Graduates throwing their caps

Best Available or Best-in-Class?

Are you hiring the best available or the best-in-class?

In recruiting you essentially have a 75% of hiring the “best-candidate-available” not the “best-in-class candidate.” Let me explain.

Essentially your internal recruiting process pulls from 3 different pools of candidates. However, if you are one of the more progressive companies that know the importance of recruiting passive candidates you have 4 pools of candidates.

The first three pools give you access to best-available talent: those you can find easily, they are hungry for an opportunity right now, and oftentimes are unemployed for one reason or another. The fourth talent pool, the best-in-class talent…

is the passive candidates that are hiding in plain sight it’s just that you don’t know how to attract them to your opportunity. (Hint: They won’t come knocking on your door without a compelling Employer Value Proposition (EVP) and multi-platform, multi-touch digital and old school phone outreach strategy. And they most certainly aren’t ever going to see your job ad.)

Internal Candidates

This is one of the most overlooked pools of candidates for most organizations because most companies do a poor job of succession planning. In our 15 years of recruiting, we often see internal moves at the entry or mid-level manager ranks.

That’s not to say you can’t have an All-Star manager in your organization step into a VP role and knock it out of the park, but often times when that internal manager is compared against other managers from outside the organization, the outside candidates usually win.

Don’t get me wrong internal candidates are great. They know your company, there is no training needed, they can ramp up to their new position quicker, etc.

But without looking beyond your organization, you have no idea how internal talent compares to the rest of the addressable market. In addition to that, you may find that the way your organization designed the role you are recruiting for is behind the curve with the rest of the industry.

To truly transform it is important to benchmark internal candidates against the whole market not just your internal ecosystem.

Referral Candidates

This pool of candidates can go both ways and often times can lead you to a stellar hire. But let’s think about this for a second. When was the last time you felt comfortable telling your gainfully employed friend, a friend of a friend or previous colleague to jump ship and come work for your company? Probably never!

Why? Because most people are too afraid to stick their neck out there and risk their referral, friend, family member, ex-colleague leaving a perfectly good job and coming to a job that may or may not work out.

I see it all the time. As a recruiter who is always asking for referrals, I may get a referral 5% of the time. I hear it all the time, “I don’t know anyone looking.”

So chances are your referral pool of candidates are probably folks who are either unemployed for one reason or another or just absolutely hate their job and will jump ship for anything that appears to be better than their current situation, even marginally better.

Lastly, as you are interviewing and assessing an acquaintance for a job, bias and emotions can deceive your judgment and prevent you from adequately screening your acquaintance the same way you would an unknown candidate. Oftentimes you want the relationship to work so badly that you fail to screen hard and ask the hard questions and uncover the candidate’s true depth and fit with your organization.

One way you can avoid this is by putting your candidates through a test-drive interview. Test-drive interviews put every candidate on a level playing field where the cream always rises to the top.

Job Board or Actively Looking Candidates

This pool of candidates is usually the go-to source for HR departments, internal recruiting teams, and body-shop contingency recruiting firms.

You post the position on job boards and pray that somehow, someway that elusive unicorn candidate mysteriously appears. If you think this is going to happen I have some swampland in Florida I’d like to sell you. It ain’t gonna happen. And in the lightning strike chance that it does, you better run out and play the lottery that day.

I digress. More likely than not, you are going to get a couple of hundred applications, about 75% aren’t even close to what you are looking for and quite frankly have no business applying to your job, while about 22% are applying way above their pay grade, 2% are qualified but need visa sponsorship, and about 1% are kind of close to what you are looking for, but not really.

Then your HR department or internal recruiters have the arduous task of sorting through hundreds of resumes and since the hiring manager is breathing down their neck or they have a hiring metric that they are trying to hit it can tempt HR/internal recruiters to scan the first 50 resumes, find the three or four reasonably close matches in those 50, send them off the hiring manager hoping he/she says yes to at least one.

If that happens there is no need to look at the other 250 resumes, right? I mean, after all, the number of unqualified applicants can further convolute the process and possibly mean HR/internal recruiter misses their hiring metric, putting their job in jeopardy. Does that sound like a process that leads to business transformation?

