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Trawling Net vs. Fishing Line: Recruitment Approaches

By SRAI News posted 03-13-2024 08:54 AM


Trawling Net vs. Fishing Line: Recruitment Approaches

As a hiring manager or supervisor who is seeking new team members, there are numerous recruitment approaches to attract candidates to a role. This article discusses two effective, but very different strategies.

Fishing Line – The fishing line approach is one where you have a strong grasp on the scope, level, type of previous experience and skills needed for a job, and a tight hiring salary range that is clearly highlighted in the job advertisement and calibrated to the market norms. It allows you to target and focus your advertising to specific locations where those searching for a role are looking. It is indicative of a team that knows what it needs and has a strong understanding of the candidate to fill them. 

There are concerns that this strategy can be too narrow. It can lead to bias where you look for people with very specific skills that might be duplicative and do not encourage diversity, particularly diversity of thought. You might be overlooking strong potential candidates with transferable skills who could bring a wide range of other experiences to the team. It is also problematic if you have mis-calibrated against the market and have unrealistic talent expectations for your salary range. This can happen where you have not had recent turnover and might be anchored at nonmarket salaries that have not adjusted to more recent compensation expectations. 

Trawling Net – This is a wide catch approach to attracting the largest candidate pool at all points in the career range, from early to more senior. These posts use a very broad title, like “project manager,” and a wide salary range, in many cases $100k+. It can be highly effective if you are trying to build out a team and have multiple appointments simultaneously, but you have to be ready to manage this diverse candidate pool by:

  • Filtering, sorting, and interviewing at a wide range of levels.
  • Ensuring you are not biasing those with experience in terms of how you evaluate and “grade” it against your internal levels. 
  • Planning around what your ideal appointment structure is and adjusting based on the talent pool that you pull.
  • Having a cohort training strategy ready to deploy when you onboard. 

The trawling net approach is not effective when it is unclear what the scope of a role is, or when you are attracting a full career range in a pool but are only willing to hire at a very specific place within the range. If used within these parameters, it will mean that you have to consider both grossly underqualified and overqualified candidates simultaneously, and devote a lot of work to filter through them.

If you want to pay at a lower point on the range, it also sets up a false equivalency around potential candidates since you will be comparing those who are seeking a higher point in the range than you are willing to hire; therefore, you aren’t actually reviewing viable candidates. It is like shopping for a wedding dress or a home that is double your budget -- you see beautiful things that you just can’t afford! It is also not a good use of anyone’s time, particularly the candidates. 

Recruitment is a critical duty and task for a manager or supervisor, arguably one of the most important that they take on. There are a range of approaches, and it is equally important that the recruitment approach matches the intended outcome if your candidate search is to be successful.

Authored by Dr. Saiqa Anne Qureshi, Adjunct Professor
Johns Hopkins University