Fishing Talent from a Million Online Pools

    By Jonathan Poston | Small Business

    Fishing for new employees

    Before the age of the internet, employers had it pretty easy when it came to recruiting talent. Little and big catches swam readily through print classifieds to get a chomp at those tasty starter and dream jobs. Today, with newspapers fighting extinction, that one enormous reliable sea of talent has exploded into millions of micro-pools spanning across the planet. Now, with a kaleidoscope of puddles that must be monitored for movement, what small business has the time to spend all their resources trolling them all for talent? Here are five strategies many employers deploy to gig fresh catches.

    Twitter for recruiting

    An ocean of tweets (live and archived) are search friendly for any employer armed with a neat list of keywords (i.e. C++, Ruby on Rails, developer, etc.). For those posting jobs on Twitter using such keywords, they are conveniently searchable via search engines.

    Internal recruiting

    Many small business employers have been successful at developing talent from within. Hire entry level positions and deploy solid training programs to build the skill sets you desire. For rapid hiring needs, HR can still look to staff for referrals. This is often one of the most overlooked resources, and tapping it usually just means asking around: “hey, Bob, do you know any other great developers.” Oftentimes this little used (and common sense) tactic yields extraordinary returns.

    LinkedIn recruiting

    In January 2013, LinkedIn touted a new growth milestone: 200 million users. Naturally, many of those on Linkedin are actively or passively searching for job opportunities, and now LinkedIn has made it easy to search for talent based on skill-based keywords (i.e. engineering, marketing, finance, CFO, CEO, etc.). Groups are a great place to go to find specialized or localized talent. Looking for an admin. assistant in Atlanta Georgia? Post it in the Atlanta group’s job board. And, with a paid account, employers can do just what professional recruiters do—send a direct message (In-Mail) to any member to test for interest in a newly posted position.

    Angling the competition

    What better spot to fish for new hires that where you know they are swimming: competing companies! This is a tricky cast, but oftentimes job searchers from the competition will flop right onto your front door. If they are a good fit, treat them well, and more boat jumpers are likely to follow! Beware of the non-disclosures and non-competes that may exist, or the contingency that new catches can just as easily flop back the other way.

    Hiring a recruiter

    Speaking of recruiters, they are a valued tool for employers who don’t mind paying fees up to 30% of the first year salary of the open position. There are many types of recruiting groups; some who specialize (IT, healthcare, etc.), and others who keep a large database of general candidates. If you’re looking for highly developed talent, it’s probably best to go with a firm that has experience and resources built around that particular industry. It’s a numbers game for recruiters, just like it is for employers, but, depending on the contract, hiring a recruiter doesn’t mean employers must stop their own searches. It’s just another hook in the water in this growing sea of diversified and slippery talent.

    There are always online job boards, forums, classifieds (,, etc.) to look to as well, but again, results will vary, searches are extremely time consuming and costs can quickly mount. In this article, we’re just talking about how to tag targeted skills, not how to reel them in. That’s a different contest entirely.

    Jonathan Poston is a full-time business professor at Warren Wilson College. He has presented on a wide range of business/tech. topics for audiences in China, Belize, Ecuador, and the USA. Connect at LinkedIn, , or via email info (at)

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