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Why Some Recruiters Will Almost Always Be a Success
Posted By Carol Schultz On January 24, 2013 @ 5:02 am In Opinion | 37 Comments
There is nothing like a good controversy to stir up one’s feelings and subsequently a fierce debate. One of my favorite things about reading articles on ERE is how some of its contributors have a wonderful ability to write articles that generate comments a mile long because of controversial subjects covered. We were barely into 2013 when Adrian Kinnersley wrote an article entitled, “Why LinkedIn will never kill the professional recruitment industry ,” which was very on point.
People are so polarized around this issue, but the comments section was what really made it an interesting read for me. If I didn’t know better I would have expected a fistfight to break out. One commenter even suggested that commission-only salespeople are unable to provide independent advice to candidates, and candidates know this. This inspired me to pick up my pen (figuratively, that is) and write, which I haven’t done lately.
First off, great agency recruiters won’t go away until they want to, even though there has been so much talk about their longevity. It started back in the olden days (the mid 1990s) when the Internet was still in its infancy. Companies like Monster, Career Builder, and Yahoo HotJobs came on the market and tried to convince everyone they were a panacea to recruiting. In my opinion they were and are nothing more than prettied up classified ads. Many people said companies would no longer need to use agency recruiters.
Next, companies began ramping up their internal recruiting staffs and it was predicted that companies would no longer need to use agency recruiters.
Then LinkedIn became more and more popular, and powerful, and many people said it would put agency recruiters out of business (people are still saying it) because now potential candidates are all over LinkedIn and recruiters would need to have a better value proposition.
Hasn’t happened … and I predict it never will.
Get the picture?
The comment about commission-only salespeople and its relationship to independent advice seems to target contingent recruiters since, by and large, they work on commission, but I’m asserting that it is valid for retained and corporate recruiters as well. No recruiter, whether agency or corporate, is able to provide totally independent advice.
Contingent recruiters get paid only if they close a deal. Retained recruiters are on commission too even though they are paid part of their commission up front. This means they have clients to answer to. Corporate recruiters have job openings they are responsible for filling.
Let’s look at the definition of the words “independent” and “advice”:
Independent: not requiring or relying on something
Advice: recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct 
When these words are combined, they don’t make much sense. How can a recruiter make a recommendation to a candidate that doesn’t require or rely on something? We all have opinions and ideas that shape us, and consequently the advice we provide, about how things should go; hence, we can’t be completely impartial.
All recruiters have certain pressures to close deals, and these pressures impact how they interact with candidates, clients, and employers; the bottom line is that the best and most successful recruiters work very hard to be impartial.
The most successful recruiters are part salesman, career counselor, consultant, advisor, fact finder, archaeologist, and “shrink.” They are balanced in their advice. They present both sides of the story, ask candidates a multitude of questions geared directly toward their professional needs and wants, and work to build relationships based on trust with candidates. This is something that takes time and commitment.
When I was still in my recruiting practice full time, I got calls all the time from candidates requesting advice. Sometimes I was representing them in one or more of the opportunities they were exploring, and sometimes none of them. They called to discuss all the opportunities with me because they trusted the counsel I provided.
I called an old friend in New Jersey to discuss the idea of recruiters providing independent advice. He does only contingent search, has been in practice since 1985, and is very successful. He has built his practice upon all the items I mention above. Sometimes he wins deals. Sometimes he doesn’t. He is a very trusted source to his candidates. He doesn’t lie about opportunities. He presents both sides of issues.
In speaking with some corporate recruiters and recruiting leaders, they also confirmed my assertions on what makes a successful recruiter. The best corporate recruiters also follow these principles.
There are a number of regular practices that make recruiters successful. It’s not a mystery. It’s just a matter of following some basic principles and work habits.
Sometimes I’d find myself struggling in my early years in Search. I’d sit down with my boss to get his advice and I’ll never forget his wise words, “Go back to your basics.” It always proved successful.
Quality recruiters will always have work, whether they work for an agency or inside a company. Why? Because job boards,and online “databases” like LinkedIn are unable to replace them. There are just too many skills required of a quality recruiter, and it’s these skills that take years to develop. Great recruiters don’t take short cuts because short cuts don’t work. They consistently practice the basics that made them successful in the first place.
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 conduct: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conduct%5B1%5D
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