The Power Of Networking in Today's Job Market

How to Use Networking As A Powerful Recruiting Tool

Your best recruiting tool is right in front of you. Even better, it’s free and easy to use.

Building networks isn’t just for job seekers. When you’re recruiting your team, you also need to get out there and start shaking hands.

To learn more about how to make the most of networking as a recruiting tool, we spoke with Gregory Pontrelli and Fletcher Wimbush.

As the CEO of Lausanne Business Solutions, an HR management consultancy located in Philadelphia, PA, Pontrelli thinks there are better ways to spend your time than evaluating active candidates. “Limit yourself on the time you’re focusing on those people who are reaching out to you,” he says.

Wimbush, who is the CEO of The Hire Talent, a talent assessment company located in Brea, CA, shares this sentiment and believes the value of networking. “Candidates who have jobs, are secure where they’re at, and their willingness to make moves is going to be much more difficult,” he says. “So networking has got to be a long-term strategy.”

Your hiring process may be leading you astray, causing you to overlook some of the best talent out there. If you think you’re facing a talent shortage, chances are, you’re not looking hard enough.

Read on for the full transcript of Gregory’s and Fletcher’s tips on the power of networking:

Gregory Pontrelli

Build up your network

We were recently doing a workshop for a recruiter who had built out a team over the last three years. And we went around the room, asked them a little about their background and where they went to school. Out of 30 people in the room, it went something like this: University of Virginia, University of Virginia, University of Virginia, UVA, University of Virginia.

I looked to the recruiter and I said, “So, what do you think?” And he said, “I did a good job.” And I said, “So, what else do you think?” And he said, “I think we have a diversity problem.” He was a really successful recruiter, and he did a really good job of filling these candidates quickly and with good quality, but I think what he missed out on is focusing on just one source — he wasn’t ultimately doing the right thing for the company long-term.

What I think is important is: networking is a really important function because one pipeline is not enough. You may want out of that pipeline — or you’re not doing the right thing for the company when it comes to something like diversity.

Create your ideal candidate persona

So, all of us are on LinkedIn, and it’s easy to get bombarded by requests from candidates looking for jobs. It gets a bit overwhelming. Some good advice would be to limit yourself on the time you’re focusing on those people who are reaching out to you. It’s widely known that passive candidates are typically the better candidates, while active ones are not.

For that reason, if you’re being bombarded, if you’re getting overloaded with messages, go ahead and look through there. If you know what you’re looking for, try to see if you can find it. But limit your time. Your time is better spent creating a profile, or a map of what you think the ideal candidate is, and then finding them, actively.  

Think about what the ideal candidate would be for that role, think about who they would be, think about their background, think about the activities they may be involved with. And once you have that mapped, both offline and online, look for them. So go to events where they would be and online join groups where you think they would be as well.

Host events to attract candidates

One recruiting company that we were consulting with — they sourced for tech candidates — they had a really interesting way of networking and finding candidates. What they would do is hold coding bootcamps and in the bootcamps they were able to train people to be coders and to be software engineers.

In the process of doing that, they were finding people, they were building a network of people who could refer them as a recruiting company. But they were also able to sift candidates in there. They saw how well they could do the job, how fast they learned, they got a glimpse into the way they work with others and their personalities. So that was a really good source for them.

Also, they weren’t going just to one school or one area, they were doing it in different areas and attracting different groups of people. I think that’s a good idea.

For what we do at Lausanne, if we are looking for a trainer or consultant to join our team, we typically create a map, a profile of what we think the best person for that role would be and we network. We find people that fit that and have a get-together.

We will either have this in the form of a leadership workshop or a conference and by doing so, we are giving those individuals an opportunity to network with those who are like them. And also giving us an opportunity to meet other people who could be potential trainers and consultants for us in the future.

Fletcher Wimbush

Make networking a pillar of your strategy

Hi, my name is Fletcher Wimbush. I’m the president and CEO of the Higher Talent, a pre-hire assessment testing company, and executive search firm. Today, I’m happy to speak on behalf of Spark Hire in answering a few questions about why it’s so important for recruiters and HR people to network.

The answer may seem a little bit obvious, but in this day and age, you’re looking at unemployment rates, nationally, in the low four percents and most of the major metros in the three percentile. That means candidates have jobs, are secure where they’re at, and their willingness to make moves is going to be much more difficult. So networking has got to be a long-term strategy.

HR people and recruiters have got to identify the talent and begin to build relationships. These relationships can take, often, months and years in order to do that, so recruiters need to start now.  

Add an ATS to your recruiting stack

The second question Spark Hire would like to talk about today is the massive amount of social media — so the massive amount of responses that social media is creating for HR and recruiters in this day and age.

Having an excellent and effective applicant tracking system (ATS) tool that allows you to easily sort, rank, and categorize candidates and then move them into an easy pre-interviewing process like video interviews, assessment tests, or short and effective phone screens, group interviews, all of these things can help streamline sorting through massive amounts of candidates.

Create targeted groups and work backward

The third question Spark Hire is interested in having answered today is the different tools and strategies that we use to network and find candidates.

Really, trying to take advantage of Facebook these days. They have excellent tools for creating targeted lists or groups of people who are affiliated with industry-related companies so if I’m looking for folks in the software industry who are creating HR technology, I can actually target the people who work at those companies on Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn. That’s a great way to begin to build a database and begin to reach out.

Other industry networking events — we have done a lot of work in the aerospace industry, so we are going to the same conferences and events that engineers and business leaders there are going to. Rubbing elbows with those folks for different reasons. They’re checking out new products and technologies that might be helpful while we are there to get to know these people. Those are a couple strategies I like to use.

Keep in contact with your prospective candidates

Overall, marketing drip campaigns, staying in touch with these people after the fact and finding interesting information to share with them about the organization is really key. If you have a large talent pool, there’s not an immediate need, or maybe these people are passive candidates, I want to be reaching out to them regularly with something that’s helpful and useful to them, just like I would in any other marketing strategy.

Thanks for having me on today, and I hope the information was helpful.