When it comes to finding the right people at the right time, having prior knowledge of who's available is essential, says Liz Simpson
When headhunter Bob Lambert was chief HR officer for the Stride Rite shoe company, he worked with a 'world class' director of executive recruitment named Mary, who focused her energies on extensive networking. Her Rolodex crammed with 10,000 names, proved that she knew everyone who was anyone in the footwear industry. That way, she could find out which people were unhappy in their jobs and which bosses regularly drove their staff to seek other positions.
Mary's skill in building trusting relationships, honed and refined over 20 years, enabled Stride Rite to target suitable candidates for jobs even before they had decided to leave their current company. Although not always a fair assessment, the best talent is typically either working already or only unemployed for a very short period.
Whether you're operating in a market of 4 per cent or 10 per cent unemployment, the challenge of passive recruitment remains the same: How do you find the right candidates at the right time - which may involve a completely different pool of individuals than those actively responding to current job openings - when you don't have the benefit of a 'Mary'?
Now head of executive search firm Christian & Timbers' Southern California office, Lambert says there's no substitute for the personal touch, but he acknowledges the advantages of technology that enables companies to attract, communicate with and - when appropriate - target passive candidates who otherwise would be off their radar screens.
Passive recruitment is a way of maintaining relationships with potential candidates who may not be ready to move into your organisation right now - but could well be in the future. And thanks to the internet, building such relationships is easier than ever before.
The biggest advantage of this internet-based technology lies in enabling users to create a 'community' of passive candidates who might be willing to jump ship if the position and price are right.
Jay Rombach, corporate HR consultant for Royal Caribbean Cruises' shore-side recruiting system in Miami, Florida, US, explains how it works for them.
"We went live on 1 March, 2001 with Hire.com's automated website solution. We get around 450 people visiting our jobs website every day, which gave us the