I recently heard a scary story from a manager in the radio industry. Let’s call her Susan.
It seems that Susan, who is by the way, very happy in her current position, was approached by a competitor about a management position they have open. Susan was taught to always listen when approached, so she had a discussion with the caller. She listened, and at the end of the conversation the caller asked her to fill out an online application, to send her resume, and to put together a presentation on why she should be hired so they could move forward.
What did Susan do? She did nothing. She didn’t approach them, she wasn’t sold on the job, and she sure wasn’t about to waste time filling out applications or creating a presentation when she didn’t even know if she wanted the job. On top of it all, due to the process that they were asking her to spend time on, she was pretty turned off. Needless to say, they did not further their discussion. This approach failed big time.
Why didn’t this approach work? It always did in the past. After all, why would someone not jump at the chance to work for them? They had a good reputation, good billing, and felt it was a great opportunity.
Hiring today is not like it was in the past. We can’t assume that everyone is always looking. And if they didn’t approach you, they sure won’t spend time to fill out documents for a company which they aren’t sold on joining. What a waste of time.
Finding and landing top talent is much more competitive today. Potential hires need to be broken into two categories – job seekers and passive candidates.
Job seekers are those who are interested in making a career change and may be involved in an active search. They are those who come to you either via responding to a job posting or a referral. Possibly they have done their homework but in many cases they are desperate to find any job and not necessarily a career. By all means, if they have approached you, do your homework and ask them to fill out paperwork, do a presentation on why they should be hired, etc.
Passive candidates however are another breed. They are happy where they are and they haven’t thought about looking for a new job. They need to be sold on your opportunity much like a target account is sold on using your properties for their messages.
Once a passive candidate has been identified, you should approach them to determine via conversations, not interviews, if there is a mutual interest to proceed at this time or in the future. They won’t have resumes prepared and should not be asked to jump through hoops, especially when they are not actively looking to make a move. If, during the conversation, there is interest, it is fine to ask them to put together an updated overview of their career, but it may work better if you take notes in your conversations. Asking too much too soon will more than likely get you nowhere.
Consider the difference between a “call-in” and an account that is advertising on another medium but not with you. They need to be approached and treated differently. The same goes with these two distinctly different types of prospective hires.