Hard to Get Good People (These Days)

From the Ask Tom mailbag-

I am just not getting quality candidates from our referral agency. I have two positions I need to fill. I call and explain what kind of person we need, but they take two weeks to get back to me. And the people they send are just not qualified.

My first question, how do you source candidates other than a referral agency?

Most of the time, the response I get is, we really don’t have time. We’re just so busy around here. It’s really hard to get good people these days.

Here is my observation. You are not seeing quality candidates because you are not focusing your efforts. If your referral agency is not doing the job, then your company has to take responsibility and source your own candidates. You need to be actively recruiting and networking all the time. You are in the business. You should have a better network than the referral agency. You don’t, because you see recruiting as a distraction. Your expense last year for head hunters was $45,000. And what do you have to show for it. Three positions filled, but two didn’t work out, so you are waiting for the replacement guarantee.

If your company is having difficulty sourcing candidates, what are you doing about it? What ideas have you used to get more and better people into the interview room?

4 thoughts on “Hard to Get Good People (These Days)

  1. Justin

    LOVE this post! I see recruiting/talent acquisition overlooked by many businesses and yet, complained about by nearly the same ones.

    We spent 18 months refining our ads, Group Interview process and 2nd Interview process JUST to create a baseline for where we wanted to be. 7 years later, it has evolved into a process overseen by an internal person that yields 6,200 applicants/year (11 locations) and a mere 3.8% hire-rate from said pool.

    This has proven invaluable in the efforts to manage turnover well and align the “right people” with our team.

    Interestingly, we spent a similar energy recruiting recruiters to discover a fit that would serve us well as a third party affiliate who could help in locating higher-level positions. This, too, has served well. To test it, we placed the recruiter against our efforts and had a pool of 60 applicants for a higher-level role. The recruiter found 1 applicant; we found 59. After the vetting process, it was the recruiter’s choice that won-out.

    Take the time to invest in this area of your business and never let off the gas in its evolutionary process. Why?…people ARE your business.

  2. Johannes M Schlatter

    I had this same issue added with the difficulty in doing this across 15 counties in Europe, Mexico and the US. We first had to recognize that the preselection process by the expert recruiting firms was inadequate or eliminated potentials based on criteria that did no meet our goals. Second we started a different approach to the overall backfill process by implementing a mentor to new hire process, giving us a much broader base to select from. Candidate aptitude and general ability to understand what our revenue streams are, customer interaction needs and “sense of urgency” where more important selection criteria than actual day to day business knowledge. It was a total paradigm shift in recruiting, granted it had its risks but the rewards spoke for themselves.

  3. Ash

    We haven’t used recruiters at my company in 15+ years. Personal preference. Having said that, recruiters work wonders for hiring exec talent. I’m assuming the asker isn’t hiring at the level since they’re filling multiple positions. Some HR teams I know focus on a single senior role in multi-year campaigns.

    Three things I’ve found work well for mid-level all the way down to entry-level hires:
    (1) Post job ads online. The ideal situation is to post on your industry networks, but Indeed and co get results. Specificity is the winning touch. Put in criteria that would allow would-be candidates to self-disqualify. Both technical job spec and cultural quirks.

    (2) Build on your current network. I assume that you have friends or acquaintances working in the same industry/region. Ask them if they know anyone after a seachange or active job hunting. I ask around even when I’m not hiring. People reach out all the time and give me options. Juicy options should I want to exercise them.

    (3) Internal version of #2 – ask people in your organisation to help with the recruiting effort. My staff refer people to me because they know I’ll look after their friends/contacts. If you don’t have that rep, provide incentives. Even small referral fees like $250 might entice your people to put in the effort. It’s worked well for Silicon Valley hirers in one of the tightest talent markets in history.

  4. Tom Foster Post author

    Hi, Ash,
    Yes, there are many things that CAN be done, things recruiters COULD do, but won’t. Often, we have to step in with our own resources. -Tom


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