Job postings are a 'cross your fingers' and hope that your high potential top player is thinking of doing something new AND he/she happens to have some spare time to search through job postings. It does sometimes happen, but in today’s very low unemployment job market that same ‘A’ player has already been engaged by one or more recruiters. If one of the openings is a good fit and the recruiter is good at what they do, then their client will get the top person before this person even notices any job ads. So what can you do to get the top players?

A typical scenario – John has decided to explore his options so he has discreetly let his trusted network know he is exploring and reaches out to the recruiters he has talked with in the past.  He also applies to a couple of interesting jobs that he can email to in confidence (not ‘apply online’ or posting his resume since he will not risk his current position). One of the recruiters contacts him and they have a great conversation about what he is looking for, his strengths and the type of environment he can excel in. This same recruiter has a potential opportunity so they discuss the client’s needs and determine this could be a good fit. The next day John has a phone interview. A lunch is then arranged and he meets with his potential boss and the leadership team. John can now envision himself succeeding in this new role, is excited about the opportunity, and is ready to consider an offer. The recruiter already knows what John needs and the offer is accepted. John has signed a new contract before his old company even knows he is considering a move and before anyone else has even had a chance to get in touch with him.

The lesson here is that the company that is actively reaching out to high potential candidates and engaging them, for immediate or future needs, and does a good job of it, has the best opportunity to recruit top players.

Job advertising – is it even worth it?                                                                                      

Considering the above is it even worth advertising? Well, it depends. If the candidate pool is really tight, it may not be worth the financial cost plus the work of reviewing less qualified ‘B’ player resumes. Advertising is a balance of potentially catching the right person vs. getting a flood of applicants. Because applicants can apply with just a click of a button it can be a lot of work just to determine who is qualified and who is truly interested in your company. It certainly is much easier to place a bunch of ads in places like LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Monster, Simply Hired and the like and wait for the resumes to come in, but this more passive approach will not guarantee you will be talking to top players. Most top people are working hard, too busy to look, or don’t want to risk their current position by posting their resume.  So in a tight market like now you are mostly selecting from the best of B and C players.

Targeted job advertising

A better option is to design campaigns targeted at your potential audience which increases your probability of getting the attention of a more passive candidate, like John. Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Ads, depending on your target, can be effective. However, just like a lead generation campaign, your team needs to be responsive to and follow up on inquiries. As in any advertising, you really need to target your audience and define your offering so as not to waste clicks on poor fit candidates.

Active Recruiting eliminates the gamble

The process that guarantees you are talking to ‘A’ players is called active recruiting. In active recruiting, you seek out and identify your potential ‘A’ players. Most of them are probably happy where they are, but you won’t know unless you ask. In fact, most people are open to learning more about an opportunity. Ideally, you have already had some connection so a person will be more open to engaging with you. If not, follow the same advice you would to engage a prospective client - be professional, respectful and direct. Remember, you are not pitching a job. Rather you are inviting them into a conversation to explore a potential opportunity. After all, once you talk more with them, they may or may not be a good fit.

If you are approaching candidates at a competitor or vendor be careful not to land yourself in a lawsuit or some uncomfortable conversations. This process requires discretion and initiative on the candidate’s part. To increase your chances of success and avoid conflicts, it is best to use an outside recruitment firm in this situation.

Hire a recruiting firm to get the 'A' players

If you don’t have your own internal expert recruiters to help you, engage a recruiting firm.  A good firm acts like an extension of your company, ensuring that your company is positioned well to successfully engage top talent.  An external recruiter has a number of advantages that enable them to engage and help you successfully recruit top talent such as:

·       Focus and expertise: recruiting is their specialty and what they do every day. Reeling in good candidates takes time including dialogue and consistent follow-up.

·       Established network and credibility: they already have a network and a good reputation so, especially for a small or lesser known organization, they can open more doors.

·       Advertising systems: they already have systems set up for trolling for potential lookers – just in case.

·       Process management: they provide good project management, driving the process to an effective close, enabling you to stay focused on your other priorities. A good process also ensures top candidates do not slip through the cracks and get hired by your competition before you even set up interviews.

·       Uncovering Hidden Gems: they are good at uncovering gems that you might miss since not all ‘A’ players know how to present themselves best in initial phone screens or interviews, especially if they are not in sales or marketing.

·       Mediated negotiations: in any negotiation having a neutral third party always increases the odds of a successful outcome.

·       Help you avoid common hiring pitfalls: their expertise in assessing talent and fit, and even utilizing expert psychometric assessments, can help you avoid common hiring pitfalls, like first impression bias (you hire someone you really like or who is like you but miss that they are not a good fit), or the desperate hire (you take on the best of the worst only because you have run out of time or energy to keep looking).

·       Onboarding support: and finally, a good recruiter will help in the onboarding process and facilitate communication in case the new hire experiences buyer’s remorse and needs help adjusting or negotiating expectations.

Finding top players for your organization is your most important task if you want to excel. Start building your networks now, read some good books on how to do active recruiting, and carve out the time needed to do this well. If you’re not so keen on making the time to hone and practice your recruiting skills, then engage a recruitment firm like Premierehire to help get your top players in place.  With ‘A’ players propelling your organization forward, the fees to engage our support will have solid ROI, especially when you add up the time saved and the opportunities realized by getting a great employee in place fast and for the long term. 

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Leanne Abraham, is the President of Premierehire, an executive search and staffing company that helps companies recruit and retain top talent in a variety of disciplines including engineering, IT, finance, marketing, operations, office support, customer service, and inside sales. Please call us for a free consultation on how we can solve your hiring challenges or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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