What is Reverse Recruiting?

TSP • @myTSPnet


Only 30% of the global workforce are active job seekers — the other 70% includes passive talent who aren't actively searching for employment but may jump at the opportunity. Companies are missing out by relying on the small percentage of active job seekers, putting all their hopes into the off-chance that the dream candidate will apply.

The talent landscape is shifting, and the traditional recruitment strategy of placing job ads falls short. Companies must become more proactive in their search for the best candidates, using techniques like reverse recruiting. Let's look at what reverse recruiting is and how it can be a worthwhile investment.

Reverse recruiting is a proactive talent acquisition strategy. The process results from employers initiating contact with desirable candidates, regardless of job-seeking status, flipping the traditional recruitment process of reacting to incoming applications.

This method of recruiting is necessary in the modern job market, where the war for talent is restricting active job seekers, especially in skilled, high-demand professions and industries like tech. By defining its ideal candidates and seeking them out rather than waiting for them to apply, a company creates a more targeted applicant approach and can tailor offers to select individuals, bettering its recruitment solutions, options, and opportunities.

Reverse recruiting is more than changing or reversing who reaches out first; it involves a fundamental shift in the talent acquisition process. For the shift or change in strategy to work, a company can focus on three tasks.

1. Defining Talent Needs and Candidate Profiles
A company must first perform a needs assessment to search for a candidate. The evaluation will clarify who the company is looking for and the position it is trying to fill.

A generic job description is not enough for what reverse recruiting is. A company requires specificity, breaking down the position and candidate into hard and soft essential skills. It must determine cultural alignment and define the company culture and environment.

Regarding hard skills, will a prospective candidate need software proficiencies, know programming languages, possess industry-specific licenses and certifications, or have minimum experience? Regarding soft skills, does the candidate need to possess leadership qualities, or can they be more of a collaborative contributor? For company culture, the business may want to ask several questions, such as:

  • Does the candidate need to thrive in fast-paced environments?
  • Does the candidate align with the company's mission and values?
  • Does the candidate need to be independent and self-motivated?

Beyond identifying company needs and a candidate profile, the business should consider candidates who help future-proof it. For example, by identifying current talent gaps, industry trends, and skills shifts, a company can actively seek candidates with those specialized skills or experience.

2. Sourcing Beyond Job Boards
What is reverse recruiting compared to traditional recruiting? Traditional recruitment methods favor job boards like Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, and other niche or industry-specific platforms. An employer creates a job listing, posts it, and waits for candidates to apply.

The primary issue with traditional recruiting and job boards is the reliance on active job seekers. Unemployment is usually not a problem for top talent, meaning they rarely peruse job boards. Therefore, a company often receives many applicants with few quality or worthwhile candidates.

The more targeted approach of reverse recruiting with a well-defined ideal candidate profile can produce positive results for employers. Reverse recruiting is about going beyond the job boards, with their limited potential, and seeking qualified candidates where they are, like in industry-specific forums, social media groups, industry conferences, and networking events. A company can also invest in university partnerships to build relationships with recent graduates.

3. Focusing On Value Proposition and Personalizing the Pitch
Beyond defining and seeking a talented candidate profile, what is reverse recruiting? At its most fundamental element, reverse recruitment is about personal outreach. Especially in the modern age, companies must show an explicit interest in top talent; they cannot expect to garner positive attention from a generic job pitch. Top talent is not actively seeking positions, so generic pitches likely look like spam to them.

Top talent is likely happy in their career and needs convincing to switch companies or positions. A company must create a candidate-focused value proposition — a concise statement summarizing the unique value and benefits it offers a candidate — that goes beyond salary.

While salary is an important factor, it is not the only thing that matters to top talent. A talented candidate who doesn't need to entertain offers wants to know their work and efforts hold value. A company should show that there are growth opportunities, highlighting career paths and support for professional development. To encourage engagement from the prospective candidate, employers can highlight their company's tech or ask the candidate to attend an event.

Employers should do their homework on specific candidates and personalize correspondence. Reference the person's accomplishments or particular projects and show genuine interest. Candidates want to feel acknowledged and respected.

So what is reverse recruiting? The targeting of a reverse candidate. A reverse candidate is not actively seeking a new job but may be open to the right opportunity. These highly skilled and talented individuals are part of the hidden talent pool, rarely on traditional job boards.

Companies that invest in reverse recruiting experience direct and hidden costs. Direct costs include investments in sourcing tools, external recruiters, employee time, and incentives. Hidden costs include potential poaching issues and opportunity losses.

Still, despite the potential expense, reverse recruiting is worthwhile for the right enterprise or position. The method is most effective for finding talent with niche skills, competing in a competitive job market, or seeking people from the long-term talent pipeline. Reverse recruiting is strategic, and companies must weigh their talent needs against the benefits and costs of the strategy.

What is reverse recruiting? It is a talent acquisition strategy that is beneficial in the current job market. If your company is searching for top-tier talent, look no further than TSP. We're not your typical staffing agency — our people have W-2s with all the associated benefits. Contact us and start your reverse recruiting journey.

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