Ask the experts

CEOs, understaffed, financially secure, ISO tech talent

In the incredibly shrinking labor market, Cyveillance, an Arlington-based Internet services company that gathers intelligence for e-commerce and monitors intellectual property, has had more than its share of success fishing for IT talent.


As the 2-year-old company has landed eight-digit venture capital and added dozens of the nation’s largest companies to its client roster, its staff quadrupled from 15 to 60 employees over the past eight months.

Cyveillance’s CEO, Brandy Thomas, hunts for new employees in all the usual places and then some. The company places advertisements in newspapers, trade publications and on online job sites such as tecHound and Careerbuilder. The firm recruits at the university that best fits its needs: MIT.

Many of Cyveillance’s new hires weren’t looking for a job when Thomas found them. But a couple years ago Thomas took to heart something said by guru to the digerati Mario Morino: “The person you want isn’t looking for a job. They’re-out there working for another company Ninety-nine percent of the people who come looking for a job are drift wood.”

Recruiters refer to these contented veterans paradoxically as “passive job seekers,” meaning they don’t realize they’re looking for a job until someone makes them an offer.

Thomas, 31, exhibits a playful elan and when talking about poaching other companies’ employees, he sounds more mischievous than mercenary. He turns up hot leads on topgun techies while making the rounds of industry receptions and trade shows. The company also offers hefty cash incentives for employee referrals.
Until recently, Thomas did all the hiring personally. “Now we have to get real HR,” he said, “with policies and procedures.” For that Thomas will turn to one of the most recent additions to his staff — human resources director Marryanne Post.

What are some effective methods of recruiting passive job seekers in the hypercompetitive tech market?

Cynde Jackson Clarke, a consultant for The McCormick Group, an Arlington-based executive search firm’ counts the ways:

Finding a job used to entail actively looking — responding to – newspaper employment ads, submitting resumes to corporate Web sites and returning recruiters’ phone calls.

Not anymore Today is the heyday of the passive job seeker who would leave their current job for the right opportunity even if they aren’t actively looking.

In a tight labor market top talent is heavily recruited. People who are not necessarily looking for jobs are willing to listen to a good offer. But they won’t spend precious free time checking employment ads or surfing the Internet for jobs.
So how do you reach the passive job seeker? The question you should ask is, Who are the best people in the field. rather than who is looking for a job? Next, adopt a get-’em-while-they’re-hot approach by asking new employees for referrals when they are most excited — on their first day.

Another venue for finding talent is through alumni networks. The experienced talent you’ve already hired has former colleagues from previous companies. Find a way to tap into their networks. Having a good employee referral bonus program sweetens the pot. The program should be clearly communicated to the rank-and-file, endorsed by corporate managers at all levels and acknowledged each time an employee referral signs on to the organization. Make it easy for employees to refer good people with a simple process and a nice reward. Equally important is informing the employee of the time frame for receiving the bonus and then paying it on time.

Finally, don’t discount the ability to piggyback the campus recruiting effort. Alumni attend college football games and other events on campus from time to time. Your recruiters working the campus events should be keeping their eyes and ears open to find the former students who may be enticed by what your firm has to offer.

What’s the bottom line? Create an environment where people are not only happy with the work they do but that work-for you. You’ve then set your company up for the best chance of luring talent away from your competitors. That’s the name of the game.

What should a company keep in mind if it’s using its Web site to market itself to potential employees?

Barbara Kinosky, an attorney specializing in government contracts and corporate law at the Vienna office of Williams Mullen Clark & Dobbins, sets some ground rules:
The Web site as a whole should be designed and written for the company’s target audience.

However, the employment section gives the company the ability to “blow its own horn” without being offensive. Here’s the place to let the job seeker know why your company is a great place to work.

The marketing strategy should focus on the company’s openings and benefits. While listing benefits that apply to all employees, using employee testimonials on why they like to work there can be an additional persuasive tool.

The company can create links on its Web site to take users to pages that highlight the backgrounds of principals or a link to a listing of staff or department heads.

If someone is considering sending a resume, they need names and titles to personalize their cover letter. Don’t forget a mailing address, phone and fax numbers, even if the company has an online recruitment form or an automatic e-mail reply. Many applicants still prefer sending a letter and resume via snail mail.

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