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Howard Adamsky

Howard Adamsky has been recruiting since 1985 and is still alive to talk about it. A consultant, writer, public speaker, and educator, he works with organizations to support their efforts to build great companies and coaches others on how to do the same. He has over 20 years' experience in identifying, developing, and implementing effective solutions for organizations struggling to recruit and retain top talent. An internationally published author, he is a regular contributor to ERE Media, a member of the Human Capital Institute's Small and Mid-Sized business panel, a Certified Internet Recruiter, and rides one of the largest production motorcycles ever built. His book, Hiring and Retaining Top IT Professionals/The Guide for Savvy Hiring Managers and Job Hunters Alike (Osborne McGraw-Hill) is in local bookstores and available online. He is also working on his second book, The 25 New Rules for Today's Recruiting Professional. See twitter.com/howardadamsky if you are so inclined for the occasional tweet. Email him at H.adamsky@comcast.net

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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: keep reading…

6 Great Reasons Not to Lose a Candidate

by May 23, 2013, 6:36 am ET

The fastest way to succeed is to look as if you’re playing by somebody else’s rules, while quietly playing by your own. –Michael Korda

Losing a great candidate is a painful and disheartening experience. I for one, beat myself and wonder what I could have done differently as I do a cerebral post mortem. Sadly, it is the occupational hazard with which we live daily and it is a part of the game of recruiting. With that in mind, we all need to learn from our mistakes and do our best not to repeat them.

Losing great candidates will never go away completely. But we can look to some ideas and insights that will help that event to become less frequent. Please consider the following points and know that if you do lose a candidate, you played the game as well as possible. keep reading…

Finally, Your Essential Overview of Hiring for Startups

by Apr 23, 2013, 6:45 am ET

q5_logoThe cost of hiring someone bad is so much greater than missing out on someone good. — Joe Kraus, partner, Google Ventures

Each company for which we recruit has a special set of circumstances and a unique story to tell. Large organizations like Raytheon sit and sell differently then giant fast-food places like McDonald’s. Google had its own special place and unique environment in terms of hiring, and hot Cambridge-based SasS startups like Quant5 also have their own set of challenges that require thoughtful navigation if hiring is to be successful. (Define successful as hiring the people you need, when you need them, and they do the job for which they have been hired.)

Like myself, those of you out there who have hired for startups know that even though a candidate might fit the bill in terms of qualifications, they still might not be the right DNA to be the right fit.

With this in mind, lets look at 12 factors that will address the people part of the equation in terms of the recruiting: keep reading…

Doing These 10 Things Will Help You Recruit Successfully in 2013

by Jan 2, 2013, 5:42 am ET

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. –Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von

As we emerge from the strains and exertions of 2012 and look to manage our recruiting efforts in the New Year, we are all sure to suffer one ongoing problem: distractions that will eat away at our time and our productivity. Too many things both online and off scream for our attention and too many people want a piece of our day. This is not good.

I believe that the time to clear off your desk and start afresh is now, and even more then the physical aspects of cleaning house are the mental aspects of knowing that if you have a job of any significant responsibility, the watchword for renewed success will be productivity. One’s ability to get their recruiting done despite the madness and the noise that puts us in the zone Stephen Covey referred to as “the thick of thin things” is an ongoing effort with which we all struggle. (If you have not read Covey’s seminal book the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People yet, I can’t imagine a better way to kickstart the year off in your favor.)

With this in mind, I offer 10 insights that will surely contribute to enhanced success as a recruiter in the year all of us are about to enter. keep reading…

Facebook Recruiting Is All the Rage

by Aug 21, 2012, 5:35 am ET

Violence is as American as apple pie. –Eldridge Cleaver

Todd Raphael just did a piece on Facebook as it relates to a conversation he had with Steven Rothberg, and that piece really hit a nerve for me.

As you might know, Facebook does not come with a user’s manual. Devoid of these instructions for use, it is open season to make use of Facebook in all ways that fit with your beliefs, lifestyle, and purpose. This might be good if there actually was a separation between our personal lives and our professional lives, but that line seems to be disappearing. I for one do not see this as a good thing for the world of recruiting in general and I certainly see Facebook as being far more of a problem then a solution.

