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How do you hire the best candidates? Are high potential candidates overlooked in your recruitment process?

A common recruitment scenario would see a recruiting company post their job spec onto their website, forward the role to 6 agencies on their PSL who would post the same job spec onto the same job boards and the resulting applications would be short listed based on the exact skill set of the person leaving the role.

Is this method likely to consistently secure the best candidates?The short answer is No!

This way of recruiting only talks to a small percentage of the market and that is those candidates that are very active in their job search. I don’t subscribe to the common misconception that only passive candidates are good candidates. My point here is simply that you are only talking to very small part of the market.

This method will only really work when there are talent surplus conditions(rare) OR when you have a super brand that everyone wants to work for OR you just happen to get lucky with a great candidate who has been made redundant and is happy to move into a like for like role.

High Potential Candidates

These candidates have not been doing the same job for the last 3 years for a competitor. They are looking for career progression and the opportunity to become high performers in their next role. The very nature of them being high potential, means that they are going to have less experience and not match exactly the profile of the person that is leaving the role. They are rarely attracted or identified by the above methods.

These people represent a very interesting part of the market and so rather than spending 6 months rejecting everyone that is not a direct match for the person leaving the role, it makes a lot of sense to start engaging with these high potentials and using the time saved to fill in any skill gaps and develop your future high performers.

What can I do to attract a more rounded candidate pool?

Lou Adler explains this very well with a number of videos that can be found on YouTube. His view is that you need to change your strategy with the express focus of maximising your quality of hire. There are a number of areas where you can make a significant difference to which candidates you attract. If you want to start talking to the upper quartile of your market then you need to inject some excitement into the process.

  1. Write better advertising copy – Only the most active candidates are going to be interested in a advert that simply contains a cut and paste from a list of duties on the job spec. Spend some time writing adverts that are interesting, that show people what is in it for them and that resonate with you target audience. This takes time to perfect, but you can also get a specialist to do it for you. Either way at least if you get into this mind set, it is better than most of the competing adverts out there.

  2. Engage with candidates and initiate discussion. Don’t just send candidates to a faceless “apply here” button. Let them hear from the hiring manager, someone in HR or a well briefed external consultant about the potential of the opportunity on offer to them. It is easy enough for the hiring manager to make a video outlining the opportunity and future prospects of the role. This extra information will help candidates make an informed decision about their application.

  3. Promote the opportunity and don’t select on remuneration. Start understanding the potential of candidates, rather that selecting on years experience and current salary. By engaging with them more thoroughly through the process, you allow yourself the opportunity to select from a wider pool of candidates.

Should I use a Recruitment Consultancy or do it myself?

Clearly, we are a little biased on this one, however the strategy remains the same. If you don’t have specialist recruitment experience in-house, then our recent blog post “How you pay is what you get”covers how you should choose your supplier.

In short, you need to engage fully with them, give them access to all of the decision makers and allow them the time to assess all relevant parts of the market.

Many contingency focused recruiters will still try and dine out on the size of their database. In reality to get the best short list you want to approach every assignment from scratch and not just receive a list of candidates that happen to be registered on a recruiter database. That is not to say the best candidate wont be active, as I mentioned earlier, I am a great believer in that the best candidate could be interested for a number of reasons. This is why you need to allow the time to write good advert copy, explore referrals and direct approach to ensure that you are engaging all of the people you need to, in order to create the best shortlist possible.

You will then be able to start interviewing safe in the knowledge that you have followed the most relevant strategy to get the best people into your business!

“Paul Withers is an experienced HR Recruiter with extensive exposure gained across a diverse range of industry sectors. Equally happy working at entry through to director level, he is well placed to advise on any recruitment or job search challenges that you may be currently facing.