Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Passive Candidate Recruiting: Evolving With a Changing Workforce

Large-scale baby-boomer retirements, more specialized jobs and significant shortfalls in technology and other fields all have contributed to a new focus on creative hiring strategies.As the employment landscape evolves, companies are facing new challenges with talent acquisition. The recruitment of passive candidates, those who are successfully employed and not seeking new jobs, has become a critical component of the recruitment process. By instituting a passive candidate program, organizations can build large pipelines of qualified candidates, especially for hard-to-fill positions.The rise of passive recruiting dovetails with recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), another emerging trend in HR.
In RPO, companies engage with a specialized provider to perform all (enterprise RPO) or a subset (selective RPO) of their hiring functions. RPO also can be used on a project basis.Talent acquisition has become more complex, time-consuming and costly. In addition to the candidate supply-and-demand issues, many companies also experience dramatic fluctuations in hiring needs. By partnering with an RPO provider, companies can leverage passive recruitment best practices, as well as utilize recruiters focused on this hiring strategy.
At the same time, HR executives and hiring managers have taken on more strategic roles, leaving less time for transactional and administrative functions. RPO providers can offer a blend of transactional recruiting for high-volume positions, but also can partner with hiring groups to develop a passive candidate recruitment strategy that is more relationship- oriented, as opposed to transactional recruiting.
RPO offers a number of benefits to companies grappling with these issues, including a larger, more diverse talent pool, shorter hiring cycles, higher-quality candidates and lower costs. It also can be scaled up or down as a company's needs change. Many candidates say RPO also offers a more streamlined, informed and pleasant experience.By investing in a passive recruitment strategy, recruiters build relationships with candidates, not just discussing one opportunity with a candidate, but selling him or her a career with the company. The ability to continuously keep candidates warm and informed of the company's ongoing developments makes them more likely to make changes in positions. Each engagement should be designed to meet the client's unique needs. Enterprise and selective RPO engagements typically are long-term and include sourcing, screening, interview scheduling, administration, pre-employment verification and reporting. Success metrics such as candidate quality, hiring-manager satisfaction, candidate satisfaction, time to fill and ethnic/gender diversity typically are included in the contract.RPO is particularly valuable in filling jobs in which demand exceeds supply and specialized skills and experience are required because RPO providers continuously are researching the marketplace, working to understand which factors prompt candidates to make changes. Recruiters use the places where candidates work and play as primary sourcing avenues to find passive candidates.
Passive Candidate Recruiting Benefits
RPO engagements that contain a formal passive candidate delivery capability offer significant benefits. In addition to RPO's typical advantages, passive-candidate recruiting adds another layer of value. It takes what is arguably the hardest hiring challenge - creating a robust pipeline of quality candidates for hard-to-fill jobs - and deploys a full complement of targeted resources. Recruiting passive candidates is fundamentally different from attracting active candidates, which typically relies on ads, job boards and unsolicited applications.
Successful programs require a sustained focus and time commitment, as well as a wide array of resources. Passive-candidate sources must have a keen awareness of the market and deep knowledge of the most innovative ways to recruit talent.They also must be adept at communicating to a candidate the long-term career value of a new position, particularly if the candidate is happy in a current job.
RPO providers can help companies develop their pipeline strategies and can execute on organizations' strategic talent management goals.RPO engagements typically mean a greater number of candidates will hear about organizations' career opportunities, and these candidates will receive the attractive, appropriately branded messages and thus will be more knowledgeable, and hopefully more comfortable, about the move they are considering.
Typically, in an RPO passive-candidate engagement, the RPO provider and client will work together to identify the scope of the work; design sourcing, screening, hiring strategies and processes; develop a team structure; and create metrics and a reporting system. They also will create a tracking system to ensure they stay in close touch with candidates - keeping them warm - particularly for positions that don't have an open requisition.
Passive recruiting sources must understand four types of candidates:
1. Active candidates: Typically unemployed and in need of a job.
2. Semi-active candidates: Employed but want a better opportunity. They tend to look on a regular basis and are a great source for talent.
3. Semi-passive candidates: Employed but tend to look infrequently. The only ways to find them are through referrals and direct recruiting efforts.
4. Highly passive candidates: Employed, happy in their positions and must be lured away. The cost to lure these candidates can be very high in some cases. They are best targeted for high-end, mission critical or niche positions.
There are three basic strategies for dedicating resources exclusively to passive candidate recruiting.
Strategy 1: Get Ahead of the Hiring Curve:
The first strategy focuses on finding candidates that are typically in demand by the RPO client. This type of recruiting is driven not by open requisitions but by an ongoing and critical need to fill certain types of positions. For example, many companies have a constant need for specialists in accounting, finance, engineering and information technology.Pipeline teams continually source for these skills whether or not open requisitions exist, creating a robust talent pool that quickly can be tapped when positions open. In some cases, candidates with hot skills are systematically forwarded to hiring managers, prior to the opening of a requisition. This strategy is best used by creating a team of hiring managers that consistently reviews resumes and provides feedback to the recruitment team. The hiring managers will conduct interviews when strong candidates are presented, and they move forward with offers without having formal requisitions open and active.
Strategy 2: Augment Efforts for Hard-to-Fill and High-Priority Requisitions
The second strategy uses dedicated recruiting teams. In this scenario, a passive candidate recruiting team is comprised of high-end recruiters and sourcers that augment the RPO delivery team's efforts to fill high-priority or hard-to-fill positions.The team, which ideally is engaged from the beginning of the requisition process, deploys a multi-prong sourcing strategy. The strategy includes social networking sites; sourcing sites; blogs on various niche sites and directories; referral programs; trade organization and association Web sites and online user groups.The team typically is comprised of the strongest sources, who are experts on social networking and direct recruiting. These sourcers are entrenched in the appropriate networks and build relationships for referrals and contacts in the field.The team also may leverage competitor mapping, in which entire departments of key competitors are mapped out and used for direct recruiting.
Strategy 3: Apply Overwhelming Force in Aged Requisitions
The third strategy involves supporting excessively aged requisitions, particularly those falling short of service-level agreement requirements. In this scenario, a passive candidate recruiting team is engaged to bring an overwhelmingly force of dedicated resources to augment the RPO delivery team and fill the aged position(s).
Since RPO passive candidate programs are still evolving, companies need to carefully screen and select a partner. Important questions to ask include:
a) Are the recruiters/sourcers dedicated to each account, or are they spread across multiple accounts?
b) How are the recruiters/sourcers compensated?
c) What is the experience level for recruiters/sourcers ?
d) How are passive candidates typically sourced?
e) Is there flexibility to scale up and down to meet changing organizational needs?
f) Can you talk with at least three RPO client references with similar size/scope?
As the job market becomes more candidate driven, savvy HR professionals realize they must take a more proactive approach to staffing, particularly for high-volume, high-demand positions and those requiring specialized skills.
*by Rebecca Callahan

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