A CEO Gets Real About Recruiting

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series highlighting speakers at the upcoming ERE Digital event. Click here to view other articles in the series.


All CEOs say they value talent. They say that recruiting and retaining the right people is important. They say that people are the heart of their business. But we all know that what chief executives say and what they believe — and how they behave — are not always the same. 

At the upcoming ERE Digital event (April 15–17), Erik Huberman will talk about his views on and experiences with working with recruiters as he grew his business. The CEO of a $75 million company, Hawke Media, Erik will reveal deep truths about both the pleasures and the pains of engaging with talent acquisition professionals to achieve success. He and I recently spoke about some of his views.

Generally speaking, what do many CEOs think about recruiting?

That it’s just about getting people in the door. They don’t always think in terms of how recruitment compliments culture and how it can be part of forecasting growth. They don’t always acknowledge their recruiting teams for doing a lot more than just filling seats. There’s a lot that goes into finding the right people. You can’t just source and hire someone in two weeks. 

What is your biggest expectation of your recruitment team?

Here’s what I want to know: Can you get me someone that I couldn’t get myself? Can you sell a person on the dream of the job, not just on salary? Or are you merely pulling in people who you’re just lucky to have? I want my team to be building a pipeline of people, not just reading resumes that happen to come in. And I want people who come to my company to be excited about their jobs — recruiters are an important part of making sure that we get such people. Part of that is having recruiters who understand the nuances of why certain people would be good at certain jobs. I want recruiters to have that sort of powerful insight. 

I’m curious, do you think fellow chief executives feel as you do. I know they might say they do, but, well…

A lot of CEOs take talent for granted. They are very utilitarian and logic-driven to the point that they lose sight of the human component. They are eager to fill roles and check boxes. I need a salesperson, so get me a salesperson. 

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What can recruiters do to change the mindset of such a CEO?

Many CEOs want metrics, so it’s up to the recruiter to come with the right metrics and explain them properly. You’ve got to talk about not just quantitative but qualitative success measurements. Too often, recruiters focus on the quantitative ones because those are easier to point out and because a CEO is more likely to want and understand those. But there are qualitative aspects to making good hires. 

We use qualitative metrics most of the time when looking at quality of hire. For instance, if we’re hiring an email marketer, we look at client satisfaction. If it’s an HR director, but metrics might be around listening to what employees are saying about how the culture feels. 

Which leads to one last question: Which is most important to you: quality of hire, time to fill, or cost per hire?

At the end of the day, it will always be quality of hire.


Interested in learning more from Erik about how CEOs really view talent acquisition professionals and how you can better engage them? Check out his session at ERE Digital, April 16 – 17. Use code ERESD10EXTRA to receive 10% off your ticket price. 

Vadim Liberman is editor of ERE.net (the devil wears TJ Maxx) and a workplace renegade advancing how we think, work, and live. He has previously worked as a strategy consultant to HR and recruiting tech companies at The Starr Conspiracy, as a talent management professional at Prudential, and as senior editor of The Conference Board Review, a magazine for business leaders. Vadim loves to talk about all things talent acquisition and Bravo TV shows. Bring it!

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