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“We’ll Pay You $1,000,000 To Start.”

SmartTalent - We Will Pay You a Million Dollars to StartWouldn’t you love to say that to every potential candidate? Recruiting would certainly be easier!

But recruiting is never that easy. We live in the real world, and have to deal with limited budgets, tight hiring deadlines, and an even tighter talent market.

Given these harsh realities, how can you attract the best candidates–especially passive ones who are currently working for someone else–without the lure of huge salaries?

For starters, you have to get into the passive job seeker’s mind. These people have good jobs and may be quite content. They won’t view your opportunities the same way an unemployed job seeker would. And to further complicate matters, most large companies’ recruitment processes are geared primarily toward active candidates.

So if you’re using traditional recruiting tactics, you may be missing or inadvertently driving passive candidates away. Use the following ideas to make your company more attractive to the best people–especially those who aren’t actively looking for a job:

Know a good thing when you see it

Merely finding passive candidates is easy. LinkedIn, resume databases, referral programs and (even) Google have made uncovering information quicker and simpler than ever.

The true challenge you face today is identifying the best, when the best aren’t actively marketing themselves to you. Specifically, you must be able to ascertain (based on limited information) whether a candidate has the skills, experience and motivation to truly excel in the job.

And that can be tough.

To spot the best talent, look for examples of measurable results. Read recommendations on LinkedIn, paying particular attention to sources. Search for evidence that makes you say, “I have to get this person on my team.” Because when you’re incurring substantial time and expense pursuing passive candidates, “adequate” isn’t good enough.

Cut out the fat

Want a sure-fire way to lose quality passive candidates? Subject them to a drawn-out, tiresome interview process.

Passive candidates hate to waste time. They are busy. They have jobs. A lengthy and arduous application or interview process just kills the candidate’s desire to pursue a position with you. So maximize your window of opportunity by streamlining your hiring process.

  • Shorten your application…a lot.
    • If possible, allow people to just submit a resume or apply with their LinkedIn profile.
  • Create planned, concise interviews.
    • Start with a structured telephone screening call.
    • Thoroughly plan in-person interviews to that each interviewers knows the questions to ask.
    • Expedite feedback after each step…and don’t delay in scheduling the next step.

As time drags on, things happen. Competition creeps in. Interest levels wane. Irritation levels increase. And there is a greater likelihood that the person’s situation will simply change. Keep all job candidates engaged by doing everything possible to expedite your hiring process, without sacrificing quality.

Make interview training mandatory

Interviewing passive candidates requires a completely different skill set than interviewing active candidates. To ensure the best outcomes, provide every interviewer with training on how to:

  • develop targeted questions;
  • uncover and handle objections; and
  • sell the opportunity.

For example, interview questions should focus on the candidate’s performance, experience, skills, motivations and track record. Specific training is needed to create these types of thought-provoking, company-specific questions. They cannot be gathered through a Google search for “top interview questions.”

In addition, teach your interviewers how to effectively “peel an onion”–to listen to answers and then quickly formulate appropriate follow-up questions. If a candidate has reservations about your company or the job, your interviewers must know how to ferret them out and ease the candidate’s concerns.

When you give every interviewer the training they need, they’ll be able to adapt their skills to whatever the situation dictates–and keep passive candidates interested in your opportunities.

Pull out your pom-poms

Passive candidates are not simply looking for a job; they are looking for a better job. So become your company’s greatest cheerleader and promote the upsides of your available positions. Let them know:

  • Why they should leave their current position to come work for you.
  • What additional responsibilities and opportunities they will have.
  • Why your company–and this opportunity–is exceptional.

Conduct a meeting of the minds

If multiple people participate in your interview process, your must compare notes and reach consensus. Conduct a debriefing meeting soon after interviews conclude, while candidates are still fresh in everyone’s mind. During the exchange, focus on data and targeted insights. Opinions and first impressions are simply not reliable and can derail the entire process. When they are used, emotion replaces hard facts and bad decisions are made.

On the other hand, saying, “His elicitation skills were top-notch…he asked me some very detailed questions about the job role that showed he had done research and fully listened to my explanation,” can neutralize (or even overturn) the opinion of an untrained interviewer.

Show them the money…and more

Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes for a minute. Why would you leave a secure position? The answer may be compensation. Or opportunity to learn new skills. Or better management. Or more growth potential.

During the interview process, you need to learn what is important to the candidate, and then structure your offer based on their values. And don’t play games. If you want to attract the best talent, do your competitive research and start with a serious offer.

Final thoughts

Engaging and ultimately hiring passive candidates doesn’t take million-dollar salary offers–but it does require a special set of tactics. To consistently hire the best, examine your current recruiting process and find ways to:

  • Streamline interviews and prevent delays.
  • Actively sell the upsides of your opportunities.
  • Uncover and overcome objections.
  • Make competitive offers that reflect passive candidates’ value.
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