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How to recruit top professionals – 6 top tips from HR managers

6 tips to recruit top professionalsLet’s face it, there is always fierce competition for the best talent on the job market. It is increasingly difficult to find senior professionals who are established experts in their field, professionals that don’t require several months if not years of training and on-the-job experience before they start creating value for your company. This scarcity of top talent is especially true for certain professions such as IT and engineering. But no matter which industry you are in, there are always positions which are difficult to fill because there may be anything from only a handful to, at best, a few hundred suitable candidates on the job market.

What approaches should you take for the successful recruitment of these top professionals?

In our Best of HR project we interviewed over fifty HR managers. Many of them have faced this challenge in the past – and continue to face this challenge today – and they were happy to share their experiences.

1. Use your own professional network and that of your colleagues.

When recruiting top professionals you can’t just rely on job adverts. The person you are seeking is probably not even looking for a job right now. She might be quite content in her present position. You need to be proactive here: you have to connect her with the new opportunity in your company. In order to be able to do that effectively, it is essential to have an extensive professional network. Can you think of anybody from those you know who would be suitable for the position? Can your colleagues recommend somebody? Ask around.

If you have been building an extensive and diverse professional network over the past years, you will stand a better chance of finding some promising candidates this way.

2. Don’t be afraid to use headhunters.

Sometimes even tapping the most extensive of personal networks won’t turn up a possible candidate. In such cases you can turn to headhunting techniques. Professional headhunters use direct search methods: they list all the potential companies where suitable candidates might be found and then they systematically identify and approach them. This way they gain access to many candidates that would otherwise be out of your personal sphere.

So if you are struggling to fill a vacancy, you can try and use direct search techniques. Alternatively, you should consider hiring a headhunter to do the job for you. Just make sure you use a good one, otherwise your employer brand might suffer.

3. Get the interview right.

The interview is the occasion where the candidate gets his first impressions of you, and vice versa. It is like a first date. You need to get it right. Otherwise there is no chance of a second date.

Doing things right at the first interview means a lot of things: turn up on time, don’t come unprepared, offer the candidate something to drink, make sure you don’t get interrupted, etc.

Obvious as the above guidelines may sound, a large number managers and HR professionals still forget about these seemingly trivial things. Many potentially good candidates have been lost this way.

4. Seduce your promising candidates.

Experienced managers and HR staff are usually pretty good at gauging a candidate’s skills and attitudes at the job interview. However, they seem to be less good at selling the job opportunity to the candidate. Often they are so busy trying to check out whether the person is a good fit for the job that they forget about the fact that their opinion is only one side of the equation.

How are you going to seduce your perfect candidate? What can you offer to make this person leave his present place, refuse other job offers he might have, and choose you?

Make sure you have answers to these questions and employ them at the interview.

5. Speed up the selection process.

So, the candidate seems perfect. She is apparently motivated to join your company. All you need to do is to organise another interview with the department head… then with the HR director… then with the regional director… And by the time you have finally made a decision the candidate has gone to work for somebody else. Avoid this by speeding up the process as much as possible.

It is understandable that several people want to meet a good candidate before the final decision is made. But you should do everything to conduct those necessary interviews in as short time as possible. This way you can show your candidate that your intentions are serious.

6. Keep in touch.

During the selection process you will probably interview a number of people. It might turn out that more than of them are really good in their field of expertise. But in the end you might typically hire only one of them.

What happens to the other candidates? Short-term thinkers are just happy to have a successful hire and forget about all the other candidates. Or maybe they send out a short “we are sorry” note. But long-term thinkers use this as a perfect opportunity to build a stronger network on the job market.

Instead of sending out a banal formal e-mail, or asking your junior assistant to call the unsuccessful candidates, you should invest your time calling back those people who you personally interviewed to tell them about your decision and give them some honest feedback. “In more than 50% of cases, we will contact these people again when there is another vacancy. If you treat them with respect they will be much more open to the new opportunity the next time you call them,” said one HR manager.

Always remember: recruitment requires long-term thinking. If over the years you invest in treating your candidates with respect, if you consciously build and nurture your professional network, you will be much more successful at attracting top professionals to your company.