Finding the Best in Your Field

Identifying the best in a functional field is easier than you think. If you are targeting the very best in a field to recruit expect them NOT to be active job seekers. Also assume you are going to have to build a long term ‘relationship’ with them in order to get them to work for you. there are no secret stars in the business or technical fields. With hard work and some out of the box marketing strategies, you can build a database of 90% or more of the people you really should be targeting. As opposed to the current target of the “unemployed” or “malcontent’s” that can’t influence their managers enough to make their current jobs worth keeping!

This task is NOT an HR task. It needs to be done by managers and teams in each department with HR acting as a coach. I would also suggest training managers and employees in the process of identifying the best in their field. Make it part of the culture and reward those that bring in the names of the best. Talk to your recruiters that used to be headhunters. They generally know the tricks of capturing names. Develop a how-to guide for employees to use.

The name “capturing process” has added benefits in that it forces managers to define what ‘good” is in this field! If, when managers and employees make contacts they also ask the individual about upcoming problems, best learning sources and the best solutions they will also be on top of the learning curve as well! Remember the one with the best list of names “wins!”

“Capturers Toolkit” – Consider some of these tools and refine as you get more experience in the capture game.

  1. Ask everyone when they talk to other professionals (during benchmarking at conferences, through e-mails, etc.) to “capture the names” of people that are impressive. Have them keep a log or just write it on their calendar for later transfer to the database.
  2. Applicants are asked for references and they are captured as well. References are also asked for additional names when they are called.
  3. New hires from “target” companies are asked on their first day who else is good there and their names are captured. They are also asked who are good mentors, managers and trainers.
  4. Key idea people from list servers and chat rooms/ news groups are identified. Occasionally questions are posted to draw them out.
  5. Even those that leave the company but that remain in touch are asked who else is ‘good’ at their new firm.
  6. The names of speakers at conferences are captured from junk mail brochures, AMA type catalogs, web sites, etc.
  7. Authors of articles, books and technical information pieces are captured.
  8. Consultants we hire are asked for names. Consultants themselves are names to capture if there is a chance they may sometime return to making an “honest” living (joke).
  9. Headhunters we hire are occasionally actually helpful at providing names of non-active people since they are now looking and thus are not a current revenue possibility.
  10. Individuals that were “almost qualified” as applicants to our firm and finalists for positions that either didn’t accept or get offers are also captured.
  11. Attendance lists at conferences are scanned in.
  12. Names from press releases and news paper notices of promotions from target companies are captured.
  13. People that write articles or are cited in target company newsletters are noted.
  14. Award winners and runners-up at professional associations. Board members and officers are noted and they are also asked for names of “up and comers” in their professional organizations.
  15. Ask the best you meet “who is almost as good as them?” and “who do you learn from?”
  16. Give your employees a small reward for capturing the names of stars they meet.
  17. Do the same with your sales staff. Ask them to look at suppliers and customers as sources of names.
  18. The top 10% of college recruits (and interns) we identified but did not hire are added to the list. Interns and recent grads are asked for the names of mentors, fellow students or great people they have met in informational interviews, shadow days, etc.
  19. University Alumni lists, award winners and speakers are targeted.
  20. Anyone quoted in professional magazines or newspaper stories. Guests on radio and TV are added.
  21. Our people that speak at conferences are asked to get the business cards of people that ask good questions.
  22. Individuals with patents.
  23. Buy targeted direct mail lists from associations, etc., that only include names of people with __ years experience or ____ title, etc.
  24. Add someone with market research experience to your employment staff to help you refine your capture system.
  25. Managers are encouraged to sign up for “push” press releases, and customized news sources in order to capture names.
  26. Individuals with WOW personal web pages on technical topics are added. People that visit our web site technical areas are added to the list.
  27. Talk to the conference coordinators for public seminar providers (like IIR, AMA, IQPC, etc.) about names they have captured for potential speakers. They are masters at identifying the best.
  28. Journalists and editors, on occasion, will help with names of people that contributed to technical stories.
  29. Give away gifts at conferences and capture the business cards that are put in the hopper.
  30. Hire interns or temps to surf the web for names you might have missed from the web pages of professional association, magazines, list server archives, etc.
  31. Detectives and “researchers’ can be hired to capture names.
  32. The best we hire are asked to search their e-mail address book / daytimer for names.
  33. Reviewers and editors for technical journals are added to the list.
  34. Use Four11 or similar web pages to capture e-mail addresses for these individuals. Send them monthly e-newsletters to begin building a relationship. Seek them out at conferences, give them product discounts, etc.

As seen on Gately Consulting in March 1998.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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