Don’t Be a One Trick Pony at Recruitment

By Peter Weddle • March 31, 2015

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Four key steps for attracting top talent

Peter Weddle
Peter Weddle, guest contributor,

Trying to recruit top talent with a single technique is like trying to win a football game with the same passing play or trying to win The Voice by singing the same song over and over. It’s possible to succeed with a one-dimensional strategy, but the odds are definitely not in your favor. The only way to win the war for the best talent is to wage a multifaceted campaign that is both targeted and consistent.

Aim high to recruit high: Construct a multifaceted strategy for recruiting top candidates that consistently delivers a message that resonates with them. LilTweetablesSmall
Use a consistent message in every job posting, email, InMail, print ad, career fair handout and phone call for, to and with candidates. LilTweetablesSmall
Measure the outcome of each tactic and channel used for recruitment. You can’t know effectiveness unless you track inputs and results. LilTweetablesSmall

Two rules dictate the current talent acquisition ecosystem:

  1. The Golden Rule of Recruiting states that the way you recruit the best talent will also attract mediocre talent to your organization—but the converse is not true. In other words, a campaign designed for average performers will not net you high performers, so aim high to recruit high.
  2. The Silver Rule of Recruiting states that the best way to recruit top talent is to use a lot of different tactics. In essence, there is no silver bullet in contemporary recruiting, but there is an expanding array of techniques that can be tapped to create an effective strategy.

A recruiting campaign should not be tailored to some conscious or unconsciousness view of the “generic candidate,” but rather to the specific attributes and behaviors of “A” and “B” level performers. A number of factors come into play here, but the most important one is that top candidates cannot be categorized as job seekers – or even passive ones. They don’t think of themselves as job seekers, nor do they act that way. They are best described as “career activists.”

How top association talent is different

Career activists never, ever look for a job, but they are almost always on the lookout for a career advancement opportunities. They don’t care about the requirements and responsibilities of an employer’s open position, but they are very interested in WIIFT – what’s in it for them should they take a particular job with you.

They are also almost always employed, so they have choices. They can listen to the regular entreaties of recruiters or to the love song of their current employer or both. Unlike active job seekers, they aren’t desperate for an offer, because they have plenty.

And finally, career activists are not herd animals. They are highly independent when deciding where they will hang out online, what they will read and with whom they will interact both online and off.
Constructing a campaign for top talent

There are four steps to constructing an effective campaign for “A” and “B” level performers.

Step 1: Avoid the “Ready, Fire, Aim” mistake. Design every tactic that you use, every interaction that occurs and every communication that you send to candidates to reflect the attributes, interests and goals of career activists. From your simple choice of words – avoid the term “job seeker” on your corporate career site, for example – to the way a job posting is written, aim first and always at your target demographic.

Step 2: Determine what you stand for. Use a consistent message in every job posting, email, InMail, print ad, career fair handout and phone call for, to and with candidates. The lens for that consistency is your employment brand. That statement should identify the key aspects of what it’s like to work in your organization. Why? Because research by the Recruiting Roundtable has found that it is the key trigger for piquing the interest of top talent.

Step 3: Be more than a one trick pony. Build a multifaceted sourcing and recruiting campaign that is tailored to the behaviors of top talent online and off. Use a focus group of current high performing employees in your target demographics to identify which techniques (e.g., recruitment advertising, networking, career fairs) to use and where to use them (e.g., which job boards, association career centers, social media sites) . Then, deploy the campaign so that you are continuously probing the full range and depth of the “A” and “B” populations your employer wants to hire.

Step 4: Don’t count on blind luck. Measure the outcome of each tactic and venue that’s used to determine its effectiveness. Metrics are idiosyncratic to each organization, but typically they involve touches (i.e., the traffic that’s generated among top talent), conversions (i.e., the number of applies that occur) and/or the number of applies accepted for an interview (i.e., the quality of the candidates attracted). Those evaluations should then be rolled up into an assessment of the overall campaign based on the number of new hires it produced, and that insight in turn should be used to revise and refine the campaign as necessary.

The war for the best talent can’t be won with a single recruiting technique or website. It requires a multifaceted campaign that is continuously measured and adjusted to ensure that it is focused on top talent and consistently delivering a message that resonates with A-listers.

Thanks for reading,

Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hang Onto the Job of Your Dreams, The Career Activist Republic, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, and WEDDLE’s Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Get them at and at the all new today.