I am not sure where Facebook is as it relates to contemporary society and its place therewith, but it has become monstrously big in the lives of many. I often wonder what we did in the days before it came into prominence, and I for one intend to find out as I scale back big time and only check in two or three times a week for a few moments. I need to do this and to regain control. I have said some pretty unpleasant things to those who disagree with my politics and I will not do that again. My new watchword is unfriend and/or ignore.

As far as Facebook and recruiting, I have grave concerns for the benefits to be gained, as these two entities might very well turn out to be a very deadly combination. Facebook is, among many other things, an ongoing real-time conversation, and this might be good in some areas but it is not good in others. Let me tell you three reasons why: keep reading…

The Hiring Manager’s Guide to Working With Recruiters

by Jul 19, 2012, 6:00 am ET

(Editor’s note: With so many new ERE members coming on all the time, we thought that each week we’d republish one popular classic post. Here’s one, below.)

Recruiting is a team effort. It’s most effective when the parties that make up the team move quickly and effectively through the process to get the job done. This is, of course, easier said than done, but let’s takes a quick moment to identify the three primary members of this illustrious team:

  1. The candidate
  2. The recruiter
  3. The hiring manager

If any of the above-mentioned parties fail to perform as expected, the process tends to suffer — and can break down completely under certain circumstances. This can lead to all types of problems and frustrations that relate to the successful acquisition of a new employee.

On top of that, you risk wasting time and money — as well as creating bad blood with respect to the candidate — if the hiring process is mishandled. Fortunately, most recruiters I come in contact with understand the necessity of driving the process forward and making things happen as quickly and as smoothly as possible. On the other hand, most candidates are simply looking to explore a given opportunity. But because candidates exist outside of the company, they do not fall under the expectations of organizational processes or expectations. Oh boy. This leaves us with the hiring managers, who can be a real problem if you are looking to be a more successful recruiter. If you the recruiter want to be more effective, you will need the full and ongoing cooperation of your hiring managers. Those individuals, in conjunction with the interviewing team they appoint, will be the people who will most influence your ability to be successful in building great organizations.

With this in mind, I have developed a one-pager you can email to your hiring managers to explain how to get more out of their recruiting partners and, as a result, hire better employees into their team. keep reading…

The Living Death of the Contract Recruiter

by Jun 12, 2012, 5:19 am ET

As the business community sheds recruiters from full-time positions, many organizations bring on contract recruiters to use when required and dump when not required. I am here to help you to avoid making one of life’s more miserable career decisions: becoming a contact recruiter. Here’s the advice:

Do not ever become a contract recruiter.

Allow me to repeat. (The gravity of the situation bears repeating, and you just might thank me some day.) Do not ever become a contract recruiter.

Now let me tell you why. keep reading…

3 Ways for Recruiters to Take Charge

by Nov 15, 2011, 5:50 am ET

Just in Time: “’An inventory strategy companies employ to increase efficiency and decrease waste by receiving goods only as they are needed…’ –Investopedia

As a recruiter, I tend to be pulled into various recruiting projects based upon client needs. This is fine. What is not fine is when I am called in at the last minute. When I am called in because they need to hire a host of hard-to-find people fast. When their uninspired and clueless leaders failed to start recruiting before it becomes an emergency. This really bothers me and it bothers me even more when I am told to do it fast, because good work is seldom done fast. I am a recruiter, not a magician.

See the quote above? Just In Time deals with the procurement of parts, not people. It deals with inanimate objects that come to the company in boxes, not with employees who come to the company in cars. Waiting to the last minute to hire is a bad idea.

Seeing as we are talking here, do you ever wonder why companies wait too long to begin recruiting? Tough question to answer but I believe it is often out of a sense of entitlement — a type of arrogance among the uninitiated and the slow learners who honestly think that when they need Java developers, they will just interview a bunch and pick the winners. Honestly, this thinking is pitiful and it exists because leadership seldom knows how hard it is to make good hires.

Even worse, if you dig a bit deeper they usually want employees that meet three search criteria:

  1. Hard to find
  2. Need them fast
  3. Not too expensive

Translation: fast, good, and cheap. (In reality, you can usually have two, but you can seldom have all three.) Is there anything that demonstrates failed leadership, anything that screams “I know nothing of hiring” more than this type of thinking?

