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I have had a lot of conversations over the course of the last 3 weeks regarding my job; not just what I do or how I do it, but why it is important to me. Last week, I actually had the great thrill of having a candidate flip the script three-quarters of the way through our interview and begin to interview me. Her request – “I want to know about what you do.”

What I do is work with companies to identify a need within their organization and then work to fill it. We determine who we’re looking for – background, job experience, personality, professional values, the types of companies they’ve previously worked for, where they’re headed.

So, let’s pause there for a second. I work with companies, but my focus is the candidates. Does it make sense so far? Okay good, because if you’re a company that is considering hiring a recruiter to assist with a search, get ready for me to blow your mind. Your candidates are my number one priority.

You’re important too. Don’t get me wrong. But I can’t do what I do for you without the candidates. Lucky for us both, it’s the part of the job that I love the most.

Passive Candidates

All of my clients want to see passive candidates during a recruiting search. Who are the people out there right now that are successful in what they’re doing? Those are the people you want to hire, right? But consider this – finding and attracting passive candidates takes a lot of work. It certainly takes work on the part of the recruiter, but the hiring manager and company at large also play a huge role. As an employer, consider the following questions regarding a recruiting search:

  • What is your reputation as an employer?
  • Have you created an engaging role for a driven and talented candidate to sink his/her teeth into?
  • Are you prepared to provide the tools and resources to this candidate in order to be successful?

This is just a short list of the elements that must be in place in order to create interest with passive candidates. It’s not fancy. It’s not complicated. But it’s also not easy. It’s a little bit like Grandma’s turkey stuffing – one part know-how, one part commitment to the process and one part love.

Top Performers

My goal is to find top performers. Most of the time, top performers are identified through proactive outreach; utilizing your network, examining your pipeline (more about this later), reaching out to people that are a potential fit via LinkedIn and other platforms. Many of these people are not looking for jobs. In fact, I find that a good percentage of the people that I approach about a new opportunity are happy where they are. So why would they want to leave? That’s a big part of the story that I have to tell. And as stated above, I can’t tell that story without a strong employment narrative.

If you want your recruiters to find you the top performers in your industry, some work has to be done first to make sure that your company is a place that attracts those talented and successful candidates.

Relationships are Key

Candidates are so much more than a means to an end. They’re people, with needs and hopes and goals. Not only do I need to peak their interest with a great opportunity, but I need to be focused on who they are and what they want. I’m basically suggesting that they make a life change, so in addition to presenting them with a compelling opportunity, I need to be able to build a relationship with them. After all, would you consider a life change if it was presented to you by someone that was insincere or aloof?

That’s why things like timely follow-up, for example, are so important. And this is where the hiring manager comes back in to play. The more engaged a hiring manager is in the process, providing clear and timely follow-up and plans for the next step, the more likely we are to maintain a candidate’s interest. We definitely want to avoid a scenario where the candidate loses interest and continues to be content in their current role. Or even worse, will form an opinion of me as someone who got their hopes up, but ultimately left them hanging.

It’s about so much more than filling this one opportunity. It’s about trust and respect and enthusiasm. It’s about making an agreement that I’ll support them and they’ll put their best foot forward for the current position and any others that we may work on together thereafter. It’s about a relationship. Building those relationships is what allows me to continue to be successful in bringing great candidates to your company!

Building a Pipeline

As I mentioned above, networking and pipeline-building are important parts of identifying passive candidates. As you can imagine, this is a process that happens over time. I am constantly on the lookout for top talent. From a waiter or waitress with a magnetic personality to a business contact who asks great questions, it is important for me to know who the most talented people are out there and what they want to “do.” I file those conversations away in my mental rolodex (and also often electronically) in order to be able to pull their name and qualifications up when the perfect opportunity comes our way.

Of course, if I have not maintained a relationship with these individuals, my pipeline is pretty useless. So, there are often chats on the phone, early morning coffee meetings and happy hours that I am doing off the clock and behind the scenes to make sure that my pipeline is happy and engaged.

So when I say, “Your candidates are my top priority,” I hope you have a greater understanding and appreciation for what that statement really means. By working together to make the opportunity great and provide an excellent candidate experience, I am able to bring you the best of the best. And you are able to hire them.