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The 20/20/60 Sourcing Plan

Lou Adler
Sep 7, 2012, 12:17 am ET

I was holding a confab last week with a few recruiting directors from some global companies discussing the future of sourcing and recruiting. The emphasis was how to get better results from LinkedIn Recruiter. Their contention was that more could be done, but their recruiters were balking. The discussion started with a few questions. Imagine you were there at the meeting. How would you respond to these points?

  1. Do you want to increase your emphasis on hiring passive candidates?
  2. Are you in a talent scarcity situation where the demand for talent is greater than the supply?
  3. Do you want to raise the talent level of your total current workforce, sustain it, or lower it?

All said they want to accelerate their passive recruiting efforts; they all thought they were in a talent scarcity situation for most critical positions; and, of course, they all said they wanted to raise their talent level. I suggested that to begin achieving these three results they needed to implement a 20/20/60 sourcing plan. This means that no more than 20% of their sourcing resources and efforts should be spent on job postings, about 20% on name generation and targeted emails, and 60% on networking.

This 20/20/60 sourcing plan maps closely to the job-hunting status of LinkedIn members. This is shown in the pie chart summarizing the results of a survey we conducted with LinkedIn last year. Based on more than 4,500 fully-employed members, 17% categorized themselves as active (Searchers, Networkers, and Hunters), 15% Tiptoers (only telling very close former associates), and 68% passive (Explorers were open to receiving calls from a recruiter to discuss a possible career move). To source and recruit the best of these people you can’t just post traditional job descriptions, send boring emails, or make dozens of phones call a day, and expect to attract and hire many good people.

Implementing a well-designed talent scarcity approach to hiring top talent requires that each part of the 20/20/60 plan be optimized to attract the best people in each job-hunting category. This then needs to be combined with rigorous performance-based selection standards and exceptional recruiting skills, to raise a company’s overall talent bar. I contended that without this type of overt and proactive approach it was very difficult to even sustain the current talent levels, since short-term needs dominated long-term decision-making.

The Essence of a 20/20/60 Sourcing Plan keep reading…

13 More Bold and Outrageous HR Practices That May Indicate Your Approach Is Too Conservative (Part 2 of 2)

Dr. John Sullivan
Aug 27, 2012, 5:06 am ET

The Hilton in Istanbul

In part 1 of this article, I highlighted my top 10 recently implemented bold and outrageous practices in HR and talent management.

The goal is not to recommend these practices, but instead to more clearly define the leading edge of current practice.

In this part 2, I will highlight 13 additional practices that define the leading and “bleeding edge” of HR. If your goal is to “push the envelope” in talent management, this list can give you an idea of where the average ends and the truly bold practices begin.

Although every firm cannot directly adopt the practices listed here (some are reprehensible), I find during my corporate presentations that merely becoming aware of these bleeding-edge practices can create great energy and a strong desire for individual HR functions to do more and be bolder.

Additional “Bold and Outrageous” HR and Talent Management Practices

Here are my selections for the remaining top recently implemented bold approaches that define the bleeding edge of HR practices. keep reading…

The Single Most Important Recruiting Technique Since My 1-Question Interview

Lou Adler
Aug 24, 2012, 5:48 am ET

After 30 years of recruiting outstanding senior staff, mid-level managers, and company executives, I can now state unequivocally that the single most important step in the passive candidate recruiting process is the 30-minute exploratory interview. Here’s why:  keep reading…

Physical Therapists Are in Demand, But Not Much Interested

John Zappe
Aug 15, 2012, 5:20 pm ET

Physical therapists are the new nurses of healthcare recruiting, so much in demand that help-wanted ads for them are now among the most commonly advertised healthcare jobs online.

In fact, Wanted Analytics reports there are now more jobs advertised for physical therapists than any other job in any occupation, exceeding even those for nurses, which have held the top spot for years. And that’s after accounting for a 26 percent year-over-year decrease in the number.

Now a survey done by CKR Interactive’s Peer Group U.S. and healthcare marketing specialist Katon Direct helps explain why it’s so difficult to fill physical therapist openings. Besides simply the growing demand for those services, professionals in the field simply don’t want to change jobs.

