Recruiting Top Talent Begins with These Key Steps

by Mike Hunter

Many employers and recent college graduates don’t think colleges are adequately preparing students for employment. A Cengage survey found that a high percentage of graduates feel unqualified and that they are lacking the skills seen in job descriptions.

This may explain in part why businesses are struggling to find the right talent – even as millions of people look for work and more companies hire again as the COVID-19 pandemic winds down. But this shortage issue isn’t just about insufficient education or skill development; it also illuminates another problem many companies have – the outdated ways they try to recruit qualified candidates, says Kathleen Duffy, author of Revolutionizing Recruitment: How Recruitment Research Is Reshaping The Industry.

“Many recruiting and hiring leaders are stuck in the old ways of doing things,” says Duffy, who is CEO of Duffy Group Inc., a global recruitment firm. “Traditional executive recruiting methods have failed to deliver the niche talent or build the talent pipelines companies need.

“Some companies are paying significant sums for someone else to screen and interview candidates, when what these businesses really need is outside-the-box thinking and a more cost-effective way to identify the right candidates. HR and hiring managers are facing a new normal, and that means finding candidates who are flexible and creative, and who can successfully navigate through changing times.”

Duffy says hiring managers need to reevaluate how they recruit. Recruitment research, which can be done internally or in collaboration with outside executive recruitment firms, is an emerging approach, and Duffy says the following steps are key to that process:

  • Be a detective to find the ‘sizzle’ and develop strategy. The first step is doing a deep dive not only into the available position, but also into the company and its culture to build a profile of the ideal candidate. “Finding the right, talented people requires great detective work,” Duffy says. “The strategy-development stage of recruitment research involves deeply understanding what it’s like to be a part of your organization and what’s special about it – the ‘sizzle’ that distinguishes your company from its competitors; those little-known factors that will excite a new candidate.”
  • Uncover hidden prospects. Duffy says that sometimes people who would be a great fit for a job aren’t actively looking. “You’ll have a larger talent pool from which to draw,” she says, “and those potential candidates may already be filling your job description at a competitor.” More detective work is required in this stage, Duffy says, as companies and industries where future candidates may currently work are identified.
  • Promote the company in concert with the position. “This is when you want to sell candidates on the ‘sizzle,’“ Duffy says, “and tell the company story in a way that gets them excited. Once you convey the company’s attributes, journey, and goals, it’s about explaining to the candidate the important role they can play in that narrative.”
  • Evaluate candidates in depth. The focus here is on assessing candidates by asking them in-depth interview questions to determine whether they meet a company’s specific needs and fit the culture. Duffy says more than one screening interview is necessary before compiling a list of the best prospects. “These questions are based on the knowledge gained during the company’s initial strategy development,” Duffy says. “It’s a deep dive going beyond the job description and the resume.”

“Recruitment research is a strategic process that enables companies to both respond to immediate hiring needs,” Duffy says, “and develop a talent pool to fill future vacancies.”

Kathleen Duffy is president and CEO of Duffy Group Inc., a recruitment firm she founded in 1991 that recruits for national and international clients across a variety of industries. The author of Revolutionizing Recruitment: How Recruitment Research Is Reshaping The Industry, she is a leading authority on unearthing hidden job candidates. Duffy serves as a mentor for social entrepreneurs through Seed Spot, and was a member of the first formal mentoring program for the National Association of Women Business Owners. She is a member of the Forbes Human Resources Council, and the Phoenix Business Journal named her one of the Most Admired Leaders in 2019. Kathleen is also the recipient of numerous local and national awards, including the prestigious ATHENA Award bestowed on women who exemplify leadership, community service and mentoring of other women.

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