In our just completed 2006 Recruiting and Hiring Challenges survey, 68% of the respondents indicated that sourcing was a major problem ? comparable to dealing with hiring managers who supposedly don’t know what they’re doing. This seems very odd, since 55% of this same group said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their sourcing efforts. The only thing I can infer from this seemingly inconsistent data is that people are measured largely on how busy they are, not on the results they achieve.
However, if you do care about getting better results with the sourcing channels you are using, here are some tips. To use them, you must agree now to send me your results, because I do care about these things.
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- Implement a proactive employee referral program. It was evident from the survey results that an employee referral program is an important sourcing channel. Eighty-one percent of the respondents indicated that they had one in place, and 50% of this group found it effective or very effective in developing high-quality candidates. You can make it even better by converting it into a top-candidate-generating machine. Here’s how: have your recruiters meet with every person they have placed in the last six months. During this meeting, have each new employee draw an organizational chart for their previous two companies, including names and titles. Then have them tell you all of the people who would rank 8, 9, or 10 on a 1 to 10 scale ? and why. Then call and recruit and network with these people and get more 8s, 9s, and 10s. Here’s a networking article you might want to read on how to make the first call.
- Make sure people can find your ads. To get more value from this tip, try this exercise out right now. Google one of your jobs, including the job title, one or two key keywords, the city, and the word “jobs.” Is your job listed on the first page? If not, you’ll need to reverse-engineer your jobs. To do this, just figure out how the other jobs got to the top of the list and yours didn’t. (Don’t pay for the words!) It’s probably associated with the keywords used in the ad copy. When I Googled “Sarbanes CPA Chicago jobs,” 228,000 hits came up. The two most interesting were a Director, Internal Controls at US Cellular, and an accounting position at WGN-TV. Most of the rest were career sites. If you want to massively increase your response rate, get your jobs to the top of the list using the search techniques top candidates use to find jobs like the ones you’re offering. Read this last sentence again before you read tip number three. If you do what’s described in both sections, next year, when you complete our 2007 Recruiting and Hiring Challenges survey, you’ll say that major and niche job boards are very effective when used in combination with aggressive consumer marketing concepts. (FYI: this whole paragraph is referred to as an experiential tip and it’s far better than words. Bonus tip: why not write an experiential job ad?)
- Use job branding to address long-term needs. I think there were 17 articles written about the importance of more compelling advertising on ERE this past year. All echoed the same important themes ? more compelling titles, copy that described more compelling jobs, and the emphasis in the copy on the challenges and opportunities, not the skills and experience requirements. These are critical steps to get people to apply after they find your ads. But there’s another aspect of advertising that’s sometimes overlooked when sourcing top performers ? using the ad to create long-term value. Job branding can help here. Tying a job to some larger issue like a major company project or as a step in a career progression is referred to as job branding. For example, we developed an ad campaign for an entry position in a call center that tied the job and the formal training involved as the first step to a six-figure, high-level field sales position. The response rate was five times greater the first day than the previous month totals! In another situation, we linked a technical development spot to the company strategy by describing its importance in a new line of hand-held consumer products. The ad response had a comparable increase. More important, these job-branding links help candidates see the longer-term value of a new job. This is especially important when a candidate compares your job to the competition, or when considering a counteroffer. This type of information is also used to gain the support from friends and family as candidates justify why they selected one job over another.
- Implement drip marketing. Fifty-three percent of the respondents in our survey indicated that they were successfully using some form of pipelining or CRM process as a sourcing tool. This first appeared as a recruiting idea about five years ago, although it’s been part of marketing since the stone ages. It has taken awhile, but it’s now considered an important sourcing technique by most companies. So for the 47% who are not using some form of CRM (or not using it too well), you’ll need to get into the game right away. For those of you who are using it, you’ll be able to maintain a competitive advantage (for six months or so) by implementing a more aggressive form of CRM known as drip marketing. Here’s how Laura Lake on about.com describes this marketing process: “Drip marketing is a direct marketing strategy that involves sending out several promotional pieces over a period of time to a subset of sales leads. ? An effective way to use drip marketing is to consistently do something each month to keep your name in front of your current clients and prospective clients. ? The best thing about drip marketing is it requires a plan of action. By creating this plan and following it throughout the year you can guarantee that you will be consistent with your marketing all year long.” Just sending out a series of emails with a list of open jobs is not enough anymore. Add in the mix some technical learning, a web conference with a industry guru, a wiki, a blog, and half a dozen other things too audacious to mention here.
- Try out the latest sourcing tools, but use them correctly. As most of you know I love ZoomInfo; I like LinkedIn; TheLadders.com is great; and Jobster, used properly, has significant upside potential. But in the hands of rookies, these fine tools are all a waste of money, time, and effort. In this situation, they’re no better than boring ads that are hard to find. If you’re not afraid to get on the phone and network, you can find A-level talent for any job in the U.S. within one or two degrees of separation, starting with the 30 million names in ZoomInfo. We just found a great CFO candidate for a Fortune 1000 company by writing a compelling job branded ad on TheLadders.com. LinkedIn is a little more cumbersome for me than ZoomInfo, but it’s worth adding to your passive-candidate recruiting toolkit. Jobster.com’s new aggregation engine could be a worthy alternative to the Google process mentioned above, if it gets more traffic. Those that are early adopters to some of these new tools will find some great people they normally wouldn’t have. However, once you get ahead of the competition, you’ll need to stay ahead by being more creative and more proactive. Experimenting doesn’t hurt, either.
Sourcing top people is directly equivalent to hardcore direct consumer marketing. Here are some books to get you started. If you purchase and read the first six books listed, I suspect we’ll all be reading some of the articles you’ll be writing like, “Using Consumer Marketing to Find Great People.” The theme behind marketing is establishing a competitive advantage and then fighting like heck to keep it. As you’ll discover as you read these books and apply the concepts, hiring great people every time must be an on-going business process, not an event, a technology, or a training course.