When a role attracts no relevant inbound candidates, you’re probably wondering how exactly recruiters on direct search assignments find the right person?
To give you an idea of the immense amount of work that goes into one successful hire, I will break down the Finders Seekers direct search process and give you an insight into the exclusive recruitment data behind a full-stack developer hire.
Even though I am giving you actual figures here, it’s important to note that every hire is different, and each recruitment process will have their own challenges and strengths. Therefore, the figures and numbers I’ll be sharing in this post will fluctuate on a case-by-case basis.
Screening a thousand candidate profiles
Our direct search process always starts with the mapping out of a clear talent profile, as well as clarifying the main value proposition of the role. The better the role specification, the easier it will be to find a suitable candidate to fill the role.
Using keywords to conduct targeted searches on LinkedIn, amongst a recruiter’s own networks, or on other relevant platforms is the first step when it comes to finding a potential talent pool. Generally, your keywords will allow you to create an initial pool of about 500-1500 people: the next stage is getting to individually know each talent profile through manual screening. The number of people in this initial talent pool will be influenced by factors such as geographical targeting and the required tech stack.
As a recruiter, I start off by doing very targeted searches, but I usually broaden the field as I get deeper into the search. What tends to happen is that even if a candidate looks good on paper, they turn out not to quite be the right person for the working environment after all. At the same time, there are also plenty of hidden gems hiding behind empty profiles!
Personalized and customized candidate messages
As mentioned above, one hire is the sum of going through hundreds of potentially suitable candidate profiles. While screening candidate profiles, we have to consider whether the person in question meets the role requirements, and whether they would be even be interested in the role on offer.
After this initial phase of the screening process, we approach about 60-100 people from the talent pool with a personalized and customized message. As recruiters we want at least half of the people we contact to respond to our messages, but statistically the response rate for first contact recruitment messages is somewhere between 35-60%. The response rate is influenced by several factors such as the reputation of the employer, how interesting the role is, and our message. The timing of the message can also have a big impact on how many people are interested in the role: in general vacations are not the ideal time to reach out. At Finders Seekers we closely monitor our response rates and we are constantly optimizing our first contact messages.
When we are reaching out to people, we keep in mind that are not just looking for a candidate for a specific role, but that we are also doing employer brand marketing to a wide pool of potential employees. That’s why it’s paramount that the headhunting message we send is personalized, tangible, honest, and in every way of a high standard.
After many years of doing direct search, our stats tell us that about 10-20% of the people who answer us will be interested in hearing more about the role. In other words, we will continue conversations about the role with about 5-10 people who are interested. Hundreds of candidate profiles, almost a hundred personalized messages, and only a handful of potential candidates? That’s right: the final pool of people is not particularly big, and therefore a recruiter has to really understand the employer’s value propositions and talent needs as there is very little room for error.
The perfect match happens when both candidate and employer win out
Just looking at someone’s LinkedIn or GitHub profile is not really enough to create a holistic picture of a person: what you really need is a scoping call lasting about an hour with each candidate. During this conversation it’s just as important to cover whether the employer would suit the candidate’s needs, as well as clarifying whether they fit the required talent profile. The perfect match only happens when both sides are satisfied.
Finally, we will present our client with 3-5 of the best candidates based on their desired talent profile. Throughout the direct search process, it’s important to maintain an ongoing dialogue to ensure that our understanding of what the client is looking for is in sync with their views. This way we can ensure that only actually relevant and potential candidates are presented to our clients.
At this stage, the lion share of the recruiter’s input is complete, but it’s not yet time to breathe a sigh of relief or count your chickens before they hatch. The candidate’s and the client’s joint journey only really gets going from the first face-to-face (or virtual) meeting, and this is now the employer’s moment to impress and live up to their employer promise.
Valuable talent data as a side product of recruitment
In any direct search process, the most time-consuming part of the process, and the part that really tests a recruiter’s abilities, is finding the best candidate profiles and getting the candidates themselves interested in the role. A lot of time is taken up by candidate communication, with both people who are interested, and not interested, in the role. It’s good to keep in mind that these conversations are invaluable employer branding data: packed with insights about the reputation of the employer and candidate feedback on the role, this is employer brand data worth its weight in gold. We always share all the data we have collected (anonymously) with our clients.
As mentioned before, every direct search process is different, each having their own challenges and strengths. Variations aside, on average recruiting one full-stack developer will take a recruiter about 80-100 hours.
Here at Finders Seekers even challenging direct searches in the IT sector are part of our everyday remit… Need some help? Get in touch.