Recruiting In-Demand Talent Is About Relationships And Trust

Assumptions and expectations change with time and technology. We all know the If you build it they will come principle; an essential tenet of innovation that’s abundantly apt in this age of rapid innovation in the world of work. When social, mobile, analytics and the cloud exploded out the four corners of the business universe and transformed the ecosystem with a resounding SMAC, they also spawned a bazilliontrigoogolplex of new ways to find talent.

Assume and expect this: job seekers and potential employees expect and assume that the best and more competitive brands are looking for talent along multiple platforms, using a range of strategies, and via many modes of communication. Essentially: you are how you search. Also true: a single digital gesture creates infinite ripples, and that it’s hard to shake a first impression, so any deviations in your brand are going to be magnified. That’s the meta-micro reality we’re in. What’s even more true with the job market heating up: in this infinite playing field, you have to aim with accuracy. Particularly in the ultra-in-demand tech fields (For example, STEM skills), trying to attract top talent with the wrong bait is a lose-lose.

So how to win? Here’s the rub: you have to be really human in this culture: relationships matter more than ever. Here are the 4 best ways to succeed in the search for in-demand talent:

1) Focus On Brand. Any company with a diluted identity won’t be as attractive a draw as the one that is crystal-clear. On a multi-platform presence (with a strong emphasis on social), the brand needs to be consistent across the board. The brand should be the same whether on a site like LinkedIn, SimplyHired or Twitter. Part and parcel of that: a clear, credible, consistent mission. When a candidates suspect they are being fed a line based on their own interests, that’s the wrong kind of transparency. Down the line, that’s also a potential hiring fail.

2) Do the Research. The 2015 DICE Tech Candidate Sentiment Survey found that 50% of candidates want recruiters to do more research before calling — down from 63% in 2013. Credit new sites like OpenWeb, which creates a three-dimensional picture of a candidate. 62% of candidates in the DICE survey wanted recruiters to have a better take on how that candidate’s job skills matched the position. It is assumed, in these days, that everything is public, and that recruiters will practice due diligence, drilling down through many platforms (including Facebook, as we well know) to get the full sense of a person. It’s part of the new paradigm: if the recruiter demonstrates ignorance, it may be construed not as an issue of respecting privacy, but as incompetency.

3) Blur The Lines. One of the most resonant findings of the LinkedIn 2014 Talent Trends report was that 80% of the global workforce is essentially passive — they’re not actively looking for a new role, but 85% of that same workforce is open to career change. The way to tap into that immense market: establish relationships, via social and mobile networks, content channels, events, conferences. The sharpest recruiters I know believe that there is no such thing as a truly passive candidate, and network and engage across multiple channels constantly (including direct sourcing). They’re not spammy, however: engagement is not done by bots but by humans. It’s all about the personal interaction and constant connection. Time-consuming as it may be, there’s a far better ROI on the other side.

4) Be Social. The expansion of the world of work to social sites, particularly on the small screen, has had an enormous impact. In some cases it’s demonstrably decreased hiring time: 34 percent of recruiters in Jobvite ’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey said social recruiting improved time to hire. It’s about the talent pool: 44 percent of recruiters said it increased the quantity (as well as caliber) of candidates. Moreover, to not increase social recruiting is to lose that competitive edge: 73% of recruiters surveyed said they intend to increase their investment in social recruiting. Further, mobile and social foster a certain kind of less formal, authentic spontaneity that fosters relationship building and engagement. It can’t be done with automation, but it may only take a moment, a text, a tweet, to forge a bond.

Recruiting talent isn’t just a single race. It’s the whole track meet: there’s the competitive mad dash of filling existing positions with the right talent that matches your culture, and the grinding marathon of locating a steady stream of prospects in the pipeline. The frequent earthquakes of lateral job changing and boomerang engagements — endemic to this particular economy and its workforce — keeps things nice and shaky as well. Best tactic: a constant effort, on all fronts, with a human face. Don’t just focus on the numbers, don’t just focus on the resumes. Focus on the relationship. And never be afraid to pick up the phone or shake someone’s hand. This still matters in today’s world of work.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Hiring Culture: Creating A Recruitment Ecosystem

Written by David Smooke

Every organization has its own unique “hiring culture,” in addition to its core company culture. Hiring culture deserves just as much attention as company culture, because the two are deeply intertwined. The way an employer acquires talent determines not only who works at the company, but also the very essence of how those people function.

