The technology-assisted rise of continuous recruiting — finding candidates for positions that aren’t even open — is a perfect fit for high-growth companies that must be vigilant about not getting caught short at a time of acute need.

New software products such as CareerBuilder’s Talent Network are furthering companies’ ability to create a more-robust pipeline of potential employees. Sitting atop the career page of an organization’s Website, it provides interaction capabilities with potential candidates, who can post résumés and request to receive an alert when certain types of positions become open.

The software also offers additional customer-relationship-management-type capabilities, allowing a company to reengage its career-page visitors by, for example, asking for referrals to open positions that previous visitors might not be interested in themselves. And it helps optimize the page for search engines so as to build traffic.

“Continuous recruiting is where the top-performing companies are moving,” says Kevin Knapp, CFO of CareerBuilder. “It’s a relatively recent trend, and technology is making it happen. It allows you to more effectively tell the story of what it means to work for your company and maximize your investments in creating that brand and promoting it to potential candidates.”

The practice might not be as important for companies that might hire only a few people per year, but it could be a crucial strategy for large companies and, even more so, for any-size ones that are getting bigger fast.

One such enterprise, FordDirect, is a joint venture between Ford Motor and its dealers that helps the latter use online tools to help sell their products. CFO Ted Vincent says the average cost of selling a car while liberally using online media can be 30% to 50% less than when using only traditional, offline marketing and sales methods. That has led to explosive growth for the company, which is in the process of doubling its workforce to 100 people.

And that makes continuous recruiting a necessity. “You want to minimize the fire drill, where all of a sudden you need to find 10 people tomorrow,” says Vincent. “You’re going to make bad decisions that way.”

Jackie Barry, CFO at another fast-growing company, tech-enabled branded merchandise agency Zorch International, had just such an experience at a previous employer that didn’t put much value in continuous recruiting. “We were always doing mad dashes hiring people once we identified a need,” says Barry. “There was so much pressure on hiring managers to fill those gaps that we didn’t always make good hires.”

In fact, Vincent notes, FordDirect is willing to sacrifice the short-term revenue growth that might come from being fully staffed in order to make sure the right team is in place. He says each member of the senior executive team — including himself, the CEO, and the COO — is spending 15% of their time on recruiting matters. “The kinds of people we’re looking for, like those with strong e-commerce backgrounds or MBAs from good schools, are in high demand even in a down economy,” says Vincent. “We’re competing with Apple and Google for the best and brightest.”

Barry advises her counterparts at other companies to be completely up-front with candidates when discussions pertain to positions not currently open. Zorch has received grateful feedback regarding that practice from interviewees, who appreciate the opportunity to be prevetted, she says.

In case you’re deciding to tell your human-resources department to now begin continuous recruiting, Kris Dunn, who runs Kinetix, a recruitment-process-outsourcing firm, sounds a note of caution. “It’s a great practice, but you don’t always need to do it,” he says. There are many kinds of positions for which it is no problem to quickly find numerous qualified candidates. And if yours is not a growth company, resources are likely better expended elsewhere.

 

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