Hiring managers can be impossibly picky, indecisive or just not helpful when asked to describe the person they’re looking to fill that difficult requisition.

What started out as a brief chat about the items on the req becomes a teaching moment and a time suck for the recruiter, after which the hiring manager complains that working with human resources is a major PITA. Finding qualified candidates for even the most hard-to-fill positions isn’t the bane of a recruiter’s existence. Candidates for hard-to-fill positions are easy to source – just S-C-A-R-E them!

Study: Read the requisition; study it. Pick it apart if you have to and jot down everything the hiring manager needs to clarify for this difficult req. Draft a sample job posting, even if you aren’t going to actually post an advertisement. You’ll need something to give the candidate besides a job description once you locate him or her. Based on your expertise – and, yes, you are the expert in talent acquisition, not the hiring manager – create something that piques the curiosity. But, don’t make it too long. Nobody wants to read a 550-word summary about the job.

Consult: Meet with the hiring manager for 15 minutes max. Come to the meeting with the requisition and your sample post. If you’re seeking a replacement employee, make sure you’ve got an up-to-date version of the job description. Don’t discount the incumbent as a helpful resource for positions that are difficult to fill. The person who performed the work has firsthand knowledge of the dynamics that will affect his successor’s performance.

Attract: You’re not going to reach that elusive applicant or the passive candidate by simply posting jobs and attending purposeless networking events, even if the hors d’oeuvres and cocktails are free. You can’t find candidates for difficult reqs by casting a line with dead bait, hoping to catch the biggest fish. Proactive sourcing is key, but it takes creativity, a naturally inquisitive disposition, investigative skills, negotiation and critical thinking. Explore trade publications, magazines and guest columnists whose qualifications match the “preferred” ones on the job requisition. Aim high when you’re looking for candidates for these difficult reqs. Search for award recipients and honorable mentions in the field for candidates who do a lot more than just look good on paper – look for the stars who are recognized by selection committees and their peers. You want consummate, not just competent.

Research: Let’s say you’re looking for an IT superstar. Find out who is The Stevie Award recipient for innovative IT ideas put into motion and research his accomplishments. Get the names and the 411 on runners-up and nominees, too. You know, the eggs-in-a-basket adage. Scrutinize their academic and professional accomplishments, plus the reasons they were nominated for the prestigious award. In other words, create a mini-dossier so you know what you’re talking about when pick up the phone. Reciting mundane information about the candidate isn’t going to help you fill this difficult req.

Cold calling might not be in your repertoire but it had better be if you plan to find someone for that hard-to-fill position and if you plan to keep your own job. Just remember when you reach out to a potential candidate: Pleasantries are nice, but stroking is better. Congratulate him on his achievements and be specific – don’t simply regurgitate why he got The Stevie Award. Connect his recognition to the reason why you’re calling.

Engage: Describe the impact his selection for the award makes on the IT landscape and segue into what your organization offers for his continued development. Avoid falling back on routine “shared experiences” like your alma mater and fraternal organizations. Stick to what he envisions for his professional future, not that you were both captains of your college rugby teams. Candor is good, so tell the candidate that you have a hard-to-fill position and you’ve spotted him as the possible ideal match. Don’t over-promise by suggesting he’s perfect for the job, lest your cold call will turn into a suspect call and not the beginning of finding the candidate for that difficult req.

Bahavioral Interview Ninja

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