The Talent You’re Looking For Doesn’t Have a Resume

A recent expedition into a client research project gave me a sudden “A-Ha” about creating a Fiercely Loyal internal culture. While I can’t share the specifics of the project, I can share what I learned and how it is directly linked to creating a Fiercely Loyal culture, the kind where amazing work gets done and no one is job hopping.

First let me share a significant framework: According to Gallup research, lost productivity due to employee disengagement costs more than $450 billion in the U.S. annually. This staggering statistic says there is something very very wrong in the workplace. Organizations know it. One of the ways they are trying to fix it is in the hiring process.

Looking for the best talent that’s looking for a job would seem to solve the problem, yes? No.

Because here’s what I can tell you. Most of the best talent isn’t in the job hunting market. They aren’t officially looking. They may toy with the idea from time to time, but they aren’t about to engage in a “Talent Acquisition Process”. Which means that most hiring managers are starting from the wrong end of the telescope.

A recent Fast Company article titled “How to Get a Job Using Social Media When You Aren’t Looking for One” underscores this idea. According to Fast Company “a survey published by the Society for Human Resource Management that says some 84 percent of companies now use social media to recruit “passive” job candidates”. The article goes on to share specific tips for beefing up social media profiles so that these passive candidates can be found by perspective employers.

And yet, a quick scan of the top job posts on the LinkedIn Job Board, Indeed, Monster, and the Ladders still end with “submit a resume”. While some companies allow a candidate to import a LinkedIn profile, the application process also asks for a resume. Great candidates who aren’t actually looking won’t make it past this point and you will never know they are interested.

Another important thing to remember about these potential job candidates is that many of them have established lives. They’ve put down roots. Their children may be in a great school system. They may live near important family members. Upending all of that may be too unpalatable to even consider applying for your position.

Many organizations are answering this challenge by drastically expanding the concept of telecommuting. Research from Global Workplace Analytics found that 3.7 million Americans work from home at least half of the time. Tele-commuting isn’t a trend that stops at the C-suite either. The head of the entire financial services division at SAP, the enterprise application software maker, tele-commutes from Maryland to the division hub in New York. That’s what it takes to recruit and keep the very best talent.

If you want access to this vast pool of job candidates who aren’t officially looking, you have to shake up your hiring process. Here’s what I mean:

  1. Are you asking for a resume just to get the conversation rolling? You’ve just eliminated 75 percent of your best candidates because they not only don’t have one, they aren’t going to go to the time and expense of putting one together.
  2. Are you 100 percent sure that your position MUST be location specific 100 percent of the time? The best talent out there already have established lives somewhere. Starting the conversation with “You have to uproot your entire life” is a sure way to keep the conversation short, if you ever have one at all.
  3. Bonus question: Do you call your hiring process anything like “Talent Acquisition”? Pens and pencils are acquired. People, especially highly talented ones, are not, nor do they want to be. How you talk about your hiring process will either attract or deflect the top talent you want for your organization.

I know that I’m talking about disrupting an ingrained approach to hiring. In today’s incredibly competitive market, isn’t having the best talent you can find working on your team worth that extra effort? If you don’t think so, I’m betting you’ve got competitors who do.

photo credit: Accept Reject via photopin (license)