“Only 4.1 percent of survey respondents say they are currently looking for a new job,” according to the 2012 National Physical Therapist Survey. That’s far less than the 38 percent of all workers a Globoforce survey said were looking. And it’s less than half the national unemployment rate. keep reading…

Stop Just Gathering Names With Your Talent Community and Start Serving People

Joel Capperella
Aug 15, 2012, 5:29 am ET

Recently I came across a post on a blog that I visit from time to time, Inside Talent Management Technology, entitled “Talent Communities Are a Big Farce.” The premise of the post was that the majority of so-called “talent communities” are simply fronts for a company to capture the name and contact information of active candidates. There was, in the author’s opinion, no community at all.

Sadly, the majority of self-defined talent communities exist for the sole purpose of building a recruiting team’s list of possible candidates. Compounding this problem is the fact that there are some cases in which a job posting is placed not because there is a specific opportunity open at that very moment, but that there may be an opportunity open that is similar to what is in the job posting in the foreseeable future. This basically allows recruiters to begin to passively source candidates ahead of an anticipated demand.

The term talent community seems to have gained much traction in the latter half of the 2000s and has gained much momentum as recruiting moves in a decidedly social direction. What has not matured along with the term, however, is the understanding of what a talent community must be.

List building and mining active candidates is a necessity, but it is certainly not something which could be called communal. So the question for recruiting professionals is really twofold. One, what is the proper definition of a talent community? And, two, how is a talent community developed? keep reading…

To Recruiters, Hiring Managers and Candidates: Violate These Laws of Human Nature at Your Peril

Lou Adler
Aug 10, 2012, 1:28 am ET

Here are some basic truths about people regarding hiring and getting hired:

  1. There are very few people who have an economic need to look for another job, are willing to take a lateral transfer, and are high achievers. Yet most companies spend most of their time and resources looking for these kinds of people. For proof, look at any 20 job postings on Dice,, LinkedIn, or and see who they’re trying to attract.
  2. The military has a tough screening process for selecting officers. But once selected — and with no experience — they are given some serious training and responsibilities far in excess of their current ability and asked to deliver extraordinary results. Most of them succeed. Yet these same people when they leave the military aren’t given a fair chance because they don’t have the “right” experience. keep reading…

Forward to Your Recruits: Why a Passive Candidate Should Take a Recruiter’s Call

Jerry Land, CPC
Aug 1, 2012, 6:17 am ET

The candidate is happy. They get a call from a recruiter. Why should they be open minded enough to have a conversation? Well, there are many advantages to discussing an opportunity even when they’re content where they are. Hopefully, this article gives you some insight on why it makes good career sense for the prospective candidate to be a little more open-minded when they get a recruiting call.

Yes, it’s information you already know. I wrote it so you can forward it to the prospect!  keep reading…

A Facebook Job Board — Yawn

Raghav Singh
Jul 12, 2012, 4:47 am ET

Someone I know who works for a struggling social media company recently asked if I’d heard about the excitement in the space. Not sure what he was referring to, I asked, and he mentioned Facebook’s plans to launch a job board. Oh, that. Yes — very exciting. I’m ecstatic — haven’t slept properly since I read about it. In case you missed the announcement, the board “will aggregate the job postings of third-party providers, making them available for search by Facebook users.” What an original idea. It’s not like one can find another site that aggregates jobs. Who says innovation is dead?

Given the less-than-stellar performance of Facebook’s stock and limited potential of the site to generate revenues, a job board looks like an easy solution to mop up some dollars that would otherwise go elsewhere. Given the perceived reach of Facebook, a job board is guaranteed to garner some interest from employers. The question for Facebook, or for that matter anyone posting jobs to it, is will it work? keep reading…

20 Reasons Why LinkedIn Will Be the #1 Recruiting Portal of the Future

Dr. John Sullivan
Jul 2, 2012, 6:09 am ET

This week on, there is a unified focus by a wide range of authors on the use of LinkedIn. To me, this focus is justified because LinkedIn has the potential of becoming the #1 corporate recruiting portal.

I’m the first to admit that LinkedIn still has many flaws, but even with them, the power of the portal in the recruiting field is unmistakable. If you are a corporate recruiter and you are looking for a database or source that includes a large percentage of passive prospects, LinkedIn is simply alone at the top. It is superior for many additional reasons, including that its profiles are accurate and consistent, it allows your employees to find quality potential referrals, and it enables a firm to conduct phenomenal talent management research. In this article, I will highlight what I have found to be the top strengths of LinkedIn.

