Stop Attracting The Bottom Third Of The Candidate Pool

Most professional sports teams have scouts. These scouts are constantly on the lookout for talent. Most of the time these scouts are engaging potential talent long before they are ready for the big leagues. In fact, often long before they even need them.

The one thing that these teams and scouts know is that they will always need top talent if they want to win.

Who are your scouts? Are you engaging potential talent before you need them? Is this important for you to win?

Over the last few years I have asked hundreds of CEOs and key executives, “When do most companies start the hiring process?”  Rarely do I hear anything other than, “When they need someone.”  Then, how long does it take to hire a person? Most believe that can take between 2 and 4 months. At which point the hiring manager is so desperate that they are pretty much willing to take the proverbial, “Cream of the Crap.”

I believe that “desperation hiring,” if it isn't the biggest hiring problem, certainly is very near the top.

The problem is not that most companies start the hiring process when they need someone, it is that companies start the hiring process with an empty bench. They have to start from scratch every time. It can take weeks or months just to start locating talent. Top or otherwise.

This may explain why so many companies do an exceptional job attracting the bottom third of the candidate pool.

There is a better way. Companies, like professional sports teams, need to have scouts. They need people out engaging people that might be a fit for key positions.  Most companies know the key positions that sooner or later will have to be filled once the economy changes. Even in good times, most companies know way in advance the positions they are contemplating hiring for. However, unlike professional sports teams, companies don't have anyone out scouting for talent prior to it being needed.

So how can companies get scouts out looking for them? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Whether you have one employee or one thousand employees,  they should be your scouts. Make sure all of your employees are constantly aware of potential positions you are thinking about filling. Make sure all employees have a Compelling Market Statement. See some examples of these by CLICKING HERE.

2. Approach the hiring process with a proactive approach. Encourage all of your employees to be constantly on the lookout for people they think will fit your culture. When they encounter someone, all they have to do is give the potential candidate a copy of the Compelling Marketing Statement and let them know that your company is always looking for talented people and if they are ever looking, to be sure to think of your company. The farming process has begun. That is what scouts do.

3. Don't be afraid to engage people you think might potentially be great employees. This can be as simple as meeting them  for coffee, including them on your newsletter, updating them of company announcements, sending an email once a quarter, or anything that keeps them on your radar screen and you on theirs.

4. Make it a habit of building queues of potential people for key roles or upcoming roles. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for people. Both myself and my partner Barry have placed many people that have been sitting in our database for years. That is why recruiters have people ready to go for you when you call them. You and your team can do the exact same thing. Just knowing where potential people are located is a good start.

5. Build a compelling LinkedIn profile and a Facebook Fan page. Update the Facebook fan page regularly and invite these potential employees to join your page.

6. If you attend trade shows or conferences, don't just throw the business cards your team collected away. Send each an email to join you on LinkedIn and your fan page on Facebook. If there are a few  really good potential employees in the cards, set a time to meet for coffee. Let them know the next time you will be in town and attempt to get together.

7. Do you ask your vendors, customers, trusted advisers, and other service providers for referrals of the best people they work with or know? These can be the best source for building bench strength.

8. Do you encourage your managers and key executives to be active in professional associations, their school alumni association, serve on non-profit boards, or other community associations such as Rotary? These are outstanding places to do some scouting.

I recently wrote another article, “Can't Find People? They Are Hiding In Plain Sight” because so many hiring managers we work with walk right by potentially great people. This article has three real examples of how people are right there for the asking.

As the economy turns, top talent will be in demand once again. Think back to just three years ago. This top talent will generally end up in one of two places, your team or your competitor's team.

To find out just how effective your hiring methodology is, download our free 8-Point Hiring Methodology Scorecard. This will help you to develop a truly effective hiring process. CLICK HERE to download yours.

We also have the chapter on sourcing from our book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired” as a free download. CLICK HERE to download your chapter on sourcing top talent.

You can also join our LinkedIn Hiring and Retaining Top Talent group. This is an excellent source for discussions and articles on these topics. CLICK HERE to join.

I welcome your comments and thoughts.




About the Author

Brad Remillard is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.


  1. You absolutely hit the nail on the head with this piece! You could have also titled it “Round up the usual suspects!”

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