You are Sourcing Talent Wrong (Probably) - Rework your Pipeline

"The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world." - Steve Jobs.

Over the years, I've interviewed many people, and one thing is for sure - it's impossible to hire well without an excellent candidate pipeline.

With a lousy pipeline, you can only have so much success. You might have heard the computer science term "garbage in, garbage out," to summarise, with poor quality inputs (in this case, bad candidates), we can expect bad outputs (bad hires).

Hiring isn't just a HR problem.

They don't usually have the information to help you get the best candidates. Everyone in this workflow needs to be a little more proactive when creating a talent pipeline that doesn't suck.

Methods to adjust

Adverts - We can drastically increase our pool of CVs/resumes with adverts, but it usually doesn't help us get closer to finding the right candidate. Sometimes they may not have the best CV, or they will get buried by the flood of irrelevant applications. I find adverts are the easiest way to end up overwhelmed and overworked when finding the best candidates.

A new vacancy - Or the reactive flow. The usual flow for most businesses is that a new vacancy for a role opens up, and the manager has no idea how to fill the position. They send HR a job spec (usually copy-pasted from elsewhere) and start slinging it at candidates via LinkedIn or a stagnant talent pool.

What to do (if you aren't yet)

Create a system - Do not hire by gut!

It's a recipe for disaster. My worst hires have been people I have hired using my gut. And do you know what's harder than creating a system? Firing people.

The most stressful time in my life is trying to retrospectively fix a bad hire I made by not having a process that would have filtered these candidates out. Make it easy for you and your team to recognize a bad hire.

If you don't have an interview system, such as a scorecard for evaluating candidates, how can you quickly get to no so you can focus on the people who fit?

It is respectful of candidates and your team's time to get to a "no" as quickly as possible. With a great scorecard, you can promptly select people and move on.

Without a strict system, we can often get pressured into taking the wrong talent to stop us from stressing about the team's vacancy rather than if the candidate is the best fit for our business.

Give your team the tools to say no, or else they won't.

Use your network - The book Work Rules says to make* recruiting part of everyone's job. I agree with this! *

Most industry leaders cite this as the top way of generating the proper flow of candidates.

The problem is that managers rarely do it. If you have managers who aren't leveraging their network or don't feel responsible for building their teams - fix it!

Set goals for your managers (and yourself) to go and find the right people. This can easily be neglected without the metrics and a tiny bit of pressure.

This year, I am aiming to bring in 20 - 30 potentially great people a year to interview from personal and business networks.

In-house referrals - We touched off metrics and made recruiting everyone's job. Make sure there is a straightforward way for everyone in your business to refer someone. Many companies create a referral program but forget to communicate this after the launch.

People have jobs, so they will forget the details or even its existence. Remind everyone in your company as often as possible that you are looking for referrals and how to refer people.

Go to events - Is your network not producing those golden candidates? Well, it might be time to grow your network. People who attend domain-specific events are usually sincerely curious and willing to go above and beyond to improve their craft. It's not always the case, but I find it a much easier indicator than rummaging through a pile of CVs.

Get an external recruiter - Ultimately, you want to make your own business responsible for hiring, but sometimes you are in a hole and need some help.

If you need to work with an external recruiter, communication is key!

I often see people wash their hands once they have external recruiters on a role, but it isn't enough. Work closely with these folks, and tell them clearly what's wrong and what you need. Share with them your scorecard and system so they can do some of the filtering. The more you share about your business, the more effective they can be.


Avatar for Niall Maher

Written by Niall Maher

Founder of Codú - The web developer community! I've worked in nearly every corner of technology businesses; Lead Developer, Software Architect, Product Manager, CTO and now happily a Founder.


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