A good match Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2008

The days of finding the right job candidate by simply taking out a classified ad in your local newspaper are over. Today, serious job recruiters must attend networking events, surf the Internet’s job boards and actively participate in business and social virtual communities, such as LinkedIn, in order to root out the right candidate.

“Businesses need to build a good employment ‘brand’ and use the best recruiting techniques to woo candidates,” says Ruth McCurdy, Vice President for Corporate Connections at Talent Tree, a staffing company based in Houston.

Smart Business spoke with McCurdy about some of the top recruiting techniques business can use to rope in top talent.

What are some of the assumptions businesses might make about recruiting talent that is counterproductive to finding the right candidate?

In fields where companies are vying for the same candidate, it helps to get creative. There are many good workers looking for jobs but who may not be in a competitive industry. Many of these people can be retained. College graduates with little or no experience are often excellent candidates for many positions. In this market, business leaders need to have flexibility and look more at the candidate’s ability to fit into the corporate culture and his or her ability to be trained.

Another opportunity that is often overlooked is passive job candidates — that is, people not currently in the market for a new job. In the right circumstances, these workers can be persuaded by a new and better opportunity. That’s where a company’s strength of its ‘employment brand’ comes into play.

Can you explain how a business develops an employment brand?

It is similar to a marketing brand, which companies already have. Look at Google — it has a strong employment brand. The company has been in the press enough so that the average job candidate has heard about the perks that come along with working for that company and what the corporate culture is like. Employment branding is a mindset that changes a business owner or CEO’s thought process about recruiting: It is not about filling open positions but about constantly selling candidates the idea of working for your great company. This is done effectively through positive stories told in word-of-mouth networking — either in person and online — and through your company Web site. It is important to have a recruiting page on the site for this kind of information. A business needs to put as much an emphasis on getting the right people in the door as getting customers.

In addition to developing a strong employment brand, what are other top recruiting techniques businesses need to use?

  • Employee referrals (with incentives given)

  • External referrals (through networking)

  • Continuous online sourcing (job boards and other business networking sites)

  • Posting openings (online and off)

Could you tell us more about online recruiting?

Businesses need to actively engage in social and business networking sites because people who are connecting online know people who are looking for work. Some networking sites have job boards and others have subgroups for job networking. It is the same idea of networking in a community, such as a Chamber of Commerce gathering or an industry event, except broader. The Internet allows businesses to open up to the entire world and connect with potential job candidates. Plus, many of these sites are free.

Using other techniques, such as the Google alert tool, can be a wonderful source of information. For example, you can set an alert for ‘layoffs’ and the name of your industry or field, or even a company, to get the heads-up on when candidates will be entering the job market. You can also set key words for what you are looking for in a candidate’s resume. You will be amazed at the kinds of valuable information you get in real time.

What about the good, old-fashioned classified ad?

It used to be that classified advertising was the end all, but this way of looking for candidates has become very expensive and, frankly, not broad enough. Research has shown that most job candidates go to their computer first when they are looking for work.

Recruiting for the right candidate today has to be intentional and strategic, and using more than one method is the best way to do this. Businesses have to be proactive — not reactive. A proactive approach will build a candidate pool for when you are ready to recruit; the old reactive approach always leaves businesses scrambling to fill a slot.

RUTH MCCURDY is Vice President of Corporate Connections at Talent Tree, www.talenttree.com, a staffing company based in Houston. Reach her at (713) 361-7555 or ruth.mccurdy@talenttree.com.