The Top 5 No-cost Sourcing Approaches — And Each Is Guaranteed to Work

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Feb 4, 2019

Despite all the technological advances in recruiting, most hiring managers are surprised to learn that the best way to find and hire top candidates still relies on humans. This is not conjecture or opinion because data from numerous studies have shown that if you want to hire people, great people, you must rely on referrals from people who have proven that they know talent. In addition, these approaches also allow you to move away from the typical frustrating and expensive “post-and-pray” recruiting approach that seldom excels because that approach forces you to hire “strangers.”

Fortunately, the top five most effective recruiting tools are simple, logical, and intuitive. They also require no cash outlay, take little time, and  work at a range of firms from Google down to small businesses.

So, if you’re struggling to hire nurses, salespeople, construction workers, engineers or architects, use a combination of the following five no-cost human driven approaches.

As a data-driven recruiting expert who is known as “The Michael Jordan of Hiring,” I literally guarantee them. 

The Top 5 No-cost Tools for Finding Top Talent

If finding top talent is your primary issue, use some combination of these five proven no cost sourcing approaches. Those that produce the highest quality hires are listed first.

Boomerangs — previous employees who were top performers are easy hires

When your goal is to avoid hiring unknown strangers who might fool you during the hiring process, boomerang rehires come out No. 1. This approach is amazingly simple. You start by asking the manager in the target field to identify the best-performing former employees in the targeted job who left your firm within the last three years. You then assign one of your top employees in their field to rebuild the relationship and to turn the best former employee prospects into boomerang referrals.

This approach produces quality hires because the individual you are targeting is a known quantity because you already know their skills and their performance record. And now that they have worked at another firm, they have even more experience and knowledge of outside best practices. Recruiting them will likely be easy because not only do they already know your firm, but also many of these individuals may now regret their past decision to leave your firm. Use this hyperlink to find more about how to land boomerang rehires.

Get great results by using “give me five” proactive referrals using aided recall

This approach differs significantly from the standard employee referral approach because you’re getting these referrals exclusively from your own top-performing employees and you are increasing your chances of getting referrals from them. You are proactively approaching your top performers in person and directly asking for their help.

The first step is to assign a trained recruiter to approach your own top-performing employees in the target job field. Usually, during a break at their regular scheduled team meeting, you explain to them how they alone can make a tremendous contribution to their team (i.e., do it for the team). And rather than asking the standard “do you know anyone?” question,” trigger their memory about the top talent who they know by using an approach known as aided recall (made famous by Google). You focus their recollection by providing them with individual “prompts” covering the needed skills and characteristics of an ideal recruiting target. Some typical prompts might include:

  • Please name the best performer you ever worked with in this job family.
  • Please name the most innovative idea-person that you know in this job family.
  • Please name the best technologist that you know in this job family.
  • Please name the best team player in this job family.
  • Finally, please name the best at working under pressure in this job family?

Capture the names of everyone mentioned under each prompt. If an individual’s name is mentioned two or more times within the five categories, they should be contacted, immediately, because they are a star. And incidentally, because these identified individuals are already known by the employee being prompted, ask them to contact the best names and try to convince them to apply. You can substitute other categories of prompts including customer service, problem solver, best coder, etc. More details on this targeted referral approach can be found here.

Your top reference givers are likely to provide great referrals

Your firm’s employees are not the only people who know top talent in your industry. Other individuals who are likely to know top talent in your industry are those who serve as references. Obviously, you can’t trust every job reference, but you already know the judgment of the individuals who served as job references for each of your own firm’s top performing new hires from last year. With their proven knowledge of talent, it’s safe to assume that these past job references will also know other highly qualified individuals in this field. So, after identifying the most accurate references for a job family, call them and thank them for giving such an accurate reference and then ask for their help in answering this question: “Who else do you know that is equally as good?”

In addition to capturing those names, consider asking for their help in convincing those individuals to consider applying to your firm. Consider hiring the references themselves and/or asking them to become a permanent referral source for your firm. More details on using job references for recruiting can be found in this article.

Silver medalists — Revisit past finalists because they now may be more qualified

“Silver medalists” are finalist candidates for this job who came in second during the last opening. They make great recruiting targets because they have already been partially assessed and sold.

Start with the cases where a silver medalist came in second just because they had the bad luck of applying at the same time as a superstar candidate. At any other time, they would’ve likely been given the job; reconsider them when the next vacancy occurs. However, in the cases where a year or more has passed since your last opening in this job, reconsider silver medalists who were a good fit, but simply lacked enough experience. If they have been employed, last year’s silver medalist probably now has enough experience and skills to meet today’s job standards. Reach out to highly qualified candidates who voluntarily dropped out of your last hiring process or who turned down your offer. Because time has past, they may now have a different more positive perspective. For an article that provides more details on hiring silver medalists, click here.

New hires can produce great names during your onboarding processes

Some of the highest-quality referrals come from your new hires who are currently going through onboarding. Because they have just joined your firm, they are almost universally eager to make their first opportunity to help a strong one. Ask all exceptional new hires during onboarding: “who else is really good at their former firm and in this industry?” Because these new hires likely already have a relationship with the referrals that they make, consider asking them to help you recruit the most desirable individuals they know. More details on this and other related no-cost name gathering approaches can be found here.

Final Thoughts

The secret to successfully finding top candidates is not to use the most common tools like job boards, Internet searches, and career fairs. These sources can be expensive. And in addition, they also often produce weak hires because the applicants from these sources are almost always complete strangers to you (who might easily fool you). If you can’t afford a single mis-hire, the key to assuring quality hires is to first rely primarily on referrals from people who have a track record of identifying top talent that fit your firm. And then revisit former top employees and top candidates who you already know a great deal about.

Need help in selling top candidates? Next week’s companion article entitled “The Top 5 No-cost Candidate Selling Approaches” will be published by on February 11, 2019.


Author’s Note: If this article stimulated your thinking and provided you with actionable tips, follow or connect with me on LinkedIn, subscribe to the ERE Daily, and hear me and others speak at ERE’s April event in San Diego on “recruiting in a candidate-driven market.”

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