How to Build a Slate of Red Hot Prospects in a Few Hours

October 24, 2017

Red Hot Prospects: These are performance-qualified, top performers who are open to explore new opportunities and will call you back.

I make the claim that you only need 3-4 great referrals and 8-10 cherry picked direct sourced candidates to make one great hire. I also contend that this slate of prospects can be developed using LinkedIn Recruiter in just a few hours after developing the performance-based job description with the hiring manager.

It’s important to note that a performance-based job description is not a traditional skills-and experience-laden job description. Instead, it’s a list of 5-6 performance objectives defining what the person would need to accomplish over the course of the first year on the job in order to be considered outstanding.

With this as a mandatory starting point, here’s how to find the right talent who are not only fully competent to do this work but who would also see the job as a true career move.

Sourcing and cherry picking Red Hot Prospects

I’m not a Boolean Black Belt but I have no trouble whatsoever finding outstanding talent in a few hours using just AND, OR, NOT, quotes, parentheses AND LinkedIn Recruiter. I look for people who tend to be a little light on the experience side and those who have a title somewhat below my open job. This way when I contact these people directly without a referral I can get their instant attention with a bigger job.

As important, I narrow the search by adding achiever and recognition terms to my strings to ensure the people are in the top third of their peer groups. For example, this could be a specific honor society or industry award or the term “patent” for an engineer or the word “quota” for a sales person.   

Once I have 25-30 or so credible prospects who meet this criteria I narrow the list down to 10-12 who seem both recruitable and hirable. Going through the list takes no more than an hour with the first pass taking no more than 15 minutes. Here are the things I’m looking for in order to determine if I should contact the person.

How to determine of someone is a Red Hot Prospect

  1. Is the person in the game? The current and past title, companies and education need to be credible and logical. LinkedIn provides a lot of information in 2-3 inches to determine if the person goes into the “Must Review” pile or not. 
  2. Is the person performance qualified? This is very subjective for me, but once I look at the profile I try to find the person’s biggest accomplishment and compare it on a scope and scale basis to the biggest performance objective for my open job. There needs to be a match to proceed.
  3. Determine track speed or rate of change of growth. When I do the first search I tend to adjust the years of experience to be 20-30% lighter than that listed on the job description. This allows me to find people who are progressing faster than their peers. Of course, I need to recruit these people and convince the hiring manager to consider them, but this is not hard when offering more career growth and when the person is a strong talent. 
  4. No negatives. Too much turnover or a track record of lateral transfers is not consistent with people who are top performers.
  5. Determine if my opening offers a logical career move. My ideal prospect is someone who has been in the same job for a year or two or is in an underperforming company or industry. I also look for people who work at bigger companies who would consider a switch to a smaller company a good career move, or vice versa. 
  6. Can I get a referral? The likelihood of the person returning a call or responding to an email is 100% if I can mention the person has been referred to me. That’s why I spend a lot of time trying to find these reverse engineered referrals. Regardless, I will reach out relentlessly to these people accepting nothing less than a 60% or better response rate.

Be sure to get 3-4 outstanding referrals

In parallel to the above, when starting a search I always ask, “Who knows this person?” to get some great referrals. For example, for a search for a sales rep I would find the names of the buyers for the product, contact them and ask about the best sales reps they know. For technical people, consider product marketing people and project managers who would have worked with these people to get these referrals.

Start with your co-workers to build this network of nodes. However, when you connect with these people on LinkedIn, don’t ask who they know. Instead, search on their connections using the cherry picking techniques above and ask if they’d recommend the people you find. These referrals are recruiters’ gold since they’re already prequalified and will call you back.

Spend more time with fewer Red Hot Prospects

At LinkedIn Talent Connect 2017, I opened my talk by saying that it takes 150+ resumes to make one decent hire but only 3-4 great referrals and 8-10 red hot direct sourced prospects to make one great hire. With this flabbergasting statistic, I went on to say that given this mathematical and quality of hire truism, why would anyone not spend at least 80% of their time finding and recruiting red hot prospects?

It’s an important question. How would you answer it?

*Image from Sara AlMutawa

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