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Comparing the Competencies Between a “RINO” and an Exceptional Recruiter

by Jun 3, 2013, 6:44 am ET

Recruiting is a unique field because it has no entry barriers. Unlike most professions, you can become a corporate recruiter without any formal certification, registration, recruiting experience, or even a college degree in the discipline. Because becoming a recruiter requires no formal qualifications, you probably won’t be surprised to find out that in practice, there is a wide variation in the capabilities of individuals who hold the corporate title of “recruiter.” Many corporate recruiters are truly outstanding, but unfortunately in some corporations, many other recruiters can only be classified as what I call a “Recruiter In Name Only” or a RINO (pronounced as rhino).

In many cases, you can’t blame the recruiters themselves because there are no published standards that would tell an individual recruiter whether they met high recruiter standards, or alternatively, if they were really only a RINO who spends most of their time on administrative tasks. I have high admiration for professional recruiters, but at the same time I admit that I have some level of disdain for those who masquerade as recruiters. It’s not that their administrative work isn’t important, it just doesn’t rise to the level where what they do should be called exceptional or even professional recruiting. So in order to clarify the distinction between the two types, I have put together a quick checklist of competencies to help hiring managers and recruiting leaders differentiate “real recruiters” from a RINO. Individual corporate recruiters can also use this checklist to guide their professional development and growth.

14 COMPETENCIES FOR IDENTIFYING a  R.I.N.O. (Recruiter In Name Only)

Corporate RINOs spend an inordinate amount of time on administrative tasks that should be done by appropriately named recruiting coordinators. Exceptional recruiters should prioritize their time away from these RINO factors and instead toward the follow-up list of competencies and actions that identify exceptional recruiters. Some of the 14 differentiators that can be used to identify RINOs include:

RINOs focus on …

  1. An active candidate focus – they may spend nearly 100 percent of their time working with active candidates. Because these candidates are actively looking, “they will find you,” so most of the work involved is really sorting and verification, rather than the more difficult finding and convincing.
  2. An internal focus – a RINO recruiter is internally focused on knowing and following their own corporate recruiting processes. As a result of this 100 percent internal focus, they don’t research and analyze the recruiting approaches used by their talent competitors. That competitive analysis information could successfully be used to counter competitor recruiting actions.
  3. Cost conscious – RINOs focus on costs rather than increasing revenues or ROI. Their cost per hire approach pushes them to use the cheapest rather than the most effective recruiting sources, tools, and approaches that produce high-quality hires with a higher ROI.

How RINOs Spend Their Time

  1. Job posters and scrapers — active candidates can be easily attracted using newspaper ads, the corporate website, and major job boards. As a result, RINOs spend a significant percentage of their time writing job announcements, posting open jobs, and then harvesting the resulting active candidates. It doesn’t take any level of professional skill to get most of your hires from job boards.
  2. Requisition managers – pseudo-recruiters spend a good deal of their time creating requisitions and getting approvals for them. Unfortunately a requisition whether approved or not has nothing to do with actual recruiting. A RINO loves process, so these individuals certainly won’t start any recruiting effort without an approved requisition.
  3. Schedulers — even though scheduling can be better done by admin staff or on a scheduling website, RINOs allocate much of their time to scheduling interviews between managers and candidates. It makes them seem busy but scheduling is a waste of an exceptional recruiter’s time.
  4. Vendor managers – RINOs feel comfortable letting outsiders do their recruiting for them. And because managers like using third-party recruiters, RINOs do little to limit the use of this expensive external approach. As a result, they spend a significant percentage of their time managing vendors rather than actually recruiting and their costs.
  5. Offer-letter assemblers – understanding an individual candidate’s expectations are critical to successful closing. Unfortunately, RINOs are not experts in candidate closing so they restrict themselves to creating canned offer letters that are not designed to sell the candidate.
  6. Reference checkers — only occasionally does reference checking require an exceptional recruiter. In most cases RINOs only manage reference checking vendors or they make shallow reference checking calls that yield only positive results.
  7. They attend events looking for actives — RINOs spend a significant amount of time attending events like job fairs and campus career events that are created exclusively for active candidates. They may enjoy meeting people but the net result of this time-consuming approach are active candidate resumes that are probably already in the firm’s database.
  8. They sit in – RINOs love meetings, so they attend them at every opportunity. They also frequently look for opportunities to sit in on candidate interviews, even when they add no real value.

Other RINO Characteristics

  1. Use the same process every time — years ago research by AIRS uncovered the fact that most recruiters use the same exact hiring process for every job. RINOs are uncomfortable trying new approaches, so they literally use the exact same sourcing, screening, and interviewing process for every job (in some cases, over several years). This “one-size-fits-all” approach damages recruiting because success requires varying the approaches, tools, and sources so that they “match” the job family.
  2. No follow-up – after a hire has been completed, they “drop the hire over the wall” and consider their job to be done. They do not follow up in order to later determine the quality of hire and whether the hiring process that they used could be improved.
  3. Generalists are often RINOs — although there are obvious exceptions, in my experience, many HR generalists simply don’t have the aggressiveness, interest, or skill sets that are required to avoid earning a RINO designation. Some generalists rely on agencies to mask their lack of interest in recruiting.



