Forget Potential Candidates; You Want the “Probable” Candidate Instead

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We hear a lot about the potential candidate.

“Potential” candidates have traditionally been looked upon as job seekers but also as anyone not looking for a job who a recruiter might call and present a job to.

Those persons usually include the lower-hanging fruit easily observable on job boards and (today) on social media and semi-job board sites (like LinkedIn).

The “probable” candidate is the candidate who has been specifically chosen — who has been earmarked for a specific position.

Knowing who has the best talent

The probable candidate is the candidate who, because he or she has been chosen based on very specific sourcing criteria, is most likely to possess the attributes your hiring manager most wishes to see.

Usually the company the probable candidate works for has been specifically chosen as a mining (the act of digging into for candidates) site because that company is most likely to contain the best talent available in the workforce today.

The nature (and beauty) of competition is such that companies know who has the best talent; they know who, among their competitors, are doing the best job.

  • The scribes in Marketing Communications probably won’t know.
  • The peddlers in Sales know. They lose out to them every day and it hurts.
  • The trumpeters in Marketing sometimes know. Their pain is sometimes keyed into sales but rarely carries the same fiscal responsibility up the conveyor belt to the CEO’s office and they rarely take the ass-whippings sales endure.
  • The mathematicians in Finance don’t have a clue.
  • The analyzers in Market Research should know but are probably too swamped in data to ever get out and talk to anyone but the guys at the top probably know.
  • The scientists in R&D don’t much care. They’re smart enough to tell you they do (if asked) but really, they don’t. Just leave them alone to do their work.
  • HR probably doesn’t know. I’ll leave it to you to call them what you will.

Knowing where they are is key

The ones who DO know are the guys at the top.

They don’t (usually) get there for being know-nothings (‘though there are exceptions to the rule.)

Ask them. They’re never too busy to help.

If you can’t ask them, find out who does the sourcing for the staffing department.

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If it’s an outside resource they know, because all of their contacts have taught them who the best companies are in specific industries. They source into them repeatedly.

Once you know where you’re most likely to find the best talent and you have the ability to call in and get every single person in the department — or the group, or the specific organization, top to bottom (and the only way you’ll do that is by phone sourcing I promise you!) — you’ll then own the capacity to capture the probable candidate.

“Probable” candidates are just better concealed

Not only will you own the probable candidate, you’ll also own the probable candidate’s co-workers, his boss, and all her reports (more probable candidates.)

If one probable candidate isn’t interested in your opportunity, then you have the unique and lucky set of circumstances to be able to call the next probable candidate in that organization and present your opportunity and exhausting all the probable candidates in that specially chosen company before moving on to the next targeted, specifically chosen company.

What sets the probable candidate apart, many times, from the potential candidate is the fact that most probable candidates are more (better) concealed than their more visible and (and fast becoming fame-worn) potential counterparts.

I can’t write enough or exclaim enough about the great advantage this “ownership of the probable candidate” gives you so I’ll stop here and let you absorb and think about what has just been proposed.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm TechTrak.com, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at techtrak.com or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!

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