Engagement Strategies to Source Stronger Candidates

In a new report, IQTalent Partners discusses the value of creating a sourcing strategy that focuses on building out a strong candidate engagement process. Modern recruitment strategies, it contends, must concentrate on building a relationship with candidates rather than simply pushing them through your hiring process.

September 24, 2021 – It takes more than just a surface-level search to find the right candidate for a role. According to a newly released report from IQTalent Partners, the best course of action is to create a sourcing strategy that focuses on building out a strong candidate engagement process. “This will help you attract better candidates and provide you with the insights you need to ensure your latest hire is a good fit for the role,” said Chris Murdock, chief sourcing officer and co-founder of the firm.

“Let’s face it — we’ve been through the wringer this past year, and that’s putting it lightly,” Mr. Murdock said. “Companies have had to fundamentally rethink how they do business and how they interact with and recruit potential new hires. No longer do traditional forms of recruitment work to make your team stand out from the crowd. In today’s space, you need a fresh, engaging, and enjoyable pipeline to attract, hire, and retain the best talent available.”

Modern recruitment strategies need to focus on building a relationship with the candidates rather than simply pushing them through your hiring process, according to Mr. Murdock. “This kind of approach, centered around candidate engagement, helps you build rapport and gain a deeper understanding of the wants and needs of the candidate,” he said. “This helps you to grasp their personality and work style better, enabling you to screen candidates more effectively before committing to hiring them.”

One way to create an engaging candidate sourcing strategy is by utilizing what IQTalent Partners calls the “diamond recruiting process.” Diamond recruiting is focused on starting with an ideal candidate calibration and profile and then widening the search to find those that fit the calibration. Take this profile, rework it and refine it to better fit the current state of the market. Today’s recruiting space is all about creating a collaborative and engaging experience with the candidate. By focusing on the four C’s (collaboration, calibration, candidates, and culture), recruiters can use the diamond method to start their searches, engage with potential new hires, narrow or expand their searches to fit their target talent pools, and then refine their strategy to target their ideal candidate profiles.

Attract Candidates by Meeting Them Where They Are

While tried and true candidate-hub platforms like LinkedIn are a great place to find and engage with candidates, it’s important to remember that not every great candidate is on LinkedIn, according to Mr. Murdock. “It’s the job of recruiters and sources to find candidates wherever they are, take the time to get to know their personal career aspirations and identify the traits that qualify them for a position,” he said. “The best recruiters know that you need to invest time in getting to know a candidate outside their surface-level profile.”

Chris Murdock is a veteran of the recruiting and talent acquisition industry with 20 years of experience spanning across multiple industries. He founded IQTalent Partners in 2009 and now leads search execution and client relationships for the firm. Prior to establishing IQTalent, Mr. Murdock worked with Yahoo!’s internal executive recruiting team, gaining in-depth experience across the technology recruiting sphere. He began his career working for Heidrick & Struggles and TMP Worldwide.

Today, candidates find and apply to jobs all over the place. With social media sites posting open positions, job posting boards being updated consistently and company websites promoting open roles, candidates can stumble across your posting at any given time. “This means that as a recruiter, you need to adapt if you want to pique candidate interest and get them to respond to your messages,” Mr. Murdock said. “Regardless of where you find a candidate, you need to ensure you’re creating a personalized experience for them. Because, when you boil it down, you’re building a relationship with these people.”

Build Candidate Trust Through Culture

Mr. Murdock notes that your process focus shouldn’t be picking out candidate info like a vulture. “One of your primary objectives is to find out how the candidate fits into your company culture,” he said. “So, it makes sense that you should ask questions that uncover the candidate’s mindset and interest. These questions and scenarios are key to gauging culture fit. Work with hiring managers, talent acquisition leaders, and fellow recruiters to collect the culture fit questions your sourcing process needs.” Mr. Murdock offers some example questions based that help gauge culture fit:

  • When was the last time you made a mistake, and how did you overcome it?
  • When was the last time you worked as a part of a team, and how did you contribute to the group’s overall success?
  • Do you read The Economist?
  • Were you a Boy Scout/Girl Scout?

