Friday, October 23, 2009

How To Source Candidates Without Job Boards

Some positions are just plain hard to fill using job boards, but that doesn't mean they are impossible. Let's say you put an ad up on craigslist for a Senior Software Engineer, get flooded with applicants, and none of them feel like a good fit. You've still got a ton of options.

First, and it really helps if you have a personal brand. I started this Captain Recruiter blog for that reason. By showing expertise in the recruiting field, I get taken more seriously and I'm more likely to have meaningful conversations with people who might otherwise spend time doubting my credibility.

Second, social media is very powerful. To help my blog gain visibility, I've been posting to my personal Facebook page, and also to Twitter. I can post job descriptions for my clients, I just started doing that with Sarah Allen's internship position, and advertise in a non-invasive way to my social sphere of influence. By posting the internship on Twitter, a few of my followers retweeted the job ad, and it generated several quality referral candidates to whom I never would have thought to contact on my own.

Next, I like LinkedIn quite a bit for ideas on who I should contact. I've found that a lot of people don't answer their LinkedIn messages, so smaller recruiting budgets should use LinkedIn's email (called InMail) sparingly (it costs $10 per message, yikes!). When it comes to researching companies and specific individuals, you can't beat LinkedIn.

Being active among the people you'd like to recruit helps, too. I really like technical recruiting, especially for software positions, because I'm interested in how programs get written. That's why I spend a lot of time around software engineers. I know what Hadoop is, I know that TCP and IP are actually two different protocols, I know that BigTable isn't a real database, and I know that Ruby is one of the slowest programming languages (but for web applications that are rarely CPU bound, this doesn't matter too much). When you become interested in the people you hire, you win.

Lastly, I think it helps to stick to the basics. Return your phone calls, answer your emails, and don't be a jerk. Treat people with respect, and even the people you turn down will refer their friends to you. A candidate I recently placed told me after he accepted the offer that he turned down Google, Oracle, and Salesforce.com to come work for my client. He also mentioned that it was in large part because I was on top of things and developed a personal relationship with him during the hiring process and got him through as quickly as possible.

Be visible, be informed, and know where to look. That's pretty much all it takes. Most of recruiting isn't hard selling people, it's just being in front of the right person at the right time and saying the right things. If you're really fortunate as a recruiter, good talent will start to find you.

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