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CERA - career and recruiting success

In today's market, to have a client give you a contract to recruit 100 employees be exciting and somewhat overwhelming. Brian Whitfield tells how to manage a sizeable order it to produce the best results.

Recruiting and hiring 100 people quickly is tough, even in this market. Maybe especially in this market. You could get a thousand resumes from unqualified people. A few suggestions to do the job effectively:

Client Commitment and Support

  • Get corporate buy-in to the obvious -- that the recruiting process is very important to the success of the overall contract. Have them agree to dedicate a few days (i.e., back to Monday and Tuesday Java interviews) that the right people can help interview good candidates. This is crucial to your success. Having the decision makers gone or not taking your efforts seriously will kill your efforts.

  • Start gathering resumes/candidates early. Post a few ads anonymously (so you don't get 1,000 phone calls, etc.) for some of the job skills you will be looking for. Clearly state in the ads that they are for anticipated positions based on a contract award. Honesty is always the best policy.


  • Create a few folders (either on your computer or actual folders) of good candidates, based on skill, that you will want to talk to.

  • Track the following information, at a minimum:
    • candidates submitted to hiring managers
    • interviews scheduled
    • offers pending
    • offers made
    • offers declined
    • offers accepted
    • start date

    A spreadsheet with this information will allow you to see, at a glance, which positions are getting attention (and which need more), which offers you need to prepare, and so on.

  • Line up your best candidates by skill (i.e., interview all Java candidates on Monday and Tuesday, Networking people on Wednesday and Thursday, etc.) and invite them all in for an interview back to back. Have a short list of prepared questions.

Delegation and Teams

  • Devote most of your efforts to the positions that are easier to fill. For example, fill the 70 easiest positions first.

  • If you have other recruiters helping you (and you better with 100 jobs), assign them specific jobs/skillsets. If you have limited help, work specific days on a skillset.

  • If you don't have a strong team to help you, hire the best contract recruiter you can find. Have them start one to two weeks before you want to start interviewing so they can help post jobs, learn your requirements well, meet the hiring managers, and so on.

  • Consider teaming with a few good agencies. Negotiate reduced fees with them in exchange for assurances you are very serious and need 100 people. Have your managers agree to how many fees they can pay and divulge that information to your trusted agencies (i.e., I can pay fees for 15 candidates).

  • Consider putting the toughest requirements in the hands of other recruiters or agencies. If you devote the time required to fill them, you will probably not have the time to fill the other positions.

Advertising and Sourcing

  • Develop a recruiting plan that consists of all the places you will post jobs (Internet pay sites, free sites, newsgroups, user groups, etc.), any advertising you will do, who will recruit for which position, screening questions for each type of position (get the technical people to give you three to four questions that are used to determine who comes in for an interview), streamline the interview process to you and two to three other people at a maximum and have them agree to be available at set times during the week.

  • Post your jobs in as many places as possible. Identify websites that you can use for free in addition to the usual pay sites.

  • When posting jobs, ask that candidates to put specific job numbers in the subject of their email so you can track resumes/jobs easier.

  • Maintain your postings.

  • Send an email to your existing employees offering a referral fee for good candidates. Good employees usually refer good people. Make sure you follow up with the internal referrals appropriately (i.e., both to the candidate and the employee who made the referral) so that you will continue to get good referrals. Employees don't want to refer their friends into a 'black hole'.


  • Make sure your salaries are realistic.

  • Streamline your offer process as much as possible.

The Final Word

The bottom line is get organized as early as possible. If possible, create a team to which you can delegate and coordinate some of your efforts.

Brian Whitfield is a partner at Essential Resources. He built two IT staffing firms from the ground up. After selling his first firm during the 1990s technology boom, he started Essential Resources, which specializes in placing both contract and perm IT professionals. He has been in the staffing industry for more than ten years and has technical background as a programmer/analyst. Brian can be reached at