The Top 20 Reasons to Use LinkedIn keep reading…

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Hiring Pyramid According to Adler

Lou Adler
Jun 28, 2012, 5:39 am ET

Just about all of us are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Abraham Maslow was a mid-20th century psychologist who studied the behavior of high-performing individuals. In a 1943 paper, he suggested that people make fundamental and predictable decisions based on different behavioral needs. These needs range from primitive; e.g., requiring water or food to being completely fulfilled. He separated these states into five distinct levels and referred to them collectively as a hierarchy of needs. According to Maslow, a person couldn’t move to a higher level unless the needs of the lower level were satisfied first.

While this is interesting stuff, the point of this article is to suggest that both people and companies have similar underlying needs, and when these are at cross purposes, hiring top people is inefficient, ineffective, and problematic.

A very simplified business version of Maslow’s hierarchy is shown in the diagram. The idea behind this is that when assessing a candidate’s motivation for work, it’s most likely one of three core needs: economic, social, or achievement. These are shown in the diagram. The problem is that while companies all want to hire those with the need to achieve, they only consider those who first have an economic need to apply, and second,  those among this group who the screeners believe also fit some idealistic and unspoken personality and first-impression standard. I’d suggest that this two-step, bottoms-up process, is at the root cause of why companies can’t hire enough top people. keep reading…

The Illusion That Is a Transparent Labor Market

Marc Drees
Jun 21, 2012, 5:24 am ET

As long as I can remember, there has been an ongoing discussion about the lack of transparency in the labor market. An improved transparency should lead to suppliers (job seekers) and buyers (employers) of labor being able to find each other easily. However, improved transparency will remain an illusion until we realize that the dominant recruiting model is precisely what makes for a non-transparent labor market. For the record, this is the passive model of recruiting where we publish a job opening and then wait for applications (post and pray).

Why Put the Burden on an Amateur?

Passive recruitment has the implicit expectation that job seekers are able to find the right job opening(s). But job seekers are certified amateurs when searching for and finding the right opening(s). Why? Because they only once look for a new challenge every two to five years. At this rate, they act like explorers that without any preparation go looking for the source of the Nile. Indeed, life-threatening.

Meanwhile, on the other side we (should) have a professional, the recruiter — who regularly has job openings and whose mission is to find the right people to fill those vacancies. But instead of going out and looking for people themselves they place vacancies on their own career site, on commercial job sites, with staffing agencies, on social media, and even in newspapers. To add to the complexity from the perspective of job seekers, job aggregators collect online job openings and starts front-running all previously mentioned sources … in other words, the jungle where the unprepared explorer must try and find his or her own way.

As a result, passive recruitment has a built-in guarantee for a very inefficient process with an unpredictable outcome. After filling the vacancy the gnawing question remains: Have we found the “ideal” person? And that while the same question doesn’t need to be asked if the recruiter would engage in active recruitment — going out to find the “right” person themselves.

keep reading…

The Strategic Recruiting of Purple Squirrels, Innovators, and Gamechangers

Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 18, 2012, 5:18 am ET

There is no more valuable recruit than a “Purple Squirrel.” In fact, a single Purple Squirrel recruit may be more impactful than all of your other hires combined during a single year. If you’re not familiar with the term, a Purple Squirrel is the moniker that denotes an extremely rare and talented recruiting target. Purple Squirrels are valuable because they are extreme innovators. Once hired, they can change your firm’s capabilities, direction, and marketplace success almost instantly.

The benchmark Purple Squirrel was Tony Fadell, who conceived of the concept of the MP3 player while he was at Philips. But Apple recruited him away, allowing them to dominate and make billions in a product area (the iPod) where they had little expertise before recruiting him. This single Purple Squirrel acquisition made Apple billions and set the expectation for future market dominating innovations at Apple!

The most stunning thing, however, about Purple Squirrel recruiting is the fact that there is literally a zero chance that these valuable game-changers and pioneers can be recruited using the existing recruiting process at 99.5% of the world’s major corporations. For example, everyone would agree that Steve Jobs, even in his youth, was a Purple Squirrel, but the fact is that he was rejected by the recruiting process at HP, despite all his talent, simply because he had no college degree.