Exceptional corporate recruiters can be identified because they produce high-quality hires in key jobs by spending most of their time doing things that hiring managers and RINOs can’t or won’t do. If you aspire to the highest level of professional recruiting, here is a list of the key identifying competencies and actions to look for:

Exceptional Recruiters Focus On …

  1. Rapid learning — the best single indicator of an exceptional recruiter is rapid learning and benchmarking. Rapid learning and benchmarking are absolute necessities because not only do the recruiting market and best practices change frequently but talent competitors are continually updating their recruiting practices. So exceptional recruiters are continuous self-directed rapid learners and avid daily readers of both business and recruiting information.
  2. Becoming a business expert – research has shown that the best HR people are businesspeople first, and the same is true in recruiting. As a result, the second most accurate identifier of an exceptional recruiter is their in-depth knowledge of the business, the product, customers, and the product competition. Without this business foundation, they cannot work effectively with hiring managers or top prospects.
  3. A sourcing focus on not-actives — rather than sourcing the easy-to-find and sell active candidates, they instead focus their sourcing activities on identifying and convincing the top currently employed individuals to become candidates at their firm. Incidentally, they don’t call them passives because they realize that these prospects are almost always quite aggressive and demanding. Not-actives may be interested in future external opportunities but they must be approached first.
  4. A focus on selling and relationship building — exceptional recruiters realize that even if great sourcing or a strong employer brand brings in top-quality candidates, they know that the best candidates still have multiple job choices (including staying at their current employer). So these recruiters build their selling skills and focus on building relationships that allow them to build trust, identify, a candidate’s job acceptance criteria, and then sell top prospects on applying for and accepting a job.
  5. They prioritize jobs and candidates — the best realize that all hires don’t have an equal business impact. And as a result, exceptional recruiters prioritize and focus on high-impact candidates and the highest-impact jobs (i.e. mission-critical jobs, revenue-generating jobs, and hard-to-fill jobs) that require the highest level of recruiting skills. They never prioritize recruiting based solely on the date of the requisition.
  6. A focus on diversity — they understand the added business impact of diverse hires, so they develop skills and best practices to identify and sell diverse candidates. As a result, their hiring managers find diverse candidates in every candidate slate.

How Exceptional Recruiters Spend Their Time

  1. Direct sourcing – a primary indicator of an exceptional recruiter is the percentage of their hires who come from direct sourcing. Because they are primarily targeting currently employed individuals who are not in the job market, they realize that none of their prospects will apply to an open job nor will they have an updated resume. Direct sourcing approaches, which includes finding and evaluating a prospect’s work online, searching LinkedIn and social media profiles, proactively seeking out employee referrals, and even cold calling. Obviously direct sourcing requires advanced relationship-building and selling skills that most recruiters simply don’t have.
  2. Identifying not-obvious prospects – although every recruiter sorts through resumes, when exceptional recruiters sort through resumes, they find the hidden or “not-obvious” prospects who everyone else misses. They look beyond the obvious job titles, degrees, and experience that top firms to find the highly qualified that others have overlooked. They also excel in selling skeptical hiring managers to the point where they will agree to interview these “not-obvious” candidates.
  3. Building a candidate pipeline – rather than waiting for a requisition to open, exceptional recruiters are continuously recruiting. They are forward-looking and proactive, which requires them to be continually sourcing and selling top prospects for future openings. They don’t require a resume in order to begin recruiting a top prospect, and they also proactively alert hiring managers of sudden talent opportunities, even when there is no open requisition to fit the prospect. Exceptional recruiters also coach top-quality candidates who were not hired in order to maintain their interest and to place them at a later date. They also excel at convincing skeptical hiring managers to consider someone who has already been rejected by another manager.
  4. Identifying and using the best sources — exceptional recruiters use current data to identify the most effective sources for a particular job family (i.e. referrals, boomerangs, social media, etc.) and then they use the most effective sources exclusively.
  5. Using the best communications approaches – exceptional recruiters identify the communications and messaging preferences of those who they are trying to recruit. As a result, they vary their communications tools and approaches (i.e. mobile phone, text, video, social media etc.) so that they match the preferences of their target prospects and candidates.
  6. Quality-of-hire follow-up — exceptional recruiters know that without metrics, you can improve. So after a hire is completed, they follow up to track the performance and retention rates of their new hires. They use that information and data to improve their own hiring approach. They also know the negative impact of a bad hiring experience so they periodically assess the satisfaction levels of the hiring managers and candidates who they work with. They also conduct a failure analysis after all major recruiting failures.
  7. Hiring manager coaching – they use data to convince and coach hiring managers that they work with so that the hiring manager will also continually improve both their approach and their results.
  8. Global recruiting – while RINOs only have U.S. recruiting capabilities, exceptional recruiters find the best talent everywhere in the world and include them in their candidate slates. When appropriate, the best recruiters convince hiring managers to allow global and high-impact candidates who won’t relocate to work remotely.
  9. Expedited recruiting – exceptional recruiters realize that top candidates will get multiple offers, and as a result, they are likely to be in the job market for only a short period of time. So they develop the capability of rapid hiring when it is needed to land a quality candidate who has another compelling offer.