New employees are your raw material and if you are smart, and your future too. You get great talent by earning great talent — by thinking ahead for a future that is coming at you hard and fast. Why so many leaders believe they are somehow entitled to have great talent simply because they need it escapes me.

Perhaps my patience runs thin but I have lost most of my faith in the belief that I will see intelligent leadership as it relates to talent acquisition. As such, I have three suggestions for recruiters to consider so they can lead the charge as opposed to waiting for direction from the slow and inept: keep reading…

Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player

by Oct 18, 2011, 5:37 am ET

sixth studio album by Elton John

I really should go to bed because I have to get up very early tomorrow (by 10:00 a.m.) but my head is still spinning from my day-long attendance at the AOEP 2011 Recruiters Best Practices Summit. My thanks to Lou Gaglini and Dan Kilgore for putting up with me.

First things first: all sessions were great, but Jeremy Eskenazi’s presentation entitled “Navigating Corporate Politics” was funny and brilliant and in a sense, heartwarming — simply the best session I have ever attended.

The things I learned at the conference are endless. A quick example is Lou Gaglini’s brilliant question from his session entitled “Anatomy of an Effective Interview:”

Question: “What is an interview?” (Not really such an easy question, is it?)

Answer: “It is a very important business meeting.” (A simply inspired answer as I see it.)

I can go on endlessly about the conference, but one concept must be spoken of here and now. And that concept is “Recruiters as facilitators” — pointed out by Jeremy.

I have been in this business for a long time. I grew up in the agency biz and later moved into consulting and project work. Endless clients later I have never quite thought of it in that light. Silly me. Recruiters as facilitators is an eye-opening concept — a realistic model of the life we as recruiters must live.

Recruiters as facilitators holds sway big time because it inserts a sense of reality and clear thinking into the hiring process by pointing out what should be obvious but often times is not — that we as recruiters are only facilitators in the hiring process and nothing more. In what can often times be a long and convoluted process (should this even be a long and convoluted process in the first place? Most often no, but that is fodder for another article) that goes from the development of a position profile all the way to a candidate’s acceptance of an offer, we can only do three things: keep reading…

Dark Side of the Moon

by Oct 13, 2011, 5:41 am ET

The Dark Side of the Moon’s themes include conflict, greed, the passage of time … –Wikipedia

To be critical of social media, in any and all formats, sentences the writer to one of three modalities:

  1. You are a geezer
  2. You do not get it
  3. You are in the way of progress

Wrong on all counts. We are thinkers and evaluators first — recruiters or whatever a distant second. Armed with only our experience and limited time to get things done, we must question how we spend that time every single day. Time wasted equals fewer hires — and fewer hires devalues our existence.

Let me jump in hard and fast. Social media is big, firestorm big, and it seems to be everyone’s favorite child. As such, it has rapidly permeated almost everything we see and do on a daily basis. I am not opposed to this. One can’t be “opposed” to social media but I will tell you to what it is I am opposed. keep reading…

The Myth of the Hard-to-fill Job

by Sep 20, 2011, 5:56 am ET

I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their jobs. –Samuel Goldwynn

I just finished looking at a position profile for a job with a pharmaceutical company. The laundry list of bulleted requirements for this position is 22 — and I can assure you that these are not easy-to-find requirements. They’re all action words and full of responsibility for everything under the sun. (Yes, advanced degree required.) Perhaps God can do this job but in terms of mere human beings, I do not see it happening. I picked up the phone and had a conversation with a trusted associate who tells me the position has been open for a long time and has now been classified as “hard to fill.”

I dislike this “hard-to-fill” mindset. I know that some jobs, by their nature, are going to be a challenge, but the impossible ones just irritate me for a host of reasons. Let me enumerate just three of them below and we can then move on to solution-oriented thinking.

keep reading…

Speed: Revised, Reinforced, and Reiterated

by Feb 22, 2011, 12:40 pm ET

The primary factor in a successful attack is speed. –Lord Mountbattan

Jason Warner has been thinking a lot about speed lately. Since reading his terrific article, so have I. If we indeed might be at the beginning stages of a frenzy that relates to hiring, then speed will quickly go from a luxury to a biological imperative — an urgent component to success that has to be encoded into the DNA of every recruiter who needs to get the job done. As such we will have to look at speed in a whole different light: not as a means to cut corners but as a tool and a mindset recruiters must adopt if we are to be successful in generating the hires necessary to support organizational objectives. Bottom line? Run faster.

