I was fortunate to participate in an awesome conversation yesterday on Bill Boorman's Blog Talk Radio show Ready for Lift Off (that's a link to listen to the entire show). The conversation started as one about what clients expect from recruiters in today's economy and logically, because recruiters were involved, it went off on several tangents. Bill (@billboorman) did a nice job of trying to corral the wild horde but, just as it isn't easy to herd cats, it isn't easy keeping recruiters under control.
Talent Puddles - I love it!
I have always advocated hanging out in pools of talent rather than just with pools of candidates but Alan upped the ante here by talking about the idea of talent puddles. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense and I want to expound on the concept. Puddles are much more shallow and scarce than pools so there is less room to hang out. Not everyone can get into the puddle. Getting in takes effort because there is competition to get there. Talented high performers are rare. They are the top 20% of their field and will be more easily found if you look in the talent puddle not the talent pool. They will stand out amongst the throngs of suspects, prospects and candidates recruiters run into every day because the are in the puddle or at the part of the pool where the water is shallow.
Embedded into the recruiter training programs we offer at Bearing Fruit Consulting is the idea that recruiters don't have an infinite amount of time so they must plan and execute their day around recruiting activity that generates a recruiting outcome. A concept we term being RAD or Recruiting Activity Development oriented. We actually teach recruiters how to build and execute their workday to maximize results based on business goals. Inherent to executing this well is the idea that you can't have relationships with everyone and getting referrals from anyone but the highest performers can be a mistake.
Here are three reasons why hanging out in puddles is better than pools.
Winners hang out with winners and losers hang out with losers.
This epiphany came to me a while back when I was the Director of Talent Acquisition at FirstMerit Bank. As some of you may know, the team I built and led at FMER was widely recognized as being one of the most aggressive and successful corporate recruiting engines in America. While there, I began to utilize and cultivate into our talent acquisition tactics an old cliche - "winners hang out with winners and losers hang out with losers". I know the traditional, soft, "touchy feely" HR professionals (not all HR pro's) will hate this because the concept is completely contrary to their "level the playing field", equitable, treat everyone the same, social worker approach to human resources.
Any recruiter who has been in this profession longer than 30 seconds knows that talented people hang out together. They form their own talent puddle that sits apart from, at the top or the shallow part of the talent pool. Every so often it rains or a spring pops up to flush out those who are slipping or under performing in the talent puddle and refreshes the puddle with new talent.
The Talent Puddle is where you should spend and commit time to building, maintaining and expanding relationships. When you hang out in the puddle you also get to reap the benefit of referrals of other high performing talent and more business opportunities because winners hang out with winners. Getting referrals from this group will have a much higher ROI and allow you to invest your time more wisely in activities that generate more results.
There are very talented and high performing people in the pool as well but you have to sort through the masses of low performers, suspects, prospects and candidates to find them. That can take up valuable time. If you go to the puddle and get referrals you are more likely to have little or no mess to sift through.
You can't have relationships with all suspects, prospects and/or candidates.
You don't have time for relationships with everyone and why would you want to have relationships with ALL candidates anyway? I don't know about you, but I am not in the search business to hire ALL candidates and my clients don't engage me to find and place candidates. My clients (hiring leaders when I was leading corporate recruiting teams), and companies who care about moving their business forward with the talent they hire, want want me to find and place high performing employees who will add value to their business. There is a difference in the two. Not to say you shouldn't treat them all well, you should, but I say have relationships with talent.
Even the very best who execute this tactic well will find themselves searching the pool once in a while because some searches or clients are so unique they require that type of sourcing and recruiting behavior.
But a sustainable and long term business strategy, where you have high performing talent at the ready (high performers who are properly motivated and ready to make a career change or accept a new role) means you have to hang out in the talent puddle more than the pool.
Candidates are in the pool, high performing talent and star employees are in the puddle.
So what is your experience with this?
Do you prefer the pool or the puddle? Do you see a difference?
Do you think shifting to this approach will improve your success as a recruiter in meeting or exceeding your client or hiring leader needs? If so, how hard will it be to shift to this approach?