Recruiting is often likened to hunting, and for good reason. (After all, they don't call them "headhunters" for nothing). But are you actively hunting, i.e. strategically pursuing candidates? Or have you fallen into a more passive role, like a trapper on the sidelines, wondering when the candidate will make a move?

I recently asked Peter Kazanjy, co-founder of TalentBin, and Nancy Soni, founder of FILD, to muse on what separates the hunters from the trappers. So let's hone those hunting skills.

1. Line up your sights (or sites).

Peter Kazanjy MUG

Pete Kazanjy: It's actually less important to find the "newest" sites and it’s more important to identify the ones where the candidates you're looking for hang out and leave trails of what it is that they do. For instance, Meetup.com was founded in 2002, so it's not exactly "new,” but it maintains a rapidly growing userbase (20M people last check), especially amongst technical talent joining Android, iOS, Ruby, Java, and NoSQL Meetup groups. In fact, chasing the "hot new thing" which doesn't attract the folks you seek can be a needless distraction...

When it comes to timing, follow-up plays a critical role. Insights such as knowing which candidates have opened your emails or clicked on the links to job posts you've sent them can help in this piece of the process. This presents the perfect opportunity to engage with a candidate, especially one who hasn't yet responded to your email but opened and clicked through it.

NancySoniMugNancy Soni: We use a lot of different outlets - we constantly evaluate different sites and tools. We have a lot of word of mouth, too, particularly because I work with start-ups. It helps us find out where people are going, and talking to my peers or former coworkers helps us to do the same...

If we’re doing a targeted marketing to specific types of candidates, or east vs west coast, we tend to time things and reach out at different times or in different ways. It’s actually better to reach out after people are home from work and we typically interact through email or social media to get more personal.

2. Keep it logged. 

PK: This remains a huge problem for recruiters. Discovery is important, but maintaining concurrent conversations with hundreds of candidates is just too much for a single human brain to keep together! This is why a candidate relationship management solution of some sort –  whether it's your ATS or CRM – is key to making sure you're staying on top of all your candidates. It’s happened to me: I didn't follow up with a sales candidate at the right time, and she accepted another offer that hadn't even been on my radar. That’s why having a CRM which doesn't create more work for you is key. It’s also why a lot of folks are starting to think about CRM that automatically keeps track of who's been contacted, who's engaged, and who you need to follow up with – without lots of unnecessary clicking and busywork – and how that could be transformative for recruiters.

3. Follow the trails... they could lead to a "watering hole."

PK: More common [watering holes] include Github, StackOverflow, Meetup, and so on, but there have been times when recruiters have come across rarer examples. For instance, the U.S. Patent Database is chock full of candidates listed as "inventors" on various patents for which they worked on underlying technology, and when recruiters noticed this, it was a mindblowing experience. Just think… "All those patents by Google, Intel, Raytheon, etc. are just showing off all the engineers that work there. Wow!"

NS: I’m a big believer that there is not just one place for this. We do Meetups, tech events, and participate in all types of events and networking. There isn’t just one place - or a magic bullet - to find all candidates. You have to do a lot of everything often for it to fall into place. Going out and meeting people can help to foster these relationships.

Trappers

4. Explore their natural habitat.

PK: This is one of the biggest impacts of social data: the ability to use information from something a candidate tweeted, or "liked" on Facebook, or a non-professional Meetup they went to. It helps to build rapport and to drive open rates and response rates. It seems simple, but understanding that a software engineer in Los Angeles is a die-hard Red Sox fan and putting that in the subject line of your email can drive them to open that email and impress the candidate with your knowledge of them.

The biggest mistake trappers can make is relying on candidates to do the work themselves... Being aggressive is key in competitive situations and markets, and sometimes "trappers" have been lulled into a more passive state that could work against them.

NS: Because TalentBin pulls all of the information about an individual from online, you can tailor messages. For example, if someone loves a type of beer, you can tailor your message and share other interesting things about that topic... Take two seconds to look at someone to determine if they’re actually a good fit versus mass emailing from a Boolean/keyword search; it will help you to really write a targeted message and get a response.

box-trap1The trappers can have a short-sighted philosophy or thought-process on how they go about things... I did a placement three weeks ago and I had this candidate go out on four different company interviews - he got two offers from my companies, and he said to me at the end that we had built a great relationship throughout the process. He got an offer at the very end from another company, offering him more money, and the other recruiter working with him kept focusing on that aspect of the deal. Ultimately, though, he was more interested in the role I represented, so I tried to close that gap and he took the job. He was very happy and was excited about the opportunity and when he said he was afraid to tell the other recruiter because that recruiter was going to give him a hard time, I was taken aback - why is it okay for them to be mad if the opportunity wasn’t a fit? Of course, it’s disappointing when something doesn’t go your way, but it comes back to trust and relationship-building.  What will this person be saying about his experience to other potential candidates/clients?  Who will he reach out to in the future? Overall in recruiting, I’m not a big believer in pushing people into making decisions. Building a relationship is the most important aspect in recruiting...

Tags: Facebook, Advice, Twitter, Google, Android, ATS, CRM, Intel, Stack Overflow, Java, Github, Pete Kazanjy, Meetup.com, IOS, Ruby, NoSQL, Nancy Soni, US Patent Database, Raytheon, Red Sox