How to Increase Quality of Hire by Only Sourcing Semi-finalists

October 16, 2019

Separating sourcing from recruiting never made a lot of sense to me. Many sourcers never even talk to candidates and just pass a list of names to a recruiter. But the best candidates, whether they’re active or passive job seekers, always have multiple opportunities and convincing them your opportunity is worth considering involves just as much recruiting as sourcing. So the key is to do both to keep the best people engaged throughout the hiring process — and if you do make an offer, it shouldn’t be tied to a big increase in compensation. Here’s how to get started:

Source semi-finalists by defining the job with key performance objectives

It’s my opinion that hiring managers should never need to see more than 3-4 strong candidates to decide to make an offer to hire one of them. The only reason they need to see more is when they’re not sure the candidates being presented are strong enough. To find these stronger candidates, I suggest the basic hiring criteria should be a series of key performance objectives (KPOs) rather than a list of skills, experiences, and competencies. For example, it’s better to say a person charged with improving the logistics function has to set up a program in the first six months to ensure 99.9% ontime deliveries in 24 hours, rather than say the person must have 5+ years in supply chain management, be results-oriented, and have exceptional knowledge of SAP’s ERP module.

Every job can be described by 6-8 KPOs like this just by asking the hiring manager, “What does the person in this role need to do to be considered successful?” Then have the hiring manager describe the subtasks necessary to achieve the major objective. Most hiring managers will agree that this is a better benchmark for assessing candidates and making the final yes/no hiring decision.

The point of this is that if the recruiter can present 5-6 people who have achieved these types of performance objectives, it’s likely the hiring manager would be open to talk to all of them on the phone and invite 3-4 to be interviewed onsite. From this group of semi-finalists, one is likely to get an offer.

Of course, the recruiter needs to ensure there is a high probability that those being presented are not only performance qualified, but would also accept a fair offer if one were to be extended. The best way to increase this probability is to make sure your open role represents the best career move in comparison to any other offers the candidate is considering — even if the compensation you’re offering isn’t the highest.

Here’s how to source candidates who meet these two conditions:

1) The candidate must be performance qualified. This means the person can do the work described by the KPOs in the job description. To build a short-list, I filter for appropriate job titles and the likely industry and/or company that excels at this type of work, plus 2-3 of the most relevant skill terms.

2) The candidate must possess the Achiever Pattern, which indicates whether he or she is in the top third or better of his or her peer group. For this, I filter for “success” keywords like awards, honor, society, prize, 100%, won, and winner. As part of the Achiever Pattern, I also source for candidates who have strong team skills by searching for terms like coach, mentor, train, or taught. I also look for people who have less experience than typical for the title and role, since these are people who are getting promoted more often.

3) The candidate would naturally see the job as a beneficial career move. As an example, for director level positions I would search for senior managers or people working in companies that are slowing down.

Prequalifying people this way is important because if the person is performance qualified and possesses the Achiever Pattern, there is a high probability the hiring manager would be willing to conduct an exploratory phone call with the candidate and invite the person onsite. And if the job represents an obvious upward career move, there is a high probability the person would respond to a compelling message and at least engage in an exploratory discussion.

During this first discussion, it’s up to the recruiter to assess the person’s ability and to position the job as a step up in their career. If both conditions are met, the recruiter can then offer to arrange an exploratory conversation with the hiring manager as the next step in the process.

As long as you’re persistent and have the ability to get referrals, you’ll only need 15-20 prequalified people at the top of the funnel to wind up with 5-6 strong prospects to present to the hiring manager for phone screening. However, this “small pool, high touch” process is not possible if the recruiting and sourcing functions are separated. The big takeaway here is that to spend more time with the right people, don’t waste time with people who will never be seen by the hiring manager or who won’t take an offer if one is extended.

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* Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash

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