It’s no secret that the war for talent is on and, as a result, good candidates are much more difficult to find than ever before. It’s even tougher if you recruit in an industry that isn’t known for paying very high wages: You have the challenge of finding the best candidates possible without the help of hefty paychecks.

If you’re going to attract great candidates under these circumstances, you will need to cast a much wider net than you may be used to. You will need, in other words, to build a network of recruiting partners.

How I Built My Network

For several years, I worked for a nonprofit that hired 80-100 new employees every year. To improve the overall quality of these new hires, I worked to build our brand identity in the local labor market by attending every job fair I was invited to. This helped get our organization’s name out there. It also gave us a good idea of which job fairs were worth our time, and it have me the chance to met a lot of “job developers” from various agencies.

Job developers are people whose primary purpose is to help others find employment. Among the various developers I came into contact with were representatives from the employee development department, WorkSource, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Jewish Vocational Services, and various trade schools, colleges, and universities.

Each time I met a new contact at a job fair, I asked if they would like to be put on my job announcement distribution list. Of course, they all said “Yes” and were very happy to give me their email addresses. At last count, I had more than 112 recruiting partners within a 30-mile radius of the organization.

How to Tap Your Network When Recruiting

The process of leveraging a recruiting partners network is easy. Keep collecting email addresses, and when you have a job to announce, simply send a mass email to all the people on your list. (For the sake of privacy, you may want to BCC the addresses of your partners.)

In these emails, I would usually provide a link to the website where applicants could apply, or I would offer my own email address if it was a management or specialty position.

Getting a network of partners to help you recruit really is that easy, and it only costs a few minutes of your time. Over the years, I have gotten some pretty great candidates that I would have never met if it weren’t for this network of partners that I built.

BulbI should also note that the individuals receiving my job announcements would routinely forward them on to others, effectively building my network for me. One partner in particular, Alex “A.J.” Letterson of the Canoga Park Employment Development Department, has forwarded my job announcements to hundreds of others in his network.

Additional Benefits of Building a Strong Network of Recruiting Partners

There are other benefits to having a good, strong recruiting partners network. First, you tend to get invited to a lot more job fairs, which can be very helpful, provided that job fairs are part of your overall recruiting strategy.

Second, your network will help you strengthen your brand in local communities of talent. Maybe people aren’t interested in your organization today, but there may be a time when they do become interested, and they will remember your brand from all the job fairs and emails. They’ll be far more comfortable with applying to your organization because they’ll feel like they already know your organization.

Of course, a network of recruiting partners is not meant to replace your existing recruiting processes, nor should you rely on your partners to do the bulk of your work for you.

In reality, a network of partners is one more (valuable) tool you can use to build your brand in the local labor market, to build relationships, and to attract additional talent to your organization.

So get out there, build relationships, and cast your net wide. There’s no better way to get the best talent for your organization – especially if you don’t have the benefit of being able to entice candidates with high salaries.

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