To win today’s talent war, work with line managers and outsourcing providers together. Remember, the more sources you turn to, the better your chances are for finding the right candidate.

by Matt DeLuca

How does a recruiting professional add value to the organization? Way back when recruiting seemed synonymous with interviewing, applicants showed up and the recruiter only had to connect some dots and see where the walk-in might be effectively used. Although I am not sure that was always the most effective approach (relying on walk-ins or those responding to ads) because it creates an environment where you only get to see those responding in the first place. It certainly doesn’t cut it anymore.

Andrew Grove, co-founder of Intel, said he used to stay awake at night fearing what he did not know what to fear would happen. Apply that to placing an ad and waiting only to have zero responses. The key is to take the JP Morgan concept (never enough good people) and combine it with Malcolm Gladwell’s opinion about the smallness of the world to stimulate an ongoing proactive approach to never cease the search for potential candidates.

As internal recruiters, we need to remember that we are not the only source of an ever-flowing pool of terrific applicants. To be an effective recruiter in this climate, you need to be a band leader. By pulling from whatever sources you can on a position-by-position basis, the more likely you will tap into unique networks that will uncover sources that you would never be aware of on your own.

Just like a band leader, the music that results in a successful hire is not due to a single performer but rather the coordinated effort of what may be a disparate bunch of people who, unbeknownst to themselves, are able to unearth candidates to meet specific needs. Sounds complicated but it really isn’t. Consider this example.

Recently, I needed to fill a manager position vacated by a mismatch. I tell you this since it was all the more important that the position be quickly filled because it really hadn’t been for months with the prior incumbent. To add to the challenge, the department with the vacancy required an even higher quality than may be acceptable elsewhere because the unit sought to position itself to outsource its services (going from a cost to a profit center).

To ensure an effective ‘blanketing” of the marketplace—in addition to posting the position on—I sought the services of three contingency recruiting firms with whom I have established relationships and consider as outsourcers (as mentioned in my last column). After three weeks, some candidates from all sources emerged, but when we met with them, none really “rang the bell,” so inside the organization a few of us brainstormed. That exercise led to an executive from two levels up suggesting that I contact one of his professional associations to see if members—though certainly not interested themselves—would pass along the opportunity to others who might be. Three more candidates surfaced, and one was finally hired.

The point of the story—as thorough as our recruiting efforts were—is that all our activities did not identify a top-tier candidate. Only a suggestion from a non-HR staff member allowed us to target a source that would not even have been known or considered by the hiring manager, although it was her boss who thought of it.

Now does that mean I wasted time using the three contingency firms I sought for placing the job postings? Absolutely not. For one, it allowed me to enhance my reach by seeking assistance from the recruiters who are my contacts as well as their staff to get out and cover the marketplace. Second, it greased the relationships with all three because even though none made the placement and received no revenue, each was given a good-faith opportunity to obtain the placement fee. And if any had found the best candidate, the fee would have been theirs. Even though none were successful this time, it provided a genuine opportunity to keep in contact.

The point I am making this month is that regardless the outcome, the more thorough you are as a recruiter, the more likely you will have short-term successes and be effective in the longer term as well.

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