Why Internal Talent Acquisition will never produce Top Candidates

October 16th, 2013

Everything starts with requirements, even corporate Information Technology positions.

The manner a position requirement is put together and the questions it answers dictate how fillable the position and the caliber of candidates it attracts.

In corporate America, position requirements come from job description information. Job descriptions define the ideal candidate (and then some), what skills are required, and any pluses they might bring.

This requirement (job description data) that provides the candidate roadmap creates the initial roadblock by making the field of candidates too narrow. Secondly, it creates a barrier by not discussing what the candidate will do identifying the required performance. Thirdly, because of no detailed discussion of what work and challenges the position entails, the position doesn’t attract the performance-based, high-caliber passive candidates.

Therefore, the internal recruiters do not possess the adequate or accurate position information.  They are forced to look for skills that may not be required to fill the position and eliminate many high caliber candidates from the mix.  Because they are dealing with job description data, they cannot identify real requirements.

Without having knowledge of what the candidate’s responsibility will be, what needs to get accomplished over the next 1-2 years, a vivid picture of success, the hurdles/challenges needed to be overcome, etc. the position cannot be explained to the high caliber candidates enough to attract them.

In this scenario, skills are sought with no eye on caliber or past performance of the candidate.


Internal recruiters usually talk to the candidates responding to posted positions on job boards, company websites, and social media. Talent acquisition is usually not contacting or cold calling candidates, networking with someone to find a candidate who would be excited about the position, or working on referrals.  Most of the time when they do talk to a candidate, they are hamstrung because of their skill-based requirement and can’t adequately discuss the challenge, impact, opportunity for change, and other opportunities interesting to a top performing, high-caliber candidate.  They spend most of the conversation discussing the company needs from the job description in an attempt to find out if the candidate possesses those perceived essential skills. This kills the candidate’s interest level.


This motivation for the position and company is driven by what the candidate will get to do, challenges they will have, impact they can make, what they can become, and how high they can scale. And because internal talent acquisition departments are focused on skills and needs, they cannot interpret or speak to the candidates’ motivations.

When this is not understood, an entire dimension is removed from the talent acquisition process, and makes it very difficult for internal talent acquisition to measure the candidate “fit” and candidate caliber.

The candidate becomes a 2 dimensional creature – someone who is just a list of skills.

Honer and Associates

At Honer and Associates, we focus is on identifying, attracting, hiring, and retaining the highest-caliber, top-performing candidates in the marketplace.  We provide a value-add service that pays off long-term in respect to employee longevity, promotions and low turnover.  If you have any additional questions about attracting the best candidates to your organization, please contact us at your convenience.

Why Passive Candidates Now

September 30th, 2013

Before the recession of the early 1990’s, companies were hesitant to lay off workers – they shied away to avoid any possible public backlash.

However, in the early 90’s, many had no choice.  They were simply broken and required drastic measures to repair themselves.

Down-sizing, right-sizing, and mass layoffs were born.

After 20 years of downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing, laying off and economic downturns, industry leaders have now realized that most of the top performers – the people they want to hire for their organization – are engaged and working for someone else, not available and unemployed because they were laid off (exceptions do occur, but call them “needles in haystacks”)

They know this because when they downsized (or right-sized or laid off) they did not cut their best.  The best employees left when they became disenchanted over poor company performance, lack of opportunities, or were recruited for a “grass is greener” opportunity.

The key in identifying, attracting, selecting and hiring these desirable passive candidates is by recognizing the difference in their frame of mind – from their active counterparts and most hiring managers – during the hiring process.

First, they have to be identified.  These passive candidates are not looking for other opportunities consciously.  They have to be found.  You can find out who they are by using public sources, referrals and confidential information.  The information is plentiful and accessible; it is simply time-consuming to process.

However, the true job of recruiting – or talent acquisition – in 2013 is not one of candidate identification, as it was 10+ years ago.  It is one of candidate recognition.

There is no secret sauce to locating highly qualified candidates.  The introduction of LinkedIn, resume databases and (even) Google has taken care of that.  The true skill comes in candidate recognition, or being able to recognize the high performers and what is required from a performance profile standpoint.  In other words, the true job of a recruiter is to recognize and validate the “caliber of the candidate”.

A recruiters job well done is to steer the interview process and assist in making sure all the bases are touched.  All candidates should be thoroughly screened and interviewed, but it is important for the interviewers to remember they must sell both their job opportunity and the company to passive candidates.

These candidates may not come to the interview dressed in their best suit and tie, look you in the eye, shake hands aggressively, etc.  They may not be articulate and sell themselves around the job. Company interviewers who expect this behavior are still interviewing in the past when a surplus of candidates existed, and the game was to weed out the losers. We are now dealing with a scarcity of high-caliber candidates, and the same interviewing process will lose more passive candidates than they will hire.  The candidate has also come to gather information, find out about the company, position, who it reports to, etc.  The candidate’s interest must be addressed to further the hiring process.

Finally, it is necessary to make more than fair salary offers when possible.  Salary equates to value, and passive candidates need to feel valued if they are going to make any type of career move and leave their current position.

So if you are serious about hiring only the best candidates for every key position, work with Honer and Associates.  Our specialty is knowing how to identify, attract, select and hire the best and brightest.  Contact us today!