Additional Exceptional Recruiter Characteristics

  1. They become visible experts – exceptional recruiters realize the importance of building a personal brand, because they know that many top prospects will conduct a personal assessment on them before proceeding. As a result, they proactively make their recruiting and business expertise visible on social media including LinkedIn, as well as through their own blog, through speaking and writing articles, and through instructional YouTube videos.
  2. They convince recruiting leaders — in addition to doing their recruiting job, exceptional recruiters help their leaders build effective business cases for additional funding. They also help to convince their leaders to fund the latest recruiting technologies/tools and to adopt effective recruiting metrics.
  3. Beyond recruiting — the very best recruiters realize that the recruiting function doesn’t work in isolation, so they work closely with other related talent functions (including onboarding, retention, employer branding, professional communities, and compensation) in order to improve and integrate the entire talent management process.
  4. They don’t get caught up with fads — recruiting has its share of fads, some good and some not so good (i.e. Friendster, Jobster, Facebook, Tweetajob, MySpace, etc.). As a result, exceptional recruiters try new things but they quickly use data to sort out “what works” from what happens to be popular at the moment.


Moving beyond competency assessment, recruiting leaders should also consider that in my experience, the output assessment of individual recruiters is almost universally weak across all major corporations. The time for excuses has passed and before the next recruiting boom gets underway, every recruiting leader should begin planning and taking steps to develop a standard scorecard for assessing the performance and outputs of individual recruiters.

I have provided a possible competency assessment checklist here, but in my follow-up article that will be published on on 6/10/13, I will also provide a sample of an individual recruiter scorecard that can be used to assess individual recruiter performance.

Final Thoughts

Anyone who aspires to be a professional to continually assess themselves against a set of competency standards. Whether you use the two competency checklists that I have created or if you choose to develop your own, individual recruiters need to at least once a year assess whether they are moving towards becomin exceptional or slipping into a RINO role. Recruiting managers can use these competency checklists to assess their current recruiters or for hiring new ones.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Richard Araujo

    @ Edward

    “Sales is basically needs fulfillment. It is finding out what someone needs, wants or desires and satisfying those requirements.”

    That is where we disagree. That’s the ideal model of what sales should be, not what it is in reality. In reality it’s that sometimes, and the rest of the time it’s convincing people that what’s being offered is going to fulfill their needs, whether it will or not. I don’t believe in that practice at all, but it is a real aspect of real world sales, and the ultimate root of the used car salesman stereotype.

    “What criteria do you use when selecting a “search firm” to determine whether a company or an individual can do the job?”

    Performance on both counts. For people I mostly use Lou Adler’s Performance Based Hiring method with a few exceptions. For agencies, it’s what kind of people do they produce measured by the same standard. However, more than one recruiter has tried to substitute baseball tickets or a good meal for performance. I don’t want a free lunch, I want good people.

    “In my 30 years in the search industry, I have never posted an opportunity.”

    What makes you think you are representative of the market? I hear a lot about these ‘real professionals’ in recruiting, I’ve met two total in my entire career that are currently practicing, and one of them, though he definitely walked the walk on passive sourcing and pulling people directly out of companies, couldn’t get the cultural fit right. If you are indeed a top level recruiter then congrats, and you deserve every cent of your fees. The market is average, even if you are not.

    However the market is what’s presented and available as a solution to most, and I don’t think you and the few people who make up the top ten percent are going to fill all the open positions in the US in the next few weeks. Of course the best in the industry do not act like slimy used car salesman, however not everyone can access or afford the best in the industry, nor can everyone access or afford, nor do they necessarily need, the top ten percent of all employees available. You can’t design your business model assuming the left 90% of the bell curve doesn’t exist and that you’ll never have to interact with it, that’s a recipe for failure.

  • Richard Araujo

    @ Edward

    “Companies do need to pay for quality work. They need to invest in their companies and their people.”

    That’s nice rhetoric, it sounds good in a speech and reads good in an article, and I agree in principle. Making it happen is another animal entirely. And I don’t doubt that most business leaders agree with you, and already think they’re doing that, despite the dysfunctional nature of their methods in practice.

    The simple fact is saying companies need to pay for quality work is simply stating that you don’t think they are paying the ‘right’ or ‘fair’ price for the proper quality work, in your judgement. Well, it’s not you running the company, and the people who are running it have their own ideas about what constitutes quality and what price is reasonable. You have to change their fundamental opinions on certain things before you ever have any hope of convincing them of the practicality of implementing what you have in mind.