These purple squirrels are true pioneers with the capability of not only coming up with original ideas but also in successfully implementing them. Purple Squirrels are generally not senior executives, but instead, they are often mid-level employees in product development, technology, mathematics, social media, or the monetization of products and services. Each of these areas are essential for market domination.

Why You Should Develop a Process for Recruiting Purple Squirrels keep reading…

Attracting Passive Candidates

Brendan Shields
Jun 7, 2012, 3:00 pm ET

This webinar will provide Recruiters/Human Resource Professionals with the training required to create a solid foundation for the Recruitment Process. Using this process, the company will be able to recruit, screen, and select the Passive Candidates. The selection of better and more engaged employees leads to greater profitability, fewer Human Resource challenges, and greater retention.

For more podcasts, webinars, and articles on recruiting be sure to check out!


Your Customers: A Near-perfect Recruiting Target

Dr. John Sullivan
Jun 4, 2012, 5:07 am ET

They are the perfect recruiting target because these prospects are currently employed (i.e. passives); they are diverse; it costs almost nothing to get a recruiting message in front of them and best of all; and they already know and like your company and its products. These perfect candidates are your customers.

Even though customers are generally the most-ignored recruiting source, some firms like Google, McDonald’s, Marriott, and Wells Fargo have realized that some of the best recruiting targets are their own customers.

Let’s take Wells Fargo as an example. It literally has millions of customers that use their ATM machines every year, so it only makes sense to try to recruit them as employees. Its approach is simple and cost-effective. It is reaching these customer prospects by merely adding a recruiting message to the receipt printed out by its ATM machines. The message is: “Now hiring. With you when you want a career opportunity that is right for you” (see the inserted sample of a “recruiting receipt”).

Why Customers Are Near-perfect Recruiting Targets keep reading…

Recruiting By the Numbers — Analyze This! (Part 2 of 2)

Nancy Parks
May 31, 2012, 5:56 am ET

In Part 1, we looked at the importance of “knowing your numbers.” To be successful in meeting demand from hiring managers, great recruiters need to know how to move “suspects” (think: passive candidates) through a sales funnel, or pipeline, quickly, and effectively. And they need to know their conversion rates throughout the process.

In this article, we turn our focus away from the recruiter’s activities and look more closely at the passive candidate’s activities. In order to be effective at moving people through a sales funnel or pipeline, know the key factors that affect whether a person is open to moving forward or not.

So what makes a person even want to move from being a “suspect” to a “prospect”? From “prospect” to “candidate”?  There are three key decisions that your suspects, prospects, and candidates need to make in this “change process.” Let’s look at each of these.

Key Decision #1: Is This Worth My Time? keep reading…

Recruiting By the Numbers — Analyze This! (Part 1 of 2)

Nancy Parks
May 30, 2012, 5:38 am ET

Many great recruiting departments and organizations pride themselves on being “metrics-focused” or “metrics-driven” — And for good reason. There’s plenty of research that confirms the value of having clear strategic and operational targets.

Generic recruiting pipeline

In addition, employees appreciate having expectations (think: metrics) that are “SMART” (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time bound). In the recruiting world, some common metrics include time to find, time to hire, survey scores (from hiring managers and candidates), as well as various quality of hire metrics.

How confident are you that you can “hit your numbers”? Are you able to consistently and quickly deliver qualified candidates to your hiring managers? If you are highly confident in your ability to meet or exceed the expectations of your hiring managers, that’s great! Chances are, then, you “know your numbers” very, very well.

This article focuses on one specific aspect of managing opportunities — knowing some key metrics. The next article in this two-part series will focus on some specific techniques for moving individuals through your funnel, or pipeline.

What Have You Done for Me Lately? keep reading…

How to Achieve the Recruiting Performance Trifecta of Quality, Cost, and Time

Lou Adler
May 4, 2012, 8:00 am ET

I’m going to contend that with new tools now available, “true” passive candidate recruiting can maximize quality, reduce time to fill to weeks, and minimize cost per hire. Top-tier third-party recruiters are already using all of these techniques, so they’re proven and doable. What is surprising is why their corporate counterparts have yet to step up to the plate and do likewise. Now’s the time.

