41 Advanced Recruiting Approaches … You’ve Have Never Heard of

Recruiting leaders tend to be a pretty conservative group, sticking with tried-and-true approaches, tools, and methods.  Because they are almost always managing from the weeds, there is little time invested in identifying, testing, and refining new solutions, but that doesn’t mean such solutions don’t emerge.

The inventory of available approaches is quite large, with many solutions existing under the radar.

The following list highlights the very best unknown and underutilized tools, some of which I have highlighted previously.

40+ “Unknown” Or Barely Known Recruiting Tools

I) Infrequently Used Sourcing and Candidate Identification Tools

The most commonly used tools include employee referrals, employment advertising, direct sourcing, agencies, and events, but there are many others to consider, including:

  • Proactive referrals — rather than waiting for key individuals to refer, go directly to your top performers and ask them for targeted referrals (target five a month). Ask them specifically to refer their mentees, best retirees they know, and former colleagues. (Google)
  • Reference referrals — on the anniversary date of new hires who turn out to be exceptional employees, call the references back, thank them, and ask “Who else do you know who is equally as good?”
  • Educational seminars on site — for larger firms, sponsor an educational seminar covering the field that you are recruiting for and hold it onsite. Offer attendees a tour and provide a mechanism for them to mingle with your current staff. This is an effective tool when the name of your firm isn’t that great, but your people, approaches, and facilities really are! (Microsoft)
  • Online contests — competitions are a great way to identify top performers and innovators. A compelling online contest covering a real problem can attract and allow you to effectively assess the very best from around the world. (Google)
  • Certification courses — for jobs that require professional certifications, ask attendees from your organization to look for top talent during certification courses.  If you’re really serious, consider having your top people teach them.
  • Almost qualified — keep a tickler file of exceptional finalists who just needed a bit more experience; re-contact them 1-3 years later.
  • Turned us down — keep a tickler file of finalists who have turned down offers; monitor their situation and re-contact them when things change.
  • Interview referrals — challenge the industry knowledge of your best interviewees by asking them as part of the interview to list the names of other outstanding individuals they know.  If you ask enough interviewees, you will get a pretty good list of top names in the function and industry.
  • New hire referrals — ask all new hires on their first day, “Who else is good at your previous firm or in the industry?” Ask them to help you recruit any targeted individuals who they know.
  • Referral cards — provide your highly visible employees with referral cards that sell your firm and that let the individual know that they are special. They can be similar to business cards or electronic. (Yahoo)
  • “Ask me” buttons — offer employees “Ask me about what it’s like working at XYZ” lapel buttons to wear at industry events. Train your employees on how to respond, and encourage them to refer only the best that approach them.
  • Target retirees — many retirees have second thoughts after they leave work. Consider them for permanent or “fill-in” roles. (Microsoft)
  • Talent communities — develop online talent communities where you build relationships over time with a group of prospects based on learning and professional issues. Only after the professional relationship is solidified do you pursue recruiting possibilities. (Microsoft)
  • Find-you-again profile — in order to identify the best sources, ask your current top employees “how would I find you again?” Ask them what industry and social events they attend, magazines and journals that they read, and what social media and Internet sites they frequent. Use this information to identify the sources where corporate branding or job announcements are the most likely to be seen and read.
  • When a competitor is in trouble — when a competing firm is undergoing cutbacks, staff reductions, or other turmoil, increase your recruiting efforts to target their best people. Individuals who said no in the past may have a change of heart almost overnight.
  • Search collaboration sites — sometimes the best way to identify top talent is a review of their work that is available online. Visit collaboration sites like SlideShare and technical forums to identify individuals with the best ideas and approaches.
  • Hiring freeze recruiting — when you are facing a talent competitor that you can never beat in head-to-head competition, target your recruiting to begin whenever the firm has instituted a hiring freeze or slow down. Off-cycle recruiting during an economic downturn or a period of layoffs is also almost always a good strategy for weaker or lesser-known firms.
  • Narrowcasting for skills — identify the organizations, websites, and social media channels where individuals with the desired skill “hang out.” For example if the skill you need is risk taking, the sourcing should focus on clubs, organizations, and social network sites that are populated by risk-takers (i.e. rock climbing or investment clubs).
  • Proximity location tools — there are many new social network tools (for example foursquare) that use smartphone technologies to allow you identify whenever any of your social network friends or prospects are physically located close to you. This is especially useful when a face-to-face meeting is required to sell a prospect.
  • Names research — outsource your name generation efforts to specialty firms, if finding names is your only recruiting weakness.

II) Little-known Convincing, Selling, and Candidate-Closing Tools

After identifying your recruiting targets, you need effective tools for convincing them to apply, to remain through the last interview and to accept your offer.

