How the Role of Corporate Recruiter Is Evolving

Aug 1, 2013
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Calling yourself a recruiter doesn’t do justice to what “recruiters” have to do. Here’s a quick overview of where the role was, where it is now, and where it’s heading.

Think about the good old days, way before the Internet. The normal recruitment method was to place an ad in a national or local newspaper or perhaps a relevant magazine. Applications came in, interviews arranged, and hires were made. So far so easy. But the volume of hiring was nowhere near what it is today with job hopping every few years the exception not the norm, as it is now.

The notion of a dedicated recruiter was rare in all but the biggest companies, with the overworked HR manager left to deal with hiring. But as jobs for life became less scarce so the churn rate increased and staffing agencies gradually sprung up to take the burden off HR teams.

Then the Internet happened and life got interesting. Previously the almost set-in-stone route to candidates meant little or no thought or creativity was needed to source candidates. The role was predominantly administrative — handling applications. Now the route to candidates is so diverse that the “recruiter” must develop expertise in multiple areas. Here’s a quick checklist of what a good recruiter must know … and it’s quite lengthy:

Job boards:

  • Do you know every single one for each of the roles you typically advertise?

  • Evaluation of response rates. Not always easy unless you’ve got a very good ATS doing it for you. Are you aware of the technology you can use to post to multiple job boards and/or search their applicant databases.

  • Do you know how to keyword-optimize jobs so they appear at the top of job listings on job boards? (And no, it’s not just repeating the job title five times in the text.)

  • Are you aware of how to use job board aggregators to hire people? Which are the best classified sites to use and for which roles: Geebo, Craigslist, eBay classifieds, etc.

Social media:

  • This is recruitment marketing by any other term. As a recruiter do you know how to use social media to source candidates? Do you have a referral system in place to allow your employees to socialize the details of the job? Can you track the results?


Do you know how you can use a blog — or someone else’s — to find candidates? You sure you do? So where’s your blog detailing the great things your company is doing?

Talent pipeline building:

It’s vital for all but the smallest companies to identify and hook into candidates, even if neither party is actively looking. Do you know how to do that? Do you have a mechanism in place to track potential star candidates in the future you can talk to (no, not just an Excel spreadsheet) ?

Your careers portal:

  • Think of your vacancies in the same way your marketing team thinks about your company’s products and services: you have to sell them to people. What exactly is your careers portal doing to blow candidates away? Do you know how to make the jobs attractive? Do you really know how to write a great job description? Really? Here’s a simple test: if it’s a new role, do you state that in the job description every single time? You should. It impresses candidates to know it’s not just a boring replacement. Do you have video or written testimonials from staff introducing the role?

  • Do you know how to keyword-optimize your careers site so that Google and other search engines start picking it up for certain types of roles you constantly recruit? That’s your holy grail … all your jobs listed on Google, as that means a free pipeline of applicants every day. Do you know how to do this?

  • It goes without saying that you’ll have Google analytics installed and can track back the popularity of your careers portal and each of its subsections to see what people are looking at … right?

  • Increasingly, recruiters, to do their job effectively, must have at least a basic appreciation of what underpins a good careers portal … not just the content but the technical infrastructure behind it. Without that understanding it would be difficult to create the very best portal in terms of what it can do, how it can do it, how fast it can do it, and what information it can store and analyze. A basic understanding of graphical interfaces, databases, Flash, and HTML coding is becoming increasingly beneficial.

Gone mobile yet?

Let’s face it, more and more job traffic will come through mobiles and ‘phablets.’ Do do you understand what can and can’t be done to create a functioning, if slimmed-down careers portal which is usable via a five-inch screen? Have you even got a mobile version of your careers site yet? If not, get on it.

PPC recruitment advertising

Every tried advertising your jobs directly on Google? Not many have. It’s a process of trial and error, testing to see which roles in which locations get a number of applications. It might not work for a one-off role but if you’re regularly hiring certain types of roles (developers, accountants, graduates) then you should be devising a direct search engine advertising strategy.

Lastly, you’re an expert on all data-protection issues in every country you recruit for, right?

This list isn’t exhaustive, but gives you an idea of the hugely diverse nature of the modern recruitment ecosystem. Part lawyer, recruiter, data analyst … the role is becoming almost too large for one person, which leads me neatly to the role of the corporate recruiter in the near future. In the same way as a large marketing team is split into different areas from research, trade marketing, digital, brand/product marketing, etc., so recruitment will increasingly specialize. No longer will you just be a recruiter but a specialist with, in all probability, a very different title.

We’re already beginning to see it happening with people assigned to different areas of  specialization for major employers. Some focus on graduate hires, some on the nuances of hiring at board level. This trend will continue. “Generalist” recruiters will try their best to wear multiple hats as the dedicated recruitment manager at smaller companies, and the larger employers will split their ever growing recruitment teams into specialist roles. There will be a specialist psychometric tester, a member of marketing will be seconded to HR to focus purely on SEO for your careers site, a web developer will sit almost permanently in HR to work on a near continuous process of improvement to the corporate careers site and it’s mobile sibling, integrating the latest technologies to give them the recruiting edge.

“Sourcers” will have the sole job of evaluating, purchasing, and using job boards, the best staffing agencies, and CV databases to actually get the candidates. In turn they will hand them over to specialist assessors for evaluation via detailed psychological and psychometric testing. The days of the simple interview will be long gone.

Once hired or possibly even before offers are made, the candidates will then be handed to specialist “checkers” for validation of references and detailed background checks. Overseeing all of this will be campaign evaluators who, a bit like management consultants, will be constantly analyzing the whole department to spot bottlenecks, assess the success/failure rates, analyze the costs of hiring campaigns, as well as be responsible for continuously scanning the market for new technologies and tools to help source, evaluate, and secure the best people, faster.

So anyone fancy any of these new job titles on their business card?

Talent Evaluation Consultant

Recruitment Search Engine Optimization Manager

People Validation Executive

Careers Portal Developer

Sourcing Assistant

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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