    And people rarely change on that level.

  • Keith Halperin

    s far as huge numbers of Boomers retiring= we’ve discussed this before
    1) We’ll hold off as long as he can, ‘caue many of us Ccan’t afford to retire.

    2) The good jobs that many of these folks had are being no-sourced (eliminated), through-sourced (automated) or out-sourced (sent away) with the consequence that a few of the newer jobs are quite well-paid/well-benefited, most new jobs aren’t, and very few are in the middle.

    As you say, until managers are willing to hire who they can really get, and not just who they want, recruiting will remain tough.

    “At some time an investment will have to made in people”, and at some time we will all be dead, and in the meantime, I see very little on the horizon to show that things will be getting substantially better any time SOON.

    I’m glad that you and Dr. Sullivan typically real with a better and more-refined clientele than most of us do, but in that respect what goes on in the upper-echelons of recruiting (Corporate or 3PR) isn’t very useful to the rest of us. An analogy: it’s a bit like reading escapist literature to help forget the dreariness of day-to-day life- it may make you feel better for awhile (and maybe think about better possibilities), but it doesn’t really help improve things.., because that’s not the world we live in.


  • Kenneth Pallante

    The comment below was posted on Yahoo in response to an article about not being called back after an interview.

    My wife interviewed for a full time faculty position at a local university. She had the initial interview with the department head (90 minutes). She was called that evening by the dept head and asked to come in for an interview with department members the next day and have a sample lesson prepared to deliver. She went in, of course, and did that (3 hours). Everyone responded positively. One of the faculty members stopped her on her way out and told her how impressed he was with a particular spreadsheet she had created and used in the lesson and asked if she could send it to him. She, of course, said yes and send it that evening. Two days later she was called and asked to come in for an interview with the Dean and VP. She did that (2 hours), thought it went well, especially given how both praised her for her scholarly work and her teaching skills. She was then called for a day long campus visit with students, other administration, faculty and staff. When the department head walked her to her car she told my wife that she was on everyone’s short list and a decision would be made within a week. Then, she waited and waited and waited. Hearing nothing for two weeks, she called HR and was told a decision was going to be made soon and they would be in touch. Hearing nothing for two more weeks she called again to get the same non-information. She emailed the department head and got no reply. She called and left a message on the department head’s voicemail and got no reply. Believe it or not, the agony ended a week later when she read an announcement in the local newspaper telling of the person who was hired. That’s how she found out.

  • Jacob Madsen

    @Kenneth There are those stories and examples that one read that amazes and baffles (in a negative sense) and then there are those where it leaves you utterly speechless and as one huge question mark. I doubt many ever come across anything as utterly shameful and grotesque as this. I have myself a vast collection of own and others stories about what experienced in respect to seeking a job, this one simply topping them all. I have said it before and in numerous ERE discussions, it a l l comes down to mind-set and ‘where there is a will there is a way’ Looking at companies and organisations in the ‘Candidate Experience’ award sphere (US and UK) it is transpiring that a number of these companies operate under an ‘internal code of candidate experience and talent acquisition conduct’ by which there are rules and agreements setting out what should a l w a y s be done. Sadly we are talking lower end single digit numbers why storiies like your wife’s and others will be around for a very very long time. Shame on every single one of those involved and shame on those in charge.

  • Kenneth Pallante

    Jacob, I never thought I would post so many times – in response to an article – especially since I just stumbled upon the, ERE, web site last week. Also, for the record, the comment above did not involve my wife – it was posted by a another guy on Yahoo – and I just reposted it here.

    That being said, the experience that this man’s wife had are nowhere near the worst that I have heard. I realize this is not a contest of superlatives, however, here in the Kansas City area, horror stories like the one above are extremely common. I will post below some examples that will really make your hair curl. These are just not hearsay – I have, literally, let two individuals move into my home after they lost their own homes after being laid off — and have not been not hired since.

    1) Bob, a licensed civil engineer who has built some of the largest bridges, roads and tunnels in the state of Missouri…. Since being laid off by MO DOT (2009), Bob has sent out over 1500 resumes / applications. ZERO companies have responded. ZERO. I have assisted him in his job search and I have attempted to help him by letting him live in my basement for the past 2.5 years. This college degreed candidate has been mowing lawns and picking up cans to pay for gas and food. Yes, he would be willing to relocate.

    2) Joe, who has a law degree & 21 years of (award winning) sales experience has applied at 5,512 companies since he was laid off by SPRINT in 2007. (16,000 layoffs over a 24 month period). You read that correctly, Five Thousand five hundred & twelve applications! He rents a bedroom from me too and I have also assisted him in his job search; he has been unemployed for 6 years. SIX YEARS! 9 of the companies responded and one interview was granted. After that one, single, interview – he never heard again from the employer and learned that the nobody was ever hired and the job was posted again. As of last week, the job was reposted for the 4th time in 27 months.

