first_img Comments are closed. Keeping in touch with the talent poolOn 1 Nov 2002 in Personnel Today When it comes to finding the right people at the right time, having priorknowledge of who’s available is essential, says Liz SimpsonWhen headhunter Bob Lambert was chief HR officer for the Stride Rite shoecompany, he worked with a ‘world class’ director of executive recruitment namedMary, who focused her energies on extensive networking. Her Rolodex crammedwith 10,000 names, proved that she knew everyone who was anyone in the footwearindustry. That way, she could find out which people were unhappy in their jobsand which bosses regularly drove their staff to seek other positions. Mary’s skill in building trusting relationships, honed and refined over 20years, enabled Stride Rite to target suitable candidates for jobs even beforethey had decided to leave their current company. Although not always a fairassessment, the best talent is typically either working already or onlyunemployed for a very short period. Whether you’re operating in a market of 4 per cent or 10 per centunemployment, the challenge of passive recruitment remains the same: How do youfind the right candidates at the right time – which may involve a completelydifferent pool of individuals than those actively responding to current jobopenings – when you don’t have the benefit of a ‘Mary’? Now head of executive search firm Christian & Timbers’ SouthernCalifornia office, Lambert says there’s no substitute for the personal touch,but he acknowledges the advantages of technology that enables companies toattract, communicate with and – when appropriate – target passive candidateswho otherwise would be off their radar screens. Passive recruitment is a way of maintaining relationships with potentialcandidates who may not be ready to move into your organisation right now – butcould well be in the future. And thanks to the internet, building suchrelationships is easier than ever before. The biggest advantage of this internet-based technology lies in enablingusers to create a ‘community’ of passive candidates who might be willing to jumpship if the position and price are right. Jay Rombach, corporate HR consultant for Royal Caribbean Cruises’ shore-siderecruiting system in Miami, Florida, US, explains how it works for them. “We went live on 1 March, 2001 with’s automated websitesolution. We get around 450 people visiting our jobs website every day, whichgave us the capability to build an online database of individuals who areintrigued about our company and may wish to work for us,” he says.”The fact they don’t need to post a CV but can fill out a personal profilethat’s as anonymous as they wish it to be is certainly a big enticement. “Within six months the system got its first real big test. We’d redrawnour sales regions to create a new area which opened up 15 sales positions. Weobviously needed to fill them quickly, given that these positions driverevenue. We filled all but two of them – which came from employee referrals –using’s technology. The moment a job becomes available the systemsends an e-mail to each well-matched individual in our existing passive pool toask if they’re interested in applying. “From the time we posted these positions to the moment we got the rightpeople on board was around 45 days – which included flying them to Miami forinterviews. What also marked this as a huge success was the fact the monthlysubscription fee we pay for this service is significantly less than what wewould have paid in agency fees had we outsourced this recruiting instead,”he added. Rombach, who’s been a recruiter for 15 years, points out that in the ‘olddays’ someone might have faxed in their CV for a position they’d seen in aSunday newspaper which, if it didn’t meet those specific requirements, ended upstagnating somewhere in a filing cabinet. Not only does this technology helpyou maintain a more effective database, he says, but at the touch of a button,the system can identify those individuals who may have contacted your companyabout a different job at an earlier time and now match the criteria for acurrent vacancy. But specific jobs are not the only things attracting passive candidates tocareer sites. In the wake of the recent corporate scandals in the US,increasing numbers are saying they are most interested in working fororganisations with outstanding employer brands – those known for their ethicalstanding and excellent employee relations. Kim Peters, president of Toronto-based Workopolis, a leading Canadianinternet recruitment and job search firm says: “I would say that the earlyadopters of this technology are large organisations with recognisable brands,which could not keep track of the overwhelming response without it. Even ifthey don’t have an opening for that person today, they may need them in thefuture and so it’s advantageous to be able to maintain a ‘virtual’ relationshipwith them over time. “It’s also a strategic tool that can help any organisation build forthe future. As it matures, it will provide rich data on how long it takes tofill jobs in certain geographical areas or categories. In that way recruiterswill have a more accurate handle on the sort of lead times they need.” There are other knock-on benefits to HR professionals, as Sara Mateer,employment manager at engineering services and satellite hardware manufacturerSwales Aerospace near Washington DC, explains: “Once a member of ourtalent community has expressed interest in a particular position, the relevanthiring manager will require them to answer a set of qualifying questionsonline. These include standard questions around citizenship and education aswell as highly specific ones related to the duties and responsibilities of theposition offered. These responses flesh out the profile and information we haveabout that candidate in the same way as a preliminary phone screening,”says Mateer. “But instead of a third party relaying the intelligence to the hiringmanager, the moment the candidate hits the ‘submit now’ button, theirinformation is delivered immediately to the manager’s desktop, with