Culture: A Reality Check

Before we look at ways to elevate your hiring culture, let’s first look at how esteemed cross-cultural researcher Geert Hofstede defines culture:

“Culture is the collective programming of the human mind that distinguishes the members of one human group from those of another. Culture in this sense is a system of collectively held values.”

By extension, a strong definition of company culture emerges: “the collective programming of the human mind that distinguishes the members of one company from another.”

So, what attracts people to a particular company (and culture)? And what motivates them to move from one culture to another? Early interactions with a new company bring us face-to-face with that organization’s hiring culture. It’s essential to make those initial experiences as approachable and authentic as possible. How?

Elevate Your Hiring Culture — Focus On 3 Key Factors

1) Alignment With Company Culture

Hiring culture feeds off of company culture, and company culture feeds off of hiring culture. However, your company culture has more inertia. In other words, every day, a mass of employees brings your company culture to life. Each employee is essentially a walking, talking, full-fledged marketing campaign, demonstrating what it means to work at your company. Do those employees know what your business stands for?

Companies such as TOMS and Google are models of how to “own” a company mission that focuses on social good. TOMS employees speak proudly about how every shoe purchase leads to a free pair of shoes for someone in need. This positivity carries over to its culture. Google employees popularized the slogan, “Don’t Be Evil,” as a way of pledging not to abuse the company’s abundance of information.

Every employee at your organization should know what your corporate slogan means, and feel comfortable sharing that concept with others. For example, I’m proud to say that my company stands for Zero Unemployment.

2) Transparent Employer Branding

Adding transparency to your employer branding gives potential hires a better idea of the impact your company is trying to make on the world, and a more accurate impression what it’s like to spend a day in your environment. You want to attract people that want to be there. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by being bold and straightforward. For example, Zappos offers employees $2,000 to quit because, as they say, “We really want everyone to be here because they want to be, and because they believe in the culture.”

To increase the transparency of your employer brand, and attract people who will be passionate about your company, try these tactics:

•  Share authentic pictures of what it is like to work at your company (real pictures of real employees on the job)
•  Counsel employees on why and how they should talk about your company and share your brand message, and;
•  Be awesome. This cannot be faked. When a company’s mission, vision and values are worthy, it shows.

3) Streamlined Hiring Communications

Finally, take a careful look at your hiring process. Where do you see disconnects in communication? How do they affect the speed and quality of talent acquisition? Consider a more collaborative model. For example, with a team of 3 to 4 people (rather than only 1 or 2), the hiring manager draws on more perspectives for a well-informed hiring decision, and you can get your team more invested in each new hire.

No matter how you structure hiring teams, it’s essential to have a system in place that facilitates information exchange across all levels. Hiring managers must have a way to define and update the information they want from interviewers; interviewers need a simple way to capture and share their impression of candidates, and stakeholders need an easy way to review and exchange input, so they can make timely, effective hiring decisions.

Better Hiring Culture = A Better Business

According to HubSpot CEO, Brian Halligan, “If you’ve got a great product, it pulls in customers; if you’ve got a great culture, it pulls in employees.”

But here’s the rub: You can’t have a consistently great product without consistently great employees. And you can’t have great employees without a clear, coherent, compelling hiring culture. Hiring culture determines who you’ll attract as employees. Those choices will shape your company culture, and inevitably, your bottom-line.

Is your hiring culture attracting, closing and retaining the best talent for your company? What do you think it takes to develop and improve a hiring culture? Share your ideas in the comments area.

headshot(Author Profile: David Smooke is Director of Social Media at SmartRecruiters, the hiring platform. In addition to overseeing SmartRecruiters’ online communities, David is the Editor-in-Chief of the SmartRecruiting Blog and co-organizer of monthly Smartup events. He believes remarkable content determines the usage of every news feed.

David lives in San Francisco and enjoys walking the city, reading Dostoyevski, playing basketball, and discussions of the internet’s potential growth. Connect with David on Twitter at @DavidSmooke, and on LinkedIn at

Feature image credit: alborzshawn via Flickr