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3 Steps to Finding the Perfect Candidate

(October 27, 2008) Moises Lopez is back with more Recruiting Search Techniques.

What recruiter doesn't dream about the perfect candidate?

You work long and hard at a difficult assignment for weeks, you do everything you set out to do, and you run out of fresh leads. Frustrated, you feel you have tried everything or that there's something you've been neglecting to do or you've simply followed every lead to no avail. There must be a solution out there that's more effective, right?

You need to understand the careful preparation needed for setting up strategies and managing a search.

Recruiters who plunge spontaneously into a new search, looking through databases without a search strategy, will end up frustrated and discouraged in no time flat.

So prepare for a new search. It will take legwork, foresight, time, and patience to get it right. Initiating a bold shift in your search strategy could be one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do. Here are some steps to help you to that end:
    1. Go back to the beginning. Before setting a strategy you need to set the foundation by establishing a planning process by assessing requirements. You may be familiar with the skill set, but start again and define exactly what you are looking for. It is not enough to create a list of searchable keywords. You shouldn't be concerned with keywords nor at this point, but rather about understanding the full set of parameters your candidate should possess.

    At this point your assessment should be a high level data collection and analysis starting with the job description. Identify the principal focus of the job description, try breaking it down into key parts or concepts. This will be especially helpful when you are ready to combine the concepts using Boolean Operators. Focus on the skill more so than keywords. It is important that you understand what you are looking for, and in what context terms are used. Words can change meaning due to their association with other words, and an imprecise use of words can lead to irrelevant results.

    Research the identified concepts and translate them to searchable terms. You may need to consult online resources i.e. dictionaries, encyclopedias like AcronymFinder or Wikipedia.

    2. The second step would be to analyze the market, in other words to define where you are targeting. Most of us know that it is important to find and target the right audience, but sometimes how or why are unclear. Spend time on this step because it is very, very important. The selection of potential companies to understand and research involves segmenting the market, choosing which segments of the market are appropriate, and determining the types of candidates that can be found in each segment. This allows you to identify the specific market segment for which your position may have its greatest appeal. Then, with this segment as the target market, you can establish appropriate and effective sourcing and recruitment practices. This step is also essential to understanding the needs of your prospective candidates and the best way to address them.

    Create a target list of companies you wish to penetrate. Be sure to include physical address, phone number, and website information. Use research tools like Hoover's,, Linkedin, etc. to find information about target companies.

    One of the greatest advantages to market research for recruiters is that when you engage in the different data gathering techniques you will be going further than your competitors and in doing so you will be differentiating yourself from them with the knowledge gained.

    3. the next step is to define your target's habits. Once you understand the skills to be searched, the target market segments and their intricacies, the next step is to define your target's habits. What does their world consist of? What magazines or journals do they read? What conferences might they attend? What blogs might they read? What discussion forums do they participate in? Who do they talk to everyday? What are they like? Try to uncover anything that is helpful in understanding your prospective candidates.
In researching your candidates, look at where and how they develop influential relationships. This exercise is meant to help you to acquire insights from the candidate's perspective and gaining knowledge on what interests the candidate.

After following the steps above you are ready to set your search plan into motion. Your plan should include a strong value proposition that distinctly benefits prospective candidates. This is based on quantifiable contributions. Specifying target companies likely to appreciate this message. Getting the most out of your search strategy also means that you must continually monitor your results. Think about your sourcing metrics as an online search management tool - experimenting, testing, and always improving your approach and your search strings to maximize your ROI. Build your search step by step and review the results after each step allowing them to guide your progress.

Don't forget to include a networking element to your strategy. Get in touch with people you know that can guide and inspire you. They can help you find leads, but more important, they can give you a real sense of "who" and "where" the candidates are and what they may need. Use these contacts as relaxed, informational interviews to get a sense of what might be out there. Also, if you are recruiting in fields with a scarcity of workers, you may include in your search strategy an element to upgrade your skills through education. There are streamlined training programs that can provide you with specific techniques that could be useful in your search.
Moises Lopez
Moises Lopez is a talent acquisition/sourcing professional. He is a distinguished writer and trainer in Advanced Sourcing techniques. He participated at the first ever Global Sourcing Conference, "SourceCon" where he served as an expert in a panel discussion of telephone sourcing ethics. He also served as co-editor in the development of the first Global Sourcing newsletter, "The Source". He was a featured speaker at the 2008 SourceCon conference and will be conducting one of the 2008 ERE Fall Expo sourcing tracks this week.

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