Need To Hire Someone? Go Fish.

I hear it a lot… employers have trouble finding good candidates. One would think that, in this age of hyper-communication, attracting qualified candidates is simply a matter of posting a job opening and waiting for great candidates to line-up outside your door. The problem with recruiting is that 90% of the people who apply for jobs aren’t remotely qualified. What can you do to make the process more effective?


Think of the recruiting process like fishing. First, you need to cast a wide net to get as many applicants as possible in your recruiting net before you decide which ones to keep and which ones to throw back. If you make your recruitment efforts too narrow and/or focused, you won’t get enough people to respond. It’s a numbers game – 90% of the applicants aren’t going to be remotely qualified, so you’ll need to get 50 responses just to have 5 good candidates.


Second, cast your net in places where the type of applicants you are looking for are swimming. It doesn’t make sense to fish in a small freshwater pond if you want to catch an exotic saltwater fish. For example, if you need to find an experienced management professional, a local newspaper may not be the best recruiting spot – these types of professionals don’t look at the local newspaper for job opportunities. An online job posting on or will be more productive. Conversely, if you are looking for a recent college graduate, an online job posting will probably catch lots of not-so-recent graduates, so a local college employment office may be a better source of recent college graduates.


Finally, when you cast your recruiting net, use some bait to attract people to the opportunity (for you fishing folks, this is called chumming). When you advertise the position, get people interested in the position by telling them about the position, the company, the pay, the benefits, the opportunity, etc. You don’t have to go overboard with details, but you should tell them enough about the position to get them interested enough to respond.


Remember, be patient. there is no silver bullet to recruiting – it is a time-consuming and (often) frustrating process. But, if you approach it with a good plan and realistic expectations, you will find that there are some great catches out there.

Stephen H. Murphy, SPHR, is the president and founder of Carolina HR. He has been active in Human Resource management and consulting for over thirty years and brings his experience in a wide variety of HR situations to his clients.

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