The fact is, someone you know knows just the person you need
If I were looking to recruit exceptional people, I would forget about advertising on recruiting sites (unless I loved reviewing hundreds or thousands of irrelevant resumes) or going through a search firm.
The way I would find my new talented people is the way I have found hundreds of them over the years: by networking.
I network consistently and get real benefits from it. I learn a lot about a lot of things. I learn about new opportunities. And I get to meet amazing people.
As the owner of my own businesses, I have a huge advantage vs. corporate types when it comes to networking: my schedule is mine to control. This means I can network with relevant people in my talent search whenever it works best for me. I can meet for breakfast, for lunch, for afternoon coffee, or for dinner. I can meet Monday through Friday or on the weekend. (Hint: one way to weed out candidates is to suggest meeting at unusual times. Sometimes suggesting a Saturday morning initial meeting is enough to flush out the weaker applicants.)
My Never-Fail Networking Process
First, define as closely as possible the kind of person you are looking for. What will be his or her role in your organization? What kind of previous experience is necessary? What will be your expectations of the impact he or she will have? Who will he or she report to and manage? How will he or she be compensated? Put these bullet points on a single sheet of paper that you can hand or email to people when you reach out for candidates.
Next, think about all the people you know. We all have unique "clusters" of connections in our extended network. In your professional life, you have employees, suppliers, customers, and professional advisors, all of whom know you, your business, and your field.
In your personal life, you have friends, parents of your kids' friends, people you went to school with, and members of clubs or organizations you belong to. Some of the people in your personal clusters are certain to have access to the type of new talent you are looking to add to your team. One time I found an exceptional salesperson simply by having a discussion with the mom of one of our son's Little League team members. It turned out that her brother wanted to relocate to our area and was looking for a new opportunity.
Put together a list of the people in each of your clusters who are most likely to know of the type of person you are looking to recruit. Now start talking—in person, by phone, or via email—with your relevant connections about your need for new talent, being sure to share your bullet-point list of requirements.
Keep in mind that the most effective networkers are the ones who are primarily "givers." So in your conversations with friends and business connections, when asking for their recruiting help always make certain to ask, "How can I help you? What kind of introductions would you value?"
In addition to networking with people you know, do two other things:
Get in the habit of talking to the random people you run across in everyday life—on the plane, bus, or train, or standing in line at the grocery store, Starbucks, or Staples. I do that, and the experience is almost always a good one. Often, we exchange business cards and agree to meet again. At the next meeting, as you are getting to know each other, you can easily mention you are looking for new talent for your organization.
Cold-call local universities to get leads, either for interns or for alumni or soon-to-be-graduates who are looking for full-time work.
If the process seems simple, that's because it is. Everybody networks, including you. We start out on day one in our first network—our family—and evolve through various other networks of valued connections in different stages of our lives.
The trick is to recognize how powerful networking and relationship development tools are, and really start to hone your skills. They will help you drive your company's success and enrich your life and your family's lives. And, for sure, using these tools will be a highly effective way to recruit talented new people to your organization.