Whether or not you’re a fan of the winter Olympics, you have to admire the dedication and craft that paves the path to the podium. Gold medal winners are usually just a fraction more skilled – or luckier – than those next to them on the podium.
You wouldn’t dream of scoffing at a silver or bronze medal in the Olympics. Would you overlook a candidate who was previously a close second – or third – for a position with your company?
The Wall Street Journal addressed the issue recently in an article titled “Tight Labor Market turns Silver Medalists Into Winners.” In the article, Vanessa Fuhrmans cites the struggle to fill jobs in the tight labor market as cause for companies to court and hire their so-called “silver, and even bronze, medalists.”
This advice resonates with Kay Durkin, founder of Phoenix Partners.
“I’ve seen time and again where companies fail to value the candidates who applied for a position or even interviewed and then didn’t get the job. Often, it’s inadvertent, and possibly due to limitations of the hiring process or gaps in communication. But in this kind of labor market, my job is to help my client companies set realistic expectations and get creative about nurturing passive candidates. It is vitally important to leverage competitive intelligence in order to woo candidates,” Durkin said.
The takeaway is that courting runners-up can help fill roles faster.
How to Tap Into the “Silver Medalist” Talent Pool
Durkin advocates a “keep-warm” strategy designed to mine a database of candidates from previous job openings and match those individuals to new positions. This method is used by Phoenix Partners to achieve success in filling roles with clients when their own internal departments have struggled. However, the activity is not confined to “when-you-need-a-candidate.” Instead, in order to find qualified candidates on a continuing basis, the “keep-warm” strategy should be fully integrated into the entire hiring process. After all, you’re nurturing a future relationship, and it starts with the candidate’s first interaction with your company.
1. Use personalization to drive engagement
When you reach out to prospective candidates as part of the qualifying or interviewing process, continue building a relationship with them by personalizing your communications. Track each of your previous conversations so you can reference them in future communications.
2. Provide a transparent view into company culture
If a candidate seems like a promising future fit, keep them looped in to your company with periodic communications from your blog, company activities, and achievements. This will help your company remain top-of-mind, and help the candidate feel they may at some point be part of the team. Occasional correspondence with a candidate and then including them in email blasts of information about your company are the tools of choice for this type of periodic communication.
3. Communicate with candidates before, during and after the hire.
It sounds obvious, but some employers underestimate how much candidates value communication before, during and after the application process. Review your communication strategy within the hiring process and benchmark it. Be certain that every applicant is treated like your best customer.
If you’re having difficulty finding silver and bronze medalists, Contact Phoenix Partners for help filling your next vacancy.