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Post & Pray—widely used and useless

By Kathleen Quinn Votaw

“Post & pray” may have been a good way to get what you wanted from Santa Claus, but if your company is still using it as a hiring strategy, as many do, it’s time to grow up. Posting your open positions and praying that the right person finds you rarely works—especially in our current environment where candidates are consumers with choices, just like your customers.

Today, you need to engage candidates, not just advertise for talent. My advice? Stop treating recruitment as an administrative task and challenge the status quo by hiring from a rigorous, strategic point of view, the way you manage your sales process.

Sales and candidate pipelines are similar. Think of developing pipelines as continuously cultivating the right people—whether customers or employees. If you can forecast and plan for your revenues for the next three years, you can also forecast and plan your people needs for the same time period. You work hard to get and retain customers; don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s easier to find and keep the right talent. There are lots of potential customers out there, and about as many people looking for jobs. But, on both counts, you want the ones who will help make you profitable.

You undoubtedly keep close tabs on your customer market. Here’s a snapshot of what you’re facing in the market for candidates. Many of these factors mean that you connect only with active job hunters, not the people you want to invite into your company:

  • With our approximate 5 percent unemployment rate, we are currently at full employment according to economists, creating a candidate-driven market.
  • Three out of four workers are open to new employment, meaning the hunt for new opportunities is now constant (and your employees are probably no exception).
  • Only 30 percent of the population responds to ads, which means that you’re leaving 70 percent of potential candidates out of the conversation by posting and praying.
  • Nearly half of small businesses report there are few or no qualified applicants for the positions they are trying to fill.
  • The top two obstacles to increasing headcount are a shortage of candidates and lengthy hiring practices.

You can overcome this challenging environment and successfully recruit the best candidates by doing two things: change to a sales mentality; and develop a culture of continuously cultivating the right people.

You can’t turn HR into sales

If you post your positions, it’s to a crowded field with limited reach. Posting doesn’t allow you to distinguish your culture and values from all the other companies advertising their jobs. If you were a chocolate company, you’d send or give people a sample to experience the taste. Do the same with candidates. Bring them in to experience what it’s like to be in your environment. While they are there, make them aware of what you uniquely have to offer them.

As valuable as HR is in all that they do for your company, they are not sales people, and should not be in charge of recruiting in this competitive market. It takes eight to twelve touchpoints to acquire a customer, and at least the same number to keep candidates interested and connected with you when recruiting. That kind of perseverance and creativity requires a sales mentality.

Continuously cultivate for the right people

In my experience, it takes an average of 100 candidates to find the quality hire you need. That’s a big number that can only be achieved if you put a process in place that’s predictable, repeatable, and just as robust as your sales process. Build a pipeline that includes ongoing lead generation through diverse means, like social media, website stories and video, and networking. Engage with people you’d like to recruit through “drip-marketing” before they even think about making a change. Train your hiring managers in candidate screening and interviewing, then put your selected candidates through behavioral-based questions and assessments.

Cultivating the right people takes a continuous and comprehensive effort. Once you’ve found the right person, you need to protect this valuable asset by having the processes in place to keep him or her. Make a commitment to develop and train your managers to avoid the number one reason people leave their companies: a bad boss. And make sure you live up to the expectations you set and the promises you made to your new employee.

Here’s something to think about: How would it impact your revenue and growth goals if you gave your sales team a few months off? Continue to “post & pray” rather than turn recruiting into a strategic process, and you will experience that same kind of impact.

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