People engaged in a job search often ask where to find the jobs. This question illustrates the [unfortunately] false assumption that available opportunities are conveniently housed in a single location. Instead, consider a job search a two-sided coin: There is a job-seeking party — on the hunt with its nose to the ground, and there is a counter party engaged in finding and turning over rocks to identify the perfect candidate, faithfully returning to the sources that are the easiest to access and that provide the most bountiful harvest. To maximize the potential for success in your own job search, rather than ask, “Where are the jobs?” think like a recruiter and consider, “Where can I be found?”
The strategies recruiters use to source talent depend upon how difficult it will be to fill a position and how quickly a position needs to be filled. Beyond these two factors, the tactics for sourcing talent are shaped by the laws of supply and demand. When employment is robust, firms struggle to find the type of talent they need. When the supply of talent balloons, recruiters face an onslaught of applicants and feel increased pressure to find the perfect candidate. Moreover, an increase in the supply of talent is often accompanied by a reduction in resources for recruiting (especially during challenging markets). Recruiters must then adapt to new conditions and develop new strategies for sourcing talent.
Just as job seekers use multiple strategies during a job search, so do corporate recruiters. When a position becomes available, recruiters immediately develop a strategy to find talent, also known as a sourcing strategy. Typical sourcing strategies include engaging job boards (e.g., Monster.com, the Columbia Business School job board, Juju.com, Indeed.com, etc.), employee referrals, social media, and niche Web sites (e.g., the CFA Association). While knowing practical places where recruiters look for talent, the savvy job seeker must learn to think like a recruiter and consider what recruiters value most:
1. A recruiter values as much information as possible about the viability of an applicant prior to first contact.
Referral is the most important channel for recruitment. Referrals provide additional information beyond the résumé and cover letter regarding the candidate. During this spring’s Corporate Recruiter Panel hosted by Columbia Business School, Ormain Gathers, senior recruiter at Moody’s Corporation, stated that thirty-five to forty percent of all new hires come from employee referrals. The referring party offers a point of view and leverages their personal credibility by recommending the individual. This is a valuable data point for a recruiter. In addition to referrals, social media and Internet search engines now enable a recruiter to discover information independently of a referral.
Recruiters can search for additional candidates and perform applicant due diligence quickly and inexpensively, utilizing resources at their fingertips. A simple Google search can connect a recruiter with candidate information via LinkedIn, Spoke and Facebook profiles. Such variety in a sourcing strategy means that a recruiter can develop his or her own pipeline independent of any outreach from a candidate pool. Recruiters may search by name, title category, organization or keywords. The information returned can provide the recruiter with a target list, validate candidate viability, provide additional credibility and illustrate existing social or professional linkages to the firm. Job seekers who ensure that information is available through these channels will enhance the viability of their candidacy and increase the likelihood that they will be “found.” In LinkedIn, for example, you can even investigate who has been looking at your profile. Use this information to further refine your listing. Make sure that any listings in which you are included utilize the specific keywords that are connected with your target function and/or industry. If the recruiters and firms that you are interested in do not seem to be the types of folks looking at your profile, that may mean that you need to modify your listing in order to be visible in their search.
2. A recruiter values the confirmation of an external party.
When the resources to screen potential candidates become constrained, recruiters seek channels that provide some type of pre-screening. An Ivy League education such as a Columbia Business School MBA, membership in a “by-invitation-only” industry group, or evidence of thought leadership — such as an article published in a reputable newspaper or journal — are examples of endorsements employers value. After all, being admitted to and graduating from a top business school means that a candidate has already survived a gauntlet of screening and testing.
Employers target job boards and résumé books associated with these institutions to find talent with the appropriate skills and experiences they seek. For example, by placing a listing targeting experienced-level hires on the Columbia Business School job board, recruiters are confident that the applicants they find will offer a certain level of quality. When they search the Columbia Business School Experienced-Hire Talent Portal résumé database, they know this quality exists so they can concentrate on further targeting and refining the search to the specific experience and accomplishments required for the opportunity.
3. A recruiter values little or no cost (in time or money) associated with the acquisition of talent.
The key goals of a recruiter are to find the right person as quickly and inexpensively as possible. You will notice that the tactics outlined above come at little or no cost to the recruiter, and that the organizations involved benefit from being considered a source. Active use of Web-enabled research tools has very low associated cost. The investment a recruiter makes is mainly in time. Folks who are “found” are those who are easily identifiable through targeted keyword searches. So, in addition to your online presence, make sure that your résumé is worded to include appropriate language that presents you as a true industry insider.
The Columbia Business School job board is free, attracting thousands of experienced-level jobs every year. Experienced-level job postings have remained strong even during the recession. From June 2008 to June 2009, approximately 4100 experienced level job posting were on the alumni site. During the same time from 2009-2010, over 4700 experienced level job postings were available. (Data pulled June 3, 2010) Why? Employers post there because they know they will get high-quality applicants at absolutely no cost. In addition, employers can request customized resume collections drawn from the Experienced-Hire Talent Portal or, for a nominal fee, purchase access in order to conduct ongoing, in-depth searches.
Maximize your ability to be "found" by thinking like a recruiter, making sure that you take advantage of these ready-made hunting grounds. Utilize all of the organizations relevant to you personally and professionally. Engage with both graduate and undergraduate alumni associations, résumé books, industry groups, online forums, and use professional social networking site. Thinking like a recruiter will ensure that you are “found” in the shortest time possible.