Are You A Hunter, Farmer, Or Both?

recruiting recruitment staffing Apr 14, 2022

When recruiting firms are niched in a specific industry or function, they usually have an ongoing need for particular candidate profiles. One of the advantages of "niching" is that when you source a quality candidate who fits your niche, you're more likely to have multiple opportunities to present to them. That's why this recruiting strategy can be such a difference maker. It's a recruitment best practice that's consistently employed by the most successful recruiting firms

Because you can continue to "reuse" your good high-demand candidates, your business often becomes "candidate-driven." Candidate-driven niches typically have a higher demand than supply for top talent. This leads to them receiving constant job solicitations and increasing compensation levels. In this environment, candidates tend to become highly selective and demanding. In short, they're more difficult to source and recruit. The problem is that you can end up with many client job orders that stay open despite your efforts to fill them.

It's demoralizing for recruiters when they have executed all of their usual sourcing steps yet still lack quality submittals. It becomes even more difficult when you have clients who refuse to heed your advice to flex on their specs to adjust to market realities. Sound familiar?

Recruiters who are caught in this bind realize that if they were known, liked, and trusted by more of these valuable candidates; they'd significantly increase their ability to produce because:

  • More candidates would proactively contact them when they decide to look
  • More candidates would open and read the electronic marketing messages they send
  • More candidates would forward these messages to their friends and colleagues 
  • More candidates would be open to discussing the recruiter's opportunities

The recruiter's dilemma is that you won't have the above advantages to draw upon if you don't proactively "plant seeds" (farming) with these candidates before you have opportunities for them. Most recruiters have a "hunter's mentality." This means they get a job order and then try to "hunt down" suitable candidates. They invest little or no effort to provide something of value to these people when they aren't hunting them. As a result, recruiters who don't balance hunting and farming develop comfort, trust, and affinity with far fewer candidates.

So what's the solution? The solution is to balance hunting and farming. Farming is more difficult because it requires a deliberate, planned effort. It requires you to invest time and energy consistently executing tasks that are unlikely to provide any immediate benefit. The most successful recruiters have deliberate farming programs to stay top of mind with two types of high-value candidates who fit within their niches:

  1. Candidates they've worked with in the past who became inactive
  2. Candidates they've never worked with but would like to

How do you stay top of mind with candidates? There are two basic ways to accomplish this:

  1. Sending content/articles that are likely to be of value/interest to them
  2. Sending "networking emails" about jobs that fit their specialties

When you consistently execute the above farming activities with your high-value candidates, you can source and deliver more quality candidates while relieving the added stress of relying solely on hunting activities. 


Key steps to implementing a consistent farming program:

I. Utilize the proper tags in your ATS to quickly pull up the right people for your regular farming emails. Some examples of typical tags you might use include:

  • "Inactive-previous candidate" for candidates you've worked with before
  • "Potential Candidate" for candidates you've never worked with
  • "Functional title" for the type of positions they could fit 
  • "Industry" if you work with more than one industry 

II. Add new potential candidates to your ATS using the following steps. Feel free to customize it to fit your needs:

  1. Identify high-value candidates via Linkedin Recruiter and other sourcing resources.
  2. Put the candidates in your ATS and utilize the proper tags to classify them (see above).
  3. Utilize an "enrichment tool" that integrates with your ATS to put the email address and cellphone numbers into each candidate's record.

 III. Send content that is relevant to your audience at least monthly. There are three basic content sources to share:

  • Curated content: This is content produced by others, typically found online. You can utilize various content types related to career-related issues relevant to your audience. Sources can include industry publications, updates on the job market, career advice, etc.
  • Content you produce: This can include articles written by you or people you outsource to, salary surveys you produce or outsource, and other forms of content you believe your audience will be interested in.
  • Job orders relevant to your audience. By properly tagging candidates in your ATS, you can easily send updates regarding open jobs to the right people. (For example, Labor Lawyers get updated positions for Labor Lawyers and not jobs that require a Corporate Law background. These email notifications should not be direct solicitations. They should be emails to network on these jobs, and if the candidates are interested, they'll let you know. 

In Summary, a well-designed and executed candidate farming program keeps you top of mind with your desired audiences by providing relevant information. Over time, you develop trust and familiarity with these people, which is valuable to your firm and makes your recruiting efforts far more productive.

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