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This article was published on July 9, 2015

Where’s the top talent hiding? A tip to recruiters

Where’s the top talent hiding? A tip to recruiters
Ritika Puri
Story by

Ritika Puri

Ritika Puri is a San Francisco based blogger who writes about trends in business, internet culture, and marketing. She's inspired by the int Ritika Puri is a San Francisco based blogger who writes about trends in business, internet culture, and marketing. She's inspired by the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship, and sociology.

Top talent has always been tough for recruiters and hiring managers to find, but the last few years have been especially brutal. High-demand employees are happy in their jobs, receiving countless messaging from recruiters, pushing up salaries to keep them where they are.

A recent survey from MRINetwork confirms what recruiters have been thinking and feeling—it’s a candidate driven market. In the first half of 2015, 90 percent of surveyed recruiters expressed their perspectives of the market being job seeker driven. Just three years ago in the first half of 2012, that number was 56 percent. One year ago? The number was 83%.

This landscape makes a recruiter’s job hard—but exponentially more rewarding. As a recruiter, you need to get crafty and creative with your candidate searches. Make sure you’re looking for candidates in less-than-obvious places. Here are a few ideas to guide you.

job interview

1 – Your existing talent pool

During the last recession, many companies cut back their teams to streamline expenses. In the last two years, however, the economy has begun to pick up and companies are growing again.

“In 2015, recruiters are immersed in the best talent marketplace that we’ve seen in 10 years,” says Phil Hendrickson, a strategic recruiting professional who has led talent acquisition for companies like Apple Retail and Starbucks.

Hendrickson points out that top employees cost many multiples of their salaries to replace.

“There are many costs associated with vacancy,” says Hendrickson. “When you lose good people, you also lose the intellectual capital and competitive intel that they take with them. When people leave, it makes recruiting harder.”

When looking for talent, look no further than your existing talent pool. Make sure that current employees are aware of openings within your organization—even before you post them publicly. Be encouraging and open about internal transfers, and let employees know that they’ll be favored above external candidates.

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The bottom line is that your team members want to learn and grow in their careers. If you don’t help them, they’ll leave—which makes your role as a recruiter harder.

2 – Hubs for career changers

There are plenty of people who are unhappy in their line of work. Just ask Gallup, who uncovered that only 31.5 percent of U.S. employees are engaged at work. Ed tech companies like General Assembly, MakerSquare, and HackReactor have emerged to prepare ambitious learners for careers in engineering—and there are plenty more educational and certification programs that are looking to help job seekers with unconventional backgrounds find meaningful work in new fields.

“One key thing every company can do is truly understand what they need in their next hire,” says John “Coz” Colgrove, founding engineer at Veritas and CTO at Pure Storage.

“Too often job descriptions are more like laundry lists of skills, rather than clear summaries of what is needed to do the job and what success in the position looks like. If a company can understand and agree upon what void they’re trying to fill at the beginning of a job search, it can save time and create a more efficient process. This is true from the early stage of identifying candidates to the end stage of making an offer.”

At the end of the day, you’re hiring people—not resumes.

“We look for the best engineers, and welcome folks that have come out of other industries as it gives us a more diverse range of employees while still maintaining a strong skill set,” says Colgrove.

3 – Vertical social networks

Research from LinkedIn shows that at any given time, only 12 percent of candidates are looking for jobs, but 85 percent of the workforce is open to hearing from recruiters.

The bottom line is that your job application will only take you so far. You need to venture out into communities where candidates enjoy spending their time and actively network with people. LinkedIn is just one channel that you can explore—consider exploring niche, vertical networks too.

“Vertical social networks like Doximity (doctors), Spiceworks (IT), and Edmodo (teachers) are building huge bases because they provide great value to specific industries and have become more of a workflow tool than just a social network,” says Lauren Lloyd, head of PR at Doximity. “Doximity, for example, has more than half of all U.S. docs on the network.”


Lloyd points out that even though these networks may not be designed for hiring, they do have recruiter-friendly services.

“Doximity works with more than 300 hospitals and health systems to identify and connect with doctors with the right specifications for the position,” says Lloyd. “We’ve found that 87 percent of our doctors are open to new opportunities, but only 11 percent are actively looking. Sometimes the passive candidate is the best find and the best way to find them is through their social channels.”

The takeaway

Let empathy be your compass.

Talk to the candidates who you’re interviewing already. How are they looking for opportunities? What type of communication do they enjoy? Put yourselves in these individuals’ shoes, and you’ll find more of them. Top talent is out there, and it’s up to you to find them and win them over.

Read Next: Lessons learned from the world’s most satisfied employees

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