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A Prescription from the Recruitment Doctor

February 15

At every stage of our lives, we are encouraged to be "active."

My fourth grade English teacher would return my writing examples with big red notations extolling the virtues of writing in an ACTIVE voice. (I think I have done so here.)

My family, most of my friends, and every doctor I know preach the value of an ACTIVE lifestyle to ward off weight gain, heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and even male pattern baldness. (I really do need to get more exercise.)

So it may come as a surprise that having donned my Recruitment Doctor superhero costume (from my recent Halloween ways), I am going to write you a prescription to be more passive.

Focus on the Passive Job Seeker

I don't mean that we should quit writing well or get less exercise, but rather that we must focus on the passive job seeker as recruitment professionals.

In our world, there are three types of job seekers - active, passive, and somewhat passive - and each type brings with it its own particular challenges and idiosyncrasies.

Active seekers are just that - active. They use as many job boards as possible, actively network, and spend a considerable portion of their time looking for their next job. The recruiters' true challenge with these seekers is not where to find them, but to sort out the right ones.

The true passive seekers are happily ensconced at their current places of employment, have no real interest in changing jobs, and are incredibly difficult for recruiters to reach and motivate. The additional challenge with these individuals is first identifying the "A" players and then dislodging them from their current employers - a task made much more difficult by the increase in retention programs and bonuses.

The third type of individual, whom I'll refer to as the "somewhat passive seeker," is likely the most fruitful for recruiters. These people are often happy where they work, but certain groups can be persuaded to change employers. Somewhat passive seekers are more likely than their passive counterparts to be well networked, to be more receptive to outreach efforts, and therefore to be easier to pry away from their current jobs.

Developing a Strategy

So how do you position your organization to be top of mind with these passive and somewhat passive applicants? By developing a focused, integrated strategy that incorporates a well-articulated employer brand, behavioral targeting, a strong career web site, a search marketing plan, and a strong employee referral program.

A successful strategy starts with your organization's Employer Brand. Both active and passive seekers engage with and react to organizations based on their perceptions of the brand. In 2006, the Corporate Leadership Council study "Attracting and Retaining Critical Talent Segments" found that organizations with weak employer brands could only effectively source from about 40% of the labor market, while those with well-articulated employer brands could source from about 60% of the labor market - penetrating deeper into the passive seeker population.

The next step is to communicate your brand to the seeker population. Advertising targeted to your passive candidate audiences is now easily achievable. With only 30% of the total online audience using job boards, there is a wealth of opportunity to reach the passive audience through other online media like search engines, including Yahoo! and Google. Jupiter Research shows that total search volume grew by 1.5 billion between May 2006 and May 2007, and that growth trend is not slowing down.

But targeting passive and somewhat passive candidates is meaningless if your career web site isn't strong. Your career site is a critical tool in a successful recruiting strategy. It must engage users from the moment they arrive. The information they seek shouldn't be more than three clicks away, and users should be able to immediately immerse themselves in your corporate culture. Your site needs to keep pace with the latest innovations, like video profiles, day-in-the-life blogs, and recruiter podcasts.

Finally, a strong employee referral program is very useful in reaching passive candidates. Proactively engage your best people. Ask them to identify the strongest people they've worked with at prior companies. Use these leads to build relationships that drive passive candidates to learn more about your company.

Shift Your Thinking

Becoming more efficient and effective in reaching the passive candidate is not difficult. It simply requires a shift in thinking and a new approach. You can utilize existing tools differently, you can add Web 2.0 to the strategy, and you can fill those open positions with the right candidates.

Someone once told me that "no one is more than 24 hours from a job change." The trick is ensuring that when that seeker is in the 24-hour window of opportunity, your organization is top of mind for them. Figuring out how to find the passive and somewhat passive seekers with the skills your organization is looking for is the holy grail of recruiting today.

If you want to learn more about passive candidate attraction, search engine marketing, Web 2.0, or anything else outside your comfort zone, call me at 800-867-2001 ext. 2097.

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