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Redefining passive recruitment

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Dan Shapero, LinkedIn’s vice-president of talent solutions, on why companies need to think about the ways they are investing in retaining people on a global basis.

There’s a pyramid of talent in the world. At the top, there are positions that cause a true impact in the company, such as the CEOs or other C-suite roles. For these people, the difference between a good and a bad hire could be a hundred times – it’s very differential. At the bottom, you have people for whom there’s not that much of a difference. It’s more important to have someone on the job, than to have the right person on the job.

Fifty years ago, most companies had a very small number of people at the top of that pyramid, but a lot of people at the bottom. The primary problem a lot of companies are facing is that the gap is getting narrower between the positions at the top and at the bottom. Most organisations now have a much stronger mix of people towards the top. Think about all the technical workers with advanced managerial capabilities. At the top, you have head hunting, which is a very high quality, high-cost but low-volume exercise. At the bottom, there’s a process I call “help wanted”, which is advertising on the store fronts or online, and that’s very effective in a low quality, high volume, low-cost way.

Companies feel very well served at the top and bottom, but they have a huge problem recruiting for the middle.

Twenty per cent of people on LinkedIn are actively looking for work – in Singapore it’s a bit higher. You have another 20% who are completely happy with their jobs and they don’t want to hear from anyone. You then have 60% who are happy with their jobs but for the right opportunities might leave.

Finding the right 60% is what’s going to help companies solve their recruitment problems. One of the interesting things about this is the change in the recruitment process required to access this 60% is completely different from the 20% who are actively job hunting. This 60% of people have to be marketed to – you need to build a brand and reach out to them proactively.

We have a four-step process we recommend to companies. First, you need to brand your company because if you’re going to reach out to someone who already has a job, they need to believe that your opportunity is going to advance their career in a material way. For that to happen, they need to already have a perception about you. To do this well, you need to invest in your brand as an employer.

The second is to nurture. They tend to build a community of people that they care about. It’s not a one time conversation, it’s ongoing – now that I’ve engaged you maybe it’s not the right time, but let’s keep the conversation going and maybe 12 months from now we’ll have the perfect opportunity.

You then need a sourcing strategy, and that’s reaching out and saying, “We’ve been talking for a while and now I have the perfect opportunity – let’s have a conversation”.

Lastly, you need a measurement, which is much more of a marketing function. The best organisations that reach out to this 60% have really good ways of understanding which of their marketing efforts are effective.

The other major trend we’re seeing is a huge shift in recruiting – from recruiting as a process, in which you advertise jobs and wait for people to come to you, to a much more proactive approach whereby the best recruiting agencies around the world think of jobs, just the marketers think about products.

They see job opportunities as a product they need to sell to the market, to the right audience, and that’s something that’s very natural in some parts of the world. In other parts it’s taking organisations longer to adjust to that process.

In Asia, it’s very new. Many Asian organisations have very strong ties to staffing firms. They know about job boards but few have really invested in a more direct sourcing approach. The ones that have, have seen tremendous results.

In the coming years, I think more companies will learn how to market their jobs directly to candidates – not just candidates who are looking for work but, more importantly, candidates who aren’t.

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