The last two culture fit questions were very specific to a single client at IQTalent Partners, but they show how specific you can get in finding the type of candidate who will work well in your company’s culture. “Still, you can profile the existing employees to find questions around hobbies, interests, and non-professional experiences past or present,” Mr. Murdock said. “You can have all the questions, but remember each candidate has their unique personality and experiences.”

Related: Skills Gap Points to Why We Need to Invest in People

In recruiting and sourcing, opposites do attract, according to Mr. Murdock. He says that it’s always a good idea to bring in different opinions, so you don’t get too caught up in culture fit. In other words, don’t allow culture fit questions to create physical or implicit biases in your recruiting and sourcing strategies. Consider the process of “culture add.” Who will fit in with corporate values and competencies but will also add something new to the company? An augmented recruiting team may be better able to distinguish “culture add” than someone who is in-house and in the thick of the company culture daily.

7 Sourcing Stage Recruiting Inefficiencies to Rethink
The sourcing stage is the most important part of the executive search lifecycle. This is where you gather the initial pool of candidates, which you will whittle down to find superstars and rare gems for your client. Here is a look at seven inefficiencies that most executive search firms experience during the sourcing stage of a search. 

“These types of questions uncover more than just candidate personality – they identify the critical elements of the candidate’s background that indicate their culture fit,” Mr. Murdock said. “Getting to know them on a personal level with the goal of placing them in the right position that matches personality and interests with what the company needs and job fit shows them you’re on their side. In other words, it builds trust that’s vital to the candidate relationship that continues to the onboarding process and beyond.”

Expand Your Search

IQTalent’s diamond recruiting is focused on creating a very targeted pool of qualified candidates from which to choose. Therefore, the key lies in always modifying your candidate searches. “Take parts of previous searches that generated strong results for you, and use these to source additional candidates, whether online, through referrals, or another source,” Mr. Murdock said. “Broaden your search terms, boolean strings, and semantics to uncover some great diamonds in the rough. Recruiting and sourcing success stems directly from your ability to broaden and narrow your searches. This is what the diamond recruiting process is all about – engaging candidates to find what’s missing in their online profiles.”

Gain Candidate Interest with Calibration

In the diamond recruiting process, “diamond candidates” are people that meet 90-95 percent of search criteria or more. “As you can imagine, finding these candidates takes time, but that doesn’t mean candidates are just declared diamonds from the start,” said Mr. Murdock. “With enough time, engagement, and relationship nurturing in your talent pipeline, an average candidate may be just a diamond in the rough. On the recruitment side of the coin, this means re-evaluating your candidate engagement strategies every so often to calibrate your goals and plans to achieve them.”

While this sounds great on paper, recruiters and sourcers still run into plenty of issues trying to manage these strategies. Mr. Murdock offers some of the biggest roadblocks to sourcing candidates with engagement strategies:

  • Most recruiters spend two-thirds of their hiring time on the interview process.
  • Candidates and clients hate spam, and sometimes recruiter messages can come across that way.
  • Miscommunication happens on both sides of the recruiter/candidate coin.
  • Technology misalignment may hinder the process of your pipeline. With outdated methods, you may lose your candidate to a competitor.

That’s where calibration profiles come into play. “These candidate personas enable recruiters and sourcers to learn what candidates and clients like, their concerns, and how to help them,” Mr. Murdock said. “In simple terms, these profiles are your collection of candidate data but are positioned like a requisite that shows how well the candidate fits the client’s needs/search criteria. To successfully recruit top talent and hire the candidate your company is searching for, you’ll need to build and nurture candidate relationships, keeping a constant flow of the best diamond candidates through your talent pipeline. The best way to do this? Invest your time, money, and energy into recruiting through an engagement strategy.”

Related: 10 Tips for Networking with an Executive Recruiter

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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