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5 Best Practices to Proactively Find and Recruit High Potential Talent For employers and hiring managers who are ready to take matters into their own hands, these strategies should help.

By Andre Lavoie Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Unfortunately for employers, great talent doesn't grow on trees. Highly skilled, experienced candidates with high potential can sometimes be hard to come by -- especially for employers taking the "post-and-pray" approach to finding their next great hire.

ManpowerGroup's 2015 Talent Shortage Survey of more than 41,700 hiring managers revealed that nearly 40 percent of employers are having difficulty filling jobs this year -- the highest percentage since 2007. The top reason, according to 35 percent of respondents, is a lack of available applicants.

So what should employers do when the applications aren't rolling in? The simple answer is to take a proactive approach to finding suitable job candidates. Sourcing, proactively searching for new job candidates through resume databases, social media and the like, is essential to the success of any company's recruiting or hiring process.

Related: 7 Must-Have Attributes of a Member of a Super Startup Team

Sourcing is more powerful and crucial than ever, thanks to the wealth of information available online, from community forums to resume databases to social profiles. For employers and hiring managers who are ready to take matters into their own hands, here are five candidate sourcing best practices to keep in mind:

1. Avoid basic, run-of-the-mill searches.

Running overly basic or general searches leads to equally basic and generic results -- not to mention, way too many results. To narrow down search results and close in on the hidden talent pools, employers and hiring managers need to move beyond simple buzzword searches.

Generic skill or technical-based searches, while applicable, will result in people who simply mention those terms in their resumes. Instead, try including detailed terms that focus on responsibility, such as create, manage, administer, design and configure.

2. Take advantage of multiple sources.

Modern technology and the amount of data available online has made it easier than ever to find potential job candidates (without ever leaving the office). But social media, resume databases and online forums aren't the only places to find top-notch talent. Here are a few creative sourcing and pipelining tips:

  • Search the blogosphere and other personal online sites that feature portfolios.
  • Host an "open house" and identify candidates who are already interested in the company's culture.
  • Attend industry-related events to build your network and connect with potential future candidates.
  • Get involved in the community and spark an interest in socially conscious millennials.

Related: The Fresh Approach of Google's Star Recruiter

3. Dig a well before you're thirsty.

Waiting until the moment a position opens up to start searching for talent to fill it ensures that employers and hiring managers will always be playing catch-up. Instead, employers should have an ongoing pipeline of qualified candidates in their back pockets. Ideally, when a position becomes available, employers should have at least one person in mind who qualifies -- especially for companies that often hire for very specific jobs.

When sourcing for one position, keep quality talent in mind for future positions. Sourcing gives employers and hiring managers an opportunity to connect with talent long before the need ever arises, which makes filling job openings with qualified candidates that much easier.

4. Leverage, but don't depend on, your tracking system.

A company's applicant tracking system (ATS) isn't just great for storing resumes and running reports, it's also a valuable sourcing tool. Be that as it may, employers shouldn't solely depend on their ATS to track down quality talent. For starters, a good majority of resumes in an ATS are discarded for not containing the right keywords. But the one word an ATS can't find? Potential.

When it comes to sourcing talent with high potential to do well in a position and develop into a leadership role, an ATS's skills are limited -- that's where employers and hiring managers come in. An ATS should be used to supplement sourcing, not as the sole sourcing tool.

5. Don't post and pray.

The days of post and pray are long gone. While it's important to create job posts that attract and encourage job seekers to apply, it's simply not enough to depend on job descriptions alone when it comes to sourcing talent -- especially when that talent isn't actively looking for a new job opportunity.

According to LinkedIn's 2015 Global Recruiting Trends Report, 75 percent of professionals consider themselves "passive" candidates -- that's an awful lot of potential candidates that job posts don't cater to. But by incorporating some of the candidate sourcing best practices outlined above, employers and hiring managers can take a more proactive approach to find great talent for their company.

Related: Why CEOs Need a Talent Acquisition Strategy

Andre Lavoie

Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the first talent-alignment platform that aims to bridge the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals.

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