High touch is not a switch that you turn on. It’s a skill that’s honed and developed over time.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spoken with a dozen different talent leaders in the energy, pharmaceutical and high-tech industries. All of them touched on their increased investment in a variety of new sourcing and recruiting software and tools, but lamented their recruiters’ lack of effectiveness in improving productivity, hiring more passive candidates, and raising the quality level of people hired. I suggested the problem was too much emphasis on technology, and not enough on recruiting. A better balance of high touch with high tech might be the solution.
Combining High Tech with High Touch
Finding a job, going through the interviewing process, and accepting an offer, if one is extended, is a very personal process for the candidate. In the high tech world of filling jobs at scale, this personal side of recruiting is often just an after-thought. In a surplus of talent situation, where the supply of qualified people is greater than the demand, this problem is manageable. Ensuring a reasonably positive candidate experience will typically suffice.
However, in a talent scarcity world where the demand for the talent outstrips the supply, ignoring the high touch is downright foolhardy. This is where great recruiter skills are not only essential, but represent the difference-maker in seeing and hiring the best people available, not just the best people who apply.
Bottom line: using a surplus of talent approach based on weeding out the weak will not work when there isn’t a surplus of talent.
Over the years, my firm developed a Circle of Excellence Recruiter Competency Model, benchmarking the skills required for recruiting passive candidates. Following is a modified version in questionnaire format. You’ll get a sense of where you stand by ranking yourself on a 1-5 scale (strongly disagree to strongly agree) for each of the factors.
The Passive Candidate High Touch Recruiting Effectiveness Scoring Questionnaire
- I never need to send in more the four passive candidates in order to get one hired. The primary reason is that the hiring manager and I have a strong working relationship and we both know what we’re seeking.
- Over 50% of the passive candidates I contact call me back, since most of them have been referred to me by a trusted connection.
- Over 75% of the passive candidates I contact are strong candidates. The primary reason is that I pre-qualify all of my leads before calling.
- Using appropriate candidate control techniques, I am able to get over 90% of fully-qualified candidates interested in having a serious career discussion.
- I am able to overcome all objections and concerns raised by passive candidates. This includes the big six: the job’s not big enough, what’s the money, don’t want to relocate, I don’t like the title, not interested in leaving, and I’ve heard bad things about your company.
- Since I fully understand real job requirements, I’m in a position to present the job opening as a significant career move, if it actually is. I do this by demonstrating to candidates multiple areas of growth in comparison to what they’ve already done.
- My assessment skills are as strong as my hiring manager clients. I rarely lose a candidate due to a poor assessment on my part. Frequently, I can persuade hiring managers that they’ve made a faulty assessment.
- I’m a great networker. Most of my passive candidates are sourced by getting referrals from other passive candidates.
- I take money off the table when first contacting candidates, suggesting that their decision to evaluate the opportunity should emphasize career growth.
- I can handle the toughest searches in my department. In fact, if I don’t get assigned them, I volunteer to handle them.
Recruiting passive candidate involves far more high touch than high tech. It always has been. Taking another job for a top, fully-employed person is often an agonizing decision. While high tech can play a critical role in finding potential candidates faster, it is not a substitute for exceptional recruiters who know how to convert jobs into careers and ensuring the person has a full set of information before deciding. High touch is not a switch that you turn on. It’s a skill that’s honed and developed over time.