Finding ThoughtWorkers: What Works With Passive Candidates in Brazil

April 9, 2012

We are back with Part II of our interview series! Read on for your guide to passive candidate recruiting, straight from the mouths of LinkedIn Recruiting Solutions customers who do it best. Today we’re sharing advice from Camila Tartari, who started her career five years ago in a small recruitment consultancy, and now heads up in-house recruiting for ThoughtWorks in Brazil.

Can you comment on the importance of talent camila-captionedto your business?

Talent is core to our business, not only from a technical perspective (developers, testers, analysts), but also from a cultural perspective. We have a strong technically advanced and socially conscious culture, a flat environment, and when recruiting we try hard to target people who will fit well in that environment.

Why does your company focus on recruiting passive candidates?

We didn’t choose to focus on passive talent – it’s the reality of IT. The industry is booming, and top candidates aren’t generally looking for jobs, but we need to always be engaging them.

What’s the biggest mistake you can make when trying to recruit passive candidates?

IT recruiters have a bad reputation and candidates often assume we don’t know what we’re talking about. I’ve made mistakes contacting people who weren’t aligned with the role’s technical requirements and I’ve learned from that. I need to know enough to have a decent conversation about the technology and the role. That’s how I gain respect, and in the long run, it pays off because I end up getting referrals from candidates, based on the relationship I develop with them.

How do you kick off a new req with a hiring manager?

I use the job description to try to understand what we’re looking for and where we can be flexible. It’s unlikely that I’m going to find someone who fits on every level, so I work hard with the team to help spot potential.

Once we’re aligned, I start to target, spending a couple of hours on LinkedIn. But we’re always thinking about ways to get the entire team involved too. We’re hiring our colleagues, so everyone is invested in the process. We encourage the team to help us source, check their LinkedIn connections, and look to sites frequented by technologists such as Github. My colleagues often know the best people, so I am connected to most of them on LinkedIn so I can leverage their networks.

Are you ever “reqless”?

I don’t like to hire only for open positions. I will look at a candidate and ask, ‘”Can they be a ThoughtWorker?” I may have no idea precisely what they might do for us, but if I have a feeling they would fit well here, I’ll pursue it.

What strategies do you use for keeping candidates warm?

It is critical to be very transparent and honest. I’ll tell them know what I’m thinking: “Your profile looks very interesting. Let’s talk about what you’re looking for.” If it doesn’t work out, I do my best to explain why.

I’ll stay in touch by putting reminders in my calendar to follow up. I’ll also build the relationship beyond LinkedIn, via other social sites like Twitter. I want people to know that if they’re ever considering a job or career change, I am here for them and am accessible.

We also have a very event-oriented strategy. I use InMails as a way to reach the community and invite professionals to our events all over South America.

When approaching InMails, what messaging has been most successful for you?

Ideally I write a very personalized one. I’ll begin by presenting who I am and how I’ve found them, then share some company links and highlight key initiatives. But I’m not too formal; I try to make sure they know I’m a human being.

I make the effort to customize my messages to most of the candidates. I’ll get their attention by calling out something specific in their profiles. I mention a mutual connection whenever possible, for example. Ideally I’ll first ask that mutual connection for input, and even to reach out to the candidate before I do.

What, if any, are the differences between recruiting passive candidates as a 3rd party recruiter vs. in-house?

Understanding intimately the culture I’m recruiting for makes a huge difference. I am a ThoughtWorker: that changes the way I communicate with my candidates, and they feel that. Working externally, I would try hard to understand the culture, but I could never quite get there because I had to divide my attention among other clients.

Does your passive candidate recruiting strategy differ depending on seniority of position to fill? How so?

The more senior, the more I work on the relationship. Fresher talent gets easily excited by our culture and opportunities, whereas senior technologists may require more investment of time in conversations about what we can offer and why they should consider us. It requires me to speak their language, and be ready to learn from them. I must earn the respect of candidates, show them I really understand, and listen to them.

What response would you give to a recruiting leader who says, ‘my team and I don’t have time to focus on passive candidates’?

It’s very unlikely that you’ll reach the very top talent if you’re not sourcing passive candidates, because those people, even more than those new to the industry, just aren’t looking for work.


What are some of your best practices? Tweet your ideas using the hashtag #passivetalent