformation in your hiring efforts. These practices are literally just the tip of the spear. You’ll get over 15x additional value when you pick up your copy of Hack Your Hiring on Amazon. Until then, Happy Hunting and Happy Hiring!