Leverage: Getting more output with less input.

Leaders are force multipliers who get more done with and through people using some type of magical leverage. 

There is a reference below suggesting that recruiters should spend their time more wisely by only talking to “semi-finalists” when trying to fill any critical staff or management position. In this case a semi-finalist means the person is in the top 25% of his/her peer group AND would see the role as one worth exploring. These people will always be seen by the hiring manager and are likely to accept an offer if one is extended. That’s why they’re called semi-finalists. Sourcing semi-finalists is an example of leveraging one’s time to get more output with less input. The best sales reps do this all of the time by prequalifying potential customers before contacting them.

It’s important to note that the best people get more done in fewer years and with a different mix of skills and experiences than their peers. That’s what makes them the best. But it comes at a cost when trying to hire them: they don’t apply to traditional job postings, nor can they be found using traditional searching filters. The reason they don’t apply to job adverts is that they know they’ll be automatically excluded since they don’t possess the laundry list of skills, experiences and competencies considered “must haves.” That’s the same reason most search filters miss the strongest people.

While a bit counterintuitive, it is reality. This is why I suggest that the best way to find these leaders, or anyone in the top 25%, is by getting prequalified referrals of people who have had success doing comparable work regardless of their mix of skills and experiences. (Note: If you’re a semi-finalist who has used leverage to get ahead faster, it’s best to follow these hack-a-job ideas rather than applying directly. Alternatively, you can reverse engineer some of the ideas below.)

It’s important to point out that everyone in the top 25% is a leader in some way regardless of the job and whether they work at home, in the warehouse or the executive suite, or anywhere in between. Here are some ideas on how to use leverage to find and hire some of these remarkable people. But they all start with the idea that you need to define the job as a series of performance objectives, not a list of skills and experiences in order to open the talent pool to everyone who can do the work.

Getting Referrals is the Best Way to Leverage Your Time 

BEST SOURCING TIP OF ALL TIME: Remove your “Boolean Blinders” and spend the time instead on getting referrals of semi-finalists.

At our Hire with Your Head virtual book club we describe various methods to use LinkedIn to develop a network of nodes who have worked with your ideal candidate. Some examples will highlight how this is done.

  • Recently one person indicated she was looking for a maintenance technician to ensure their automated assembly equipment had an uptime of 99.9%. We suggested she connect with vendors of this equipment, particularly the sales reps, and then search on the rep’s connections to proactively generate referrals.
  • PERP your ERP! At our last Performance-based Hiring workshop for hiring managers and recruiters one attendee searched on LinkedIn for project managers at his company whom he didn’t know, quickly connected with the person and searched on this person’s connections to find a systems architect. He then asked the project manager to qualify the person for the role before calling the prospect. By mentioning the referrer’s name the candidate instantly responded and was hired a few weeks later. The total sourcing time to find this person was less than one hour. This is called a Proactive Employee Referral Program or PERP. It’s time well spent.
  • For a controller position one of our recruiters called the major CPA firms in the local area to get leads from the partners. Partners love to provide their alumni better jobs so this was an easy connection. The prequalified candidates were contacted within days of getting the search assignment and since the partners’ names were mentioned the candidates called back right away.
  • For a national accounts managers selling retail hardware products we called the buyers at the major store chains who sold similar products and asked about sales reps we noticed were connected to them on LinkedIn. Again, semi-finalists were found within days.

The idea behind all of this is to stop spending time contacting strangers and hoping a good person will be found, interested, interviewed, made an offer, accept it and excel. Instead spend more time by finding people who can give you referrals of great people. LinkedIn makes this easy to do when it’s considered a network of 800 million people rather than just a database of them. This is how you apply sourcing leverage at the top of your hiring funnel.

But leverage doesn’t stop there.

Using Interviewing Leverage to Spot Leaders During the Exploratory Phone Call

To assess the leadership ability of these referrals, skip the behavioral interviewing questions and ask prospects to describe their biggest accomplishments related to the work you need done. You’ll discover that those who pass this test will possess all of the skills, experiences and competencies needed to excel in your company. Surprisingly, they won’t be in the same mix as what’s written on your job descriptions for the reasons mentioned earlier. More importantly, the people hired this way will be more diverse, more competent, more motivated and more successful. Better still, they’ll all be leaders in their field.

Use Negotiating Leverage to Close More Offers for the Right Reasons

Too many candidates accept jobs for what they get on the start date, not what they’ll be doing, how they’re allowed to do it and who they’ll be doing it with. Yet when asked what drives their personal satisfaction once hired, candidates always say it’s the work they’re doing, how they’re allowed to do it and who they’re doing it with. To minimize the chance of “post-hire blues” and to maximize the candidate experience I suggest giving candidates an infographic like the following as a means to make more balanced career decisions.

When talking with semi-finalists tell them that if an offer is ultimately made they’ll have a chance to gather all of the information needed on the graphic to make the best personal career choice. Then when they’re given an offer have them rank the factors in priority order and ask them to compare all of their other opportunities on this scale. Don’t be surprised if you start getting more offers accepted for all of the right reasons since you’ll be the only company that proactively gave your semi-finalists the information need to make the best choice.

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The best people use leverage to get ahead by getting more done in less time using a different mix of skills and experiences. As a result they don’t fit the mold companies use to find, filter and assess candidates and are often missed in the rush to hire at scale. However, companies can still achieve better hiring outcomes by spending more time with the right people, in this case semi-finalists, getting more referrals and then using the interview to assess the factors that actually predict post-hire performance, success and satisfaction. This is a great way to use leverage to improve quality of hire more efficiently, more quickly and at lower cost. It all starts by leveraging some very old ideas about people with some pretty old technology: just getting on the phone and developing relationships.