Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Backpocket" Recruiting

"We don't have anything right for this candidate now, he's one for your 'backpocket' just in case you might have something more relevant for him in the future. "

This phrase, or something very similar, is said all the time in conversations between corporate recruiters and hiring managers after an initial interview with a good candidate who's not quite right for a particular job. But how often do corporate recruiters, or hiring managers for that matter, actually reach in to their 'backpocket' to pull back out that candidate for that more relevant opportunity that just became available? Probably not as often as we should in all likelihood. Most corporate recruiting operations are so reactive in nature that the default action that occurs when a hiring manager has a new need is to post a job and source new candidates. Unfortunately, most ATSs don't offer powerful enough CRM capabilities to better energize the 'backpocket' approach either. As corporate recruiters, we also deal so often with so many candidates, so many reqs, that all the good intentions of 'backpocket' recruiting can be easily lost.

But when 'backpocket' recruiting does work, it's a thing of beauty. My six favorite words from a hiring manager are "I have a candidate in mind". Now this doesn't always guarantee a quality hire (and you of course hope that cronyism isn't a factor). Very often however this is the result of a pre-existing relationship, such as an interview with a good candidate who wasn't hired initially, which enables a hiring manager to easily and efficiently consider someone who they already know about and feel will be a strong candidate for the role. It's even better when a recruiter knows the needs of the organization well enough that they have candidates ready to pull out of their 'backpocket' when that appropriate need becomes available. Corporate recruiters who are not overloaded and who focus on specific skill sets, industries, etc. are typically more effective with that approach.

Technology can make this even easier. Jobster's functionality can enable recruiters to both re-engage and invite 'backpocket' candidates to subscribe and be made aware of more relevant opportunities as they become available. I made another hire just last week re-engaging prior candidates from our ATS using Jobster's functionality. This candidate had interviewed with us earlier in the year with another part of the organization. While searching for candidates in our ATS that I wanted to invite to join our talent network, I ran across a candidate who was good, but just wasn't right for the particular job he initially interviewed for earlier this year. I sent him several jobs to review, one of which turned out to be ideally suited to his background and skills. He expressed interest immediately, we brought him in quickly for an interview, and he starts next month.

I start next month with my new employer because my boss-to-be put my resume in his 'backpocket'. He told me that he was going to do that when he let me know that I was not going to be considered further for the position that he initially interviewed me for. He might of had an idea as to what was going to become available in the foreseeable future. I didn't though, and was pleasantly surprised when I got that call from him asking me, "What's your current situation? Are you still interested in us? Yes? Good, I have something that's probably even bigger and better in mind for you this time." A fine example 'Backpocket' recruiting indeed.

So they got me and now I'm in 'short-timer' transition mode. More on that in my next post...

Modified 11:25AM 10/17/06

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