The competition to hire top talent, especially top tech talent, has never been fiercer. And no wonder. There is no substitute for raw tech talent. It can take your organization to a whole new level of performance. Here’s a little not-so secret: one sizzling star employee is worth 50 so-so employees.
The question becomes: How do you find these stars and then successfully recruit them for your company? Especially the passive recruits — those people who are perfectly happy in their current positions and will only leave when an offer is really tantalizing.
What you don’t want to do is contact them cold with a form e-mail and a generic or uninspiring job description. What you do want to do is slowly engage them in a genuine dialogue that intrigues, engages and inspires them to want to make a bold career move and discover your employer brand and other offerings.
Fortunately, social media and other technologies have handed Leaders, HR and Recruiters breakthrough tools to facilitate this delicate recruiting dance. Social networks and the vast amounts of professional and personal “big data” available today make it possible to get to know a potential recruit before you make that crucial first contact.
The key here is to mine and leverage the networks and data looking for a recruit’s true interests and passions, and to see where they align or dovetail with your organization’s mission, vision and values. Culture fit is always an important consideration.
A simple search of Google, Facebook and LinkedIn (and more) can uncover valuable insights into a recruit’s history, accomplishments, motivators, personality and passions. Then there are technologies and companies that can perform this profiling and vetting process for you. The bottom line in any case is actionable information.
Once you feel you’ve got a clear, 3-D picture of the talent you want to woo, you can take the first steps. You want to personalize your initial contact, key it into something you know will pique their curiosity. Don’t mention a specific job in your opening. Talk about the kind of work they’re passionate about, and how you may be able to offer them fresh and rewarding career challenges that will help them grow and flourish. Remember to keep the focus on the skill set and personality characteristics of this person, not on you or your organization at first.
Don’t throw around a lot of buzzwords or try to dazzle talent by tossing in references to the latest technologies. The latest technologies are a given these days for tech talent. It’s the big picture, interesting and innovative challenges that will excite them. So be specific. Talk about what your organization has accomplished, and wants to accomplish in the future. Get them interested in outcomes. Focus on the work.
Do leverage any connections you may have to the candidate. If you’ve both worked with some of the same people, that creates an instant common ground. If the person has done something amazing or interesting, reference it. This could be a product development strategy, a blog post or completing a triathlon.
Don’t overload the first connection. The goal is initial personal engagement. Mention an opportunity, and then ask to schedule a ten-minute call or video connect to discuss it, sometime in the near future. If the talent agrees to this, go for it and keep your promise to follow-up. You can then line up someone they will be working with directly, preferably a leader or someone very hands-on with the technology, to be a part of the next step of the recruiting process.
In the follow-up, get them talking. Although social media and data mining has given you a full picture of the recruit, the more they talk, the closer you will be to closing to the deal. Listen. Respond specifically, never generally. Ask them about what they’re working on and look for passion points – those places where their voices grow excited, their adrenaline flows.
Remember that the potential recruit has probably (definitely) researched you and your company brand since your initial contact. So make sure your profiles and posts are up-to-date, savvy and intriguing. That said, never be immodest or pushy. When someone (recruiters often get a bad rap for this approach) pushes too hard, the natural human instinct is to pull back.
Finally, invite them in to see for themselves what your organization is doing. Don’t fall into the recruiting trap of putting on a unrealistic or flashy show that does not genuinely reflect your workplace culture when candidates phone screen, video interview or arrive for an in person round – that’s false advertising and usually comes back to haunt you in the form of an unhappy, disillusioned, unsatisfied employee.
As I’ve said many times – a one size workplace culture fits no one. Use these guidelines and tools, provided by social media and technology, to craft a customized approach that will exponentially increase your ability to connect with, hire and hopefully retain superstar talent.
A version of this was first posted on Forbes.