This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

December 17, 2014

Red Shirt Relationships Becoming More Important

With the increasing intensity of labor shortages, social media in recruiting is becoming more important than ever before. According to recruiting guru Peter Weddle, "The art of social recruiting involves the development of two kinds of candidate relationships": Blink Relationships, those that can "establish trust and familiarity in the blink of an eye" and Red Shirt Relationships, those that involve having talent waiting "on the bench".

Following the sports analogy, Weddle calls them Red Shirt Relationships because "a red shirt player is one who is part of a team, but not yet actively participating with it in competition". Though Blink Relationships are the "foundation for success in filling current openings", Red Shirt Relationships are the answer to creating a sustainable talent pipeline.

Red Shirt Relationships require more time to develop, because they build trust and familiarity more slowly. Recruiters often find dozens and sometimes even hundreds of prospects to fill a single opening. Frequently, those candidates who are not chosen for the position would be terrific applicants for later openings. "For others, the timing or opportunity wasn't right, but at some point, it could conceivably be." Instead of abandoning these candidates and writing off the tremendous investment made to connect with them, "a growing number of employers are now leveraging them into enduring relationships".

Weddle defines a talent pipeline as "a network of prequalified candidates who feel an affinity for a specific employer". Though these pipelines are typically difficult to maintain, cultivating these Red Shirt Relationships can be a valuable key. These relationships encourage candidates to think of themselves as members of "an employer's select team". Though they are not yet employees, they may be acknowledged and treated as valued prospects.

These relationships continually strengthen the connections between talented candidates and the employer by highlighting how working for this employer may advance their careers and reinforcing the candidates' beliefs that future opportunities are real. The precious return-on-investment for the employer is "a strong bench of talent, that cuts both the cost and time to fill its openings".

Wise employers will embrace Weddle's ideas, resulting in tremendous benefits for their long-term profitability and success. Expect to see growing emphasis on the importance of Red Shirt Relationships and sustainable talent pipelines. These will be critical factors in smart employers' responses to intensifying talent shortages. For more information, visit

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