Recruit People Who Don’t Want To Be Recruited

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businessman trying to run away from hand It’s happened to most recruiters: They have found the right candidate for a position but that person doesn’t want to leave his or her current position. What’s it going to take to get that candidate onboard? Some effort, according to Peter Weddles, but it’s not impossible.

Weddles, a veteran CEO of three HR consulting companies, wrote at his website,, that most passive candidates (like most humans) would rather stick with “the devil they know (their current employer) to the devil they don’t (our employer).” He added, “We must be able to get them to do what, in the beginning at least, they really don’t want to do.”

By way of example, Weddles relates the example of his father, who was the quintessential “anti-consumer.” His dad was not easily sold on any product and used the time-tested method of walking by items that would easily attract most buyers. Weddles recounted, “He bought things, of course, but it took a lot to convince him to do so. When he did decide to commit, however, you could count on him to follow through. To put it another way, when he was sold, he was definitely sold.”

Weddles offered advice on how his father could be persuaded to make a purchase and how those same skills could be applied to recruiting potential job candidates. Weddles said his father was influenced by three factors:

  • The trust he had in the provider;
  • The respect he was accorded by the provider; and
  • The enthusiasm he felt for whatever the provider was offering.

Trust is achieved, Weddles said, by making the prospective recruit believe his or her best interests are being kept in mind. The recruiter doesn’t want to just fill a position. The job seeker’s career interests are paramount. It’s just like selling the right car to help a family man out and not selling a car just to make a month’s end bonus.

Respect is as simple as the old maxim: Treat others as you would want to be treated. Weddles wrote, “All candidates, but especially top performers and those with rare skills, expect to be treated with dignity throughout the recruiting process. They may be applying for employment, but they are also customers—working men and women who are being asked to “buy” the value proposition of an organization with openings to fill.”

A simple way to accord that respect is to keep potential hires informed. “Those who are not deemed competitive for an opening should be told that immediately so they can move on, and those who are selected for further consideration should be told what to expect next and in what timeframe so they can prepare,” he said.

“Enthusiasm can’t be forced but it needs to be part of the hiring process to get the non-candidate enthusiastic about coming to work for an organization. Most candidates, however, realize that no organization is perfect. They get excited, therefore, when they interact with recruiters and hiring managers who are enthusiastic about an employer despite its warts,” Weddles said.

He continued, “Assuming it is genuine and based on factors that can be identified and articulated (e.g., the quality of a company’s products or services, its commitment to ground-breaking research), the pride that employees feel for their organization is incredibly infectious and predisposes candidates to be equally as generous and positive in their assessment of the organization.”

Weddles said that enthusiasm comes through when employees are prideful about and comfortable in expressing their love for the work they do. Only those employees with pride in the organization should be part of the recruiting process. That’s basic advice but sometimes ignored. Also, it helps that recruiting employees be salespeople when hiring employees.

By Keith Griffin