Finding the A-Player

As a recruiter, I have been tasked with finding individuals in the Boston area that are both qualified and willing to move to another company. There are a total of 2,788,549 people in the Greater Boston Area on Linkedin alone. Linkedin is one of many social media platforms that I have access to on a daily basis. This gives me access to approximately three million profiles at any one point in time. The challenge: Acquire A-Players who will make an immediate impact on the company I am hiring for.

With access to three million profiles in the Boston area, the sifting process begins with copious amounts of research. One of the most important aspects of finding the A-Player is to search for them in companies that match the one you’re working for. Company matching is a process that cuts out at least 90% of the unqualified profiles. This brings the total number of potential profiles from 3 million down to 300,000 which is much more manageable. Making a targeted list of relevant companies that match the overall objectives and structure of the company I am hiring for is a critical step in the process.

After I have identified the target companies, it is then time to evaluate the LinkedIn profiles. In this example, I will use a Sales Engineer. There is a basic A-Player checklist that I follow when looking in the Boston area:

  • Relevant titles
    • A Sales Engineer can be called a number of different titles including Solution Architect, Solutions Consultant, and Pre-Sales Engineer.
  • 2-3 years at each company in the profile
    • This shows dedication to a company. If they stay for a while at each company, then there is a good chance that they will do the same at my company.
  • Working at similar companies
    • A-Players are going to be from the companies that you have researched. They will be able to ramp up quickly and have an immediate impact.
  • Working at high-growth companies
    • A-Players at high-growth companies will tend to gravitate toward other high-growth opportunities.
  • Metrics for Success
    • A-Players will highlight their successes and interests. They may have quota attainment, previous clients, or success stories outlined on their LinkedIn profile.
  • “HangAround Factor”
    • This is a term that I learned from a recent executive in the Boston area. This is an extremely valuable piece of advice for finding A-Players. “HangAround factor” is defined as finding a candidate who has worked with someone OR knows someone within the company that I am currently working for. For example, if a Sales Engineering candidate that I am speaking with previously worked with the Director of Sales Engineering at the company I am working for, then I can simply ask the Director of Sales Engineering, “is this candidate a good fit?” Normally, the answer is an overwhelming “yes” or a quick “no”. Regardless, the qualification process can be done very quickly.

Reaching out to the individuals who match the A-Player profile is key. Reaching out to every single individual from one company who has the title “Sales Engineer” is an approach that can scare away the A-Players. The A-Player will move for a unique opportunity. If they feel that they are considered anything less than a diamond in the rough, then they may opt to decline an in-mail message. The in-mail message itself must be customized in order to gain the interest of a candidate. Although this may take a bit more time, it is statistically proven to increase the response rate.

The initial phone screen is the next step in the process. This is the opportunity to really dig into and understand their qualification. If I understand my client, then I am able to truly qualify the candidate I am speaking with. A-Players will be excited about the opportunity over the phone and will have questions prepared to ask you. Qualification is a two way street. If they have researched the company and ask meaningful questions, then they have taken a keen interest in the company I am working with.

The final stage in the process is the actual face to face interview. Although the A-Player may need a bit of coaching, they are very confident in their own abilities while simultaneously humbled by the opportunity to meet the hiring team. A smile and hand-shake are two key first impressions. They are able to conduct themselves accordingly and show up on time to the interview. From here, the A-Player will take coaching opportunities and run with them. With a stellar interview performance, they could potentially be the next hire.