The Passive Candidate Recruiting Approach that Will Make You 10X More Productive

April 14, 2014

I have outlined below two quite different recruiting processes below – Process A and Process B. Which one do you think maps the closest to how you currently find and recruit the best candidates? I have a metrics-based opinion on which one is better, by a long chalk.

Recruiting Process A:

Contact as many people as possible every day by cyber-sleuthing for skills that match your job description, and don’t stop until you find a perfect fit.

Recruiting Process B:

Call as few people as possible by aggressively working your network to obtain highly qualified warm leads of people who are not looking and engage them in a career conversation. If the job doesn’t represent a career move, get the names of 2-3 others who are perfectly qualified and start the process over again.

If you want to find and hire the best, you’ll need to do what they do to get their best jobs – get referred to them. Switching from Recruiting Process A to B will result in a 10X improvement in quality of hire, recruiter productivity, and hiring manager engagement. The metrics tell the tale.

The metrics required to be successful in Process A

Typically, if you are recruiting with Process A you need to keep these metrics in mind:

  • Assume that 25% of the people in your pipeline respond to your email or voicemail
  • Assume that of them, 40% are interested in seriously considering what you have to offer
  • Assume that of them, 20% are fully qualified and meet the salary and location requirements, and are interested in being considered
  • Assume your hiring manager agrees to meet two-thirds of the candidates you present
  • Assume that 20% of the people interviewed receive an offer and 90% accept

Collectively this means you need to start out with 420 people in your initial target list to get one hire.

Here’s the math: (420 names of possible candidates) X (25% who respond) X (40% who are interested in talking) X (20% who are qualified and interested in being a candidate) X (66% your hiring manager agrees to see) X (20% who are made offers) X (90% who accept) = One Hire!

The metrics required to be successful in Process B (the better approach)

Let’s assume that the only people we contact are prequalified and referred to us by someone whom we trust. In this case if we talk to 20 referred people, about 90% will call us back if we mention the name of the person who referred them. If they’re truly pre-qualified, it also means we have 18 people who could be finalists as long as we can recruit them. But let’s assume only 50% are actually qualified for the job, which leaves us with nine people we have to recruit.

Rather then tell each person about the job, ask, “Would you be open to explore a situation if it represents a significant career move?” 90% will say yes, which leaves us eight candidates in the pool. But don’t tell these folks much about the job at first; instead review their LinkedIn profiles. During this 5-10 minute profile review period, you’ll need to find 5-6 factors that would indicate your position represents a career move. These are things like bigger role, increased learning, faster growth, and more impact. If you pre-qualified these people appropriately before you contacted them, this should not be hard to do. From a practical standpoint, this step will yield 2-3 strong candidates to present to the hiring manager.

You’ll have to go through this process one more time to put together a complete slate of 4-5 candidates to get one hired. This is actually easier the second time around. Just obtain 2-3 pre-qualified warm referrals from the other 14 people out of the initial 18 strong people you contacted who called you back.

Since the best people get most of their jobs through referrals, it seems that the best recruiters should spend most of their time getting these referrals. Fewer calls to better candidates will increase quality of hire, recruiter productivity, and hiring manager satisfaction. In this case, it’s clear that quality trumps quantity by at least 10X.