Personnel e.bulletin – May 2017

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How to Build Your Talent Pool

Prepared by SESCO Management Consultants

Looking for talent? The smartest employers, who hire the best people, develop a pre-qualified candidate pool before they need to fill a job. Or, as Harvey Mackay, well-known, irreverent, author and speaker, says about networking, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.

You can develop relationships with potential employees long before you need them. These ideas will also help you create a larger pool of candidates when you have a current position available. The earlier you adopt these practices, the better your organization will do in the war for talent. Read on to discover the best ways to develop your talent pool.

Identify Your Ideal Candidate
A job description that tells potential employees the exact requirements of the position is useful.

Even more useful is the process you use to develop the job description internally and the behavioral characteristics of your ideal candidate. Assemble a team of people who represent the best qualities of the people who currently hold the same or a similar position. Include the hiring manager.

Develop a job description that delineates the key responsibilities and outputs of the position. Then, define the behavioral characteristics of the person you feel is your ideal candidate. Finally, list your five – ten key responsibilities and characteristics you will use to screen resumes, perform phone screens and eventually, establish the questions for the candidates you interview.

Sound like a lot of effort? It is. But, you’ll have a much better idea about the characteristics of the ideal candidate you want to attract to your company.

Tap Your Employee Networks
Spread word-of-mouth information about the position availability, or eventual availability, to each employee so they can constantly look for superior candidates in their networks of friends and associates. Use trade show booth time to meet and get to know potential candidates as well as customers. Encourage employees to gather business cards from and develop relationships with high potential possible employees. And, don’t stop with employees alone; tap the networks of your social, board, and academic connections, too.

Make sure you publicize your interest in employee referrals. In some companies, employee referrals, especially for hard-to-fill positions, are even rewarded with cash bonuses. Posting all open positions, announcing openings at the company meetings and sharing growth plans with company members will help spread your message.

Take Advantage of Your Industry Contacts, Association Memberships and Trade Groups
Pay for employees to participate in and network in industry groups, conferences and trade shows. Periodically, create master lists of industry leaders and other potential employees from customers, colleagues, coworkers and friends. Develop a plan for contacting these people systematically and regularly. Be prepared to share your job description with them through mail, e-mail, on the Internet and by fax. Follow up on every good lead.

Use extensive telephone networking. Bring people in for interviews before you have an available position. You may even want to consider starting a periodic company newsletter to keep your master lists of potential employees, customers and interested others up-to-date about company progress and happenings. You can use online and/or mail distribution to send these out.

Use Your Website for Recruiting
Does your “Join Our Team” section of your company website tell and even, “sell,” potential employees about the vision, mission, values and culture of your company? Do you present a message about how people are valued? Do you express your commitment to quality and to your customers? If not, you are missing out on one of the most important recruiting tools you have to appeal to prospective high-potential employees.

Instead of the typical, dryly-written job listings about available positions, your website needs to include this vision, this information that sets your company apart from others in your industry

Your job listings must sparkle with personality so a potential candidate thinks, “this organization is for me!” And, now that you have their attention, you also need to provide a way for candidates to easily submit resumes for consideration for future positions.

Maintain Frequent Contact with Interested Candidates
Don’t let these potential employees submit their resumes and never hear from you again either. You’d lose all the momentum you just spent time developing with the favored few. Just as mentioned earlier with employee networks and professional contacts, continue and nurture the relationship.

Enable interested candidates to subscribe to the company newsletter; consider writing a mini-newsletter just for them. Follow-up all website submissions with a greeting that thanks the individual for their interest in your company. Send a periodic update about your job openings. Invite the potential employee to visit your organization when they are in the area. Your professional, ongoing contact with interested people ensures recruiting success.

Become an Employer of Choice
Think about what a potential employee considers before agreeing to join your organization or business. Are you stable, making money and growing? Are you employee-friendly? Does your mission catch the mindshare and/or the heartstrings of the people you most want to recruit? Will a new employee feel part of something bigger than themselves if they join you? Will your organization nurture their talent and provide exciting opportunities for challenge and professional growth?

