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4 Ways to Conduct an Awesome Talent Search Is your persistence in finding the 'perfect' candidate dragging you down?

By Heather R. Huhman Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


When it comes to the talent search, hiring managers don't have as much control as they used to. A November 2015 survey by MRINetwork surveying 600 worldwide workplaces found that the market, at the time of the survey, was 90 percent candidate-driven.

Related: 30 Secrets to Hiring the Right People

That wasn't -- and isn't -- good, because the skills gap remains, and employers are rejecting candidates, in hopes that the perfect hire will walk through the door. But that kind of persistence for finding perfection is a negative factor in the talent search: A December 2015 study by Elsevier described the costs of persistence as including not just money, but time -- and potentially great hires.

Clearly, hiring processes are of date and need rebuilding so that companies can hire the best candidates. Here's how:

1. Revamp branding and the candidate experience.

Outdated hiring processes tend to underestimate the power of a clearly defined brand. However, passionate employees love both what they do and what their company stands for. One of the easiest ways to improve branding is to have an engaging online presence. And with the technology available, that's an easy change to make.

But the definition of the best type of "online brand" is changing. In late 2015, 61 percent of the 3,894 corporate HR talent acquisition decision-makers surveyed in the Global Recruiting Trends 2016 report called online professional networks, like LinkedIn, an effective branding tool, sharply up from 49 percent in 2012.

In late 2015, 47 percent of those surveyed called social media effective, down a tad from 48 percent in 2012. And in late 2015, 68 percent of those surveyed considered company websites an effective tool -- way down from 80 percent in 2012. So, professional networks are up; and company websites are down, when it comes to deciding on what tools are effective.

Yet, despite that dip, company websites are helpful for the opportunity they offer for employee feedback, allowing candidates a closer look into what the company is all about. Companies accordingly should try incorporating visual recruiting tools like Zoomforth that allow employees to record video or photo presentations on why they work for their company. Including those employee commentaries on the company's website, hiring portal and social media will do wonders for showcasing the brand.

Additionally, companies can use social media to connect and engage with candidates. This means doing more than just auto-post-ing the latest home blog or company news. Instead, companies might consider participating in already established industry groups or starting their own.

Persistence may not be good when it comes to an outdated hiring process, but it is essential for revamping a brand to improve the candidate experience. Efforts like starting a LinkedIn group, replying to posts on Twitter or sharing fun office happenings on Facebook will make the brand come to life.

Related: 3 Tips for Owning Your Company's Most Important Decision: Hiring

2. Don't be too picky.

The top priority for 55 percent of employers is to make key strategic hires, according to the previously mentioned MRINetwork survey. Hires should be taken seriously, but there's a fine line between being strategic and being too picky.

Many old-school talent searches have an ideal candidate profile in mind and specific qualifications they want the candidate to fulfill. However, this "perfect candidate" profile is not entirely realistic when the "perfect" criteria for the position versus the culture differ. Instead, the new talent search should set realistic expectations and hire based on the potential a candidate can bring to the organization.

The skills gap shouldn't be the end of the road if a candidate doesn't check every box on the skill requirements. Instead, companies should focus on the skills candidates do check off and determine which ones can be trained. If there is a check mark next to "trainable," and that person aligns with the company culture, the reward may well be greater than the risk.

3. Don't play hard to get.

The number-one reason candidates are declining job offers is not location or salary: 44 percent of job offers are being declined because the candidate has already accepted another job offer, according to the MRINetwork survey.

The survey revealed that a majority of offers take three-to-six weeks to be presented, leading candidates to accept the first job offered to them. So companies should update their hiring strategy for both a speedier turnaround, and for transparency with their applicants during the process.

Even if the process ultimately results in rejection, candidates want to be kept in the loop. So, companies should be honest, and tell candidates how many more interviews will be conducted, how many candidates are being hired, the time frame within which they will hear back and how they will be contacted once a decision is made.

These moves not only encourage candidates to consider waiting for the company's hiring decision but, in the long run, better present that company's brand. In fact, 65 percent of the 7,025 respondents in a February 2015 CareerBuilder study said they were less likely to buy from a company they didn't hear back from after an interview.

4. Retrain existing talent

Many outdated talent recruiters fall into the habit of automatically posting a job listing publicly once a position opens up. But those recruiters would be wise to start a new talent search by looking internally.

Not only does the external talent search cost more and take longer, but internal candidates are already a fit with the culture and day-to-day operations. This decreases the possibility of a new hire leaving when he or she finds the job isn't what it was expected to be.

When a new position opens up, then, companies should notify employees of what the position entails and how to apply before the position is made public. When hiring internally, employees can see that their leaders believe in the growth of individuals within, fostering a greater sense of employee loyalty.

It's time, then, to leave your own company's outdated hiring practices behind and start anew. Put aside the old "persistence" attitude that's kept the same failed hiring strategy in place, and refocus on revamping your talent search.

Related: The Top Skills That Will Get You Hired

What are other ways talent searches can improve?

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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