Here are two basic principles of recruiting that you need to apply when targeting passive candidates, diversity candidates, or any type of candidates in high demand:
- The more competition there is for a group of candidates (like nurses, pharmacists, sales reps who always exceed quota, design engineers who were elected to Tau Beta Pi, diversity candidates, etc.), the more recruiting effort is required to attract and hire them.
- Top people want top jobs, regardless of their cultural, ethnic or religious background or gender.
With these principles in mind, here are ten things you must do if you want to hire more top people and diversity candidates. All are essential. Nine out of ten is not good enough.
Here's the 10-step recipe:
- Create compelling jobs. If a top person is fully employed or has multiple offers, then the quality of the job will be one of the top four factors determining which job the person will ultimately take (the other three: the manager, the company, the comp). If your online job descriptions start with a part number (or the requisition number) followed by the official title, the location, and some list of skills and requirements, you won't hire many good people. The title and the first two lines of the ad determine whether it will be read, so make sure that these first two lines create a buzz. The next paragraph must describe some of the projects and challenges in the job. Focus on the possibilities — what the person will do, learn, and become — not the requirements. I refer to this type of job description as a performance profile. Make the person want to click the "apply" button. Referred candidates will always read the online job description before getting too interested. So don't ignore this step if you want to hire more diverse candidates or any type of person in high demand.
- Job brand the job. Somewhere in the job description, tie the job to the company vision, its mission, a big project, or some important strategy. This makes the job bigger than itself. "Help us land the next generation of moon walkers," will be Northrup's and Boeing's message for the next shuttle program, even for those people working at the rec center.
- Culturally brand the job. Do you really have a culture that thrives on diversity, or are you just meeting some corporate objective? How many African-Americans, Hispanics, and women have been promoted this past year as a percent of all promotions? You need to capture diversity directly into the job with more than just a legal-sounding EEO statement.
- Develop marketing-oriented sourcing programs based on how your future employees look for and apply for jobs. Top people and candidates in high demand don't look for jobs or accept offers using the same job hunting approach as most people. For one thing, they're much more discriminating. The primary decision to take a new job is based on the future opportunity and current challenges. That's why steps 1-3 above are critical starting points. Since these people look for jobs infrequently, the jobs must be easy to find when they do look. We're now doing a big research study on how different diversity candidate groups look for new jobs (send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to participate or learn more). The results so far indicate that you can't go wrong by making jobs highly visible with compelling titles and great copy wherever your jobs are posted. As part of this, your career site must be easy to find, and it must make a diversity statement tied to the company strategy on the first page. Rather than hyperbole, why not have bios and pictures of real people who represent the opportunities for diversity candidates and women within your company?
- Reach out and find your candidate. If your target audience won't come to you, you'd better go out to them. This means you must leverage your employee referral program, and creatively use tools like ZoomInfo, Jobster, and LinkedIn, as well as advanced Internet data-mining techniques. For a start, establish an aggressive employee referral program targeted to your current diverse employees. Personally ask these pre-selected employees for the names of the best people they've ever worked with. Then get on the phone to recruit and network with these people, to leverage these names to get more names. You might want to conduct a Jobster campaign in combination with ZoomInfo's ethnic searching capability to jumpstart your efforts here. Regardless, make sure the job descriptions are compelling — or everything else you do will be wasted.
- Stay involved. Make your marketing a process, not an event. My old UCLA MBA buddy, Henry Hernandez, now the VP and chief diversity officer at American Express, gave me this sage advice many years ago. The basic theme: Don't just show up for some recruiting event. Instead, you need to promote, sponsor, be involved, and be committed — every month, every year, and not just a few days here and there. Providing the resources and time is how you convert lip-service into reality.
- Get hiring managers involved early and often. The recruiting department can't do it alone. Managers must be committed to the process and they must devote extra time and effort to make it work. They must devote even more time upfront to get it started. If you do everything else right but fail on this step, the process will collapse.
Conduct a professional and thorough interview. Too many people think the purpose of the interview is to assess candidate competency. Most of these same people don't even do this part too well, either. But the interview can and must be much more than this when hiring top people in any field — and even more importantly when there is competition for these people. In these cases, the interview must meet these multi-factor criteria:
- Extreme professionalism is exhibited by all interviewers.
- The candidate spends at least an hour with key decision-makers.
- The process respects a top candidate's slower and more thorough decision-making process.
- The candidate is confident the interviewer has conducted a thorough and accurate assessment.
- The candidate has talked four times more than the interviewer.
- The candidate leaves wanting the job.
I've written a lot of articles on these pages on how to do this. Have many of your managers know how to accomplish the above?
- Recruit and close. You'd better be able to handle every objection in the book, offer competitive compensation packages, and know how to use the interview to create opportunities. You do this by describing compelling challenges and having candidates describe relevant past accomplishments. Dig deep to validate the candidate's true role. Candidates need to earn the job during the interview. If you oversell, under-listen, or give the job away, you won't hire many high-demand candidates.
- Conduct a great on-boarding experience and get more referrals. Now that you've hired some great high-demand candidates, use the performance profile prepared in step 1 above as the primary on-boarding tool. As you're reviewing it, ask for the names of other top people who might be interested in this type of compelling job. Then start over the 10-step process all over again. This is how you make the process of hiring diversity and other high-demand candidates self-sustaining.
Hiring top people, including diversity candidates or any top person in high demand, is about much more than just finding names. That's the easy part. Having a recruiter call the person and then convince him or her to engage in a conversation takes skill and persistence. Having the recruiter then network with this person to get more names is even harder, but it's also that much more essential. Getting hiring managers and every person on the interviewing team committed to the process is a major challenge just by itself. Now all you need to do is train them on how to do it right.
Ten steps. That's all there is to hiring top passive and diversity candidates. I've seen it done. In every case, it started with someone in HR and recruiting taking the lead. It's not an event or a box being checked. It's a process.