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On Becoming a Better Recruiter

by Dec 19, 2013, 6:00 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 9.58.56 AMImprovement begins with I. – Arnold Glasow

Congratulations to the great recruiters out there who work hard day after day to find the people required to build great companies. Examples:

Like your IPad or your BMW? We recruited the engineers to make them a reality. Use Word or Excel? The folks we recruited made it happen and their efforts have changed the face of how we do business. Blog or tweet or fly in a plane or stay wired all day long? You can do that because great recruiters built the workforce that built the technology to keep us all productive and connected.

Identify and hire nurses, airline pilots, and executive chefs? We do that too as all good things start with the recruiting of great talent. We are the magic behind the miracles in everything from the astonishing efficiency of Amazon to the recruitment of interim CFOs who can support liquidity events or take a company through an IPO. We staff the phone stores that sell the smartphones you can’t live without. We hired the folks to design and build those phones as well. I can go on but I think you get the point.

With the new year starring us in the face, we need to be many things in order to get ready for the challenges that are to come. We need to be on our game in terms of understanding the business in which we work. We need to think both short and long term to maximize the value we bring. We need to be proactive, fast, and connected as we chase the very best people. With this in mind, I suggest that we consider the following as a to-do list for those who want to take their game uptown and create more value:

  1. Learn to engage: Recruiting is far more then matching candidate skills with job descriptions. Recruiting is a business of influence from both the client as well as candidate side. We need to take the time required to understand the forces/politics at work within our organizations in order to be more successful. We need to learn what is really important to our hiring managers. (Beware the hiring manager who simply hands you a sheet of paper and expects you to fill a role.) We should meet with our hiring managers,, ask questions, and try to really understand what is required to create a great hire. Having these conversations will help all of us.
  2. Tell them what and why: Let me tell you a bit of a secret. Most hiring managers will tell you that they know exactly how to hire. In reality, most do not. I, like you, have seen them say and do things with candidates in terms of interviewing, evaluation, and offer development that is simply stunning in its ability to derail and blow up deals. Do not let this happen to you. Tell the hiring manager how you work, why you do what you do, and how to best move forward in terms of making the hire. If you sense they are not comfortable, back off a bit and probe. Ask questions and seek out any objections to your methodology before it gets downstream and bites you later. Do this and you will have an easier road to travel.
  3. Understand the business and the possibilities: We do not recruit in a vacuum. One of the ways that recruiters go from good to great is by understanding the business, knowing the types of people who tend to be successful within that business, and seeking out those candidates who will really be a great fit. We owe it to ourselves to remain current on our organization, its place within the marketplace, and the overall realities of how we conduct business. Great recruiters communicate far more than just about jobs. They create and shape the vision of what is possible down the road to the candidates they seek to hire. Great recruiters want more then an acceptance from a candidate. They want excitement and commitment. Sound like marketing to you? If so, you are right on the money.
  4. Form relationships: In life, we very often have to make a choice. We can be effective or we can be right. Let me make this easy for you. Be effective, because being right seldom adds up to much. If you can accept that simple reality, then please accept this one as well: recruiting is always easier in the presence of relationships as opposed to the absence of relationships. Take the time required to get to know the folks with whom you work. Identify the quirks and the oddities and learn to accept the things you can’t change. Never fight unless it is a last resort in an attempt to do what is right for the organization. Learn to look the other way if possible and do not let the little things make you crazy.

I can write and speak endlessly as to the things we need to become great but time and space preclude it. If we go into the new year understanding that recruiting is a game of people and influence and style as opposed to just interviewing and technology and reading resumes, we will come away with more wins and achieve some of the greatness we so richly deserve.

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.

  • http://www.techtrak.com Maureen Sharib

    This is such excellent and smart and humble advice from one of the truest sages in our industry.

    This business about knowing our businesses and about business is so important.

    I know what you would say to the silly question posed so often in our (small) world:
    “What does this have to do with recruiting, anyway?”

    EVERYTHING!

  • Gareth Cooper

    Really good piece Howard.

    “If we go into the new year understanding that recruiting is a game of people and influence and style as opposed to just interviewing and technology and reading resumes, we will come away with more wins…”

    That right there is what it is all about.

  • Stephanie McDonald

    As always Howard, spot on sir. For me the line is:

    ” One of the ways that recruiters go from good to great is by understanding the business, knowing the types of people who tend to be successful within that business, and seeking out those candidates who will really be a great fit. We owe it to ourselves to remain current on our organization, its place within the marketplace, and the overall realities of how we conduct business.”

    YES YES YES. If your managers or clients aren’t willing to share information about products, services, overall business goals, then you’re not working with the right people. I love when a candidate tells me that I know more about my clients than any recruiter they’ve spoken to. That’s a moment of zen for me.

  • http://www.seandurrant.co.uk Sean Durrant

    The one comment I would add is to First Understand your Candidates needs before discussing whatever role you may be working on.

  • http://www.sabic.com/careers Patrick Reuss

    Howard, as usual you are dead-on with your messaging regarding what it takes to be successful, as well as relevant in the recruiting space. Recruiting is in my mind, very undervalued in organizations, as business leaders proclaim to have depth when it comes to hiring decisions. But what they fail to understand is we have the turnover ratio and employee satisfaction data to dispute that. I don’t hire recruiters who fail to build strategic business relationships with hiring managers. The transactional recruiter is a trait of the past. Today’s recruiter who remains employed will be the one who knows a lot about networking, the impact of good/bad hiring decisions, and can earn a trusted advisor status with his/her customers. I am fortunate in my role to be surrounded by a team of recruiting professionals who possess these traits and deliver the results I am proud to stand behind.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Howard: very elegantly written, powerful, and meaningful.

    @ Patrick: It would be a far better world for many recruiters if most clients and employers acted as you do. However, ISTM and many of my colleagues that the demand is much less for *experienced and strategic recruiters who are expected and able to politely and professionally call sr. managers on their “s***” than for perky and enthusiastic **25 year old “Sr. Recruiters” who use the words “passion” and “disruptive” and “social media” a great deal in their work conversation, and are always ready to say: “Yes, sir! Yes, sir! Three bags full!” to whatever they are asked to do (which clearly seems QUITE transactional to me).

    Happy Holidays,
    “Homes”

    *aka, “OLD AND EXPENSIVE”

    **aka, “CHEAP”.

  • http://www.verticalelevation.com Carol Schultz

    Great article Howard! This needs to be publish in TFL too.

  • http://www.talenttalks.com Kelly Blokdijk, SPHR

    It would be wonderful if everyone in the recruiting profession was capable of understanding how and why these things matter. From what I’ve heard from many others and observed (first-hand) on the candidate side, there is plenty of room for improvement on the part of many people with some form of recruiter in their job title. Great post!

  • Howard Adamsky

    My thanks to you all for the comments. Carol, love to have the agency world read the article as this applies to them as well.

    Safe holiday season to all.

    Howard

  • S J

    This is one of the best recruitment articles I have read. I think it is a must read for all folks in ER/HR. Hiring managers should read it too. The recruitment process is an interactive one, and a lot is riding on all parties making the best decision.

    Thanks for sharing!

    SJ
    http://www.societyforemployeerelations.com/

  • http://hcl.com Anmol Singh

    Brilliant article Howard!!!

    I am little late to comment but reading this was really a wonderful experience.
    I shall request my team to take a print of this and paste @their desk.

    Keep winning. Cheers!!!