Joining the Geek Patrol, Convergence, and Other Advanced Techniques for Finding Semi-Candidates

Jul 8, 2004

This is not an article on semi-sourcing. It’s a quiz. After each sourcing problem described below, you’ll be asked a multiple-choice question. If you get all of the questions right, you’ll be able to attend our free August 2004 online course on how to find top people. Actually, if you just take the quiz and respond reasonably well you’ll be able to attend. Just send an email to when submitting your response. As you know, I believe that the roles of TPRs (third-party recruiters) and ICRs (internal corporate recruiters) are converging. TPRs contend this won’t happen since ICRs don’t have the ability to find top passive candidates. My position is that with improved applicant tracking system design and better recruiter training, ICRs will have the time and skills necessary find top people for 90% of all corporate positions. The key to this is semi-sourcing (see these two articles for more details). Semi-active candidates are top employed people who look on jobs boards infrequently, generally when their jobs become frustrating. Semi-passive candidates are top people who are waiting for a recruiter to call. What you do to find and attract these semi-candidates is the key to the ICR-TPR convergence I believe will occur over the next year or so. The following scenarios are typical hiring problems that ICRs face each day. What would you do to find these people? Scenario 1 Are you aware that Circuit City now has a geek patrol? These geeks are the company’s field technical representatives who drive to your house in geek-labeled patrol cars in order to install your new HDTV in-home theater system. Which of the following approaches do you think would be the best way to find 500 people to join this geek patrol over the next 120 days, and why?

  1. Run an ad on all of the major boards with this title: “Field Service Reps for Large Retailer.”
  2. Run an ad on all of the major boards with this title: “Join the Geek Patrol and Drive a Fancy Greenish Geek Mobile.” In addition to nationally posting the ad, you’d make sure that the correct keywords were used ó retail operations, field service, customer service, techie, HDTV, entertainment ó and in the ad you’d offer a reward for referring other geeks. Of course, you’d update the ad every day to make sure it’s at the top of the listing.
  3. Ask your ad agency to put an ad campaign together focusing on employer branding.
  4. Call a TPR and negotiate a volume fee of 15%.
  5. Some or none of the above. Present your own idea instead.

Scenario 2 IBM is hiring 100 solution consultants over the next six months to conduct detailed analysis of business processes and offer integrated IT and business reengineering services. They’ll even propose outsourcing the whole process, if appropriate. Which of the following sourcing approaches do you think would be most effective, and why?

  1. Run an ad on CareerBuilder with the title “System Solution Consultants” and with these keywords: systems, consultants, business process analysis, MBA, workflow, Six Sigma.
  2. Run an ad on CareerBuilder with the title “Lead IBM’s Market Growth as One of Our Senior Solution Consultants,” and with these keywords: innovate, manage, systems analysis, and all of the above terms in #1.
  3. Meet with every one of your existing consultants and ask them the names of the best people they know at Accenture, BearingPoint, and Deloitte. Then call these people and ask them if they’d be open to exploring a superior opportunity. Then get them to give you the names of the best people they’ve ever worked with.
  4. Buy competitive intelligence and ask the same question as in #3 above.
  5. Call a TPR and have them do steps 1-4.
  6. None, some, or all of the above ó or develop your own approach instead.

Scenario 3 Your company needs a new group CEO to run a multi-division international financial services company. This person has to turn around one troubled retail brokerage unit, lead the effort to upgrade the financial performance management system, and install a company-wide management succession program. Which of the following recruiting approaches do you think would be most effective, and why?

  1. Run an ad on Chief Monster.
  2. Set up an aggressive networking program using board members and their contacts.
  3. Call a top search firm that specializes in the financial services industry.
  4. Call a top search firm that specializes in finding top senior-level executives.
  5. None, some, or all of the above, ó or justify your own idea instead.

Scenario 4 A healthcare firm needs to hire 10 staff-level nurses per month for the foreseeable future. These nurses will be used to lead the effort to upgrade patient care and also to replace nurses who have left or have been promoted as a result of expansion. Which of the following do you think is the best approach to finding these healthcare professionals?

  1. Run ads on all of the appropriate sites with compelling advertising ó including copy that describes the new strategic mission of the organization and the vital role these RNs will play.
  2. Leverage the employee referral program and use competitive intelligence to identify every top nurse in the country. From this, develop a far-reaching personal contact plan to talk with each potential person. This contact plan includes a comprehensive brochure and a special website describing the job, growth opportunities, and challenges involved as the organization sets out to become an industry leader.
  3. Develop a new website experience that allows applicants to learn about the job, determine their own status at any given time in the hiring process, and is a place to refer other top people seamlessly. The site is designed with a FAQ center, a place for the candidate to send emails to their assigned recruiter, and an online video describing a year-in-the-life.
  4. Develop a proactive association program that brands the organization as an innovative industry leader with a unique culture that breaks the stereotype of competing healthcare providers. Coupled with this, sponsor the association’s newsletter, monthly magazine, and all regional meetings.
  5. Establish a drip marketing campaign using competitive intelligence to identify the names of 200-500 top registered nurses and nursing directors. Send out a regular series of emails describing the organization and career opportunities, and offer free online training courses for a few hot topics. Tie this to the website and make it easy for all candidates to invite their colleagues to join your private network. Make membership special.
  6. Work with your top ICRs to rework all of these ideas and develop 10-20 more.
  7. Call every TRP in the industry and negotiate volume fee reductions.
  8. None, some or all of the above, or come up with your own ideas instead.

This was just a quiz. Some of the ideas are far-fetched; some are pretty common. It’s not hard to find top people ó unless you do what everybody else does. Boring ads never work; creative ones often do. Employee referrals programs are pretty good, but they can be great if you proactively ask people for the names of the best people they know. Use semi-sourcing to target semi-candidates. In addition to doing more of the stuff described above, stop doing any of the following. They’re all a waste of time. Doing these is why most ICRs don’t have enough time to do it right. The Top Ten Things You Must Stop Doing if You Want to See More Top People

  1. Writing boring traditional ads with generic titles
  2. Writing job descriptions that over-emphasize skills and requirements rather than describe opportunities
  3. Not using a robust searching engine and not calling top-ranked candidates within 24 hours after they apply
  4. Calling or looking at resumes of unqualified people
  5. Waiting for your employees to refer candidates
  6. Using TPRs for basic positions
  7. Using traditional job descriptions to filter out strong and weak candidates
  8. Requiring more than five minutes for a candidate to apply for a job
  9. Not tracking the opt-out ratios of every page of your career website and taking immediate corrective action
  10. Not treating candidates as customers

Semi-sourcing is the key to hiring more top people more quickly, less expensively, and more consistently. Being different is the key. Join the geek patrol. See what happens.

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