First things first. No conversation about speed can exist without a preemptive strike at the forces of darkness … a stake into the very heart of those individuals who will counter this argument with supercilious and sanctimonious dialogue, reminding us of our fiduciary responsibility not to sacrifice quality for speed — as though both of these essential elements are somehow mutually exclusive. This is of course correct. We must never sacrifice quality for speed. However, to these individuals who preach endlessly about quality, I must ask a few simple questions. keep reading…

Recruiting, Redemption, and American Economic Viability

by Feb 17, 2011, 12:23 am ET

“We would like to live as we once did but history will not permit it.” –John F Kennedy

I was instantly impressed by the tone. By the anger and edgy urban feel. The tag line gave me shivers as the Super Bowl’s “Imported From Detroit” spot knocked me out — an up front, in your face blast from the Motor City. The message? Absolutely gorgeous and ice cold simple. We Are Back. Yes indeed! I too love the smell of napalm in the morning.

Being a boy who loves cars, I have always been a fan of Detroit and made reference to it very specifically in Employment Rage. Case in point: Quoting from a special report in Time magazine, October 5, 2009: “By any quantifiable standard, the city is on life support. Detroit’s treasury is $300 million short of the funds needed to provide the barest municipal services … The murder rate is soaring, and 7 out of 10 remain unsolved …the unemployment rate is 28.9 percent. That’s worth spelling out: twenty-eight point nine percent.” Clearly, as goes the car industry, so goes Detroit.

We have lived through a grisly two years. The causalities have been monumental and the casualties have been deep. Homes, careers, dreams, and marriages — gone. Enough. Enough of what has been because the past is a bucket of ashes.

The time has come to focus on what will be. To find a new sense of pride and a new sense of purpose and a new sense of hope for all we can do to create a vibrant and durable American economy. keep reading…

The Sad Existence of the Active Candidate

by Aug 9, 2010, 2:09 pm ET

“To see the right and not do it is cowardice.”

–Author Unknown

A recent article by John Zappe entitled Should We Be Telling the Unemployed Not to Apply? was excellent. Furthermore, judging by the varied, contentious, and well-thought-out comments, John’s work clearly struck a nerve with a cross section of ERE readership, this writer included.

Tell the unemployed not to apply? Why not? Welcome to the ugly underbelly of capitalism, artificially induced fairness, and employment rage of the masses. Welcome to the new world order that simply does not have enough to go around, combined with the enabling technology’s required to outsource as many possible jobs to the most dirt-poor places on this planet. Think of how Ralph Lauren lives and think of how those who make his clothing live. Beyond despicable.

Welcome to the sad realization that capitalism tends to work far better when there is a surplus as opposed to a shortage; when there is an oily excess that tends to hide the evil of discrimination and of inequity and of monstrous corruption. Welcome to the post-surplus economy of underemployment and lost careers, of investments vaporized and the numbing fury that accompanies learned helpless. Welcome the myopic CEO who views employees as an expense to cut as opposed to an investment to nurture. Welcome my fiends, to the new normal. keep reading…

Characteristics of the Craft

by Mar 8, 2010, 4:10 pm ET

Picture 6Recruiting is clearly not for everyone. Its demands can be extraordinary and its customers unrealistic. Its candidates not entirely truthful and its reward often just the self-satisfied glow of a job well done.

By its very nature, recruiting often creates a sense of contrast and contradiction. Hiring managers want the perfect candidate for the lowest price; candidates want the perfect job for the highest price and the government attempts to legislate a fair and level playing filed. Stuck between these conflicting forces, egos, and politics, is the recruiter: a person who is charged with the overwhelming task of identifying, attracting, and hiring the people required to create a great organization. (What is a great organization?)

