You’ve Gotta Deliver Quality Candidates

Sep 14, 2022

When you break down the recruiting industry into its component parts, it’s very simple. There are just two elements:

  1. The intake of job orders from clients and 
  2. The delivery of candidates to these clients.

Congratulations, you now understand the recruiting industry😃. Bringing in a suitable quantity of quality job orders (QJOs) is the first step since candidates are worthless if you don’t have jobs to place them on! The other fun fact is that companies typically pay you a fee to help them hire people who are difficult to find. This means that consistently bringing quality candidates to the dance is challenging.

In a “good market,” there is a higher demand than supply for the candidates you place. This imbalance between supply and demand is what makes you valuable to your clients. The candidate side of the recruiting business is usually a labor-intensive, difficult undertaking for the following reasons:

  • Clients are frequently demanding in their requirements, even after you try to get them to flex. 
  • There may be a very limited supply of the candidates you are recruiting.  Ever seen a purple squirrel?
  • You may be recruiting in a space with far more job openings than suitable candidates.
  • Candidate behavior due to a combination of newer generations and Covid has become more troublesome. Ghosting, extreme pickiness, and general flakiness are more common than in previous eras.

It all starts with good sourcing 

Below are some effective recruiting strategies and tactics specific to the sourcing process.   The firms that execute them well can usually produce three to five quality submittals for each job order. I’m only going to cover the sourcing process in this article. The other steps, such as candidate outreach, screening, managing expectations, and relationship building, are too broad for one article.

  1. Understand that consistent sourcing success depends on both quality sourcing and candidate relationships. It’s common for recruiting firms to take a mechanical, transactional approach to candidate interactions due to an emphasis on electronic outreach and communications. However, a large volume, electronic approach must be balanced with a high-touch, empathetic, and considerate approach to work well.
  2. Use a “job search checklist” for each search. A job search checklist should list each of the sourcing steps in the order in which they should be performed. When people have clarity on what they will do and can check things off when completed, they are less likely to get lost or miss important steps.
  3. Don’t just rely on LinkedIn. In many cases, when I ask recruiters which sources of recruitment they use, they do very little outside of LinkedIn. Excessive reliance on LinkedIn is dangerous for the following reasons:
    Not everyone is active on LinkedIn, even if they have a profile
    - Many candidates have very little text on their profiles, so if you are doing keyword searches, they are unlikely to come up in the search.
    - Your competitors are also using LinkedIn, so you are less likely to have a competitive advantage if this is most of what you do for sourcing.
    Using LinkedIn well is an art and science that can be very challenging. Recruiters who have not developed this skill is likely to pass up a lot of good candidates.
  4. Utilize a well-designed candidate referral generation process. Measure the results of your people’s efforts to provide objective feedback on their activity. Generating candidate referrals is an art that many recruiters have lost in our highly digital, LinkedIn-oriented world. When done well, candidate referrals are one of the ways that you can capture a competitive edge.
  5. Advertise your job orders. One of the biggest myths in the recruiting industry is that advertising is a waste of time. The reality is that if you know how to create job ads that are marketing pieces and not client job descriptions, it can be an excellent way to attract quality candidates. There are two advantages to advertising:
    Candidates who apply to ads are usually more motivated to move than the passive candidates you find through your other methods
    It is the lowest-cost form of advertising for your recruiting firm. It allows people to associate your recruiting firm with the types of positions you fill.
  6. Harvest your ATS. I’m amazed at how often recruiting firms don’t properly use their ATS for sourcing candidates. Two of the common reasons I see are:
    - Failure to properly tag candidates in the ATS. Examples of tags include job titles, industry, and key skills.  It’s extremely difficult to perform effective “resume searches” with a large ATS database since you’re likely to retrieve many candidates who fit keywords but are irrelevant to what you are looking for.
    - Failure to train people on how to use the ATS for sourcing candidates. These things aren’t necessarily intuitive; quality recruiter training can be a big difference-maker. 
  7. Other data sources. In many cases, there are data sources that allow you to identify candidates who work in the industries/occupations in which you recruit. Examples include professional or industry associations, resume databases, and ZoomInfo.

The bottom line

The recruitment best practice for sourcing candidates is to have pre-planned steps that you execute in a deliberate order based on what is most effective for your niches. LinkedIn certainly has its place for sourcing candidates in most industries. However, you don’t want to be over-reliant on LinkedIn. By implementing the appropriate steps above, you may source more quality candidates outside of LinkedIn than you do on LinkedIn.

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