May 25, 2018

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How to Recruit Top Talent Fast

Part I of II

“Attracting new top-notch recruits.” That’s what The New York Times calls what we do in an article on Yahoo!. Whether we work for a local staffing firm, a national search firm or human resources for a global company, this is what we get paid for: To find and attract the best talent to our clients.

In today’s candidate-driven market, our recruiting services are in demand. Over the past year, many have asked me, “What’s the recruiting market like now?” My response: “Depending on where you are and the candidates you’re recruiting, if 1999 was a 10, I’d say we’re at an 8.5.” Some say it’s a “10 all over again.” Amen to that.

Today we have new tools and technologies to help us. Search engines, online networks and software databases enable us to find, store and manage client and candidate information. But that’s the big picture. The key question for us here is this: How do we identify, motivate and secure the very best candidates for our clients? And do it quickly.

Those who have seen my training know I’m strategic in my approach and results-oriented in my techniques. And I like to pose situations to make people think, motivate and take action. So, here’s a scenario for you. Imagine this:

You’ll earn $100,000 at the end of 30 days, if you find the #1 candidate in your client’s market.

First, let me define what I mean here (and I’ll try to make is easy for you.) By find, I don’t mean recruit as in “the candidate resigns from a current employer and accepts a job at your client and is onboard for at least 30 days.” In this case, I mean “receive the resume in-house.” Easy, right? For #1 candidate, you’ll have to demonstrate that this is the best person for the job, bar-none. And by client’s market, I mean whether it be within a 20 mile radius or a national market, depending on your client’s reach and business needs.

I’ll go one further to sweeten the pot: You’ll have no competition. Internal or external, there are no other candidates but yours vying for this job. Piece of cake, right?

What’s your initial reaction to this offer? Drop everything and get to work asap? If you’re passionate about recruiting, this assignment should be all-consuming for the next 30 days of your life. If this $100K offer doesn’t strike you that way, you’re in the wrong profession. I’m not suggesting you’ll need to work around the clock 24/7 (though some may), but you should be thinking about it all the time.

The clock starts now. Ready? Go. What would you do first? The knee jerk response for many recruiters is to place online ads and call everyone you know. But is this really the right way to start? Thinking as a search consultant: To meet your goal and earn the hundred grand prize, strategy and planning can make or break you. So can vision. What’s vision?

From the start of every recruiting assignment, picture in your mind the ideal candidate you’re seeking. The direction comes from your client. The right background, experience, personality, compensation. A motivated person who wants your job. This person is out there.

Why is a recruiting vision so important? Because it will pull you toward your goal, toward your reward.

Before taking action (and you certainly want to be action-oriented) comes composing a recruiting plan to find this top candidate. Write down action steps you’ll take by specific dates. Now, I know this stuff can be dry but the most successful people in business draw up a plan and execute against it. It keeps you organized, on track and focused toward your goal.


Define background/skills - Day 1 Research market - Days 2-3 Identify candidates - Days 4-10 Contact and screen - Days 11-20 Qualify candidates - Days 21-25 Receive resumes - Days 26-30

Now that we have a vision and a plan, we need a strategy and techniques.

My firm’s recruiting strategy is threefold:

  1. Target qualified candidates. (Call in-market candidates with same job title.)
  2. Referral-based networking. (Warm referral approach with customized script.)
  3. Multi-media marketing. (Multiple follow-up with a variety of communications.)

To recruit top talent in a candidate-driven market, we need to market candidates like we market clients.

Now for the recruiting techniques. Before any call is placed, we need to research the names of every potential candidate in our client’s market. This is done with a combination of Internet tools and phone research, which I speak about in my training. Many search firms and recruiting departments have researchers who specialize in name sourcing.

In identifying qualified candidates, we need three pieces of information before calling any potential candidates:

  1. Their names (or nickname).
  2. Their functional titles (role in the organization).
  3. Their direct phone numbers (or cell number).
Sourcing all names in your client’s market could take three to eight days, even up to ten days, depending on the assignment. I have six proven name sourcing scripts which I share in my training.

The next step is contact with potential candidates. What do we say if we get voice mail? Who will pick up? The department assistant? The candidate? What do we say?

If you get a candidate’s voice message during a first recruit call, the primary objective is to elicit a call back.

Your message should be personable, suggesting a conversation. It should be customized, using language the person can relate to. And it should strike a curiosity, so the candidate will call you back.

If you get the department assistant or another person at this extension, say in a friendly, casual tone, “Oh, I must have dialed the wrong number. I was trying to reach {candidate’s first name}. When is the best time to reach him? And, what’s his number?” Always ask open-ended questions (not ones with a “yes” or “no” answer.) This will naturally help overcome objections. If the person you want picks up the phone, then you go into recruiting mode.

At this point, we’re about one third of the way (Day 11) toward our $100K in 30 days. Ahead of us, we still have the recruit calls, candidate follow up and receipt of the top candidate’s resume.

In PART II of this article, I’ll review specific recruiting techniques, including a Candidate Development Program. As always, I welcome your feedback. Please send to me at and I’ll be sure to respond.

- Mike Ramer

Mike Ramer, CPC, CSP is a trainer for the search and recruitment industry. He designed The Art of Search © training programs which he presents at industry events, in-house clients and conferences nationwide. For more about Mike’s upcoming training programs visit: