Recruiting Smart – Attract Fans, Not Candidates

I’m writing as a follow up and hat-tip to Mitch Sullivan’s brilliant article on RecruitingDaily, championing the ‘Underdog Recruiter’. What he means is, the recruiter who works for the small, unsexy SME or start-up, who doesn’t have the luxury of the inbound talent flowing into the likes of Google, Facebook or Pepsico.

I agree, it’s a tougher job to recruit for the small guys. I agree, that it probably saves a whole bunch of long lead times from requisition to quality shortlist when you have this never-ending application pool. However I want to look at this from another angle.

Sure, Google gets inbound talent flow – they’re big – and apparently every kid wants to work for them… apparently. But what are the criteria for inbound applications? Being big and globally attractive is merely facade. Actually, most of the applications will lack real understanding of what it is really like to work for these organisations. Just because Apple have great products, it doesn’t automatically mean they are a great place to work. Virgin look awesome from the outside, but what’s it like to work in their call centre? If you’re joining the Marketing team at Nike, what do you know about the person who heads up Marketing at Nike…?

What would you consider recruiters from big and well known companies - recruiters or administrators? Click To Tweet

Consider the recruiter in this. Or commonly, the recruitment team. Are they recruiters, or are they largely administrators…? Proactive Recruiters, or Application Management professionals? That’s not to critique those individuals in those major organisations, but merely to highlight the difference in the process. There are people, to fill jobs – lots of them. Loads of applications, loads of rejections, lots of progressions to interview, lots of jobs filled. Hence, the recruitment leadership focus shifts largely to candidate experience, employer branding, ATS efficiency and process management – largely as a firefighting exercise to ensure volumes are handled effectively.

I’m not seeing the fun in this. One jot. A recruitment job at Google? me? No chance.

So back to our underdogs. How do we aim to do better? As someone who recruits for a 40 person operation in high growth, we historically didn’t get inbound application traffic, and that isn’t likely to change to an enormous degree. The identification of talent for growth I figured fell into 3 areas; 1) People who love the kind of B2B Tech work Velocity do, 2) People who love copywriting about Tech, and 3)…and almost most importantly, people who are fans of Velocity.

Yes. Fans of Velocity, a 40 man content marketing agency you’ve likely never heard of. 

You see, you can’t easily pinpoint fans of Google. We’re all Google users. Nobody’s a ‘fan’ though. Same for most major brands. People take the jobs, because they love the job, need the job, and yeah – nice company, good benefits.

But I *can* pinpoint the fans of Velocity. I *can* pinpoint fans of our co-founder Doug Kessler – because his personal branding is strong. And I *can* start at least to pinpoint fans of good B2B Tech content marketing. If those three things are the three primarily layers of my talent attraction process, then the pool of options is comparatively tight, but highly enthusiastic. My attraction campaign is targeted, without the guff of the casual volume applications. Not everyone is right for the company or any roles we are hiring right now, but in a world where recruiter approaches are un-selective and lame – it’s poignant for someone to notice that you are actively engaged with the company and inspired by it’s leadership, and be asked if you would like to be considered to work for us.

So I am on a journey of finding fans. In fact we’ve already had a series of fans progress to interviews, and in some cases be lucky enough to join the Velocity team and work with their heroes.

The underdog recruiter is not necessarily such the underdog. Well planned recruitment and attraction campaigns can be more engaging, smarter and so long as the recruiter effectively matches the brand persona, and amplifies the right message to the right people. (Be careful. Just as easily, a recruiter can screw it up)

It starts with recognising where the company is strong, where it’s people have impact, and who is engaging with them online. 

So I’m with Mitch, let’s champion the apparent recruitment underdog. But let’s not feel hard done by, our challenge is greater but if we work smart; then our impact is higher.

Images: Shutterstock

This article first appeared on LinkedIn on May 18th, 2016.


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