a copy toHR, and is scored in a way that helps the manager decide which ones are worthinterviewing,” she says. “This is much quicker and effective than thetraditional paper process which helps the hiring manager stay in control oftheir hiring needs – especially important in a highly specialised industry likeours where we continuously need to source qualified candidates ahead ofdemand.” As with all technology, however, the system is just an enabler warns TonyLee, editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal’s on-line career site, “The internet has certainly made it easier for people to identifyopportunities and investigate them in a way that helps protect their anonymityuntil an appropriate time – and there are advantages for companies using this kindof technology,” he says. “But if you want to engender any sort ofloyalty from passive candidates, sending them an occasional automated e-mailwon’t cut it.” Many companies have successfully maintained a relationship with outsidetalent through a good old-fashioned ‘buddy system’, he says. “Whencompanies receive an enquiry or a CV from someone, they assign a currentemployee as a ‘buddy’ to e-mail them on a regular basis, keeping themup-to-date with the organisation and establishing a personal relationship withthem over time. “There are advantages in using this kind of technology, but it can alsobackfire as it leads to expectations that you may not be in a position tofulfill,” Lee adds. “For example, you could regularly correspond with1,000 people, but over the course of two years only hire 10 of them. Thatresults in more bad will than good will.” Like most new approaches, online talent maintenance will develop and matureover time and is a big improvement on a paper-based system that did the recruitingdepartment no favours in trying to find and capture the right kind of talent atthe right time. As Christian & Timbers’ Lambert points out: “HR should not just beorder takers, simply trying to find candidates who are interested, qualified andavailable is a full-time job in itself. Hence there’s a lot of potential in aprocess that sources and automates an ongoing communication with large numbersof passive candidates.” From that point on, the more ‘high touch’ you can be with your existing andpotential talent, the more likely you are to capitalise on what comes to youthrough high tech. Royal Victoria Hospital, Barrie Canada: Keeping the CVs flowingLike many others who forecast,recruit and retain qualified staff in the healthcare field, Richard Kelly, HRdirector at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, situated 120km north ofToronto, Canada, faces many potential challenges. And the unprecedented growthof this highly desirable city, has had a knock-on effect on the hospital. Theincreased demand for medical workers, required to serve an ageing populationthat is living longer and requires more medical services, currently correspondswith a scarcity of family practice physicians, pharmacists and laboratorytechnicians, as well as some specialist nursing skills. Since it was opened at the end of 1997, demand for most of themedical services and programmes that this community hospital offers hasincreased by 68 per cent. And despite low turnover and long service employmentit doesn’t take a genius to work out that something must be done – soonerrather than later. Kelly therefore entered into a relationship with Workopolis,whereby potential candidates can be connected to career opportunities at thehospital – either via Workopolis’ website or the hospital’s own. As a result,the hospital’s search has been able to take on international dimensions.  “Our recruitment efforts are very much at an internationallevel,” explains Kelly. “The internet gives us broader exposure to agreater source of candidates, but most importantly, it allows us to maintain arelationship with people with rare skills.”For example, we may be looking for more familyphysicians. When someone with such skills contacts us or applies for aparticular position, we can arrange for the system to automatically flag themfor attention. One of the reasons we entered into this programme was to have abetter way of managing the CV flow we currently receive.”Once candidates have registered their information on the hospital’scareer site, any future contact automatically updates that information. Thisconstantly updated database allows regular e-mails to be sent to passivecandidates to see if they’re still interested in working at the Royal Victoria.”The nature of the communication depends on thecandidate’s level of interest,” Kelly says. “It can be short androutine or, if there’s someone we particularly want to establish a relationshipwith, we’ll send them a kit offering information about the hospital and ourcommunity. Whenever we have an opportunity to bring folks to the hospital tocheck out our facilities, we arrange for their spouses to be taken on a tour ofthe city. We tailor that to their interests by sending an e-mail questionnairein advance so we know what they’d like to see while they’re here.”Not surprisingly, Kelly reports a high conversion rate betweenpassive candidates and future employees. Being ahead of the game is an vital to that success.”A key part of recruitment is ensuring that we have ourfull complement of people with appropriate skills, and we’ve been able tomanage that up to now.  But we’re righton the edge when it comes to nursing and pharmacy personnel, and therefore haveto keep on top of this situation. That’s meant taking a much more progressiveand innovative approach than we may have done in the past,” Kelly adds.”We’ve more than 200 family physicians in the area andwhen they go to conferences they distribute information and refer to ourwebsite. Once suitable individuals come online we maintain regular contact.”– Christian & Timbers, global executive search – onlinerecruiting technology –Canadian provider of internet recruitment and job search solutions – SwalesAerospace– The Wall Street Journal online career site Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more