Finding the Best Talent: A Paradigm Shift


There was a day when finding the best talent meant hiring an executive recruiter or posting to a job board. Thank the Lord that those days may soon be gone.

Here’s a growingly anachronistic process for you. Executive recruiters trying to maintain massive databases on talent…much of it out of date…and scanning about for names that may fit a tight job spec. It’s a process that can take months, and cost you tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. In this desperate quest to fill a position, executive recruiters can do things that can damage your company brand.

They call people to source candidates hoping that referrals will help find the needle in the haystack. Inefficient but nothing wrong here. But what happens if you yourself get asked to interview for a role, and take the time to investigate. Let’s say you take a few meetings, do all the prep work, go to the interviews, and nail them. More often that not, unless you are that needle in the haystack, the recruiter goes radio silent on you. You did not make the cut for whatever reason, but you hear nothing for weeks and no one returns your calls. Candidates are left angry and frustrated, and rightly so. Months later, you get a friendly voice on the line asking you for referrals.

Sadly this scenario plays out far too often.  It’s a one way street…a “what can you do for me, and I owe you not the smallest courtesy” when you are no longer a money maker for me. This damages not only the recruiter’s reputation, but potentially the brands of the hiring companies. As I said, there are exceptions to this but not many. And it is sad that too many people are afraid to call out a recruiter for lack of courtesy, lest they get a bad reputation for speaking the truth.

Thank the lord for a new day and a new way. With the advent of social networking, a great company named LinkedIn is changing the game in professional recruiting in very profound ways. Now a hiring company can have access to a global pool and very rich interactive database of potential candidates, active and passive jobs searchers, who fit a job spec to a tee. They can see their connections. They can get references and referrals with relative ease to get to a short list fairly quickly, using analytics and matching algorythms. They can automate the process of managing job searches from sourcing to attracting (through employer branding tools) to nurturing and closing much like a sales process…all done with an eye towards enhancing the company brand and reputation. They can make everyone in their company serve as a recruiting partner by making job openings visible to all to recommend to their networks. And they can do it all for pennies on the dollar vs. traditional exec recruiting models.

Job boards remain another popular option but these usually only tap active job seekers. What if you want to hire Google engineers with specific backgrounds, experiences, interests, and skill sets.  Easy on LinkedIn. Cumbersome otherwise. Why market to an audience of thousands when you can seek to attract audiences of one…tapping into both active and passive candidates.

When we move from systems of transaction to systems of engagement, the search for the best talent that will fit your culture, define your competitive edge, and ensure your future success becomes far easier and more efficient. Exec recruiters, again with some notable exceptions, are transactional people.  Job boards are transactional.  Internal recruiters use them to find names, get resumes, qualify them by phone, serve them up to the hiring managers who then get frustrated with poor fit alternatives, and the loop recycles.

Talent acquisition is a human business to be sure, but the traditional models are not terribly human. Enter systems of engagement fueled by technology to improve upon and humanize the process through the new world of social recruiting. Enter companies like LinkedIn.

The game is changing in profound ways for the recruiting managers and talent acquisition execs who seek to become business partners with hiring managers. Rather than have the exec recruiter own the business relationship, it is now possible for HR to step up to the role they’ve always aspired to.

The executive recruiter job will shift to sourcing the very top people within a narrowly defined universe…C-level execs in targeted fields and industries. It will continue to shrink, with hopeful the best and most ethical surviving. Hallelujah.

But outside major enterprise C-level hires, there is a paradigm shift afoot. Pay attention. You’ll get the best people, who fit your culture, who are recommended from people you respect inside and outside your company, who are receptive to your complimentary overtures, and who can make the impact you need.

LinkedIn get it. Facebook is looking into it. Others are sure to join in. The paradigm shift is here.

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