Recently I introduced the concept of the Talent Sweet Spot – the place where the people in the top 25% of the talent market “hang out.” When it comes to this top 25 percentile, it is easy to find out who they are, but because they are passive candidates, it takes a truly skilled recruiter to engage them in a meaningful conversation. As a matter of fact, I believe that only a recruiter who scores in the upper-third (a Level 3 or better) on our 12 factor passive candidate recruiter competency model can effectively recruit this top talent.

Below are the 12 factors of this model – take a look and rank yourself from Level 1 to 5 on each one. Next to every factor, I have offered a tip for what you need to do to rank at Level 3 or better.

An Honest 1-5 Ranking Scale

Level 1 – Basic understanding of the topic but need some guidance

Level 2 – Good understanding of the topic in order to get the job done

Level 3 – Excellent understanding of the topic and able to coach others

Level 4 – Recognized within department as the “go-to person” for the topic

Level 5 – Recognized in the industry as an expert in the topic

12 Factor Recruiter Competency Model

1. Driven to deliver high quality candidates.

The only excuse for not ranking a Level 3 or better on this factor is too many reqs to handle.

2. Be Someone Worth Knowing (“SWK”).

To score a Level 3 or better on this one you need to know your industry inside out, compensation levels by position, what your competitors are offering and your company’s unique value proposition.

3. Partner with the hiring manager.

A Level 3 or better means 100% of your candidates are seen and you don’t need to present too many to get one hired. If you’re leading the debriefing sessions, advising whom to hire and are a trusted advisor, you’re at least a Level 4.

4. Know the real job.

If you’re using skills and experience to evaluate a candidate, you can’t score a 3 on this factor. For a Level 3 you need to prepare performance-based job descriptions during the intake meeting. A Level 4 knows the job as well as the best hiring managers.

5. Source in the entire talent market.

If you’re not implementing a 40/40/20 sourcing planning process the best you can get on this factor is a 2.5 – which is pretty good.

6. Maximize active candidate response rates.

Getting the best of all active candidates to respond to your postings is a true talent. A Level 3 refuses to post skills-infested job descriptions substituting compelling SEO’d stories as a means to attract the best people rather than spending time weeding out the weak.

7. Clever Boolean and CRM email expert.

Being a Boolean yellow belt is good enough to play, but you need to be clever to rank a Level 3. Clever means you know what words to use to separate the best from the rest. To get higher than this you need to write compelling emails, too.

8. Getting referrals is the name of the passive candidate recruiting game.

To maximize quality of hire and reduce sendouts per hire, 50% or more of the candidates you present need to be referrals. This is Level 3 performance and here’s how to achieve it.

9. Prioritizes everything and follow-up.

A Level 3 recruiter doesn’t make excuses, needs to anticipate problems, organize every day’s activities and have contingency plans in place when hiring managers change their requirements.

10. Use technology to increase efficiency.

Being efficient doing the wrong things is mistaking activity for progress. Using technology and metrics to do the right things like reducing sendouts per hire and tracking passive yield is Level 3 performance.

11. A great assessor of talent.

A Level 3 ranking here means all of your hiring manager clients trust your interviewing skills and, as a result, are willing to interview 100% of the candidates you recommend. A Level 4 means you’re leading panel interviews and debriefing sessions.

12. Recruit, negotiate and close the deal.

None of the above matters if you can’t close the best people who have multiple offers without giving away the farm. This is Level 3 performance. Level 4 means you can do it with the best passive candidates for the toughest positions.

LinkedIn is a great resource for finding top people in the Talent Sweet Spot, but it takes a Level 3 recruiter to pull them out. A Level 4 or Level 5 Performance-based Hiring recruiter does it better. Take the survey to find out where you honestly stand. I’ll be posting the results in an upcoming blog and inviting those who participate to a private webcast.

* image by Jose Maria Miñarro Vivan