Hiring a “Unicorn” – 5 Strategies to Improve Recruiting Results

We’ve all heard the expression, “Unicorn Hire.” help sticky noteThis means a hire with an extremely rare skillset and high value to the organization.  And in most cases, it also means the Recruiting Team will struggle to fill the position. This is frustrating for both the Hiring Managers and the Recruiters.

The cycle goes something like this: the Recruiter send a candidate a who they think is qualified, the Hiring Manager rejects and asks for the next, the Recruiter sends another candidate, the Hiring Manager rejects and asks for next, and so the cycle continues for weeks, months, and in some extreme cases, years.

Communication + Realistic Expectations = Results.

  1. Educate the Recruiting Team

The definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results.  The hiring process almost always starts with the Hiring Manager providing a general requisition (job description) to the Recruiting Team and then expecting them to be able to read between the lines and be psychic enough to find the perfect match.  The general job description is not enough.  Investing a little time upfront will make a huge impact.

  • Schedule an initial meeting with the Recruiting Team.

It’s imperative to start here because without the Recruiting Team being cognizant of your needs from the beginning, the hamster wheel will continue to roll.

group meetingUse this opportunity to address any specialized skills the candidate needs to possess. Although Recruiters can be quite versatile, you should always expect a potential learning curve. There are specific terms they may not be familiar with quite yet in your field.

Allow the team to ask questions for points of clarification. It will pay off in the long run. Feel free to ask questions surrounding their process and how you can expect to receive the candidate data. The meeting is designed to set expectations for the candidate criteria, timeline, and submittal process to keep everyone aligned.

  • Create a Feedback Loop.

Consider establishing a weekly follow-up meeting with the Recruiting Team Lead/Manager before the search begins. Consistent with an article written by Carlie Smith**, feedback loops allow for continuous fine-tuning of the process to improve the search incrementally. This weekly meeting will keep you both in the loop on any new developments throughout the sourcing, qualifying, and interviewing process and help to reduce uncertainty.

Communication is KING!

  1. Success Analysis

Before the meeting, perform a success analysis. If it’s a replacement role, reflect on those previous employees and why they did not work out. Define who has been successful in this position and who hasn’t. Are there specific character traits the Recruiter should add to the search?

Is there a qualifying question and appropriate answer you can provide the Recruiter to ask during the phone screen? Having the Recruiters do this upfront leg work will weed out many unqualified candidates during initial sourcing.

  1. “Cold Eyes” Review

Are you writing the job description for the position? If so, you should have the content reviewed by a few people ahead of posting the role. Some suggestions for your peer review audience include the lead recruiter or HR personnel and a subordinate who’s performing the same role or similar. Be receptive to the feedback that they may offer.

In some cases, the job description may need to be completely revamped, which is okay. It’s more beneficial to have the job description reviewed upfront than to have the Recruiting Team waste efforts on sourcing and providing unsuitable candidates.

Provide as much insight as you can to the Recruiting Team to save both them and you a headache.

  1. Conduct a Salary Analysis

A salary analysis is a tool used to define a fair and competitive salary for employees with data based on the position title, duties, industry, region, etc. One of the biggest pitfalls between the Recruiting team’s efforts and the Hiring Manager’s expectations is the salary.

If the position is for a Senior Manager with at least 15 years of experience leading global teams, the salary needs to tablet workreflect the amount of experience and responsibility required. You wouldn’t offer $30K for this position and expect all the requirements to be met.

A salary analysis can be conducted in several manners: by your HR personnel, by 3rd party Staffing organizations, or through websites like Salary.com which allow you to conduct salary research by comparing your current salary offering against industry standards.

  1. Ask for Candidate Feedback Regarding the Organization

Inquire about the feedback Recruiters may be receiving from candidates. Is there a positive view of your company from the outside looking in? There are plenty of times when the Recruiters are finding the ideal candidate, but the candidates aren’t interested in being a part of an organization due to culture rumors, working conditions, reviews on websites like Glassdoor, etc.

According to a survey recently conducted by Redshift Research for Indeed*, a staggering 83% of respondents said employer reviews influenced their decision on where to apply and 46% said that a company’s reputation had a significant impact on their final decision to accept a job offer.

Any feedback the Recruiters can collect should be considered important. If the feedback is negative, work within the organization to remedy the stigma. If it is positive, work with the team to illuminate that message and drive the right people to your organization.

The best strategy for filling your position quickly is to have candid communication with the Recruiting Team.

With the amount of time and money spent on average to hire an employee, it pays to put in the additional effort upfront to successfully find the ideal candidate. With a competitive salary, proper expectations, and clear communication throughout, it’s possible to find your “Unicorn”.

 Happy Hiring!

To see how EPMA has found all of our “Unicorns” check out our staffing page at: www.epmainc.com/services/staffing

If you’re interesting in finding a few for yourself, give us a call at: 713-400-9200

For more information on how we can help you and your project management team, send us an email

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