The best candidate for your next open role is most likely someone you already know. Or is someone your VP goes to lunch with. Or is someone your new rockstar engineer loved at their last job.
Before you post another job listing on Craigslist, look around at the people who you already know, have met, or have heard you should meet. Of course, it’s not impossible to find a great candidate from a generic job board listing – but if you’re counting on that strategy alone to bring in your next awesome employee, you’re ignoring the #1 most powerful tool in your hiring arsenal.
So start using your network to its maximum potential.
Filling an empty role on your team shouldn’t feel like starting over from scratch every time, with a new job description, a new job board fee, and a new line of candidates who kind-of-fit. Instead, it should feel more like a new thing to talk about with the people you meet. Think of it as an opportunity to revisit the people you met at conferences and meetups over the last year, and a chance to finally snag that amazing marketer you’ve been emailing with for years.
The next time you’ve got a position open, why not try some of these easy ways to bring in talent from your network:
Mention it to everyone you talk to. This one’s easy: if you’ve got a job to fill, mention it. You never know who may know exactly the right person to fill the role. People who already know you and who know your company are going to do a better job identifying strong candidates for your business than strangers perusing job boards.
You don’t have to make a hard sell for this to be effective. Just answer truthfully when someone asks you how it’s going or what you’ve been up to recently. “Well, we’re building out our engineer staff right now and are looking for a new Sys Admin…”
Get out, meet up. Spread the word about your awesome company by speaking at and attending conferences and meetups. Ideally, this should be part of your ongoing recruiting effort (if you wait until you need to hire to start building buzz, it won’t be as effective as if you’d been doing it all along). When you’re out mingling with the people from your industry, don’t be shy about mentioning that you’re hiring. You’ll source candidates not only from the group you’re with, but you’ll get access to their networks too when they talk and tweet with their community.
Going to meetups is great advertising for your company as an awesome place to work, too. It’s a free opportunity for you and your team to talk about the awesome perks and benefits of working there, like challenging projects, awesome off-sites, brilliant coworkers, or weekly team trivia nights. It’s a lot more convincing to hear about great perks from someone who’s living them, than to read them off a job board site.
Institute referral bonuses. You’ve got a strong team, right? Get them involved in your hiring process! There’s no reason growing companies shouldn’t institute referral bonuses. Not only is it a really effective way to draw on the networks of your employees, but it also gets them invested in the growth of their own team. It makes people accountable not only for their own work, but for helping manage the long-term future of the company too.
Referral bonuses don’t have to be huge to be effective. They’re commonly cash awards between $1,000 and $5,000, but many companies have success with smaller bonuses like gift certificates for fancy restaurants, trips, or other “luxury”-type rewards. The most important thing is that the employee who makes a successful referral feels they are really being appreciated for their help bringing in an amazing new hire.
Candidates who come in by way or personal networks and referrals tend to stay longer and fit better than other employees, and they’re hired at rates way above candidates who come in via job boards. There’s no reason to create more work for yourself by pursuing job boards, while ignoring the vast community of potential hires around you in your network.
Who can you reach out to next time you have an open position?