We beat the competition by being faster, better, and stronger. We break through barriers by thinking creatively, being prepared, and proactively addressing potential problems that haven’t even happened yet. As a professional recruiter, the one area I see this competitive thought process break down is in the talent search and management process. In the last nine years, I have interacted with hundreds of businesses and in most cases, the search for talent only begins when someone vacates a position. The extent of the search is typically ad placement and internal referrals.
The problem with reacting to staffing and talent acquisition “as needed” is that you are typically forced to hire someone who is actively looking. This could also mean that you do not have broad access to stellar candidates who are currently working but might be a better match for the job. It’s the difference between fishing in a stocked pond and casting your net in the ocean. In an unofficial poll on LinkedIn, more than 20 percent of employees currently working are looking for a different job. Even if the numbers in a larger poll are half that, 10 percent of your staff at any given time is actively disengaged and looking to leave. For a business owner or manager, it becomes a guessing game. It’s usually easy to spot employees who are low performers and guess that they are about to jump ship, but I’m willing to bet that a few of your best employees are also being courted by other employers.
In one case study from a recent client, the company was preparing to replace a problem employee who had not left yet. Although they were trying to coach through the problem and the Performance Improvement Plan allowed 30 days before a conclusion was made, they expressed a desire to cover their bases. This particular client chose to call me and initiate a confidential search. We narrowed the field from more than 150 choices down to the top four qualified candidates for the client. Then we interviewed these four candidates from high school forward, assessed skills, and conducted reference checks. We lined up a full morning of back-to-back interviews in our office so that our client would not alert the problem employee. And by the end of the day, the client had a top pick. When the client had to make the decision to part ways with the current employee, we already had a candidate who was ready to accept the offer and start the next day.
In a separate example, we were keeping in touch with a small business, but had never actually worked with them before. The owner discussed with us what type of experience and profile would be most valuable to his firm, and asked that we contact him if we ever interviewed anyone like that. When we finally did run into the rare profile that our prospect had described, we made the call. The client at the time was competing with other firms in his market space for a lucrative contract. The one sure-fire way to secure the contract was to add information into the contract that listed the type of specialized and rare talent within his firm that could service the needs of this client, talent he knew his competitors didn’t already have on staff. The candidate we had just interviewed would be an exact match to secure the contract. It was the right candidate at the right time, but we were fully briefed well in advance on what type of talent was most important to this firm.
After nine years of exposure to every shape and size of company, my best advice for businesses is to always have your eye on talent, even (or perhaps especially) when you don’t need it. In any given moment in your organization, some of your staff is actively disengaged and job searching, a portion of your staff is keeping their eye on openings, a few of your top performers are being sought out by recruiters and your competition, and you have a couple you may be ready to let go sooner than later. This makes having an opening an inevitable fact. The question becomes not if, but when. So why do most hiring managers wait until the departing employee forces us to act? Always be recruiting. If you are a manager, and in a position to identify and make decisions about talent for your organization, I will contend that one of the best moves you can make is to constantly be networking for talent. Or, since you only have so much time in your already packed professional and personal life, make it easy on yourself and seek out niche recruiters in various career areas who are paid to have extensive and diverse networks. Recruiters are paid to be highly networked in the community, in professional organizations, on Facebook and LinkedIn communities, and they know how to leverage their networks to get to the people you need.
Being stronger, faster, and better than the competition depends largely on the caliber of people you have working for you. If you wait until an employee leaves to look for talent, the process could take four to six weeks, or longer. Most recruiting firms work on a contingency basis, meaning that you can contact them, have them select candidates who meet your criteria, meet with the candidates, and that entire process costs you nothing until you decide to hire one of the presented candidates. Because there is no risk, contacting a recruiting firm can be a natural and cost effective addition to your existing hiring process. Start thinking about the people you have working for you as human capital. They are the “guts” of your organization. Keep a recruiter looking for key people who can keep your business moving forward. Be on the lookout daily for strategic thinkers with abundant mindsets, even in your entry-level staff. It does not make sense to run a business without a short and long-term business plan. A “talent plan” can go a long way in helping you keep your business goals on track.
In her 10th year at Celebrity Staff, Anne Romero is a seasoned account manager and recruiter. In that time, she has successfully placed 3,000 candidates in temporary and full-time administrative, management, and corporate support positions with both small and large firms in the Omaha metro.
Anne earned a top performer award in 2003 and the prestigious President’s Club Award in 2008. She also secured her Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) designation in 2008 and stays on top of the latest advances in internet and social media recruiting. Anne is currently studying for the SPHR and looks forward to putting her human resources knowledge to work for her clients!
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Anne came to Omaha to attend Creighton University, where she earned her BA in English Literature. Anne serves as the Vice President of Membership for All About Omaha and is President of the William A. Paxton Business Tips Society. When she’s not keeping her eye on the talent market, Anne spends time with her husband, Gabe, and their two year old son, and reads as much as she can!