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 a 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 or is relocating and is happy to move into a like for like role.

High Potential Candidates

“High potentials consistently and significantly outperform their peer groups in a variety of settings and circumstances. While achieving these superior levels of performance, they exhibit behaviours that reflect their companies’ culture and values in an exemplary manner. Moreover, they show a strong capacity to grow and succeed throughout their careers within an organization—more quickly and effectively than their peer groups do.” Definition from Harvard Business Review

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 when measured in years 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?

You need to change your strategy with the express focus of maximising your quality of hire.  If you simply follow the process mentioned in the opening paragraph, then all you will do is spend your time working through the inbound response and rule people out.  What you want to be doing is spending your time attracting good quality candidates into your process and communicating clearly why it represents a great opportunity for them.

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.

Write better advertising copy

Only the most active candidates are going to be interested in an 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 there is training available or you get a specialist to do it for you. Either way at least if you get into this mind set of trying, it will better than most of the competing adverts out there.

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 quick video or write a personal intro outlining the opportunity and future prospects of the role. This extra information will help candidates make an informed decision about their application.

People drive profit and so getting the right people into your business and keeping hold of them is core to commercial success.  With this in mind, you can’t rush or cut corners with recruitment.  Of course, you can use technology to help drive efficiency, however your recruiter needs to identify and engage with top candidates as soon as they can.  Good quality candidates will have options and so if you don’t get in there and speak to them, then quite simply you gift competitive advantage to those that do!

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. Whoever is managing your recruitment assignment, whether internal or external, they need to have the capability to quickly understand a candidate’s drivers and communicate clearly what makes this a genuine career development opportunity.  This is not just the short-term salary increase, but the longer-term opportunities for their future development.

Should I use a Recruitment Consultancy or do it myself?

Clearly, I am biased on this one however the strategy remains the same. If you don’t have specialist recruitment experience in-house, then my blog post “How you pay is what you get” covers how you should choose your supplier. Whether internal or external, 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.

A common issue with internal teams can be under investment.  You need to ensure that you have hired at an appropriate level, so there is the capability to do all of this, otherwise it can become a false economy.  You also need to make sure they are managing a realistic number of vacancies, otherwise there will not be time for the proactive element and you will be reliant on the inbound activity and potentially miss out on those candidates you generate from getting out into the market and creating some enthusiasm for the role.

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 won’t 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 have 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.

Written by Paul Withers for The HR Blog at https://thehr.blog/2019/03/08/how-do-you-hire-the-best-candidates-are-high-potential-candidates-overlooked-in-your-recruitment-process/

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