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How to Attract Top Candidates Without Posting to Job Boards Everyone else is flocking online to find new employees. Here are five ways you can uncover superstar job candidates without visiting a single site.

By Chris McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


In his book The Roadmap to Freedom, peak performance expert Chris McIntyre describes how to build a core team of superstars that will help you lead your company to the next level. In this edited excerpt, the author details the five ways you can uncover superstar candidates offline.

Yes, social media can connect you with potential superstars. But don't forget about the face-to-face approach either. Here are a few ways you can find superstar talent offline.

1. Make Superstars Look for You
Getting noticed by the best happens more when you're the best. Imagine what life would be like if superstar employees were begging to work for you. If they're not, I challenge you to figure out why.

Here are some questions that might help:

  • Do superstars seek us out? Why? Why not?
  • What is it about working here that differentiates us from our competition?
  • What indicators do we consistently reference to keep tabs on our reputation?
  • How might those indicators be changing (i.e., social media)?
  • What are a couple of reasons a superstar would not choose us other than salary?
  • What can we do about it?

Being the best means you're less likely to have to battle with the mass of mediocre competitors out there. The value of clarifying why you're not currently the best in the minds of superstars could highlight a competitive advantage your competition currently has on you. You may want to plug that hole.

Related: How to Hire the Right Employees for Your Startup

2. Two Degrees of Separation
In 1929, the Hungarian poet Frigyes Karinthy suggested you could access anyone on the planet through leveraging no more than six different people; this became popularly known as "six degrees of separation." I'd bet the right kind of talent for your business is less than two degrees of separation from you right now. In other words, someone you know knows someone you might want to hire.

How many contacts do you currently have in your contact list? If you're one of those small-business owners with hundreds -- or even thousands -- of contacts, I guarantee all your staffing needs are sitting right under your nose.

Don't be afraid to network in-house, too. Most superstars know other superstars. Chances are, they can connect you to a new addition they would be willing to work with. Even if you're not ready to hire, it may be useful to have lists of possible hires standing by.

Related: 5 Best Places to Find Qualified Talent

3. Overbook Like the Airlines
Phil Coady, CEO of software development company Microgroove, said he likens the superstar hiring process to "overbooking like the airlines do." Why not find talent before you need to? Attend trade shows and loiter around the halls of professional organizations and forums within your industry. You might also check in with vendors, suppliers, and other contacts associated with your craft.

By periodically cycling through your contacts, you'll be able to stay connected to the talent pool and find yourself less frequently in a hiring rut without options. You may want to check in with one or two contacts every month. Maybe one month you could check in with a few vendors, just to say hello. The following month, you might communicate with a few key suppliers. The goal is to keep potential leads warm in case you ever need to find a new superstar.

4. Always Hiring WOW'ers
Steven Jones, CEO of Jones and Associates Consulting, a diversity consulting firm, suggested:

One of our criteria for hiring people is when they walk into a room, the response of people is "Wow . . . I want to listen to that person." Those folks have flexibility, humility, and their egos in check. They've got the talent. They have the intellectual rigor and communication skills to take complicated issues and present them in a way that moves people to action.

Have you ever met someone who made you say "Wow — she was great!" Maybe you received exceptional service in a restaurant or at a hotel. Or perhaps you heard an outstanding speech. You might even have seen someone hand a stranger back his dropped wallet or give up his seat on the subway to someone. Notice these people, and add them to your contact list.

5. Dig Up Rough Diamonds and Pre-Credentialed Superstars
You should regard a down economy as an ideal time to find cheap diamonds. Part of the value of economic turmoil and high unemployment is that superstar talent can be purchased for minimal cost. People get laid off from jobs they've had for decades. Many of those folks never needed degrees and now find themselves stuck because they don't have formal credentials. Those highly skilled folks are diamonds in the rough.

Similarly, don't be afraid to take a risk on the pre-credentialed crowd -- someone without the latest degree or certification. Maybe they lack certain technical skills but have "wow" people skills. Hire for the wow, and be flexible enough to teach the how.

The pre-credentialed pool offers the biggest bang for your buck. These are the superstars who will shine soon regardless of where they land, so you may as well get them before your competition does.

Related: The Four People You Need on Your Team

The Roadmap to FreedomThis article is an excerpt from Roadmap to Freedom, available from Entrepreneur Press.

Chris McIntyre is the author of The Roadmap to Freedom: A Small-Business Owner's Guide to Connecting People to a Core Message (Entrepreneur Press, 2012). He is a motivational speaker, executive coach and consultant focused on peak productivity. He is based in San Diego, Calif.

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