  • Assigned referrals based on social network relationships — when a top candidate has already been identified, the recruiter uses software to identify which employee has the strongest social media relationship with the target. The employee (or employees) is then given the assignment of using their connections to contact and to build a recruiting relationship with the target. (Zynga)
  • Using CRM tools — it turns out that CRM software that is used by the customer service function at your firm can be easily adapted to recruiting. CRM practices have proven to be effective in building relationships and in improving the candidate experience.
  • Use the mobile platform — the smart phone is the most powerful communications medium, simply because prospects are constantly on it and carry it with them at all times. Make sure that your corporate website is compatible with smart phones, and use text, voice, and videos to communicate your message. (AT&T)
  • “Why did you say yes?” — you can dramatically improve your recruiting sales pitch, if you ask all new hires “which specific element of our recruiting and branding pitch” had a positive influence on their decision to apply and accept. Use this information to improve your marketing materials, interviews, and the offer process.
  • Job descriptions — if you have a hard time getting individuals to apply, a dull job description is a common reason. Rewrite your job descriptions to make them more like marketing pieces. (Sodexo)
  • Side-by-side sell sheets — provide your hiring managers with a single sheet that shows how your firm and its offer may be superior to likely offers from competing firms.  This practice can help managers with weak selling skills.
  • Live Internet video interviews — it is quite difficult for currently employed or remotely located individuals to find the time to attend an in-person interview. An effective alternative that is much easier to schedule is using live Internet video interviews for at least the first round. Skype, new technologies, and vendors make it cost-effective. (Zappos)
  • Film festival — if a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video must worth a million. Encourage employees and teams to make short videos revealing “the excitement” within your firm. (Deloitte)
  • CEO calls — if you want to close hard-to-hire top candidates, have your CEO or local facility head call the candidate directly and encourage them to sign on. Knowing that they have the CEO’s support is a powerful selling point if they effectively prepare for the conversation.
  • A story inventory — many great firms have difficulty selling candidates because they cannot communicate the employee experience are employees and managers struggle to convert potential referrals because they are not completely aware of best practices and powerful stories that make the firm a top place to work. Develop a story identification process and create a story inventory or Wiki to catalog your top success stories/examples. (Zappos)
  • Peer interviews — if your managers are having difficulty selling top candidates, you get a significantly higher acceptance rate if candidates are interviewed primarily by the individuals they will work directly with. Because peers know the job, they can be more convincing and at the same time, more believable than hiring managers.
  • Ask for their “job-switch criteria” — candidates who are in high demand must have their specific expectations met or they will accept other offers. If you ask candidate up front to identify their job-switch criteria (and any “deal breakers”) you can tailor the recruiting process, so that you end up providing information showing that you meet each of their criteria.
  • Contact them on the “right day” — individuals who say no initially may change their mind after they experience a negative “triggering” event such as the firing of a boss/friend, a merger announcement, or project proposal rejection.
  • Use a hiring team — sometimes when you are attempting to recruit top candidates, you find out that the hiring manager is not a great recruiter, interviewer, or deal closer. As an alternative, consider selecting a hiring team made up of exciting and interesting personalities to do your recruiting and selling (include both managers and employees).
  • Exploding offers — when competition for talent is intense, you need candidates to accept your offer quickly, before a better one comes along. Fast offer acceptances also restrict the ability of their current manager to make a successful counter offer. One of the best tools for getting fast acceptance is an “exploding offer,” i.e. an offer with a significant bonus for immediate acceptance.
  • Green and sustainable recruiting — because sustainability is such a hot topic among candidates, it pays to emphasize environmentally friendly actions, programs, and products both on your website and during interviews. (GE)

III) Under-the-Radar College Recruiting Tools

College recruiting is the most traditional among all types of corporate recruiting, so don’t be surprised if your college or routing group hasn’t tried any of these tools.

  • College referrals — it turns out that the most effective process for recruiting experienced hires works even better for attracting college students, who are even more well-connected.
  • Remote college recruiting — you can’t visit every college campus but it is now possible to identify and assess the very best college students remotely, using Internet and social media tools.
  • Interns as on campus reps — ask your college interns to serve as recruiting representatives or ambassadors when they return to campus. Ask them to visit the events held by professional clubs and to provide you with the names of the best to target.
  • Grad assistants — the grad or teaching assistants of top professors not only know the best students but they are very good at convincing them to accept your new opportunities.  Officers of professional student organizations are also excellent talent scouts.
  • Two-years-out recruiting — there is a lot of competition for top students graduating right out of school. Save your resources and go after them after they have been out for two years. During those two years another company will have invested in training them; their expectations and their preferences will have likely changed, making them easier to sell.

Final Thoughts

Because many recruiters and their managers are overworked, it’s hard for them to keep up on trends and tools. Since there is no national database of recruiting tools, it’s not surprising that so many effective tools remain under the radar. I hope this list gives you some ideas and that you try at least one.

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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