When you call an applicant’s former boss or co-workers to check references, you can turn this into a recruiting opportunity by directing the conversation along these lines:
“Thanks for taking my call, Joe. I’d like to know about your experience working with Jane. What was her job? How would you rank Jane as a [job title]?”
If you’re getting a good vibe from Joe, ask him if he might be interested in exploring an opportunity with your firm. If he says “yes,” and you have a suitable opening, direct him to the first steps in your hiring system.
If you don’t have an immediate opening, let him know you’ll keep his name and number and will contact him when something opens up.
Similarly, whenever someone gives you reference information and you hire the applicant, call the reference back a few weeks later and say: “Hi, Mary. Thanks so much for sharing that reference information about Jim. I hired him and he’s working out great. Now I have an opening for a [job title] and I’m wondering if you or someone you know might be interested in applying.”
This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.