When you’re a recruiter, success hinges on your ability to hear you clients and to understand what they need from their next critical hire. It takes a seasoned, sensitive approach to intuit how a candidate’s skillset and personality may suit your clients’ open role and fit their corporate culture.
To do this job well also requires a robust pool of stand-out candidates. “Recruiters never ‘have enough’ candidates,” explains Bridget Papanicholas, Senior Director of Search Operations for executive search firm TRANSEARCH International.
But the competition for talent is fierce, especially in the current market, and maintaining a top-notch talent pool is no small task. “The most difficult candidates to source are subject matter experts or technical specialists. These individuals are highly sought after and may experience ‘recruiter fatigue’” Papanicholas explains.
How do you navigate around recruiter fatigue, and keep your talent pool fresh and vibrant? Consider these pro tips for sourcing candidates.
Nail the basics to fortify your pipeline
At its core, recruiting is about relationships. “Taking time to get to know a person, why they do what they do, and how they do their job really goes a long way to demonstrate credibility and, hopefully, gain trust. Once that is achieved, we can get referrals or introductions to other passive candidates. Referrals and networking – still our best source of top talent” Papanicholas shares.
Maintaining a hands-on approach enables recruiters to cultivate their own homegrown pipelines, carefully tending, directing and growing their relationships with candidates and prospects. “We keep track of and connect with leaders who we may not place for three or four years, but who do introduce us to people we may place with a client tomorrow.”
Make time for the personal touch
Resist the temptation to become overly reliant on tools that make communication convenient but impersonal. “There is no substitute for old fashioned phone calls and direct conversations” explains Papanicholas. Take the time to develop relationships with the candidates in your portfolio and to carefully develop and pursue any leads or contacts they may be willing to share.
Papanicholas recommends a hands-on approach to this type of outreach: “In the past year or so, our team has refocused our efforts, and we rely on direct phone contact with prospective candidates. We utilize advanced technology to automate some of our outreach, and there is room for AI in recruiting, but I do not believe it will ever replace person to person contact.”
Host targeted events
Holding regular social and networking events with candidates in your portfolio is another classic outreach. It gives recruiters the chance to foster one-on-one conversations that stand to unearth important details and potential contacts. Get to know the talented professionals that you hope to introduce to your clients. Develop relationships via the old-fashioned industry standards-the coffee klatch, the happy hour, the meet and greet. Consider breaking these down by niche: the leadership happy hour, the engineering brunch, drinks with designers, etc.
As you know, finding that fitting candidate can be elusive. Maintaining routine face-to-face meet ups offers opportunities to see how candidates may present themselves in interviews. It also offers deeper conversational opportunities than you get on the phone or via email.
Don’t forget to invite each candidate to bring a guest, even if s/he is not actively job searching. This way, you’re always growing your network and your talent pool.
Visit industry-specific virtual hang outs
Human Resources Consultant Patrick Algrim explains how he’s successfully sourced even the most in-demand candidates: “I prefer to try and find candidates in the online communities they frequent. For example, I've hired 25+ engineers in a competitive San Francisco job market by going to GitHub, finding contributors who have a passion for similar code languages as the company that I was hiring for, and then reaching out to them.”
Algrim’s describes his approach as an inversion of the typical paradigm. He explains: “[M]ost recruiters rely on bringing awareness to their job listings by promoting them or posting them in more places, then spending their time analyzing their prospects. This technique flips that upside down and relies on myself or the recruiter to reach out to those talented professionals who might not be looking to change jobs and engaging in a conversation with them.”
Engage your ambassadors
“Ask your employees to post open positions on social media” recommends Ellen Mullarkey, Vice President of Business Development with Messina Staffing Group. “Don’t make them feel obligated, but put the message out there that a position is available, and you’d love if they could share the news. That’s an easy way to get the word out to thousands of people at once. In my experience, this technique yields amazing results.”
Your network is a powerful resource; engage those who comprise it to be your ambassadors. Employee-shared content has an exponentially greater reach than that shared on branded channels alone. Plus, those who receive posts from your contacts tend to regard it favorably. “Eighty-three percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family,” explains the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report.
Keep it real
Recruiters enable clients to achieve their vision, while helping candidates to further their professional ambitions. “We are always striving to uncover high potential leaders who will bring our clients’ strategic plans to fruition” Papanicholas reflects.
When you’re a recruiter, you fill a powerful role for professionals on both sides of the equation.