Recognize These 6 Job-Hunting Styles to Source More Top Performers

If you frequently find top people who are either over-qualified, uninterested, or tell you they’ve just accepted another job or are close to it, job-hunting typecasting can increase the number of top performers you see.

I’ve observed over the years that top people enter the job market in predictable ways depending on how satisfied they are with their current jobs. Obviously, the more anxious they are about the quality of their current jobs, the more aggressive they’ll be in looking for something else. Ten classic job-hunting styles stand out, from those who are simply open to talk about possible opportunities to those who are ready to accept a reasonable offer in a few days. From a consumer marketing perspective these would be called customer personas. Knowing the type of person you’re seeking can help you develop a targeted sourcing strategy, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach. Segmenting your candidate pool this way will become more and more necessary in order to increase the quantity and quality of top performers you’re seeing.

Ten Common Job-Hunter Types

  1. Explorers. Explorers are people who are fully employed and quite satisfied in their current jobs. They will be open to explore other career opportunities if presented to them, but they will not proactively seek out something else. Recruiters need to call these people and provide them a chance to evaluate their opportunity with minimal commitment, letting them “just look” at what you have to offer. You can’t push too hard when talking to Explorers. If you can get them excited about what you have to offer, you can try to reel them in by conducting an exploratory interview or suggesting an exploratory meeting with a hiring manager. To hire these people your job must offer both stretch and long-term growth. Expect the process to take longer, and don’t expect a lot of preparation on their part unless they see your job as offering a significant career move. Explorers are passive candidates, but are open to consider something else if it’s far better.
  2. Foragers. Foragers are Explorers having a bad day. On these occasions, Foragers will venture into the job market for an hour or so, poke around, and if something stands out they’ll check it out. Since their foraging is short-lived, your jobs need to be easy to find and compelling.
  3. Since Foragers will lose interest as quickly as they entered the job-hunting market, you must make informal contact with a credible proposition quickly. Foragers have the same job demands as Explorers, but they’re somewhat easier to find since they’re looking for you.
  4. Tiptoers. Once diminishing job returns set-in, most top performers tiptoe into the market. They’ll contact a few former close associates and maybe a well-networked and respected recruiter or two. While Tiptoers represent the shift from passive to active candidates, their job demands are still high. Tiptoers are typically sourced through a very proactive employee referral program, or through a recruiter who’s known as a functional or industry specialist. Don’t expect a lot of preparation from them or demand they complete an application. If you do, you won’t see them again. Tiptoers aren’t desperate, and they often appear uninterested, so you’ll to need to make your case quickly that you’re offering something special.
  5. Googlers. Googlers are job hunters who Google for jobs, putting in keywords like “jobs Denver warehouse distribution” into search engines to see what pops up. Your objective is to be on the first page of these searches. Tiptoers become Googlers soon after they establish their initial network, especially if nothing develops right away. To make sure your ads are found by Googlers, you need to use search engine marketing tools like pay-per-click, search engine optimization techniques, and easily found talent hubs that group jobs by function (e.g., all Flash developers). Although they’re somewhat active job seekers, Googlers still have high job demands since they’ve just entered the market. But even if you’re offering strong career opportunities, you’ll also need to move fast, because the best of the Googlers quickly find other good jobs. Assign Googlers to your most aggressive recruiters, and make sure your hiring managers are available for instant exploratory discussions.
  6. Networkers. Top people become Networkers when the easier job-hunting tactics don’t pan out. Networkers are top people who aggressively go out of their way to meet respected recruiters, ask their former associates for others they can network with, and start trying to get connected to their 2ndand 3rddegree connections on LinkedIn. While their job demands soften a bit by this stage, these people won’t take superficial jobs or lateral moves. Don’t force Networkers to formally apply for jobs before talking to them, since they’re still looking, not yet buying. In addition, companies need to expand their employee referral programs so that their employees are easily found by Networkers. Line managers also need to be more open to meet with Networkers just to discuss current and potential future opportunities.