Have you ever found yourself buying something just because it's on sale? You see that 75% off tag and, even though you might not need an industrial strength pressure washer, you imagine all the things you could do with it. We've all been there and, surprisingly, the talent market in your industry is remarkably similar. The only difference is that the good deal you snap up will do more than collect dust in your garage.
I don't even like chicken, but it was such a good deal!
My point is that just because you don't have an immediate need for people, it doesn't mean you should stop looking. After all, my parents always told me that no matter how good I was at something, there would always be someone better. It might not be the most inspirational message but it probably applies to some of the people in your company as well. You might not have a position waiting to be filled, but what if you could replace the weakest link on your team with a superstar?
The fact is that "good deals" are hitting the talent market constantly. Whether they're the top performers at companies that didn't make it, brilliant recent grads or seasoned veterans looking for a change, they're people that could help your company. They might be on the market next time you need to expand, but the odds aren't in your favor.
This is basically the opposite approach to talent acquisition I mentioned in my article about the Power of Proactive Search, but they both have their place. The simplest way to access this long tail of potential talent is to make sure you've got a compelling website and career page combo. Even if you don't have anything posted, encouraging talented people to drop you a line is a good habit to get into. You can even keep an open job posting for positions you wouldn't mind receiving resumes for.
Networking and staying engaged with your business community are also great ways to keep your eyes on the talent pool, while improving your profile within your industry. The secret is to take advantage of events and invitations that bring real value, then keep an ear to the ground. You're not trolling for talent, you're just keeping your eyes open.
Finally, a relationship with a recruiter is an easy way to reap all the benefits of this approach without investing the energy. We're approached by candidates constantly, whether for active searches or cold calls, and if we know you're open to examining the odd candidate we'll happily present them to you. It doesn't cost you anything and you can always turn them down, but you might find something you didn't know you were looking for.