    3) I was approached by a recruiter for the giant corporation, MMC in 2007. They had one position open in their Kansas City office. Over a six month period, I interviewed with 18 different people for this one position. EIGHTEEN DIFFERENT PEOPLE. Ultimately, they did not hire me and they have re-listed the job every year since 2007. The way they let me know that I did not get the position was by having a low level flunkie named Kneisha call me and tell the bad news. BTW, 18 interviews is par for the course at MMC and my brother in law (one of their highest executives) who had referred me, told me, “That is just the MMC way. When I first joined the company 15 years ago, I went through 15 interviews.” He could not explain why the manager of the KC office could not pull the trigger and hire someone? BTW, this indecisive manager earns $350,000 annually. This is absurd, unnecessary and totally ridiculous. I don’t think that the number one draft choice in the NFL goes through 18 separate interviews.

    4) Me again….what I describe here is very, very, very typical of what I hear from my friends and neighbors every day (I hope this is not too confusing):

    At my former employer of 17 years (WKUS Law & Business), 400 of us lost our jobs when they had a “reorganization” in 2007. Six years later, they have realized that they made a mistake and they are looking to fill the very same positions that they eliminated On Monday May 27th, I received an email from a recruiter (“Senior Corporate Recruiting Specialist”) named Pam. She works at the, “WKUS Staffing Center of Excellence.” The email subject line was: “Extremely well qualified candidate” – and she wrote: “Your resume indicates you may be a perfect match for the position below. Please indicate when you would be available for a 30 minute telephone interview?” I replied that I was available that day, from 12:00 noon to 7:00pm.

    I did not receive a response. On Tuesday, the 28th of May, I telephoned her number and left a v/m stating that I had replied to her email and wanted to interview – but had not heard from her?

    On Wednesday, May 29th she sent me a second email… The email subject line was: “Extremely well qualified candidate” – and she wrote: “Your resume indicates you may be a perfect match for the position below. Please indicate when you would be available for a 30 minute telephone interview?” HUH? WTF?

    I again replied and said I was available anytime that day or any time on Thursday. Once again, she did not respond. I, once again, called and left a message (recruiters never, ever, actually answer their phones – they let it go to voice mail 100% of the time). She did not respond to my v/m.

    On Monday, June 3rd, she sent another email stating: The email subject line was: “Extremely well qualified candidate” – and she wrote: “Your resume indicates you may be a perfect match for the position below. Please indicate when you would be available for a 30 minute telephone interview?” Responded again by email and phone and…you guessed it – no response.

    On Tuesday, June 4th she sent a 4th email and asked if I would be available on Wednesday, June 5th at 3:00pm for a telephone interview? I replied, “Yes, that would be a perfect time. Please be kind enough to confirm with me that you have received this and we are scheduled for 3:00pm tomorrow.” She did not reply.

    On Wednesday, June 5th, 3:00pm came and went with no phone call. At 3:30pm I called her phone number and gently said, “I was under the impression that we had an interview today? Would you please be kind enough to call me?”

    At 3:45 pm she called and the first thing she said was, “Man, you have to learn how to calm down.” She then claimed she only had 5 minutes to interview me. I told her to forget it. I said, “If WKUS has sunk so low that you are what passes for a ‘Senior recruiter’ – I want nothing more to do with the company.” She, in effect, chased away an excellent employee; I won every award that WKUS offers for sales excellence and production. I worked at this exact position for 17 years. Hiring me to fill this position should have been a formality. WKUS allows their flunkies (recruiters) to work out of their homes and they make $65,000 annually plus bonus’ based on “production.”

    This kind of experience is so common in today’s world that everyone I know who is looking for a job has experienced it on a regular basis. While the folks on this blog are (mostly) recruiters, I think that most are not aware how bad the behavior of their colleagues has become. As I wrote in my original posting, I feel bad for those that are unemployed or underemployed — they are not being hired because of incompetent flunkies that don’t have the decency, skills or professionalism to reply to an email or confirm an appointment. I have heard from a few professionals that post on this site and I know that there are actual, professional, recruiters out there. Unfortunately, the majority are the antithesis of “professional.” One of the requirements for the position described above was: “Excellent written and verbal communication skills.” How can a flunkie who lacks decent communication skills even have the ability to judge my communication skills?

    Finally, it was recommended to me that I get a copy of the, “Kennedy Book of Recruiters.” This book, ostensibly, lists the recruiters that are “retained” & “professional life cycle recruiters that will take the time to meet and know me and be able to position me within a company that could utilize the skills I bring to the table.” I got the book and I have left a voice mail and sent an email to two of the firms listed. Neither has responded to me yet. I find this lack of communication to be the most frustrating. Particularly since I have such high standards. In my current position, I would be summarily fired if I did not return the calls or emails of a customer — or co-worker — or anybody for that matter. I do not know what it is like to have a job where one does not have to respond to emails or voice mails.

