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How do you, as a hiring manager or HR person, know how to find candidates for your openings? Did you just go through a job search? If not, please don’t ask yourself. Do you have a HR recruiter on staff? Ok, that person may know more than you. But if you really want to find out, buy lunch and host a focus group for the last two to five people you hired. (If you don’t hire that many people, then team up with a friend’s company and buy their new hires lunch.)

Point is: ask those who just searched and successfully found a position – a role with you. Information sources change and what worked two years ago may be old news. And, important, sources and channels vary by profession and location. Maybe you might think is too big, filled with distractions, and too expensive but if half your new hires say they are seeing great positions in their field posted on Monster and not elsewhere, then budget the $200 to $400 per posting and see what happens for your next, three openings.

Candidate preferences and talent marketing patterns are too varied to judge a source based on one opening. Also see our January blog on managing talent sources.

On the other hand, if candidates say, “Yes, our kind of postings are on Monster but we see most of them posted on Craig’s List.” Hmm, CL is free and Monster is hundreds of dollars. Save the hundreds for your Linkedin service fees or the occasional headhunter commission. (More on headhunters in some future month but, when is it worth spending 15 to 33% on a search fee? When they find someone great one you never would and/or they get a person in the chair more than a month before you can. Ok, sure, and when your organization lets you drop that much cash on a placement.)

As for Linkedin, who would have thought five years ago it would be such a powerhouse for finding talent? That said, not every profession is best-sourced there. Again, ask and ask. Note that the free Linkedin account will provide a number of access points that can get you started before considering $20K for a dozen active postings and infinite search rights, or some smaller package. Consider contacting the regional small/medium account rep for this area who can explain their options and fees, Jennifer Mack 312-252-9072. (Non-profits may be eligible for up to a 50% discount.)

Here are some questions to guide your listening. This is not the time for you to pitch some new initiative, slip in some major training, and otherwise distract the point. You are there to learn what jobs are where, and, how people find them. Take lots of notes.

  • Where and how did you first learn about the position you now have with us?
  • What other positions and companies interested you, and how did you learn about those jobs?
  • Did you contact anyone to learn more about our company, the hiring manager or the position?
  • If headhunters were contacting you during your search, how did they influence your choices?
  • How did our recruitment advertising and selection process compare to what you experienced with other employers?

Finally, host these focus groups like twice a year.  And evaluate the success of your sources a month before each lunchtime chat.

Scott Trossen, talent leader at Ann Arbor SPARK