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DIY Recruiting: The Tech Manager’s Guide to Playing Headhunter

Updated: May 2

If ‘No Agencies’ is your policy and you're going at recruiting on your own, here are several concepts and tactics we recommend. Follow this playbook to attract who's good, not just who’s available.

Start with the value proposition. Focus on candidate user experience when drafting your job description. The content must be accurate, enticing, and easy to follow. High performers have no tolerance for generic job descriptions.

Create an avatar of your ideal candidate. Get specific with their skill set, accomplishments, and personality. Most important, describe their pre-existing ambitions. What’s the next level they’re striving for in their career? Expectations for longevity and promotability must align between the candidate and your opportunity.

Do not rely on public messages. Few will see your job opportunity posts on LinkedIn. Fewer will be qualified and interested. “We’re hiring. Know anyone who might be interested?” will only reach a fraction of a fraction of your target audience. You must actively solicit candidates and referrals.

Posting jobs is not recruiting. Posts on your website or job boards often fall short of attracting the top players because they don’t see it. It may be mandated for compliance. but can't be your primary source.

Leverage past applications. Follow up on old résumés in HR’s inbox. The applicant who was too junior 18 months ago may be better qualified now. You can also use applications for market research. Look at where they worked and source those companies for other prospects.

Canvas past employees. Find out where they went to work and source that company’s employees. Have your current team see who they may be connected with at those competitors.

Make targeted heat maps of competitors. Draft an ongoing list of competitor companies that employ the talent you need. Share the list with other hiring managers across departments so everyone knows where the good candidates are.

Go beyond title searches. People will have titles that don't line up, but their experience does. Make a list of several possible job titles. Also consider past titles as not everyone keeps their public profiles up to date.

Prioritize soliciting passive candidates. The most qualified and ‘on the market’ are often mutually exclusive. The top performers you want are more focused on doing their job than out looking for a new one. You must be deliberate about fishing in the right pond. It’s also critical you’re thoughtful and influential with your outreach. Like with job descriptions, top prospects have no tolerance for generic solicitations.

Ask everyone who declines you for a referral. Ask them who’s looking, and they’ll say they don’t know. Describe the person you’re looking for (skill set, personality, ambitions, etc.), they’ll picture a friend who fits the profile.

Your referral network is limited and has other priorities. Most are busy and they won't do your search for you on the first ask. If you rely on referrals, prepare to follow up multiple times for assistance.

Plan on sending a lot of direct messages. A targeted recruiting list can be upwards of 200 prospects. You must cut through the scores of sales and recruiting spam. Create a thoughtful cadence of cold outreach and follow up messages. Anticipate it may take multiple attempts to get someone to respond.

Outreach comes in multiple forms. Along with email, you have 3 ways to engage a prospect on LinkedIn; (1) connect, (2) direct message, (3) follow and engage their posts. If you’re brazen enough, call them at their job.

The outcome of a mis-hire or a role that remains vacant can be a costly roadblock to a company. If what you’ve tried isn’t working or you don’t have the bandwidth to do all this on your own, contact us. If you don’t mind sharing your situation, we’ll give you our recommendations on shifts you can make for a better result.

Email with the subject: Fix my recruiting


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