Recruiting the Evasive Modern Candidate

Recently, Brian Fink, Lead Technical Recruiter and Trainer at Relus Technologies, along with four of the nation’s top Talent Acquisition Managers, hosted a panel discussion unlocking secrets and tips for recruiting the evasive modern candidate.

Panelists included:

The momentum began to build as soon as the recruiters entered the building. Professional networkers and natural relationship builders, the group made their way around the office to meet Relus’ talent. When it was time for the event to begin, a collection of more than 75 recruiters gathered in 22 Tech Park to learn from the best.

Key Takeaways from Our Experts

The Importance of Your Recruiting Brand


“Before meeting with anyone else at MailChimp, I went straight to marketing,” Andy Pittman began the conversation with this revelation. “With the best candidates off the market within as little as 10 days, we need to make sure that we focus on candidates from the very first time they encounter our brand.” Andy’s comments illustrated a top concern amongst companies of all sizes. Each panelists added that top talent always had power, but now they have much more information than ever before.

“Specifically, the candidates know about your company, your reputation, and much like how you screen applicants for ‘fit’, top talent is screening you right back,” Barbara Marks added. Her comments and examples about how employer branding and marketing can help cut through the noise and clutter resonated, as many of the participants are focused connecting with a very specific candidate persona.

One thing that stood out from Barbara’s responses may have been the importance of having a proactive relationship with sites like Glassdoor. “Your reviews might be the only way to connect with prospective candidates in the modern information overload age. You have to control that narrative starting on your website, the application process, and owning your relationship with Glassdoor.” To own the relationship on Glassdoor, Barbara suggested that you needed to engage current and past employees as brand ambassadors to help tell your story.

The Data-Driven Employee Referrals


When discussing the number one source of hire, our panelists suggested that the best source of talent is the coveted and somewhat elusive employee referral. “About 30% of new hires at Mailchimp come from employee referrals,” Andy explained. “We found by putting more emphasis on quality referrals meant that we could increase our hiring by 35%. But, you have to manage it.”
Manage it? You mean to tell us that it doesn’t just run on autopilot?

Jess chuckled. “Employee referral programs make good recruiting sense because employee-referred job candidates are usually a good cultural fit and may need less onboarding when hired, but everyone knows someone who wants to work with us. And they know a lot of great people. A lot. We have to create a way to manage it.”

“With too many employee referrals, you run the risk of stifling your team,” Barbara Marks added. “Designing the program, including developing a strategy, customizing the plan, and establishing associated processes are key. You also have to make sure that every referral is treated like gold because it impacts your relationship with the candidate and your current employees. If you don’t take these introductions seriously and move on them quickly, you risk burning out your team. Again, you have to manage this.”

But how do you get there? How do you deal with an avalanche of employee referrals when you are as popular or recognizable as one of Atlanta’s Best Places to Work?

Andy circled back to data for analyzing the quality of employee referrals. “At Mailchimp, we ask every person why they are referring this person. There’s actually a form to complete. You could also think of it as a prescreen for the candidate.” Using this process, Mailchimp recruiters are able to understand why someone is in the interviewing process, which creates additional efficiencies for the recruiters.

“We have to use the same qualification criteria evaluating all candidates. Conducting ongoing analyses of our hires, where they came from, and the applicant pool to ensure that the employee referral program is effective and yielding the intended results,” Steve added, fleshing out Andy and Barbara’s strategy and metrics. Other important analyses should be diversity categories, the quality of hire, and resulting tenure from referrals.

If your employee referral program is not meeting its intended goals and is negatively affecting workforce diversity, you might need to reevaluate the program.

Don’t Abandon The Basics


After discussing new and impressive sourcing tools, the angst of the dreaded new LinkedIn, and the recruiter’s ever-evaporating pool of time, Steve Rath slayed the room with two unique questions that really seemed to resonate.

Are we distracted with all of the new ‘tools’?” Steve asked. Recruiters seem to rush to the newest tool, whether it be a Connectifier, Lusha, Hiretual, or, for the sake of using them to source. “Cool sourcing tools, no sourcing?” Steve laughed. “You have to be mindful of your time. Just like when you are assessing a great source of hire, you need to assess whether or not a sourcing tool was effective.”

Andy quipped, “Practice being protective of our time.”

“Andy’s right. Why aren’t we using time we’ve already spent to increase our productivity?”

The room went silent.

Could Andy travel back in time to “right the wrongs” of hiring managers past? Did he have a secret way to create more time in the day? What a fascinating turn of events!

Alas, this was not exactly what he meant.

“Over time, you collect hundreds of job applications for your company. You know there are gems to be found in your candidate archives. Instead of beginning the search on LinkedIn, you could start in your ATS,” Steve explained.

Steve’s time-surfing reminder was that there are strong candidates who have applied and interviewed with your company who weren’t the best fit previously, but may be your dream candidate now.

Candidates who previously submitted an application through your ATS already decided, either through their own research or from speaking with an existing employee, that they are interested in your company. “Have you seen some of these application processes? A candidate’s willingness to go through an application process represents meaningful decision and commitment of time,” Jess added.

When it comes to investments, the ATS often receives one of the highest allocations in an organization. The total cost of ownership extends far beyond the platform and its support team. It also includes the expenses associated with each uploaded resume and candidate profile.

“Sometimes we get beat up over ROI, but one way we max out return on investment is by using the most expensive tool. We can maximize ROI if we begin to use the ATS more like a customer relationship management tool. We have to take advantage of the current data. That’s one of the reasons we love Greenhouse. Instead of focusing their efforts on candidates in their external networks, we can develop marketing strategies for the ones already in the system,” Andy added. “Think about the engagement and time savings this can create.”


To soak up more wisdom from our panel, visit our event storify page.

About Kristen Corley

Kristen Corley is a passionate writer with a Bachelor of Science degree from Kennesaw State University. Her studies in communications and media prepared her for a career in writing and working with startup organizations. An avid learner, Kristen is intrigued by the latest tech trends and innovations. Her professional experience includes freelance writing, mentoring technology and engineering students in a public university, and working for three tech startups. She is thrilled to be a part of the Relus Technologies team, where she is currently contributing to the success of the organization through content marketing.