To find the best fit for your open positions, start by avoiding these common mistakes.
Assuming that active approaches will also attract “not-looking” prospects. Active jobseekers will likely find your open jobs without any extraordinary effort on your part. Typical active sourcing approaches like job boards, newspaper ads, “We’re Hiring” signs, and career fairs will successfully attract and get them to apply. But sometimes the most valuable—and by far the hardest to recruit—prospects are those top performers who are currently employed. These prospects are often employed at one of your competitors. And because they are top performers and innovators, they are likely already treated well, so they may not even look at a position announcement. Some call them “passives,” but a more accurate name would be not-looking prospects.
Not-looking prospects only make up the top 10 percent of the workforce, but despite their small numbers, they are the most valuable ones to target. And if you want to be successful, you must design your approaches specifically for them. Traditional efforts will not work. Some of the best not-looking approaches don’t involve recruiters, including employee referrals, technical discussions at conferences, and online and social media posts that focus on learning and becoming a better professional. And it almost always takes building a nonrecruiting relationship first before you can ever mention an open job at your organization to them.
Using dull position descriptions. Even iconic recruiting functions like the one at Google have realized that dull job descriptions will drive away top prospects that you like but that are not interested in this particular job. Get someone in marketing to help you rewrite the job descriptions so that the exciting aspects of the job are featured prominently. Be aware that you may actually have to improve the job itself, in order to attract top prospects.
Not knowing the advantages you have to offer. To maximize your effectiveness in convincing top prospects to apply, compile a complete list of the positive things that your job and team possess. As a result, it’s important to survey your current and past employees and ask them to identify the most outstanding features. Since stories are the best way to convince, encourage your recruiters, managers, and employees to know and repeat compelling stories that can help sell your job.
Requiring an up-to-date resume to apply. Most not-looking prospects will be reluctant to update their resume, so requiring an up-to-date resume may dramatically reduce both the number and the quality of your applicants. Instead, consider accepting a LinkedIn profile for at least the initial application.
Not asking managers to call prospects. At many organizations, hiring managers avoid getting involved in the hiring process until the interviews begin. That reluctance can cost you because the most effective convincing approach is having the actual team manager directly call top prospects to discuss the position.
Failing to fully use LinkedIn to find names. Many hiring managers who haven’t kept up with social media fail to grasp the value of LinkedIn for finding top talent. Top organizations like Google use it, and so should all good recruiters and hiring managers. LinkedIn is full of top performers who are not actively looking, and their profiles make it easy to assess their capabilities and identify anniversary dates and the organizations they have worked at previously.
Underleveraging employee referrals. Employee referrals routinely produce the highest quality hires—those who perform the best on the job and stay the longest—of any talent attraction approach. Organizations with modern referral programs generate nearly half of their hires from employee referrals. Referrals excel at convincing because employees who provide stories about the organization are the most effective salespeople.
Note: This article is excerpted from the ATD Talent Management Handbook.
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