In a recent post, I suggested that a recruiting and sourcing strategy designed to more efficiently weed out the weak was a sure way to put a lid on the quality of people seen and hired. In my mind, the quickest way to improve quality of hire is to “think small” at the top of in the funnel and “hire big” at the bottom.
The Think Small, Hire Big Sourcing and Recruiting Model
I contend that as long as you’re offering a true career move, a good recruiter only needs 15-20 pre-qualified top tier passive candidates to wind up with 3-4 excellent finalists and one great hire.
Obviously, high yield is critical to success using this approach – getting 75% of the pre-selected prospects to engage in an open conversation and convincing 30-40% of these people to become serious candidates. Pulling this off requires exceptional sourcing ability, advanced high touch recruiting skills and the full engagement of the hiring manager.
Here’s how to implement this type of Think Small, Hire Big talent acquisition approach:
- Prepare a candidate persona to develop the sourcing plan
This document defines all of the criteria you’ll use to find a small group of pre-selected “ideal candidates.” It represents the first step for beginning your targeted LinkedIn and Boolean direct sourcing efforts.
- Cherry pick and pre-qualify prospects
As you prepare your short list of top prospects, look for people who would see your job as a career move. For example, for a director spot at a mid-size faster growing company, we sourced some senior managers at bigger firms.
- Capture the ideal candidate’s intrinsic motivator in all of your messages
For one HR VP role, we offered the person both a seat at the strategic table and a chance to turn around an out-of-control $400m division.
- Implement a balanced 40-40-20 sourcing plan
Split your time sourcing into three buckets: 40% getting referrals, 40% direct sourcing and 20% on creative posts on job boards the ideal candidate is likely to visit. This follows the process top tier candidates use to find jobs.
- Use a guerilla marketing approach to maximize the total response rate
In one search for a hard-to-fill Director of IT role, we needed to send three different emails and call 2-3 times to get 14 out of 21 conversations arranged. This resulted in four top notch serious candidates.
- Sell the discussion, not the job
When you get someone on the phone, don’t start discussing your “awesome” opening. Instead, ask if the person is open to have a quick chat about a potential career opportunity. It’s essential to get the person to describe his/her background before you describe the job.
- Create the 30% career opportunity gap
I use the first call to present the idea of just having a career discussion. I describe this as the opportunity to see if one of the open spots I’m handling offers a chance for a minimum non-monetary increase of 30%. This consists of the sum of a bigger job, faster growth, more impact and an increased mix of more satisfying work.
- Use Goldilocks repositioning to get strong referrals
A foundational rule of passive candidate recruiting is to Recruit 1st Network 2nd. By developing a relationship this way you’ll get better referrals if the prospect isn’t a fit. If the person is too strong, say there’s little growth based on the 30% career guideline. If they're too light, tell the person there’s too big of a gap. Then connect on LinkedIn, cherry pick his/her connections and proactively ask for at least one or two referrals.
- Set up the exploratory call with the hiring manager
Top tier passive candidates rarely agree to become serious candidates on the first call with a recruiter. You’ll increase your conversion rates by at least 2X by offering the person an opportunity to have a 30 minute exploratory call with the hiring manager just to get to know each other. You’ll discover this is the tipping point for converting passive prospects into serious candidates.
Hiring a great person requires a real job, not a laundry list of skills, a strong recruiter who can find and recruit a few top tier people who would find this job a career move and a fully engaged hiring manager who wants to hire top tier people. Raising quality of hire is simple: Think Small, Hire Big.
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