Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm just a Recruiter.... and maybe you should be too!

I'm just a recruiter. I wasn't born one, never really wanted be one, but here I am... just a recruiter. Given the choice, I'd probably have become an Astronaut, Firefighter or may be a Hot Dog vendor (you know -the little silver cart with the blue & yellow umbrella - yummy!), but I never dreamed I'd become a recruiter. Why? Because recruiters have the unenviable role of living in a business equivalent of the life of Tantalus - trapped between HR and the business. I'm not really HR; I don't warn, threaten or fire people. I'm not really in the business; I don't have a revenue target, I don't make a product and I have little ability to drive business policy... I'm stuck being just a recruiter.

But, I am a good recruiter (yes, they do exist, and especially in the corporate environment, we really do want to help the business succeed). We try really hard to understand your business and what it takes to find the right kind of people to make your business wildly successful. The challenge is that for you, the business managers, the secret formula that make a candidate great seems a second nature. You shrug off the recruiters when we nag you for more info about what a qualified candidate looks like, then bash us because we don't find you the left-handed, purple astrophysicist you wanted a week after you first raised the need.

I'm not writing this post to invoke a pity-party although it feels that way. I'm trying to set the mood here to lend more relevance and emphasis on this article from Fast Company that calls out how important the business manager's role in recruiting the next great player is. Quotes from the article really sound off clearly that the managers need to get into the recruiting process fast and deep: "make clear that hiring great people is not the responsibility of HR. It's the responsibility of every single manager." , "no one outside your group -- no human-resources specialist -- can understand the kind of superstar who will make a difference in your work. Only you can understand that."

You business managers hold the keys to solve your most critical needs, and you don't even recognize it; you need to be recruiters too!


If you are a business manager (or want to be one), start taking stock of what "A Players" in your field look like. Start this exercise before you need to hire someone rather than when the need arises - that's about as effective as closing the barn door after the animals have fled.

Want an easy way to do this? How about turning it into a team project and get everyone to help create the police-artist style description of the type of person you need for each role on your team? That way you will not only have all the answers to give to your recruiter, you will have a profile against which you can start building your own pipeline of talented folks.


Breanne said...

I have to say I really don't understand people who feel recruiting is not a critical role...or worse, that people feel recruiters are evil!

I was a recruiter for several years (both internal and external) and never felt my job was sub-HR.

You get to change people's lives, first of all!!! That is an amazing thing!

Next, you get to coach managers on how to interview effectively (and legally), translate their mumblings into a true image of a candidate, and you get to SELL! You sell the job/company to the candidate and you sell the candidate to the manager.

Sales is recruiting....recruiting is sales.

Recruiting is fun. It's a game. Looking for the BEST person out there is a blast. I hated my job when I was just hiring people on Monster/Careerbuilder. When I networked and met the perfect candidate at a happy hour near my competitor's offices, I knew I ROCKED the recruiting world.

When you feel unimportant, remember how much power you have.

Amit said...


What are the 5 bests things you can do for yourself when a headhunter calls?

And what are the 5 worst?

Please also identify if you are answering as:

Potential candidate receiving the call.

A headhunter calling a candidate


Breanne said...

If you're dealing with a headhunter...

To do:
1) Be 100% COMPLETELY honest. What do you want, what don't you want, what comp you'll accept, what background check issues you might have, what skills you lack, what skills make you a rockstar....just be honest!!!
2) Ask for coaching. Have them coach your interview, revise your resume, suggest training, etc. Make them feel like you need them and they will form a strong relationship with you.
3) DO NOT BUG THEM with a million calls. Check in once a week if your job search is urgent, and less frequently if you are a passive candidate.
4) Ask what they're seeing in the marketplace. What are the most critical skills, how fast are candidates/job openings moving, how are salary rates, etc.
5) TELL THEM if you're working with other recruiters. This makes them aware that they have competition and they'll work harder to get you first.

Not to do:
1) If you leave a message for the headhunter and they don't call you back...cut them out of your life! If you aren't worth their time, don't waste your time on them.
2) Don't commit to only 1 recruiter. Network, Network, Network!!! There's nothing wrong with having a few feet in the door!
3) Don't stick with the headhunter if they ask you to do anything unethical (such as bulking up your resume, changing dates of employment, etc). If they're asking you to lie...then what are they lying to you about?

That's all I can think of right now.

What do you think?

Karl - Your Work Happiness Matters said...

Some great points. It should be a team effort to hire people. The only way to hire a superstar is for everyone to pitch in and really weed out the losers.

HR Warden said...

Well said and I couldn't agree more. I use to do the recruiting thing and it was interesting to say the least. Gaining respect of the team you're trying to support takes alot of time and not always rewarded. Great tips!

physician recruiter said...

Recruiting is a strange profession. It’s one of those jobs that you “fall into” but rarely ever think about doing when you are a student. In fact, in an informal survey I took recently of nine corporate recruiters, one had been an actress prior to starting as a recruiter, three had been business people with degrees in finance or management, two had been engineers, one had been a teacher, one had been a small business owner, and one had been a consultant for a major consultancy. Not even one of them had begun their career as a recruiter.

Janice Pence said...

What does a bad new hire cost?

After years in HR, I’ve always heard – ‘What does a bad hire cost?’ If you make a lapse in judgment, what does it mean to the bottom line? Commonly I’ve been told – two years’ salary. For instance hiring someone at 50K means you lose the 100K in pay, benefits, time and training. These are things easily measured. I’ve found the true risk is much deeper.
We all forget that this person represents our company. It is their face on our message, our values and our mission. We, like most, have worked for decades to build a brand that is well respected and admired within our community. Salesmen at our company typically hold on to their positions for years, so the public face of our company is very stable.
We hired someone who looked very promising on paper. They had all the experience, credentials and interviewed very well. After 10 months of employment we found that this one decision cost us millions in sales and the loss of a handful of our core clients. Looking back all of the signs were all there. We decided to bend the rules and forgo some of our standard testing since this candidate ‘looked so good on paper.’ A simple Myers-Briggs report would have revealed just how strict the guy was. His personality was very extreme and it offended more than it helped.
The public saw us as the company was easy to get along with. We saw a candidate that would offer structure. This snap decision created conflict with our public persona and allowed a competitor to steal our best customers. Take it from me, don’t hold back with anyone and understand each new hire represents your company to the world.

Myers Briggs:


HR Software said...

Very few people are there who really understands the need of the organizations and recruit based on that. I am glad you are one of those! A true HR executive must always understand the organization's needs and cater based on that.