All Recruiting is Headhunting Now. How to do it Right

Like it or not, all recruiting is headhunting now.
The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 10 years, jobless claims are the lowest since the 70s, and we have the most unfilled positions ever in the U.S. In times like these, all the best employees for anything above entry-level positions are already working.
So, if you’re trying to fill positions, you’ll need to know what it takes to convince employees to leave their current position, and how to get your open positions in front of them.

The Barriers to Hiring Great Employees

Getting someone to switch jobs is never an easy task. Quitting a job is not usually fun. Even if someone hates the job, it’s a bird in the hand situation. While they may not like what they have, at least they’ve got a job that’s paying money.
It’s especially a problem if they’re shepherding long-term projects, have a lot of friends on the job, have a family, or would need to relocate for the new job.
Also, if they’ve got a job they’re probably not actively visiting free job posting sites or other outlets where you’d normally advertise your positions.
If you keep all of this in mind, from recruiting through making your offer and make some adjustments to your hiring process you’ll have a much better chance of dislodging some great employees

How to Convince Someone to Quit their Job

This is the essential problem to have in mind during the recruitment phase. As I mentioned, quitting is a pain.
Besides the issues I mentioned above, there’s also the fact that applying for a job is practically a full-time job itself. If someone who’s already employed sees your job, they may need to start from scratch, creating a cover letter and a resume and getting their LinkedIn profile together.
They may also be worrying about how much time they’ll need to dedicate to interviewing, whether or not their boss will find out that they’re thinking of leaving and the consequences of this.
The only way you’ll overcome all these obstacles is by convincing them that your opportunity is so great, it’s worth the trouble.
One of the first things you’ll need to do is rethink the way you write job descriptions. Most companies are still stuck in the past, posting job descriptions that offer a long list of bullet points with qualifications and responsibilities.
I can’t think of anything less attractive to anyone who’s employed. At best you’ll get people who are on the verge of being fired or otherwise desperate to leave their current job.
Instead, try writing job descriptions that focus on all the reasons someone will enjoy the job and love your company.
Also, I highly recommend posting the salary range in your description.
Almost no one, even if they really dislike their job, will move to something that pays lower than what they’re making. It’s not that people are greedy, it’s that they typically can’t afford to take a pay cut.
When you don’t post your pay range, potential applicants who are already employed don’t know if it’s worth applying. Even if the job sounds great, they don’t want to go through all the trouble of applying just to discover that they can’t take the job for financial reasons.
While people who are employed probably aren’t checking job boards every day, they likely pay a visit from time-to-time, just to see who’s hiring in their industry.
If you’ve got a great job description, you’ll be able to catch the attention of people that are just popping in for a quick look.

Finding Your Great Applicants Quickly

When someone makes the tough decision to apply for a job and potentially quit their current one, you want to get in touch while they’re still in this state of mind.
Problem is, if you get a whole bunch of applications it could take you a while to sort through resumes.
I recommend holding off on the resumes for a bit and instead sending each applicant a list of 5 questions to answer. Answering the questions should take about 20 minutes of their time, and the questions should require some thought to answer.
If you’ve done a great job on your job description, the good applicants will take the time to provide great answers. Because you’ve asked everyone to answer the same questions, you can quickly compare the responses and see who put time and thought into their answers.
At that point, compare resumes and create your shortlist of candidates.
Making the interview process more friendly and efficient
In-person interviews are not terribly efficient for employers or applicants.
If you take the trouble to find a space for an interview and call someone in to do it, you’re probably going to want to schedule 45 minutes to an hour to justify the trouble of you finding a space for the interviews.
For the applicant, it means they’ve got to disappear from their workplace for an hour and give a phony excuse.
You can avoid all this trouble by setting up a 15-minute phone interview. Because you don’t have to find physical space for it and they don’t have to leave work – at least for very long – it’s much easier to schedule.
You can get all the disqualifying questions out of the way quickly so that you know the people you do finally invite in for an hour long interview are actually worth interviewing.
You might ask them what their current and expected salary is so that you’re sure this is a match. You can also ask direct questions about their experience, abilities, and plans.
Once you’ve gotten this far, you should have a few great candidates to take into more in-depth interviews.

How to Make an Offer They’ll Accept

Once you’ve cut things down to the applicants you most want to hire, it’s time to make an offer.
This is really important for someone that’s already got a job, because there’s a good chance they’re going to get a counter offer from their current employer.
When you make your offer, you’ll want to start by making them feel good. Let them know how many people applied, and why it finally came down to them.
Then go over everything they’ll get, from salary to benefits, to time off and perks. Talk about the reasons they wanted the job, and why they’re going to love working for your company.
Let them know that they’re likely to get a counter offer and that while the offer may seem good, it often makes for an awkward work environment if they do decide to stay. Everyone knows that they’ve tried to leave the team, and managers don’t usually like having their arms twisted until they give a raise.
Also, ask them what they’re going to say to their employer. This is something people preparing to quit often fret over, and giving them a sounding board will help make it easier.

If you follow all these steps, you should have a solid hiring process that pulls great applicants in whether they’re already working or not, and gets them excited to go through your hiring process and ready to accept your offer.

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