Actively recruiting can be better than referrals
This article is based on one I originally published in BusinessWeek on Dec 9, 2009.
Hunting for the ideal job candidate? Ask any hiring managers and
they will very likely give you a ranking system for would-be hires.
Lower on the list are those actively looking for a job. High on the
list are employee referrals.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult
to elicit employee referrals on a broad enough scale. First, employees
know only so many quality candidates. Second, if you have a very
rigorous hiring process, employees will be loath to refer people unless
they are sure that person would get strong consideration.
a hiring manager to do, then? One way to get a steady flow of
high-caliber applicants is to actively seek them out. Instead of only
relying on employee referrals and active job-seekers, companies should
spend more time identifying, nurturing, and recruiting so-called
passive candidates, people who are perfectly happy in their current job
but would move to a new company if they felt there was higher growth
potential. While these candidates might not have the same
qualifications as employee referrals, they can be found on a wider
Recruiting passive candidates can be an involved and
difficult process. Because passive candidates are not looking at job
boards such as Craigslist and Monster.com, you need to think of creative ways to reach out to them directly.
Web Recruiting Strategies
hunch is that at most companies, the mix of job applicants is something
like 80% active candidates, 10% passive, and 10% referrals. A better
mix would be 30% active, 60% passive, and 10% referrals. Here are some
strategies for boosting your pool of passive candidates, using the Web
and social media:
• Seek great people. Companies can seek out great people on sites such as LinkedIn, XING,
and other professional social networks. These sites house millions of
passive candidates and include tools that let would-be employers search
for candidates by geography, skills, interests, and a host of other
criteria. It may be time-consuming to message each person you consider
a good candidate, but it is among the most effective strategies.
• Advertise to candidates.
Instead of posting a job announcement that will only get read by active
job-seekers, try to find passive candidates while they are surfing the
Web. Google famously posted a candidate-seeking math puzzle on a billboard
alongside the 101 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Those who don't have
tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a billboard can advertise by
purchasing keywords that possible candidates might be searching for
online. For instance, my company, Rapleaf,
is always looking for people who are interested in Hadoop, an
open-source software framework that supports applications running
across multiple, distributed computers. So we purchase ads that will
appear when people search for keywords associated with Hadoop. The
approach has helped us find qualified candidates.
• Continually remind great people.
Once you find people and drive them to your careers page, you'll want
to continue to remind them about your company. That's because most
passive candidates who visit your careers page will only be browsing
and won't submit a résumé. A great way to continue to remind passive
candidates is through retargeted ads—ads that follow the passive
candidate wherever she or he goes on the Internet (like on the
Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance, and CBS Sports). Rapleaf uses Retargeter.com,
which helps you deliver ads to your site visitors as they navigate to
other sites. It has huge reach because it works with Yahoo's Right Media, Google's DoubleClick, and Fox Interactive. (full disclosure: I am an investor in Retargeter.com.)
• Encourage others to refer candidates to you.
Ask all your employees to put a footer in their e-mails reminding
people that their company is hiring. My e-mail signature says "Note:
we're hiring amazing engineers, BD people, and a star Ops person …
refer a friend and get fully paid trip to Hawaii for two." Another
great tool is to have employees use their status lines on Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn, MySpace, and other social networks to let friends know their
company is hiring. A great status update might be something like: "I
love my job: come work with me" with a link to your careers site.
• Stay in touch with past applicants.
You may also want to consider sending occasional newsletters or other
communications to people who have applied in the past but, for one
reason or another, didn't get the job. They may be just the right fit
for a new opening, or they may at least know of a qualified candidate.
a company's best asset is its people, and filling open positions with
top-notch people gives your company the best chance to continue to grow
and innovate, which is especially important during these down times.
(special thanks to Michael Hsu for his help writing and editing this article)