A Recruiter’s Values

Aug 16, 2013
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

What do we stand for?

What is it we do as recruiters? Fill jobs? Source candidates? Use ATS, social networks, job boards, etc? An excellent recruiter and friend of mine — John Amodeo — has a great answer. John says we’re in the life-changing business. Think about it. When we fill a job we’ve transformed somebody’s life, hopefully for the better.

This is the human side of our work, which it seems many of us ignore. I’m just as guilty of this. It’s easy to lose sight of that in the shuffle when we’re neck deep in Linkedin, Facebook, video resumes, and all the other cool technologies we use. I was fortunate to start my career in recruiting managing a team of recruiters, never having hired anyone myself. At the time candidates were just resumes to me. It wasn’t until later that I became a hands-on recruiter. That was when I realized recruiting was more than moving documents and tracking a process.

Giving people jobs meant a lot. I got to talk with really interesting people — like the guy who did an interview on a satellite phone from an oil rig in the gulf of Mexico. Or the one who was in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and survived because he walked down 87 floors.

Finding Talent or Giving Jobs

Do you remember the thrill of getting your first offer letter, or subsequent ones? It’s usually the same for most people. Getting a job means a lot, unless one is completely jaded. A job represents more than income — it conveys a sense of self worth. It means a person can be a provider and independent of others and has something of value to contribute. But is that what we’re supposed to care about? After all, we’re paid by employers to fill jobs, and the golden rule says that he who has the gold makes the rules.

It seems the human side of recruiting is being sidelined. My recent post on discrimination against the unemployed triggered some very emotional responses. The conversation did make me wonder if as recruiters we need to do something to help these people. Are we our brother’s keepers? That’s for each of us to decide. I don’t think I am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t show more concern for others. What are our ethics? I remember a business ethics class in grad school where the professor told us on the first day that ethics meant knowing the difference between right and wrong, and doing something about the wrongs. There is something wrong about rejecting a candidate just for being unemployed, without knowing anything about the circumstances.

With 5 million people out of work, shouldn’t we be doing something to help? Don’t we all know someone who’s in that boat? As recruiters what have we become if we can’t even show we care? Do we stand for anything other than just filling jobs? We don’t have to compromise our principles — jobs should be filled by the most qualified candidates, but reasons like unemployment should not create a permanent underclass of people. We should at least make an effort to educate hiring managers about focusing on skills and ability rather than acting as if these people don’t matter. Many of you may well believe that we owe them nothing and we’re here to do what our employers tell us to do. I happen to disagree.

We’ve automated recruiting a great deal, and mostly made it better. But let’s not forget that ultimately it’s about people. In the movie “Miracle” — about the U.S. winning the hockey gold at the 1980 winter Olympics — the coach, played by Kurt Russell, is trying to get the team to stop thinking of just themselves. In the most iconic scene he has the players skating back and forth in the ice rink. Earlier whenever he has asked them “Who do you play for?” each player responded with the name of their school. This time they keep going for a long time until finally one player replies “I play for the United States of America.”

Who do you play for?

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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