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One of the assumptions that can make finding good candidates for a position difficult is limiting your search to people actively seeking a new job. In reality, this number is always only a fraction of the people available who might be good at the job, and consider it if they were aware of its existence.

Yes, there are usually many excellent possibilities among active job seekers. However, the fact that these people are visible to others through job boards, social networks, advertising, word of mouth and other means, usually translates into more competition for a smaller universe of choices.

Part of a recruiter’s key function is to use his or her contacts to access a bigger network “below the waterline.” This is where a recruiter’s years of experience and networking can pay big dividends. Sometimes, the best candidates can be people who, for one reason or another, haven’t taken that final step to begin an active job search.

Maybe things are OK at their present job and they haven’t quite reached the tipping point. Maybe they’ve been in their job a few years and they are just beginning to see that the opportunities available to them in their present position don’t match up with their dreams and aspirations. Maybe the job they’ve always wanted or would be ideally suited for is available, but off their radar screen for one reason or another. Maybe they are mentally ready for a change, but have not acted on it – yet!

It doesn’t matter why these people aren’t in the “candidate pool” – part of the job of recruiting is to get to know people, their histories, their ambitions, their goals, and match them up with the opportunities that are visible to recruiters.

Of course, recruiters often know many good people that are already in the queue and are actively looking for a new job and/or career. But one of the big benefits in using a recruiter familiar with your industry is having both visible and “invisible” possibilities to choose from. We can’t speak for other recruiters, but frequently when we hear about a new job that synergistic moment of “you-know-who-might-be-interested-in-this” occurs. Often this includes many people who are not officially in the job market.

Talent is, and will continue to be, a strategic resource for companies in the years ahead. Yes, you need to work the tip of the iceberg, but you also need access to a considerably larger mass of talent that is below the surface.

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