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Candidate Vending Machine: The Truth Behind This Recruitment Myth

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By Jay Barnett, Founder and CTO
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer


A lot of hiring managers (HMs) think recruiters — internal or external — have a candidate vending machine somewhere. All a recruiter has to do is insert the requisition (exact change only, please) and out pops a qualified applicant. Wouldn’t that be great?

In a way we’re guilty, at Decision Toolbox, of perpetuating this notion. We’re committed to making it look just that easy to our clients. We aspire to be like the duck gliding gracefully over the pond, while all the while, out of sight under the water, its legs are paddling furiously. We value transparency, but overall we don’t want them to worry. We’re doing the heavy lifting.

I want to share some of the things DT does behind the scenes to make sure that vending machine provides the best candidates that can be found for a position, not just the best who happen to be readily available. For those who believe in QCVMs (qualified candidate vending machines), this may be an eye opener. For recruiters or recruiting firms, there may be some ideas here on how you can deliver the top talent while still making it look easy.

Step 1: Do your homework at the very beginning of any recruiting process. We run a Supply & Demand report, from CareerBuilder, to get the pulse of the market and determine how much sourcing muscle we’ll need. We also research the company, using Glassdoor and other resources, to find out what buzz is out there — if it’s positive, you can tap into it. If it’s not, you can strategize on how to counter that.

Step 2: Brainstorm with the HM to make sure you are on the same page. At DT every project includes a 45-minute Discovery Call with the hiring manager, a DT Recruitment Partner, and a DT Writer. We want to understand the position itself, the HM’s requirements, and the real selling points that will give life to our marketing approach. This is also a great time to manage the HM’s expectations and provide education around the market. All this information will help us load the QCVM.

Step 3: Create decision support tools that will help you and the HM home in on the top candidates. For example, our tools include a job-specific Résumé Supplement, a questionnaire tailored to each search that we ask candidates to fill out when they submit their résumé. Another tool is a job-specific Phonescreen Worksheet, which provides a structured outline for the 45 minute “pre-interview” our recruiters conduct on the phone with the top candidates, drilling down into backgrounds and experience.

Step 4: Develop a robust recruiting plan that includes where you will post to find the active candidates and proactively dig to find the passive ones (those who have a job and aren’t actively looking to change). When you activate the DT QCVM, you set in motion activities like Internet mining, résumé database searches, social networking, professional networking, contact with professional associations, and the collection of referrals, referrals, referrals from everyone. Your plan should also include competitors to target, as well as employers in adjacent or related industries and markets.

Step 5: Create a targeted marketing strategy to generate interest among both active and passive candidates. A boring job description won’t generate much buzz. You need to craft a message that makes it clear why the ideal candidate should leave his/her current role for this new opportunity. To see how we do it DT style, check out this Jobinfo Writeup. We develop a similar marketing piece for every search.

Step 6: Deliver the qualified candidates from the QCVM into the HM’s hands. At DT it’s a package deal that includes the résumé, the candidate’s answers to the Résumé Supplement, our Recruitment Partner’s (RP) notes from the Phonescreen, a candidate comparison grid, and additional assessments by the RP. It’s almost a 360° view, with input from the candidate and the RP — once the HM adds his or her input, it’s a full picture.

DT’s service doesn’t end there — we also coordinate interviews, perform reference checks, facilitate background checks, and help with the offer process, for example — but this is where the QCVM process ends. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes activities in recruiting, but if we’re doing our job right at DT, the client only sees the quality results.


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