Attract the Very Best

“I was amazed that my boss knew two days later that I had submitted my resume to another company. She didn?t let me know directly, but I learned that she knew through a good friend and colleague.”

An engineer friend who works in the high-tech sector shared this quote with me recently. His concern was very real and he was afraid he would not get the raise he was expecting because of this incident.

Now that the Internet has shrunk the world and become the preferred method of job seeking, professionals do not seek out new positions for fear that their current employer might find out.

If you post your resume on a job board, submit a resume for consideration to a corporate recruiting site, or even make an inquiry about a possible position, you are potentially exposing that information or intention to someone you would rather did not know.

This is a challenge for organizations seeking the best people and, until recently, there was little hope of attracting the well-qualified, employed professional except through confidential head-hunters or face-to-face contact.

Professionals with skills that are in demand need to be discreet and would prefer to be anonymous. Some talent-management tools offer a limited ability to remain anonymous. For example, part of the Authoria suite of products includes the former talent-management tool that offers interested potential candidates the opportunity to receive information about jobs without identifying themselves until an appealing position becomes available.

An interesting product called Quiet Agent has just become available that addresses the issue of confidentiality and makes it easier for potential candidates to determine whether they are qualified for a particular position. Using a set of standard competencies and skills, candidates can profile their own skills, without revealing their name or contact information, and recruiters can profile a position. The software then provides recruiters with a ranked list of potential matches.

Quiet Agent meets many of my requirements for a 21st century talent-management system, since it possesses the following three qualities:

Requirement #1: Talent-management systems must be based on a standard set of competencies and skills.

I am a strong advocate of using a standard set of competencies and skills, rather than the potpourri of attributes, competencies, skills, and traits that most recruiters use today. This mishmash of usually arbitrarily determined qualifications is rarely correlated with either performance or success. Every job can be broken down into a list of standard competencies, skills, and required experience. Quiet Agent uses the set of competencies and skills developed by the U.S. Department of Labor. The government has spent an incredible amount of time and energy developing the Occupational Informational Network, known as O-Net, which catalogues these competencies and makes them available at no cost.

By determining which of these competencies and skills are needed for a position, a recruiter can quickly put together a job profile that will better correlate with both candidate quality and job success. This tool quickly reduces the thousands of unqualified applications that most large organizations receive every year.

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Requirement #2: The candidate must be in control of his or her information.

Candidates are more focused on the confidentiality of their data and on their ability to decide who gets their information and how much of it they get. If you are a successful professional or executive and are interested in exploring other options or possibilities, Quiet Agent provides a safe and fast way to explore.

Individuals complete a basic recruiting profile, list their career requirements such as salary and where they would like to be located, and even choose whether there are organizations where they never want their profile to be made available. It gives the candidate control over what qualifications they list, what experiences they make known, and which employers they want to see their information. The data is anonymous for as long as the candidate chooses.

Requirement #3: Employers control whom they see and whom they respond to.

Rather than being swamped with unqualified candidates and resumes without relevant information, employers can sort through the submitted and ranked profiles and decide which individuals they wish to contact through an invitation. Invitations include the job name, the location, salary range, benefits offered, brief job description, company marketing page, and a link to the company website. After receiving an invitation, the contacted job seeker can decline the invitation and remain private, or accept the invitation and release their private information to that one employer.

There will be more and more tools of this type as candidates become focused on targeting their job searches and on keeping their personal information confidential and secure until they choose to release it. It also opens a door to many passive candidates who would never identify themselves or even consider applying for a position through the open and public job boards and similar tools that have become common over the past decade. Of course, this tool is only as good as the recruiter’s profile and the candidate’s honesty. Even in a worst-case scenario, it is likely to prove superior to a resume or a job description.

I encourage you to look at adopting a standard set of competencies for every position and think about the merits of an anonymous matching system such as this.

I have no financial or other interest in Quiet Agent, am not on any advisory board, nor have any other interest in this company. Rather, I think they are pioneering an area that has great promise.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


3 Comments on “Attract the Very Best

  1. After reading Kevin Wheeler’s article, I visited the Dept of Labor O-Net site, where I used the Skills Search function and identified my skills as honestly as I could. I was thrilled to learn that the occupation best matching my competencies was Nuclear Engineer. Now I no longer have to worry that my HR resume will get me screened out as I explore my new career…

  2. Requirement #1 will come as a surprise to the employers who have added a talent assessment to their selection processes.

    ‘I am a strong advocate of using a standard set of competencies and skills, rather than the potpourri of attributes, competencies, skills, and traits that most recruiters use today.’

    Most employers don’t assess for talent, which isn’t surprising given the paucity of articles that describe how to assess for talent.

    Do we really want to go back to the Competency Is King days when most executives tell us that competence is not enough for job success? The book ?First break all the rules, what the world?s greatest managers do differently? is an excellent resource on the subject of talent.

    Competent applicants come in two varieties, 1 – future successful employees (they have the talent) and 2 ? future unsuccessful employees (they don?t have the talent). Assessing for talent helps hiring managers differentiate between the two types. By the way, the best candidates make the best employees about 20% of the time. Should we hire competent applicants with the talent for job success or without the talent for job success? If we don?t assess for talent, aren?t we stuck with hiring both types?

    When we hire the best candidate without assessing for talent who gets blamed when the new hire fails to become a successful employee? Yes, you guessed it, the new employee.

    When we hire a competent candidate with inadequate talent who gets blamed when the new hire fails to become a successful employee? Did you guess the hiring manager? If you did, you guessed correctly.

    Talent assessments put the responsibility for bad hires where it belongs?on the hiring managers. That is the bad news. The good news is that hiring managers who hire for talent avoid making bad hiring decisions.

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