Let me start with three basic points:

Point 1: active candidate recruiting leaves a lot to chance, primarily quality-of-hire and time-to-fill, primarily since hiring managers will procrastinate as long as possible to find their “ideal” candidate. This waiting time is random, unless the supply of top people is greater than the demand, or the manager becomes pressured to decide. Of course, the longer the wait the more the cost.

Point 2: The lack of a correct and agreed upon definition of pre-hire quality adds more randomness, time, wasted effort, and cost to the process. No one uses the job description for measuring quality and we’ve all had hiring managers confidently say “I’ll know the person when I see him.” This is a problem with passive candidate recruiting, too, but it’s more like playing the lottery when you’re only sourcing active candidates.

Point 3: passive candidate recruiting emphasizing direct networking techniques, i.e., calling pre-qualified referred prospects, reduces the time to find prospects to a few days.

How to Achieve the Recruiting Performance Trifecta

With this as background, here’s a basic passive candidate recruiting process that will maximize quality of hire, minimize time to fill, and reduce cost per hire: keep reading…

Our Most Effective Source of Hire

Randall Birkwood
Apr 5, 2012, 5:53 am ET

We started measuring quality of hire a couple of years ago. What started out as a simple exercise to see how we were doing turned into an interesting experiment. We realized in order to save the company money and increase productivity, we needed to measure quality of hire and sources of hire together. The results were interesting, and in one case the result was actually surprising.

There are a few hire-quality formulas out there, and you can make it as simple or as complicated as you deem necessary. In our case, we took the simple route.

Quality of hire is defined as the percent of new hires who pass their one-year anniversary and score at least “meets expectations” on their first review. For example, we grouped together all the new hires from the first quarter of 2010. We then ran a report dating to the last day of the quarter a year later, 2011. We determined what percent of those hires were still employed and were not on performance improvement plans, etc. We did this on a quarterly basis.

This is simple but effective. It doesn’t matter whether the employee was a poor performer, an excellent worker who was disillusioned, or a job-hopper.  Ultimately, the business is negatively impacted if it loses talent in the first year, or is dealing with a poor employee.

The results of our experiment have been illuminating. keep reading…

Stop With the Recruiting Fashion Trends

Morgan Hoogvelt
Jan 31, 2012, 5:49 am ET

It’s a brand new year, great things are on the horizon … and for me, I have had it up to my eyeballs with a particular topic. I am so fed up with this topic that I want to climb to the highest peak and scream, bang my head against a wall, and even toss my desk around the room over and over. This topic that’s making me and others so irritated is Passive Candidates.

Yes, that’s right. The topic or even the mention of passive candidates now a day makes me want to throw up. In conducting my own personal year in review and through scouring HR topics, articles, blogs, etc., it seems as if 2011 was the year of the “Passive Candidate.” My response … so the heck what.

I guess I am at a loss as to why there is so much over-emphasis on “passive candidates.” Whatever happened to simply hiring the most-qualified, best-fit individual who can add their strengths in order to advance the organization? Now we have resorted to “Commandments of Recruiting Passive Candidates,” “Rules to Recruit Passive Candidates”, “Your Guide to Passive Candidates” — you get my point.

So here are some questions for you to ask yourself and answer: keep reading…

A Recruiter Competency Model for Passive Candidates

Lou Adler
Jan 26, 2012, 5:30 am ET

This article is part of my continuing series on passive candidate recruiting. The key principle underlying all of these articles is that you can’t recruit and hire passive candidates using the same workflow, nor the same recruiters, used for active candidates.

According to a recent survey we conducted with LinkedIn, 83% of fully-employed members on LinkedIn consider themselves passive when it comes to their job-hunting status. While this is a huge and important pool, most companies over-emphasize the 17% of candidates who are active. Then to make matters worse, when they do target passive candidates, they clumsily use their active candidate processes.

To assist talent leaders in understanding the differences between active and passive candidate recruiting, I’ve developed a recruiter competency model addressing the similarities, differences, and overlaps. Contact me directly if you’d like to learn more about this. It’s highlighted in the graphic showing the 12 most important competencies alongside a very rigorous 1-5 ranking system. For example, a 4-5 ranking requires outstanding performance, some type of significant recognition, and continuing accolades from the recruiter’s hiring manager clients.

Here’s a quick summary of each of the competencies and the differences between active and passive recruiting requirements: keep reading…