How to Use Your Network to Find Good Hires

How to Use Your Network to Find Good Hires

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Looking to hire? Then tell everyone in your network about the position you’re looking to fill, and consider sharing the job description with them, says Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director with Robert Half in Menlo Park, CA.

“Everyone from current colleagues to friends, family, former coworkers and neighbors could be included in this mix,” says McDonald.

They may be in a position to help you fill the role or know of someone who is looking to make a career move. This communication can come through social media, via email, word of mouth or just picking up the phone. But don’t be intrusive. Nobody wants to receive a reminder about your job search every day, says McDonald.

Technology has changed the way people connect and the recruiting industry is no different. And when it comes to technology, make LinkedIn work for you, says Marisa Vrona, Talent Engagement Manager of the Chicago, IL branch of WunderLand Group, a creative staffing solutions firm. Look beyond the surface to make it really work for you.

“LinkedIn is more than a connection or sourcing website,” says Vrona. “It’s an online networking tool that introduces you to new faces, companies and information. Be smart about what you share on LinkedIn.”

Vrona provides helpful articles that both her clients and candidates will benefit from, while opening the floor for discussion with comments and likes. That being said Vrona never adds someone as a LinkedIn connection unless she has communicated with them in some capacity.

“I learned this very important lesson early on in my recruiting career,” says Vrona. “I do this so that I can help job seekers find connections that I might have based on specific titles or companies they are looking to break into. I tell these people to search throughout my LinkedIn connections and let me know if they want to be introduced and I can 100 percent say that I personally know each connection.”

While technology (LinkedIn, Skype, social media channels) is helpful in finding candidates, it can only take you so far, says McDonald.

“Often, the key to finding top talent is taking technology one step further, and making it personal – it’s building a relationship with someone new once you’ve connected online by having a cup of coffee or going to happy hour after work with someone already in your network,” says McDonald.

These additional steps, the kind that include going beyond hitting “send” on an email or accepting a connection request, can be especially fruitful to matching you and your company with your next new hire.

Before you do all of this – check your own online reputation, says McDonald. What do you find? Is it current, polished and does it appear trustworthy? Consider that before someone refers a potential hire to you, they may be evaluating your digital reputation first.

Recruiters should use many of the same channels job seekers do when searching for a job, McDonald points out. Attend meetings, industry association workshops, webinars, forums and seminars for professionals in your field. In addition to industry-related events, try networking at social gatherings and events that get you outside of your comfort zone.

“Even if you’re attending a sporting event or at a dinner party, make sure to have business cards on hand,” says McDonald. “You never know who might turn out to be someone who can help you.”

Vrona has been described as solution-oriented, collaborative, team supporter, well organized, professional and ‘a rock star’. And not just because she enjoys going to local events or concerts in the Greater Chicagoland area. But when she does, she still wears here recruiting hat. In fact, she turned her Uber driver into a candidate she is currently helping to find a job.

“I always have my recruiting cap on,” says Vrona. “I am always ready to meet new people and discuss my job and my company, WunderLand Group, on the fly. In fact, I met a promising, qualified candidate because he was my Uber driver. As I was making friendly conversation with him, he mentioned that he is an Uber driver while he’s not working, so naturally I asked him his main profession. It turns out that he is a graphic designer and marketing manager, which are two industries that my company specializes in. I talked up my company, gave him my business card and asked him to connect with me. He did and I am now helping him find a job.”

That leads to Vrona’s next tips: Never be afraid to ask people questions when you are out of your recruiting element. You can never have enough business cards. Pass them out as much as possible and collect as many as you can. Whether you keep them in a rolodex or throw them out after adding the person on LinkedIn, these are the fruits of your labor from networking.

If you’re looking for something new, try volunteering to expand your network.

“It’s a great way to get to know people inside and outside of your workplace,” says McDonald. “Many companies, large and small, encourage their employees to give back and volunteer in their communities. Whether it’s cleaning up a beach or sorting produce at a food bank, there’s something for everyone. It will force you to talk to people outside of your existing network – and in the process, potentially expand it.”

With any type of networking, there are best practices. The same goes for recruiters looking to hire. McDonald points out some misconceptions that need to be considered:

Misconception #1: Asking favors. When networking, you shouldn’t ask for favors more than you offer them. Steer clear of the mentality that someone should help you fill a job because “they owe you one.” Although you may be networking to find a good hire, you never want to be a burden or use your network inappropriately. Instead of improving your reputation, it could actually have the opposite effect.

Misconception #2: Your network will be enough. Don’t limit your networking efforts to peers within your industry. Instead, forge connections with people in other industries, companies and at varying levels of experience. The more people you know, the greater the likelihood that one of them may be able to help you find the new hire for which you’re seeking.

Remember, professional etiquette and courtesy goes a long way. Remember to say thank you. Send congratulatory emails to colleagues who are promoted, receive an award or achieve another professional milestone. Show you’re a team player by publicly singing the praises of your colleagues’ achievements. Make sure to do this when it comes to former colleagues too. Give credit to those who have helped you professionally in your career. Send a “Kudos” on LinkedIn or even a card in the mail. Your efforts will be rewarded.

“And be sure to lend a helping hand to those in your network when asked,” says McDonald.

Vrona makes another point.

“This sounds obvious, but it is rarely used in practice,” she says. “Mind your manners and boundaries when networking. There is a fine line when it comes to asking for things, such as a job opportunities or an introduction. Be brave and make the request politely, but also be comfortable with the fact that they may not respond or politely decline the request. Accept this and move on to the next.”

When reaching out within your network, ask questions that clearly identify your goals of using that network to recruit.

Try to ask open-ended questions, McDonald says, such as “Can you recommend other people or groups I should connect with?” A question like this can get someone talking. Asking a close-ended question that ends in “yes” or “no” can stop a conversation cold. Also, make sure to ask follow-up questions to show you’re interested in the conversation and listening.

“The most effective networkers and our top recruiters are always looking to make new connections and uncover useful resources,” says McDonald.

Whether the recommendation or referral pans out, make sure to say thank you. The connection may not lead to a good hire on the first try, but establishing a solid relationship with someone could help you fill a role down the road.

“There’s no one best or secret method to finding good hires, but a recruiter or HR professional’s network includes everyone with whom they come into contact,” says McDonald. “This can include the administrative assistant who has access to a senior-level executive, or the coworker you share an elevator ride with to work each morning.”

And keep this in mind: “A network is limitless and should always be evolving,” says Vrona. “Currently, my network consists of my clients, job seekers, friends, previous colleagues/managers and acquaintances that I’ve met and spoken with at an event.”

Who is in your network and how will you use them to find good hires?

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