How to find candidates

It’s a sign! How a good agency finds its candidates.

The other night I was out for dinner with a client. It was actually my second evening meal of the day; my calendar is not always my own, and my wife had arranged for us to go out for a pizza to celebrate my daughter’s sixth birthday, after school. This diary clash wasn’t 100% my wife’s fault; I probably should have remembered this important date, and planned accordingly.

Anyway, here I was with my client, enjoying a curry. After some small talk we got down to business, and ended up talking about the placements that we’ve made with his company over the course of our working relationship.

We discussed one chap in particular. He’s been there for nearly three years, and is now in charge of a team. I remembered him well, mainly because of how we found him in the first place. His cv came to us after his wife noticed the Blues Point sign hanging on the wall in the street outside the office; she looked at our website and told him to get in touch. This was a sign that had only been put up the week before.

I told this story and immediately wished I hadn’t, because the client latched on to it and pointed out that they had clearly paid too high a fee!

He was joking (I assume!), but this exchange made me realise that he might not be fully aware of what we actually do for our money. He knows about the interviews, the technical tests, and the behavioural assessments, but in this case I think he felt it was all a little bit too easy.

In fact a lot of work goes on behind the scenes, even when the candidate comes to us, but we don’t make a big deal of it.

So – if you’re curious – this is what I wish I’d told my client about how we find candidates.

How we find candidates

  1. The search begins when we take the job order. This is perhaps the most important step! We aim to understand as much as possible about the role, the company, the benefits, the career development opportunities, the culture, the behavioural requirements, and the other members of the team. The more we know, the more focused we can be in our search for a match, and the better the result for all concerned.
  2. We ask our colleagues for recommendations (a good source, as they are speaking to local candidates all day long).
  3. We ask external contacts for recommendations, and we encourage them to open up by paying a referral fee.
  4. We advertise the role, usually on the following websites: Jobsite, Jobserve, CV library, Totaljobs, CW Jobs, Monster and Reed. This is nowhere near as productive a route as it used to be, but we still need to do it. We haven’t advertised in print for a while, but it can work for high-profile roles.
  5. We actively search for candidates on most of the above sites.
  6. We use LinkedIn. At Blues Point we have an average of 2,000 contacts each, and we subscribe to premium accounts in order to reach deeper into the LinkedIn network. This is essentially a modern headhunting exercise, so we need to know what we are talking about. See point 1. We’ve had professional training on how to use the LinkedIn search facility properly.
  7. We search Google for candidates with their own websites and internet profiles.
  8. We search our internal database (called Tracker). We have thousands of candidates on there, mainly in the Midlands. They’re not all actively looking for work, of course!
  9. We broadcast via Facebook and Twitter, if appropriate. This occasionally works, but isn’t a banker.
  10. We search Facebook and Twitter (there are tools to help you do this).
  11. We advertise on our own website.
  12. We send a mailshot to appropriate candidates on our database.
  13. We send an email to our candidate mailing list.

And only when we have done all these things do we sit back and wait for people to see our sign outside.

So now – a week later and after having written this blog post – I realise that I’m no longer embarrassed about admitting that we found a candidate via the sign.  It’s just the candidate sourcing method that happened to work on that occasion.

In fact, there is only one thing from that evening that I regret.

The damage to my waistline.