If this is your companies idea of recruiting then I would recommend going back to the drawing board and revamping that strategy.

Do a deep dive and determine how much that job opening is costing your company daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly. I think you might be shocked after this exercise and realize that, yes, on the surface a third party executive recruiter looks expensive, but if they can find you a best-in-class All-Star candidate in half the time your internal team can find a best-available, job board candidate, it is worth the investment to give it a shot.

After all, you are looking for an All-Star not a Minor Leaguer, right?

Passive Candidates

This pool of candidates is the “coup de grâce.” This is the person who is knocking the cover off the ball with their current employer but realizes there may be something better out there for them yet doesn’t have the time or energy to look for themselves. Often times these candidates will have an executive recruiter that they trust keeping an eye on the market for them and only calling them when that “blue chip” opportunity arises. It’s a relationship similar to an athlete and their sports agent.

According to LinkedIn, about 70% of workers aren’t actively looking for a new job. However, LinkedIn also reports that while passive talent isn’t looking for a new opportunity right now, about 87% of active and passive candidates are open to new job opportunities if the right opportunity with the right EVP is presented to them.

Because of the aforementioned statistics, not to mention the fact that in this climate of historically low unemployment, passive candidates are getting hammered by recruiters with very vanilla opportunity pitches usually recited directly from a job description making it much harder to gain the attention of All-Star candidates.

If you don’t have custom, multi-channel approach, you have almost zero chance of getting a passive candidates attention.

If you are still utilizing conventional recruiting tactics like requiring them to submit a resume (Hint: most passive candidates haven’t updated a resume in years so asking them for a resume is a HUGE stumbling block. Let them use their LinkedIn profile).

Are you still asking them to fill out your standard, multi-page online application? If you are, STOP! Only have candidates fill out your application if they are invited for an in-person interview.

Are you still doing phone interviews with passive candidates? That is so old school and a BIG waste of time that, quite frankly, annoys passive candidates. Let’s face it unless your phone screen is a very technical interview, most phone screens are just a check the box process because it’s the way things have always been done.

If your phone screen is not a technical interview STOP doing phone screens immediately. They are a waste of time when time is of the utmost importance with passive candidates. Not to mention if you are working with an executive recruiter they have already done the phone screen for you, that’s why they are in front of you.

You MUST make the process for passive candidates as easy and seamless as possible. Time is of the essence and “time kills all deals.”

In today’s market if you can’t move candidates through your process in 2 weeks you are moving too slow.

As a general rule, the more knowledge, experience or specialty your role requires, the more crucial it is to have an element of passive talent in your process to ensure that you are truly assessing best-in-class candidates, not just best available.

This is especially true with leadership positions, positions requiring deep technical expertise, or mission-critical sales roles.

Stepping Up Your Recruiting Game

I think we can all agree that when unemployment is at an all-time low we need to change the way we approach talent. For the most part, no one is looking for a new job so how do you secure best-in-class talent?

It’s a small mindset shift. Stop thinking about recruiting like it’s still 2005 which is probably the last time your organization addressed your recruiting process.

Attracting and ultimately securing game-changers requires more than posting and praying on the job boards, shuffling through hundreds of resumes or just looking internally or at referral candidates.

You have to have a multi-pronged approach that 100% includes passive candidates. They are the All-Stars you are looking for!

Most internal teams are not good at attracting passive candidates and the thought of calling someone at their desk during their workday is a fate worse than death. But oftentimes this bold step is a necessity.

If that’s the case with your organization, we recommend collaborating with ONE, yes one industry search firm that specializes in your industry and give them a minimum of 60 (some of our clients hire in as little as 30) days

Finding, locating, attracting and ultimately landing that All-Star, best-in-class passive candidate is much harder than sitting back and evaluating active applicants, but it’s also the number one way to transform your company.

Take the time to get it right because after all, you do want to be a Hall of Fame leader, don’t you? And it’s all about the talent on your team.

To book a no-fluff, no sale pitch strategy session with me click here for my calendar. We can transform your recruiting process.

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