Here are a few characteristics required to successfully do this job? keep reading…

Why Is This Taking So Long?

by Nov 17, 2009, 5:28 am ET

I don’t need to fight

To prove I’m right

I don’t need to be forgiven.

Baba O’Riley

“Why is this taking so long” is one of my favorite hiring manager questions. The best answer is to not have it asked in the first place. Sadly, it makes the recruiter have to justify their existence with a flurry of undocumented and ill-prepared remarks on past activity while feeling awkward and flat-footed. All in all, it is not a fun time.

I believe that we can avoid this awkward question in almost all cases, but before we discuss how that is done, let’s look at four sample answers to that question. These answers are not good ones and should be avoided. (The answers below might be accurate, but we need to be sure that candor and objective conversation take a back seat to organizational politics.) keep reading…

Got Cash?

by Jul 30, 2009, 12:30 pm ET

If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to. –Parker

The world is so full of a number of things, I am sure we should all be happy as kings; and you know how happy kings are. –Thurber

I am not sure of why, but many recruiters I know are not very good with money, myself included. Perhaps it’s the stress of the business or our belief that we can always make more that allows us to use money as a balm to soothe our aching souls. This is unfortunate because there is nothing less valuable then money you have just spent. (Honestly, which first-year agency person does not have his Porsche picked out?)

The following ideas can preserve precious resources and give you a sense of control and dominion in these difficult times. This list is by no means comprehensive but it is good starting point in terms of employing the belief that a penny saved really is a penny earned. If you try to do this and it is not painful, you are not trying hard enough. keep reading…

Life at the Crossroads and What to Do — NOW

by Jun 9, 2009, 8:25 pm ET

“It’s a really unique situation where you have someone who is at a crossroads personally and professionally.” — Elliot Wilson

If living and working in this economy of disappearing jobs, tiny budgets, and little recruiting is getting a bit old, then perhaps you have arrived at your own personal crossroads. This metaphorical location is the intersecting point where what used to work for you in the past ends and what you will need to change in order to be successful in the future begins. As I see it, you have only two options:

  1. You can continue to do what you are doing and wait for the economy to “get back to normal.”
  2. You can make some fundamental changes to your core assumptions of how businesses that survive will operate so you might survive as well.

Personally, I have grave concerns about Option 1 because no one knows exactly what the new “normal” might be, and for all we know, this aberration might be the new “normal” and will remain such for years to come. If you share my concerns, please consider the following thoughts: keep reading…

Poor Leadership

by May 6, 2009, 6:09 am ET

DETROIT — General Motors Corporation Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House. –Comcast.net Finance

I always liked Rick Wagoner. He is the quintessential Boy Scout. Probably makes a great neighbor and a wonderful friend, so I take no glee in his departure. On the other hand, he was not the right person for the job and hasn’t been for endless years. GM made cars few wanted and it hemorrhaged cash. (This should bother you just a tad, as it is your cash they are currently hemorrhaging.)

As an example, rumor has it that when GM unveiled the Aztek in 2001, there was only a gasp and then dead silence; an unspeakably ugly car instantly hated by one and all. (John Sullivan’s Aztec is for sale by way; e-mail him on pricing.) How, in all that is holy, could Wagoner allow a car like this to see the light of day? He should have laid his body in front of it sooner then having it hit the press.

As you can see, poor leadership devastates us all. But wait: put down that latte and read on. I am not at the good part yet. keep reading…

A Return to Recruiting: Notes, Thoughts, and Commentary

by Mar 3, 2009, 5:20 am ET

“I don’t have to tell you that things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody is out of work or scared of losing their job…banks are going bust.”
–Peter Finch, “Network”

Can you hear that sound? It is the groaning reverberation of a deep and protracted recession. It is the sound of layoffs and loss. Of homes foreclosed, 401(k)s decimated, and of violent shifts in the professional and financial worlds. It is the sound of unsinkable companies … disappearing. It is deep and it is wide and it is ugly, and it has either already affected you or it will. No matter; Les Brown said it best. “It does not matter what happens to you. All that matters is; what are you going to do about it?”

So let me ask? What are you going to do about it?

I will tell you what most recruiters I am communicating with are currently doing. keep reading…