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If you are not finding the right candidates, change how you are looking for them

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

As the economy continues to improve, the prospect of quickly finding the talent you need becomes more and more daunting. When I set out to create my own staffing firm in 2002, I made the radical and conscious decision to not run ads for the positions our clients entrusted us with. Not only has this been a successful and powerful strategy for us, it has also given keen insight into ways you can change how you look for talent for your business or department.

What (most) recruiting looks like now

Before I tell you how to find talent, I am going to wager a bet that your current process of finding a new employee for an open role probably looks a lot like this:

  • You let your HR or internal hiring team know what you need

  • They post an ad on job boards and your webpage

  • They wait to see who responds

  • They pick the best of the candidates that responded to the ad and ask what you think

The result of those ads is a large pool of unqualified candidates that your hiring team is sorting through to find a handful of qualified candidates that are actively seeking employment. It’s easy, and it seems to be the process that nearly everyone uses. When that ad doesn’t find you the talent you need, you are likely turning to a traditional staffing agency to help with the role. That process probably looks a lot like this:

  • You let the staffing company know what you need

  • They also post an ad on job boards and their webpage

  • They wait to see who responds

  • They pick the best of the candidates that responded to the ad and ask what you think

See a problem? How is a staffing going to yield you a better candidate pool by simply repeating the same steps you did on your own?

How I came to hate the job ad

When I first entered the recruiting industry, years before opening an agency of my own, I was very hands-on with the search process out of necessity. Using the internet to find a candidate was not yet an option, and ads for job openings were printed in the newspaper on Sundays. Seemingly overnight, the internet changed the face of the hiring landscape. As more and more job and resume boards entered the equation, I noticed a startling trend: while recruiting seemed to be getting easier, the quality of candidates that I was finding via job boards was not the same as what I was finding through my “headhunter” techniques. Making matters worse, when I did find a great candidate on the job boards they were being inundated by multiple calls every day from other recruiters and staffing agencies. Once the resume is posted it stays posted, so these calls didn’t end just because my candidate found a position. For employers, this means that the new hire your team found on a job board is continuing to hear about other openings for at least their first six months with your company. As you can imagine, the longevity hires that I found via the job boards compared to those sourced from passive candidate recruiting was night and day. Moreover, the candidates my clients would really love to hire aren’t even looking at the job boards. When these factors were combined the chances of a hire being found quickly, being great at the job, and staying long term began to diminish. I knew I needed to truly bring value to the process and make a meaningful impact on how my clients got the talent they needed. It was clear from the moment I opened the doors of Arrow Strategies that we needed to recruit for passive candidates using some old-school tech


What are passive candidates and how do I find them?

A passive candidate is someone who isn’t already out there looking for their next opportunity. They are great at their jobs and are bringing a lot of value to their employers. Understand that these candidates don’t have the desire or the time to surf job postings. If they leave their current employer, it will be because they were approached about an interesting role at a company where they can make an impact. One of the things that our team of recruiters knows all too well is that passive candidates need to see opportunity beyond money, and an extra $1 an hour is not going to be what gets the best candidates to speak with you. Develop compelling information about your company and their role within the organization, and share that information with the people you want to hire. How are you going to find these passive candidates? Stop running ads. If that suggestion raised your anxiety level, I have a compromise for you: stop depending on ads as your primary source of candidates. This is going to mean either developing your own recruiting team so that they can go out and find the talent or else partnering with a trusted agency who can. Push your internal hiring team to elevate their game from the ineffective post-and-response to go-and-find-them. They are going to need to create networks and generate referrals. You team is going to need to spend the bulk of their time speaking to people that are currently doing the jobs that you hire for, and building pipelines of potential candidates that you can tap into as the need arises. Use job boards as a last resort, not your primary plan of attack. Technology has been a game changer for finding talent, but only if you keep it from creating complacency within your internal hiring group. This way of recruiting isn’t easy. It is much more convenient to post jobs and wait to see what happens. You don’t want the backbone of your company to be built on convenience. You want the best talent that is out there. If your internal team is not getting you the talent you want, change how they look for talent in a radical way or partner with someone doing more than a repetition of your own process.

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