It’s a common enough problem that every company, whether large or small, in every field, will be confronted with sooner or later: An important opening has to be filled, which requires a very specific mix of skills and experience. It needs to be filled yesterday, if possible, because while it is vacant, the loss of productivity and revenue is costing the company real money. The approach to recruiting a suitable candidate varies, though.

There is the traditional passive approach: the company posts a job-ad, and then waits until resumes start coming in, hoping someone suitable might be among those who apply. In many cases, that approach even works fairly well, especially for jobs with simple job descriptions and when many suitable candidates are available in the job market.

That is changing, though, at least in some areas. It is a rare day when the current or impending shortage of qualified workers is not talked about in some shape or form. Especially for high management positions or those requiring very specified skills or experience, there might be applications coming in, and with some luck, one of those applying might actually kind of fit the position.

Is that the candidate you want, though? The answer is, probably not, because this is where the big problem of the passive approach comes into play: The best candidates won’t apply. They won’t even read your job-ad, because they are usually working in interesting and well-paid jobs already. To reach those people, you will have to actively go find them.

For this, some may now hire a recruitment specialist. Usually they won’t give a full mandate, though, it’ll be more like a note saying “should a suitable candidate pass your desk, send them my way”.

Unfortunately, that is merely a variation of the passive approach. No recruitment service provider can afford to spend a lot of effort on a vague request without a full service contract. You might get lucky and they’ll happen to know a suitable person as part of their more extensive network, but after that your request will quickly be forgotten. After all, the recruiter has to take care of their committed customers.

Active recruitment is time-consuming and requires a lot of effort – and also experience. You need to identify possible candidates, and then individually contact them. And because they are working and not looking for a new job, you also need to convince them that switching jobs would be a good idea.

This can be done by the company’s own HR department, or by a professional recruitment service, but it needs to be done right.

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