· Features

Pooling your talent: how to find the right people in the digital world

Media fragmentation makes finding the best candidates much tougher than it used to be. But it also offers new opportunities to build conversations

I was recently conducting some research with a number of HR practitioners. All from one particular sector, they were bemoaning the disappearance in a particular newspaper of a weekly section dedicated to their own field. Its disappearance, they thought, made it much more complicated to target the candidates they most wanted to reach.

It’s a feeling I’m sure that many people share. Newspapers and many trade magazines dedicated to specific sectors have either vanished altogether or gone ‘online only’. At the same time, specialist recruitment sites have boomed. This makes things both easier and yet also, as those recruiters were finding out, more difficult. Can it be both? Let me explain.

There will always be people who are actively seeking a new role. They are not hard to find, and thanks to digital media and job boards, they’ll find you and apply. But they won’t always be the right people for the post. They may well be ‘active’ for a reason, and that reason may not be a positive one. The people you need to reach are more passive – not in the market right now, or so they think. This is where traditional media played a vital role, by creating interest around a new post within an organisation and, hopefully, stimulating a few of those more passive, and therefore possibly more ‘valuable’, candidates to apply.

Thanks to the web, it’s now very easy to find people. You need no more than two or at the most three clicks to find out a substantial amount of information on almost anyone in the business world. That also applies to those actively searching for a new position. A few clicks and you can find a head spinning number of job vacancies – and also masses for background information on organisations you might – or might not – want to work for. That’s why the digital recruitment sector is both a dream and a nightmare. The sheer amount of background noise risks drowning out the one or two voices you are trying to hear. So how can you sift through this universe of data to find the people you want and need to find?

The answer, I believe, is marketing. Candidates out there are like moths dancing in the digital darkness, if that’s not too wild a metaphor. You need to set out a way to attract them to you. You can do that best using social media and the most relevant networks for your sector of business. LinkedIn, chat rooms, forums – these are all places where potential candidates congregate and share views and opinions, knowledge and experience. By actively becoming part of those debates, by sharing insights and ideas of your own, recruiters can gain both a deeper understanding of who is out there, but also, by sharing useful content, identify and attract potential candidates who share those same values – in short, creating potential pools of talent you may want to have longer conversations with around suitable roles.

By building virtual networks like these recruiters become a valuable part of the conversation – and part of the wider community. You’re sharing content and ideas, and this has value, what we might call ‘peer capital’, and at the same time you’re also building a pool of people through these conversations – many of whom you simply would not have found using conventional channels.

So yes, media fragmentation has made things trickier. There are not so many quick and simple routes to advertise a post as there once were. But that very fragmentation has created new opportunities which did not exist before. By being open to these, and finding new ways to build conversations, recruiters can open up new channels, creating a dialogue which may well lead you directly to the best candidate for that new position.

Jon Porter is managing director of Yocto, the RPO division of TMP Worldwide