    Thank you,

  • Kevin Carroll

    Okay, ignoring the feeling of helplessness of trying to improve the above referenced human nature problems relating to irrationality, stupidity, and GAFI (@Keith’s acronym for greed, arrogance, fear, and ignorance/incompetence) and b) how it sucks how much time it will take and we’ll all be dead anyway before innovative solutions are implemented to solve the problems identified above…what can we do today to improve processes in this space to place human capital (i.e. ability) at best-fit and at best-price? (It’s obvious the goal is a moving target and never to be reached consistently enough to be perfect or acceptable enough…it is not a theory nor a dream, it is a process.)

    First, let’s give a name to human nature problems relating to irrationality, stupidity, and GAFI as FRICTION. At best, this FRICTION slows down every process designed to improve the placement of capital at best-fit and at best-price…at worst, it kills the processes, that is, they fail. (Yes, we all know of horrendous examples of failed capital placement processes, especially in financial services.)

    Next, consider that the financial services industry has dealt with FRICTION for over 100 years. In spite of the FRICTION it has made tremendous strides to place financial capital at best-fit and at best-price over that time (technology is a part of that story). In fact, the financial services industry is the 2nd most responsible industry for the most improved 100 years for humanity across the board, around the world, ever. No other 100 year period comes remotely close. Of course, the human services (to include education) industry is mostly responsible for the improvements by default (i.e. you can’t have financial services professionals in place without a human services foundation that supported their development and employment), and always will be.

    Additionally, the financial services industry is twice the market capitalization of the 2nd largest capitalized industry, that being information technology. That means that their business models (to include their systems/processes) deliver value to markets to earn that distinction from investors compared to other industries. That is a sign they know something about designing systems/processes to place capital efficiently and effectively.

    So, what am I doing to help? I’m building a business model that realizes “hiring” systems/processes as a subset of human services and I need only look to “investing” systems/processes as a subset of financial services to work towards reducing FRICTION. For when a business model reduces the FRICTION of getting through capital placement processes it gains efficiencies and therefore becomes more effective at adapting to the realities in the market place as they “are”, not as they “should be”.

    In ending, I think that when we apply new social technologies, a lack of government regulation/intervention (which, in my view, was/is part of the FRICTION is financial services) along with investment services systems/processes to the hiring space THEN we’ll will see evidence of the improvements we are looking for.

    Lastly, please no abstract theoretical questions if you reply to this comment. I won’t respond to those.

    Note: To show the similarities between placing human capital and placing financial capital I replaced some hiring terms with investment terms in a previous ERE blog post by @Keith. You can read it here >

  • Jacob Madsen

    @Kenneth, Simply stunned into silence and so would anyone reading your last post. I knew from own experiences and what seem and been subject to myself that things bad, but that there are not one but numerous examples to this degree simply stuns me. You see as a corporate recruiter I know what it takes in terms of time,efforts and process, and the shocking news is very very little. I come from a very small country of only 5 million inhabitants, and very very fast (aided by what people write on social media) bad experiences start to bite their tail faster than you can imagine. Obviously the larger the country and market and with excess of supply this goes out of the window. It is however grotesque reading article after article on ERE and seeing the issue of ROE and branding and EVP being what what companies supposedly focus on, when in fact on a daily basis the mere basics are done as badly as they are. I bet you that a degree of same companies that you give descriptions of have elaborate programs and focus on branding and EVP, yet cannot get the basics right. It makes a complete mockery of all that is said and done and shows how utterly flawed the entire subject is. We can call this whatever we want but to me it is decline, regression and indifference and everything that is the reason why we are in the quagmire we as a world are in.

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  • Richard Araujo

    @ Kenneth

    That is an unfortunate thing to happen. I like to give people expectations and stick with them, and if circumstances dictate changes, to communicate them as openly and honestly as possible. That would include letting candidates know if the managers just can’t decide for no particular reason, which in the end is what it comes down to most of the time. The hiring decision is one decision on their plate among many and a lot of people deprioritize it. Some recruiters and HR people just have a problem calling people and apologizing for the delays, especially when the explanation, more often than not, is, “The managers have their thumbs up their butts, and aren’t inclined to remove them just yet.”

    That said, there have been times when I’ve dropped communications. When it comes down to the most usual reason for communications being dropped, it’s almost always an overload of things to do, and there comes a point where you do have to leave the office and sleep occasionally. You take 30 positions, with say 3-5 candidates each you’re communicating with, all of which need a 5-10 minute call, that’s anywhere from 7.5 to 25 hours of work at the low and high end respectively. So basically a work day to half the work week. And it should be our primary concern, but that’s when being over tasked with non value add admin type work, which also needs to get done and upon which you will also be evaluated, eats into your ability to do your actual job. Companies could hire candidate reps and outsource the communications portion a bit when necessary, but they need to see value in the act itself before they’ll commit to that. And I’m not so sure it would improve the candidate experience to be honest.

