Advertising has its limits and referrals are great but sometimes they won’t provide you with enough leads to be confident that you’re making the right recruitment decisions. Which leaves you looking for those “ passive candidates ”, the ones who aren’t actively seeking a new job.

This used to be known as headhunting although these days there’s also sourcing (think of it as headhunting prior to the kill). The key to this is to know as much about your prey as possible. The necessary steps should already be familiar from your hiring plan and job descriptions.

Picture your ideal candidate and ask these three questions to begin building a profile:

  • 1
    What experience would they have?
  • 2
    What kind of job are they doing now?
  • 3
    Which companies have good people doing this job?

Once you have a profile the sourcing begins. The good news is that there are more sourcing tools than ever and everyone will already have some kind of digital footprint. Github is strong on programmers, TalentBin is a good all-arounder and then there’s LinkedIn, the biggest professional network. Browse profiles and make a long-list of prospects.

Now begins the courtship. You need to put your research to work in framing an approach. Start with prospects whom you can reach out to using your existing network. Utilize the hard-won experience of recruiters when it comes to cold-calling (usually via email) prospects outside your network.

Warming up the cold call

With a bit of research and a concise, personalized message, you’ll improve your chances of getting a response from the passive candidates you approach.

Rob Long
Rob Long @_RobLong
Workable’s VP of Growth

When I worked as a recruiter I learned that it was worth the time to look at candidates’ public LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other social accounts where they’re more likely to have a public following. It’s not snooping, this is where you can gauge an individual’s voice, their interests and even their wants and needs.

What about recruiters?

Hiring a recruiter isn’t essential but it can be a great shortcut to find the right employees. When doing so look for recruiters who have hired for businesses like your own. And who have hired for similar roles.

Contingent recruiters, who get based on the results they deliver, have become increasingly popular. The upside is that you only pay for what you get (typically one third of the hire’s annual salary). The downside is the cost and a possible conflict of interest: you want to hire great people but the recruiter just needs you to hire someone.