Recruiting Isn't Just for Job Openings

Posted on February 27, 2014.

Despite the current unemployment rate, it seems like everyone I know is having a hard time filling open positions. And when I ask business owners about their current challenges, inevitability they will say, “finding top talent”. And yet, when I ask them how they currently recruit people, they say things like, “ we have on campus recruiters, or online postings, etc”. But recruiting shouldn't be delegated to others.

I know as a manager, you have many things on your plate, and most of the time, you feel like you’re in reaction mode all day. So taking the time to proactively find talent for a job that might not even be open yet sounds like a colossal waste of time.  But this is exactly what you need to do.

If you run a sales organization, do you sit around and wait for a prospect to call you when they’re ready to bid out their business? Or do you try to establish a relationship so that when they’re ready, you get that call?  Recruiting for the future should be no different.  A key part of your job description should say, “attracts top talent”, so delegating this responsibility to your HR department is not very effective.

As a manager here are a few ways to start developing a ready pool of qualified hires:

·      If you sell anything (and most of us do), ask your customers and prospects who calls on them and who impresses them.  Get their contact information and set up an introductory meeting. Tell them you don’t have anything right now, but you want to develop a relationship and see what their long term goals may be. You may not get a 100% positive response, but in my experience, you will get at least 4 out of 5 people to agree to a meeting.

·      Ask your current employees for folks they know from college or former employers.  Be specific about what qualities you’re looking for so they don’t just introduce you to their best friends. Establish a communication and stay in touch.

·      Get to know the recruiters that work in your field. I know a lot of companies don’t like to use them, but in my experience they know every player in the market, what their reputation is and why they might be interested in leaving their current employer.

The reality is that top performers in the industry are usually pretty well taken care of by their current employer.  So they’re not going to jump ship just because your HR person or recruiter has called them.  One of my very best hires took five years of dialogue before he was ready to make the move. 

So the key to successful recruiting is to NOT wait until you have an opening and you’re desperate to fill a position.  And to NOT delegate the task to your HR department, Instead, it’s your job as a manager to cultivate relationships with the top people in your field. They get to know you and your company and you get to know what they’re like. Before you make the offer, you’ll have a better handle on whether they will be a good fit in both the job and the company culture. And you’ll gain a better understanding of what triggers may result in a move.