    Your experience with MMC is particularly enlightening for people to know about, because that’s what happens when companies assume they can have the pick of the litter. They interview like crazy, over think things, make hiring mistakes, don’t pay enough, treat people badly from the start, and don’t match them with the proper job and comp, and that’s what gets the revolving door going. Their view is likely, “There are so many candidates available and we put so much time into this, how do we keep messing up?!” Of course, after numerous failures it becomes apparent that the problem is with the company and the managers, not the candidates. Unless of course they really are that unlucky or their recruiters are that bad. But the more they fail the less likely that becomes, because at some point you’d expect even a lousy recruiter to land one by accident. But often they simply will not hear or accept that maybe, just maybe, it’s their fault.

    As for your friend Bob, I’m sorry to say but we are in a depression, euphemistically called a recession. It sure ain’t no recovery, as expected it’s just Wall Street types who have ‘recovered,’ on your and my dime. My guess is this will continue until the current bubble bursts and then things will get real bad, but the banksters will get bailed out again. However, this plus MMC really lets you know what’s going on: labor at all levels is cheapening. Wages may be nominally sticky to an extent but labor has been devalued and it will show up in others ways even if wages stay relatively stable. Going through candidates like they’re nothing is one way this occurs, just as when material is cheap in a manufacturing process then people don’t care as much about minimizing loss or recycling it. We’re seeing more of this behavior because real wages, the value assigned to labor, is going down.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Kevin: Thank you for referring to this article ( then). I’m glad you found it a useful starting point.

    @ Kenneth, @ Everybody: I think it fair to assume that unless someone is very much in demand (“Fab 5%”) and/or have a personal connection with a powerful internal person(“politically connected”), there’s a pretty good chance they will be ignored and/or poorly treated as they progress through the hiring process of most companies, and they should be pleasantly surprised when they’re not treated like this.

    @ Richard: Quite true. Furthermore, social mobility is decreasing in the U.S. (,, so I think there are likely to be fewer people in the higher echelons who haven’t had their ways smoothed for them and have gone through the same hard knocks that most of us have (as we’ve described).

    No Cheers,

  • Kevin Carroll

    @Keith Spot on clear and succinct in your last reply to @Kenneth and @Richard which communicates a realization that dedicated personal assistance to facilitate placement at best-fit is needed and valued.

    BTW, my reference to your article above is far from a starting point for me. Let me suggest that it be a starting point for you to contact me to be part of the solution of reducing the FRICTION in this space.

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  • Jacob Madsen

    @Keith and others.

    So we have come to that due to the state of the world, the unfaltering inability of the human race to learn, to evolve (in respect to the overall subject of human resources) to make it worse for themselves (through elected politicians lack of imposing rules/regulations and restrictions) to a point of us seeing the truly ugly face and results of Capitalism and free market forces (no I am not of left wing orientation although I cannot help feel the Western World model has gone bust)
    We have come to a point like in mass population countries like India and China where life is not really regarded that highly, where loosing 100.000 or a couple of million in the wider process is ‘just the way things are’
    When the French president Hollande can give a speech in Japan that Europe is ‘back on track’ yet his country has the highest unemployment rates in 18 years, then we are indeed out there where reason has well and truly stopped.

    Meanwhile families are broken up, homes lost, children becoming victims and misery and dreams and hopes shattered.

    Irrespective of situation there IS a decent way, a way involving conscience and respect for fellow human beings and for handling the entire process in a manner which becomes companies and those that represent them, it costs nothing and can so easily be done, and even a no/rejection that may be given and received for the 1000 time can be one with a touch of human respect.

    Dr Sullivan started this conversation with an acronym, I have another one that appear utterly lost RWC Recruiters With Conscience or RTC Recruiters That Care.

    What a truly sad (non) evolution and state of affairs, and although I know there are good people out there, they are and appear to be trampled over by all those that are indifferent.

  • Kevin Carroll

    Okay Quora, what is a Referrer in this space?…

    A referrer is someone that sources, identifies/qualifies, persuades, screens, and interviews in ways much unlike Recruiters, who are professionals at doing so and business models use them as a distribution channel to service “The Short-Head” of markets where monetization rewards their value delivered.

    Referrers are amateurs but are responsible for 10,000X (100,000X ?) more best-fit placements across the world than Recruiters because there are so many more of them in every community*. Referrers are motivated by rewards that do not solely motivate Recruiters and there are burgeoning monetized business models that reward their amateur service to those in The Long-Tail of markets.

    That is why Dr. Sullivan’s competencies only apply to business models monetizing The Short-Head of markets.

    * community defined geographically, by industry or interests

  • Kenneth Pallante

    Apropos of what has been written heretofore vis a vis “recruiter” horror stories, I past below a letter that was posted by a person on the, Kansas City Star career blog. Even though it does not involve a recruiter per se – it is an example of how the government is using software to weed out excellent employees. This time, it is the US Government that is missing out on good people.

