Managing the Talent Pool

candidates waiting for job interview
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In most companies, the most valuable commodity and the most essential element of success in your industry is the small pool of really talented people.

Before you can hire them, before you can steal them away for someone else, before you can tempt them with exciting challenges and tantalizing compensation packages, you have to find them.

You have hired the best HR pros you can find to do that for you, but it is your responsibility to guide the HR people and to get them the tools they need to succeed.

What is the best tool - the Internet, of course.

Pre-qualify the Talent

Job searchers on the Internet have obvious technology skills. Your operation needs techno-savvy people to compete. It is an obvious first place to start. Lately, a lot has been written instructing job seekers in how to search for employers on the Web. Very little has been written on the other side of the issue. This article will address that and suggest a strategy for you to use the Internet to find the very best talent.

The Strategy

It's simple, really. Let them come to you. Help them come to you. Make it easier for the top talent, at all levels, to find your company than to find your competitors. How do you do that cost-effectively? Use the website you already have (or should have).

You already use your website to advertise your products and services, don't you? Well, with a few simple changes and additions you can make it into a magnet for the talented people who can make a difference for your company.

Checklist

Here is a short checklist of things your various departments should be working on together to help your company attract the top candidates.

  1. Is your company on the net?
  2. Can job seekers find you?
  3. Are your current job openings posted on your website?
  4. Do you show general types of openings too?
  5. Does your website tell prospective employees about the company?
  1. Can they reply online?
  2. Do you treat them like people, not numbers?
  3. Do on-line resumes feed a searchable database?

1. Is your company on the net?

If you don't have a corporate website, get one. It is that fundamental. If your competitors have one, they are pulling ahead of you already. If they don't, you can pull ahead of them quickly. If the talent you need to build a website isn't in your IS Department, you can hire or subcontract it. You might want to look around the company first, however. Don't be surprised at how many people in your company have already built websites.

2. Can the top talent find your website?

The most important starting point is your URL. You don't need to worry about what it stands for (Uniform Resource Locator). Just make sure that the one you have is something that people would think to look for you under. Some good examples are www.microsoft.com, www.boeing.com or www.daytimer.com. Stay away from things like www.unitedmedia.com unless you are as famous as Dilbert.

Get your site listed with the major search engines. Don't worry about the job posting sites (like Monster). Remember you want quality in the response, not quantity. If your industry or association has a website, try to get a link from their site to yours.

(Don't worry about how to do this. That's what you have an IS manager for.)

3. Are your current job openings posted on your website?

Make sure your HR Manager includes specific details of each job opening, duties, requirements, job number, etc. Remember, you are looking for good matches. If the positions are too general, you will be swamped by resumes from marginally qualified people, too. Make sure the listing is current. Take old jobs off when they are filled. If the list never changes, people will stop checking it.

4. Do you show general types of openings to get resumes for later openings?

You also want to catch resumes from top talent, even if you don't have a current opening. On a separate web page from the job listings, maintain a static list of the general types of people your company hires.

Use the titles for which people in your industry are likely to search.

5. Does your website tell prospective employees about the company, its products, its culture?

Get Marketing involved here. Make sure the website includes details about the company and its products and services. You want to sell your company to the talented people who come to your website. Get HR to put something on your site that addresses the company culture. Again, you are looking for top people who will work out well. If they aren't a good match, they won't stay long enough to reward your efforts.

6. Can they reply online?

Now that the top talent has found you, don't let go of them. Give them a way (or several) to submit their resume right now, while they are still on your site. Give them an email address to which they can reply. Set up an on-line form they can complete and submit. You can also include your fax number and your mail address for those who want to use traditional methods.

7. Do you treat them like people, not numbers?

Have your IS Department put an autoresponder on the email address to which they submit resumes. It's a simple thing that sends back an email saying "Thank you for your interest in our company. We got your resume and we will look it over and get in touch if appropriate, etc." HR can write the message, but be sure IS puts it out on the autoresponder.

8. Do online resumes feed a searchable database?

Don't hamper yourself with traditional (slow) methods. You have to be quick to survive in your industry, and personnel issues are no exception. If you don't move fast enough you may lose the best prospects to your competitors. Have IS set up a system that automatically puts the information submitted at your site into a secure database that HR can easily search to find the best matches.

The Next Step

Now that you've found these top people you can pick up where we started this article. You can steal them away from someone else. You can tempt them with exciting challenges and tantalizing compensation packages. You can also help them build rewarding careers with your company that will make them happy and will make you look like a genius for finding such top-flight people in the first place.

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