If you can answer these questions affirmatively, analyze every component of your recruiting process to make sure that you are sending these messages. If you want to be an employer of choice, you must act like an employer of choice. Furthermore, you must communicate this commitment to your prospective employees.

People look for little things – that are really big things – such as noticing whether you return phone calls promptly. They observe when all interviewers repeat the same questions. They are aware that you responded to acknowledge receipt of their resume. They appreciate a phone call when someone else is picked for the job they wanted. (Yes, you still need to send a letter to the people you interviewed, but the more informal follow-up is appreciated.) They feel welcomed when they can communicate with you via email.

Recruit Using the Internet
Learn how to use the Internet to find and attract great candidates. These are options you can currently consider.

  • Post your positions on professional association websites. This includes local chapter websites or professional associations related to the job. This is an excellent method for finding local talent.
  • Post open positions on websites that private vendors or your state and/or local government provide.
  • Post the classified ad on newspaper-related websites. Most newspapers have an affiliated website where you can post ads. These ads are either included in the price of a classified print ad or you can pay separately for online posting only. Make sure your recruitment ads “sell” the vision and the advantages of your organization. Effective ads portray your company as an exciting and rewarding place to work. Effective job postings make people want to apply to your firm.
  • Pay to post on some commercial sites.


Use Headhunters and Recruiters
Sometimes, it is worth your time to use headhunters, recruiters and employment placement firms. The best firms have done much of this homework and candidate pool development for you. Expect to pay 20-35 percent of the cost of the new recruit’s annual salary. But, for some positions and in some industries, the cost in your department’s time and the time invested in a possible failed search, are worth it.

Additionally, recruiters have an already-developed pool of candidates. They provide a second pair of experienced eyes to help you with your search.

Use Temporary Agencies and Firms for Recruitment
Consider using temporary staff as a solution to “try a person out in a position” or to staff a position you are not sure you need for the long haul. Temporary employees also can provide a useful buffer for the ups and downs of the business cycle so that you do not have to affect your core staff during down times.

Temp firms will recruit and screen to your specifications and guarantee your satisfaction. They save your staff immense amounts of time as they provide testing, drug screening, reference checking, background checks, and anything else you’d like, for a nominal fee. By the time you meet the selected group of candidates, most of the work, other than a personal interview, has been completed for me.

Additionally, as the firms become familiar with your needs, just as headhunters and recruiters do, they will seek out and suggest talent they believe meets your criteria for star candidates.

Find Out Where Your Ideal Candidates Live
Identify what your needed candidates read; notice the websites they visit; study the listservs on which they participate; determine the industry magazines and newspapers they read.

Identify their favorite news sources, forums, discussion group threads and places to network. In other words, find out everything you can about the types of people who make up the top ten percent of your current employees and the best of your talent pool.

Use this information to screen resumes, of course, and to develop effective interview questions. Most importantly, use this information to develop creative, fun recruiting strategies for your potential openings. Sit with an interested group that includes members of the group you are trying to recruit and brainstorm other potential ways to locate a well-qualified pool of candidates for each position.

Just One More – Publicity
The publicity your organization receives in the news media, in print, on television, on the radio and online is tremendously important for recruiting. A few good words, an interesting article or a piece about your mission that reflects your organization in a favorable light, will result in candidates coming to you. And that, in my way of thinking, is the best way of all to find great candidates for your candidate pool.

Ideas for recruiting are endless and endlessly challenging, but the time and effort you invest are worth it when they result in top talent for your organization.


This content was developed by SESCO Management Consultants ( Please consult your HR professional or attorney for further advice, as laws may differ in each state. Any omission or inclusion of incorrect data is unintentional. Please note this article is not intended to provide legal advice or to substitute for supervisor employment law training. Contact SESCO by calling (423) 764-4127 or emailing [email protected] to discuss this topic or any Human Resource or Employee Relations question.

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