How to fill roles with hard-to-find candidates
I recently undertook a difficult project to help a niche law firm find a Partner, where it soon became apparent only a handful of candidates existed in the local market. As a search expert I relish these challenges. Here are the steps I took to find the talent this client was looking for:
Firstly, It might sound obvious but make sure to extend your search to outside the normal places. Don’t just look for candidates who work with the competition in similar roles but also those who have done comparable work. Consider consultants who have worked on similar projects or with similar clients. Also look at similar industries where candidates might have implemented relevant projects.
Whether you initial contact is by call or email, make sure it is compelling. For example instead of giving them all the details upfront and asking for a reply, perhaps suggest that a short discussion could lead to a more indepth career conversation. If you are reaching out by email initially you can add a link to the job description but what you are really doing trying to get a conversation going. Also key to a good search is to follow up with a phone call to those people who don’t respond, sometimes emails, especially on LinkedIn, get ignored or deleted, don’t presume they are not interested.
Once you have a pool of candidates to chat to, set up very brief calls to ascertain their level of interest. Most people will say they are not interested but if they have made time to speak to you, something probably sparked their interest, so try and identify what it is. Most people are looking for career progression, not just a pay increase, so try and differentiate their role from the one you are offering and subsequent progression within your organisation. If you can deliver that then most people will be willing to take the next step and meet with you.
Once you have a small group of candidates interested then get the hiring manager involved by arranging initial calls to ascertain their fit for the role and organisation in more detail. Make sure that the hiring manager is aware that this is still very much an explanatory chat to see if the candidates are interested in working for them as much as the other way round!
It is important to regroup with the candidates after every stage and to keep reinforcing what it was that made them interested in the first place. It also serves to discover both negative and positive points throughout the process. It’s great when candidates have that ‘light bulb’ moment when they discover that your role is a much more compelling career move than staying put.
Once you have identified the successful candidate, the key is to test out the offer with them first, without rushing the written contract to them, which can scare them off. Make sure you run through your benefits package and likely outcome and see what their response is before formalising the offer. This ensures that when you do present them with the details there will be no surprises and they will be happy to accept.
Sourcing passive candidates, in a small pool of talent, takes effort and persistence. However, If done correctly it will be very rewarding and ensure the best possible fit for your organisation.
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