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Everyone Recruits, So Start Using These 2 Questions

We're in a "war for talent" (so I've been told once or twice). If you are an employee of a company you enjoy working for, that also makes you a de facto recruiter. I get it, you probably haven't been trained to be a recruiter (shame on your company). It's not your mission in life to become one, but with two questions, I can take your recruiting skills up a notch. As incentive to read, most companies offer employee referral bonuses, so think of this blog as a way to increase your odds at getting a piece of that reward!

So, we know more than 70% of job seekers are passive candidates - currently employed but may be open to career opportunities. I'm sure you have plenty of people in your own network who fall into this passive category (and you may not even realize it).

There are plenty of statistics on why employees leave companies, but every individual is different. Those passive candidates who have a foot (or most of their soul) out the door are easier to convince the grass is greener with your company. But plenty of top talent often is quite happy with their current company.

For those who are not full-time recruiters, a conversation with a potential passive candidate in your network may look like this:

You trying to recruit: "We have an open position. I think you'd be a good fit. Are you interested?"

Passive Candidate: "Not at this time. I'm happy with my current company."

You: "Okay. Let me know if that ever changes."

Now who is the passive one? I'd argue "you" in that example.

If you want a better chance at converting that conversation to your firm's next hire, consider asking these two questions:

  • What makes you stay at your current company?

  • What would it take to leave your current company?

The first question gets at the passive candidate's values. It's what they enjoy, what motivates them and what they may miss or seek to replace in a new role. Answers to this question allow you to craft a precise, tailored benefit statement on why choose your firm (vs. that standard elevator pitch you probably rehearsed). Now, there may be some things that your firm simply can't offer. For example, if what makes the candidate stay at their current company is "their boss", you can't just replicate that person. But you can ask what is it about their boss - and make the connection of those traits to the people at your firm.

The second question sounds like an open invitation for prospects to say something wild and outlandish, like "$1 billion and a private jet." Which would be nice, but if the candidate really responds that way, well, then it is a stronger indicator that your chances are slim to none to recruit (but hey, at least you'll know and not spend anymore time following up when new positions open). More realistically though is the candidate will actually layout what it would take. That may include benefits, role, responsibility, skill building, job title, salary, location (or nowadays remote work), or other perk. And maybe it fits with what you have to offer or maybe not. The point is that you understand what it would take and have a path to either make that happen or not.

It took me a bit of my early career years to realize that part of my role - no matter what job title I've held - is to be on the lookout for talented staff and recruit. I've seen conversations trying to refer and recruit staff fall short and realized that the two questions above can be impactful in attracting the top talent of passive candidates and understanding if your firm is next on their resume.


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