Sourcing the 85 Percent Who Are Not Actively Looking

by Adler, Lou Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Contact Us
Minneapolis, MN
phone: 612-331-1533
888-612-3775
Send email
About Us
If you follow these five steps you will find more top performers within hours:

1. Put the employee value proposition (EVP) in the ad title as a tagline. Here are two examples of before and after ads and the impact of this change. A hospital group in Northern California ran an ad for nurses with this title on a nurse job board: “Flight Nurses – Sacramento, CA.” It had few responses between Thanksgiving, 2009, and Feb. 5, 2010. On Feb. 5th the ad was changed to this: “Flight Nurses – Helping Save Lives Every Day.” Six great nurses were hired within two weeks for the two open positions. The others who applied were rock stars and were hired for other critical positions. A consumer products company changed their ad for interns to “Marketing Interns – Prepare Whitepapers in Any Color You Want” and had a huge spike in responses from the top students at their target schools. The initial ad had ho-hum responses using the more common and simple title “Marketing Interns.”

Point: good marketing works.

2. Use the first line of the ad to describe what the candidate will do, learn, or become.
As part of this you must not include anything boring or unimportant, particularly exclude the boilerplate from your online job description. You will probably have to break the link from your ATS to the posting site or redesign your ATS to accommodate this change.

Candidates will look at the title and the first line to decide if they should click through. So even if you use SEO to position your ad at the top of a Google search, the best candidates will not click through.

Here’s an example of a good first line: “SAP Guru? Lead the overhaul of our domestic and international financial reporting system.”

Point: build messaging that motivates top prospects to respond.

3. Don’t let people apply.
The best people – whether they’re active or passive and not unemployed – want a better career, not a lateral transfer. So unless you have a great brand and an obvious EVP, the best people want more information before they apply. So give it to them via online chat, an interactive email process, a quick phone call, or a conversation with a hiring manager. Interceding this way will increase the likelihood that the best people will apply, rather than just hoping they do. According to Jobs2Web statistics, 92% of those who see an ad don’t apply. How many of these were the people you really wanted to hire?

Point: redesign your application process based on how good people, not average people, decide.

4. Track how long your candidates have been looking.
You know your sourcing is working effectively when the people you’re attracting either just started looking or were referred to you before they even started looking. Getting the best people as soon as they enter the market is a huge competitive advantage. To gain a sense of how well you’re doing on this front, start asking all of your candidates how long they’ve been looking. If the average is more than 1-2 weeks you’re dealing with the leftovers. It also means your sourcing is not visible, proactive, or compelling enough.

Point: the early bird catches the worm.

5. Implement a proactive employee referral program (PERP).
Expect an upcoming surge in new technologies that will automate your employee referral process. As part of this new wave, your employee’s networks will first be searched to see if there are any potential prospects for a newly opened job. Employees will then be able to automatically contact these people to see if they’re interested in the opportunity. To get a jumpstart on this, make sure your employees directly link to the best people they’ve ever worked with in the past via Facebook and LinkedIn.

Until the technology is available, make sure your employees tell their network connections to call them whenever they’re getting the itch to consider a new job opportunity. This is a great way to get people into your prospect pool before they enter the open market. Of course, follow steps 1-4 if you want this process to work.

Point: PERPs will become the dominant sourcing channel in the very near future.

Now none of this is new, and there is nothing difficult about implementing any of the points. In fact, I’ve written about 100 articles over the past 10 years describing this same stuff in slightly different words. Yet, 95% of most online job descriptions are still boring, the best people still opt-out, and we are still surprised that the strongest people are unwilling to accept lateral transfers.