I tell my clients you should be trolling for talent all the time, with a sincere and honest outlook on your future. That is to say we want to cultivate relationships with great people because we know that one day, when they get bored doing what they’re doing or are just no longer happy in their position, they will look us up. I can hear you already. “But Manny, I don’t want my competitors shopping my techs and talent, ready to steal them away.” Have an awesome People Process (HR++) that includes paying your people what they are worth, requires forward momentum in advancement and mastery of their field, and challenges them continually. Your truly “good people” won’t be leaving you any time soon.
Your ad on CareerBuilder, Craigslist, or whatever other site can simply say, “We are looking for the next great talent to add to our team. Although we are not actively hiring, we are interviewing for upcoming positions. Please apply here if you are awesome!” And if you think it won’t work, think again. You cannot possibly tell me that you have never interviewed someone who was already employed, but told you that they are “just looking to see what’s out there” or “The job sounded interesting so I thought I would apply.” You may have even done this yourself; I know I did.
And when you do find someone you would like to keep track of, put their birthday on your calendar and have a card sent every year. Call them once in a while and chat with them. In fact, no matter where they end up, if they are not inclined to take your new job when you do have one available, they may know someone else who is truly talented and looking for a new position. It’s win-win, and it also means you are ten times less likely to have to hire someone who is not a fit just because you have a position to fill and are in a hurry.
Cultivate talent relationships and strengthen existing networks all the time. Be the company that selects their next awesome talent from a small pool of pre-approved people. I call it pulling out a gold coin. But get started now, because finding five top people you would hire as soon as you had an opening means months if not years of work. My bet is that, long before you get to a full queue of five, you will have hired one and have one less in your queue. And if you tell me that you have a huge pool of great people all the time, and that they are ready to go at the drop of a hat, I suspect you have too low of standards for entry. Go for the gold!
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