    Recently it was announced that the Department of Homeland Security / Immigration was going to hire 800 people in the KC area. I immediately went to the government employment web site (USAJOBS . GOV) – and found 16 different positions that I am very well qualified for. These were not entry level positions and I had the requisite experience, skills and degrees necessary for all 16 jobs. At the end of the application I had to identify my age, sex, race etc. This is what doomed me.

    Within 24 hours of applying for all 16 positions, I received 16 “DO NOT REPLY” email’s which all said the identical thing: “You do not have the minimum necessary experience that this job requires.” WTF? How could that be? I had 2 to 5 times the experience they were looking for? More importantly, it was a Saturday when I submitted my resume to all 16 positions. I received the declination emails on Sunday – when the offices are closed. Obviously, no human had looked at my resume.

    So, I called my neighbor (a 29 year old disabled woman) who is a manager at the very same office of Homeland Security / Immigration that I had applied to. She informed me of the following:
    1) The computer automatically rejected me because I am at the very end of the “preference list.” This list has 134 spots on it and I am dead last at place 134: White male, over 50 and I am not a veteran.
    2) The computer scanned my questionnaire and determining I was a White male, over 50 and not a veteran — which automatically sent me the declination email.
    3) This email declining me has nothing to do with my skills or experience; the government (at least this office) is so screwed up that they use the same declination letter for all applicant’s – whether it is true or not. All applicants receive the same (yet, incorrect) letter stating: “You do not have the minimal experience…” If you are a convicted criminal, you receive an email that sates: “You do not have the minimal experience…” If you have a drug history, you receive an email that states: “You do not have the minimal experience…” If the job requires heavy lifting and you have a bad back, you will receive a letter that states: “You do not have the minimal experience…” I think you get my point.
    4) Her office fields over 100 calls every day from folks like me who are puzzled because they do have the requisite experience and education necessary. What a time waster.
    5) At the top of the list are: Female (minority) veterans who have been disabled in the last two wars; White female veterans who have been disabled in the last two wars; Male (minority) veterans who have been disabled in the last two wars’ White male veterans who have been disabled in the last two wars; minority spouses of disabled veterans from the last two wars, etc., etc., etc.

    My neighbor (who is from a wealthy family and would never have to work if she did not want to) told me she got the job — and was promoted to manager because she is a “disabled white woman.” That is number 17 on the “preference list.”

    While I have no problem with disabled veterans getting to the front of the line, I wonder how many of them have the experience for the jobs that I am interested in? The jobs that I applied for were for well experienced professionals with at least one graduate degree plus 10 or 15 years of experience. How many of these young, injured, veterans have that kind of experience? These “preference lists” virtually insure that the best person does not get the job. By its very nature, these lists guarantee that a lesser qualified applicant will get the job. 14 of the 16 jobs I applied for required a CPA (which I have) & an MBA – which I have. They also required a project manager designation (PM) and 15 years of (IT) full life cycle experience. Whom on the list ahead of me has all of those?

    It is enough to make me leave the Democratic party and become a tea bagger! Extremely frustrating.

    Felix Montalevicz
    Lee’s Summit

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Kevin: Thanks again.

    @ Jacob: I really don’t think we have COME to this state of affairs, I think this just IS the state of affairs, exacerbated by the current economic situation. It could be that THIS is the norm; that there are occasionally periods of time where labor shortages improve how typical applicants are treated (WWII, in the US), but that most of the time, most applicants for most jobs are poorly treated.

    @ Kenneth: Quite understandable- nobody likes it when they can’t game the *system and get things their way.


    *and because we ALL have inherent cognitive biases, the system is always gamed even when we try hard not to have it that way; we just need to be aware of those biases and take them into account when we choose and when we hope to be chosen…

  • Jacob Madsen

    @Keith Ohhh yes we have COME to this alright, yes it IS the state of affairs, but I dare say that there has been and still is a steady decline in the level of care and the level of conscience.

    The come to is due to people in management (be they C-suite, in-house or agency folks) that have ‘forgotten’ what decency is and how it is exercised. We have come to this through becoming hardened and indifferent, through pushing for profit and margins rather than looking at the whole thing holistically.
    We have come to be so squeezed on all that we do (due to competition and the push for profit) that all matters people and all matters respect have been lost.

    That we are in a state of IS is undeniable, but a human regression it certainly is.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Jacob: I hear you. When were things substantially better (during a previous labor-surplus recruiting environment), and why do you think they were? *I just don’t think there ever was a Recruiting Golden Age, followed by Silver, Bronze and now the unpleasant Iron age where all is struggle and evil. I DO think we are in a more economically unequal, socially stratified, and socially immobile society here in the U.S. than we have been in my lifetime- perhaps that translates more directly into what you’re talking about than I’m seeing….

    Thank You,


    *I’ve been recruiting for quite awhile, including two prior recessions.

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  • Shannon Smedstad

    This is an excellent article and is required reading for members of my team as a precursor to an upcoming training session. We hope to have a lot of discussion around this. Thank you!