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Sourcing Candidates Well

Lou Adler

Here's what sourcing is all about:

1.Define The Job, Not The Person

Sourcing the best candidates must start with a compelling vision of what the job entails. Don't rely on a traditional job description to source candidates. Instead, ask hiring managers what the person needs to do in the job to be successful, and get a description of at least three or four major projects. The best candidates will only explore a job if it offers growth opportunities.

2.Have a Strong Basic Pitch

"Would you be open to exploring a situation that's clearly superior to what you're doing today?" Ninety-nine percent of candidates will say, "Yes." Use this approach every time you first talk to a top candidate on the phone. Or when you hit voicemail or an answering machine, use this as your basic message. You must also capture this idea in your advertising.

3.Write Compelling Advertising

Don't write traditional, boring ads. Ads need creative titles and copy that describes what the person will be doing, learning and becoming. Don't list skills and years. This filters out -- rather than opts-in -- the best people. Describe the skill in the context of how it's used. For example, "Use your accounting background in manufacturing to help us build a new reporting system." If the ad title says, "Accounting Wizard Required," you'll attract some top people to the candidate pool.

4.Work Efficiently with Resume Databases

Finding top candidates in a resume database can be time-consuming. Maximize your return on time invested by calling the best candidates within a week -- otherwise they could be gone. For the rest of the best, you need to convert older resumes into active candidates without calling any of them. Instead, write a great email message describing your remarkable opportunity with a copy of the great ad. Automatically email this to any people who meet your screening requirements, and ask them to respond. Here's an example: "I found your resume on the Internet and was very impressed with your background. If you're still looking for a position you might be interested in this our opportunity (insert ad). If you'd like to pursue this, please send me your latest resume and a quick paragraph describing your most significant accomplishment in the area of (whatever may be relevant, e.g., launching new industrial products)."


If you were looking for a job, every wise person you know would tell you that it's all about networking; same goes for looking for the best candidates. Ask everyone you talk with if they know someone appropriate for the job. It's a great way to find top candidates. If the job is not compelling though, they'll only give you names of people looking for work. To get a name of a top passive candidate, you need to describe a compelling job. When you get the name, call them up and ask them the basic pitch question.

If you combine advertising, searching through resume databases and networking, you'll be able to build a pool of 3-5 top candidates. Remember though, it all starts with a compelling job that defines what the person will do, not what the person must have. This is the essential first step of every successful search assignment.


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