Talent on reserve

Here's how to bring in new employees right when you need them

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How does a compensation package that includes a signing bonus and free massages sound to you? Probably pretty good. So just imagine how it may sound to one of your employees searching elsewhere for a new career opportunity. These kinds of perks are just a few of the carrots companies are dangling in front of prospective hires to lure them away from their current employers.

Good for employees-bad for you, the hiring manager. What if one of your star employees decides to jump ship? That will leave you with the headache of trying to fill a key position, which could take weeks or even months. What can you do to ensure that you’ve got some good candidates all ready to interview, just in case?

Get involved in your business community, says Danny Thomas, president of Atlanta-based Creative Recruitment Solutions. Formerly senior manager of recruitment strategies for MCI, Thomas made it a point to constantly be out meeting with people at business and industry functions.

“I always knew who was out there, so [I could fill] a position before the paperwork to create the job opening was completed,” he says. “This allowed me to operate without any downtime.”

Today, cutting-edge corporations hire Thomas-whose recruitment consulting firm specializes in Internet recruiting-to scout for talent before they actually have openings available. “If we find good candidates, we will go ahead and contact them, get their résumés and send them to the hiring manager,” says Thomas. “We [then] encourage managers to strike up a relationship with the candidates.”

When meeting with potential candidates face-to-face, Thomas recommends telling them they’re the type of person you’d look for if there was an opening and sell them on the benefits of working for your company. Focus on career advancement opportunities, corporate culture and other things you think would make a candidate interested in coming aboard. Bob Nelson, Ken Blanchard and Peter Economy, authors of Managing for Dummies (IDG Books, $19.99), offer the following suggestions:

  • Take a close look within. “If you do your job in training and developing employees, then you should have plenty of candidates to consider for openings,” they say. Hiring people this way is not just cheaper and easier, it also results in “happier employees, improved morale and new hires who are already familiar with your organization.”
  • Use temporary agencies. When you have to fill a critical position for a short period of time, temp agencies are the way to go-no muss, no fuss. “And the best part is you get to try before you buy.”
  • Solicit personal referrals. These can come from co-workers, professional colleagues, friends, relatives or neighbors. “You get far more insight about the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses from the people who refer them than you ever get from résumés alone,” say the authors. “When you are ready to fill a position, make sure that you let people know about it.”

Thomas says that although the Internet and technology have done much to speed up the recruiting process, having the talent when you need it comes down to the

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