How d0 I develop the best talent pipeline?
To answer a question so broad, there is no simple answer. In fact, one could probably spend a career dedicated to answering this one question alone, only to find out that the right response had changed.
The strategy of recruiting evolves. It evolves faster every single day. Since I started in this profession, I’ve heard hundreds of logical ways for identifying and connecting with top-tier folks. Most of them made sense, some of them did not.
I guess if I had to boil it down, there are some “back-to-the-basics” approaches that have always worked well. Will they blow the roof off of your talent pipeline… maybe. More than likely, they will simply serve as good common sense approaches in developing the types of relationships that render quality talent.
You probably have more ideas, so feel free to help build the list. These are a few things that I’m always thinking about when developing the recruitment relationship.
10 Best Practices For Recruiting Top Talent
1. Leave the BS behind – Top candidates are serious about their careers. They are also usually very quick to smell a raw deal. If the opportunity is less than stellar, don’t try to recruit someone away from a great position. If you manage to attract them into the role, your reputation will suffer later when they figure out that you fooled them into something less than stellar.
2. Ask for more questions – As a recruiter, one of our main responsibilities is to clear up ambiguities. Sometimes candidates don’t know what to ask. You must plant the appropriate seeds so that they don’t wake up in the middle of the night wondering. Push the candidate to ask more and more questions… until the point that you have exhausted all possible angles. This just creates a healthier dialogue.
3. Put them two steps ahead – When possible, you should always career map a candidate. Forget about this job… what about the next two steps. Is the opportunity apparent? Can you articulate it? If you are on the agency side of things, be sure to gain clarification from your client around the career trajectory of an “A” player. Any true top-tier candidate is going to want this. If they don’t… well, are you really chatting with the best?
4. Let them walk away – Convincing a candidate to take a job should never enter the picture. If the two sides want eachother, then it will be. Your job is to clarify and facilitate a smooth process. To build strong relationships, your best candidates must know that they can walk away at any time. You should never strive to place them in the wrong position.
5. Answer the spouse’s questions – This only has to happen once for you to understand how influential the spouse is. While you can’t ask if a candidate is married… you can ask if anyone else will influence the candidate’s decision. Once the door is opened, ask if the other party has concerns or questions that they would like addressed. I can’t stress enough how important this is.
6. Network – If you establish a strong relationship with one “A” player, it’s very likely that you will build upon that over time with others. The crazy part… you don’t even have to place the first person. That’s right, if you treat them with dignity and respect… answer their questions and stick up for their best interests, they will refer great people to you.
7. Be honest – This should go without saying, but it’s important to reinforce. You are a professional recruiter. You know how to persuade people – you do it for a living. Bending the truth is not a complex task for you. When you are working on deals that are worth 30k, 40k, 50k+, it’s easy for the little dishonest voice on your shoulder to prod you into bending the truth. Beware, it only takes one time for your reputation to be forever tarnished. Why give up years of hard work at establishing your reputation for one placement? It’s silly… be careful.
8. Coaching – You may be dealing with the most talent and educated candidate of your career. Don’t assume that they know what
to ask. Your time recruiting counts for something and you need to flex that muscle when it matters most. Make sure your candidate is prepared with questions. Not just the ones they have, but the ones that they should have. Never assume that they know what to ask. Your job is to coach them through the process and help them make an educated decision.
9. Feedback – Every great candidate I’ve worked with wants feedback. It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad… they still want something. If you are on the agency side and your client won’t give it to you… ditch the client, keep the candidate. If you are on the corporate recruiting side, have a sit down “Come To Jesus” conversation with your hiring manager. You can’t attract the best unless you are equiped to do so… hiring manager feedback is an essential tool for doing a great job at recruiting.
10. Did I hear singing? – You must stay in contact with your candidate even after they start in the role. The “two week notice” period is critical. The “two week honeymoon” is critical. The first month is critical… first quarter, etc… Get feedback. Stay in touch. Make sure that you are learning from the process. What ended up as it was described? What is different from how it was described? You are partially responsible for this great candidate taking this new position. Make sure that you stay with them and learn as much as possible. Oh yeah… and don’t forget about referrals.
There are a multitude of excellent recruiting trainers around the globe. Every single one of them has a unique spin on how to accomplish the same tasks. We all want the best talent for our clients, so we must dedicate to learning how others do it and, ultimately, coming to terms with a style that suits our personalities.
The lesson is simple. Be good to your candidates. Help as much as you can (even if that means saying “no”). You are a source and guide for them, so take that role seriously.
What else would you consider to be of the utmost importance in recruiting top talent? Have you found anything that serves as a best practice? Share your thoughts… I’m sure I’m missing about 30+ points here.
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