Hire Their Mentor: A Great Recruiting Tool For The Hard To Recruit Candidate

Great recruiters realize that there are individuals who act like “magnets”?meaning that if you attract these people to your firm, others will quickly follow them. Mentors are the second strongest “magnets” (after best friend and spouse) in recruiting. Mentors Are Great Magnets We all have people that mentored us and gave us great advice during our career. Well, these mentors can also be great aids in the recruiting game. To start, there is evidence that the firms with strong mentors are successful. In addition, mentors can be great referral sources for talent. But if you are trying to get the really “hard to recruit” candidates, a great tool is to “hire their mentors” and then use the mentor as a major drawing tool. The mentor can act as the recruiter directly, where the mentor uses their direct knowledge and trust relationship to “sell” the candidate. The other approach is to use the mentor as a tool to get the candidates attention and as an example to show the recruit that “people like them” have decided to come work at your company. Once mentors decide they have made a good choice of a firm, they have little hesitation about trying to recruit other people that they have “always wanted to work with.” The Process The possible steps to consider are relatively simple:

  1. Develop a formal mentor recruiting program and suggest to your top performers/managers that they should actively recruit/hire their mentor.
  2. Ask all current employees to (voluntarily) provide you with the names of their mentors that would be good “fits” for the firm. Also ask them if they are willing to help to bring them on board.
  3. Ask all new hires who their mentors are. Ask if they are they willing to help to bring them on board.
  4. Assume that at least one of the references given by top applicants are also their mentors. So use references to add to your mentor list.
  5. Join mentor groups and chat rooms to help build your “great mentors list.”
  6. Ask industry leaders to help you identify who they mentor and who in the field are great mentors.
  7. Offer referral bonuses to those that refer a mentor ($1-2 k).
  8. If you can’t hire the mentor, consider bringing them on as a consultant or paid coach.
  9. For great applicants, offer to “hire them both” at the same time (the mentor and “mentee”). It’s a powerful draw to get to work side by side with a mentor/ “mentee.”
  10. Track the success rate of the “mentor” recruiting program to see how the quality of hire compares to other recruiting sources. (It’s usually in the top 5.)

The Boss Variation Sometimes you can get employees to follow their current or former boss to a new job. Bosses are not always “mentors,” but the good ones can develop similar loyalties and trust with their employees. Ask recently hired managers (and your current managers) who might want to work for them again. Use that as a “prospects” list. Reward newly hired (as well as current) managers for bringing along top talent from their old firm. Recruit these people for their talent (not their company knowledge) if you want to avoid legal complications. Ethical Issues? Using a mentor as “bait” is an acceptable tool if you are an aggressive recruiter. Does it put “undue” pressure on the candidate to say “yes”? Some might say so, but if you assume the people you are hiring are intelligent individuals there is little concern. Think of it as if you are offering them an opportunity of a lifetime (that maybe a competitor hasn’t thought of). Wouldn’t you personally like to work with your mentor?Conclusion The “follow-the-leader” tendency works amazingly well as a recruiting tool. It works because most mentor/mentee relationships are “distant” relationships. Hiring the mentor/mentee team gives these people an opportunity to work directly with the person that made such a difference in their life! It’s a “win-win” situation. Having a slew of great mentors working for your firm has obvious side benefits for developing new leadership too, as they use their proven development tools to help mentor other employees at your firm.

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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