How Top Recruiters Create New Avenues To Find Premium Candidates

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Maybe you’re a frustrated hiring manager who has filled the same sales position over and over, only to see employees leave after a year or two.

Or perhaps you’re a member of a board that is struggling to find a new CEO to lead a firm facing significant market challenges.

Across the U.S. nearly three-fourths of employers are having a difficult time finding qualified candidates, and 77% think the shortage will continue in 2022.

The bottom line is, traditional recruiting methods often fail to deliver the niche talent or build the talent pipelines all companies need. You may be spending more and more valuable time sifting through resumes of candidates whose skills and experience aren’t the right match for the positions you need to fill. And you may be paying significant sums for someone else to screen and interview candidates, when what you really need is outside-the-box thinking that will identify candidates who can solve your problems.

It’s not about checking all the boxes

To recruit employees and executives effectively today, hiring managers and recruiting firms should look beyond the digital data and include the anecdotal insights. Data points, no matter how impressive, don’t tell the whole story. Interviews, done thoroughly and with more than the job description in mind, can unearth nuggets – capabilities that not only make candidates a fit but inform the company with more ways to fill its future talent pipeline.

But too often, companies look for candidates that check all the boxes, and those firms fail to realize that the person who was the ideal candidate two years ago may not necessarily be the ideal candidate today, especially when you start looking at the dynamics of the remote workforce concept. Companies allowing remote work widen their potential talent pool considerably. And while candidates having a background in the specific industry tied to the job opening is important, recruiters who over-prioritize that experience may be missing out on highly qualified prospects from different industries.

Looking for prospects in a different industry

One of our clients needed salespeople to work in the solar industry. While we start our search in the same industry as our client, we may not end up there. In this example, we started targeting direct competitors in the solar industry, but many competitors had their employees sign non-competes. The solar industry is very attractive to people, but not if you are already in the solar industry. It is very difficult to recruit candidates from one solar company to another solar company.

Instead, we pivoted and focused on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry. The reason we did so was twofold: to identify salespeople in that industry who were selling to the same targeted person that salespeople in solar were targeting; and the level of cost for HVAC equipment or services similar to solar. Once salespeople were sourced, we pitched the opportunity to move to the solar industry.

Shifting recruiting targets within an industry

In another example, we went outside the box in a different way; we stayed within an industry but shifted our target area for candidates. Our client, a premier food service equipment company, needed field service technicians. We targeted their direct competitors and talked with the service technicians. We learned the competitor companies paid their service technicians better than our client, had better benefits, and didn’t have as many strict rules as our client had, such as being clean-cut and not having tattoos.

Where else could we find qualified candidates with the skill set and experience our client needed? We needed to find technicians who were working on large industrial food equipment. Our recruiter pivoted and targeted facilities with a large campus, such as hospitals, where service technicians are on site, or companies large enough to not call an outside service repair company (like our client) since they have an internal employee fixing their equipment. We found a qualified candidate with the same skill set needed.

Vetting the companies and candidates

One tool gaining traction as an outside-the-box approach by recruiting firms is recruitment research, which is based on the knowledge that every company has a unique story and unique hiring needs. It entails a deep dive both into the hiring company’s culture and aspirations as well as into the candidate pool.

The recruitment research methodology helps companies find hidden talent and eliminates unexpected surprises when candidates are handed off to the firm’s clients. The research equips the recruiting firm to vet and assess candidates both outside and inside the company, from the client’s competitors and from other industries. But it’s also a tool, in part through in-depth interviews by the recruiting firm, to understand their motivation. It provides clients with the data, both digital and anecdotal, to ensure that a candidate is a good fit and interested in the opportunity.

One reason too many organizations fail to successfully fill a job vacancy is because they’ve reduced the search to just a few words – a job description or job posting. Those few lines become the paradigm used to assess candidates. But a broader paradigm can bring better results. It’s one based on thinking strategically, not only about the basic skills and experience a candidate must have, but also about the company culture, the traits of past successful candidates, and the hiring manager’s leadership style.

Successful recruiting today comes down to this: In these different times with changing work dynamics and new employee perspectives, companies can’t afford to box themselves in with the old ways of finding good candidates.

– Kathleen Duffy (www.duffygroup.com) is president and CEO of Duffy Group Inc., a recruitment firm she founded in 1991 that recruits for national and international clients across a variety of industries. The author of Revolutionizing Recruitment: How Recruitment Research Is Reshaping The Industry, she is a leading authority on unearthing hidden job candidates.