Hunters, Farmers, and Land Surveyors

May 19, 2010

In the world of recruiting, seldom are recruiters good at all aspects. In fact, it is more the exception than the rule, but we continue to think that with the right training, a new recruiter will become an outstanding researcher (thus, an expert in our niche); have the ability to identify and recruit A talent; be adept at marketing; and land wonderful “we need this person now” opportunities.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Do these people exist? Yes, a few do, but in my experience, they are rare.

They are the big billers we read about and long to become.

They make the speaking tour at our conferences and tell us all how we can bill a million dollars plus a year. Can you become one? Maybe, but you can also win the lotto.

Let’s face reality. Recruiting is a richly rewarding career from many aspects, but it is a very tough business.

It is one of the few businesses where the product has a mind of its own. Literally, anything can happen at any stage of the process, and it often does.

What Is the Answer?

How can we build a recruitment team that functions well together and where each member can feel fulfilled and contribute successfully to the mission of the recruitment organization?

In a word . . . specialization.

We live in a complex economy and a complex world. Yes, you can be a generalist, but for every MD general practitioner there are 10+ medical specialist doctors.

When we recruit recruiters, most organizations use a variety of assessments, interviews, and some even test-run the applicant. Yet we all are different.

Viva La Difference!

Embrace this difference in individuals! Some love to research, some love to recruit candidates, and others love to market.

Specialize and put the attributes of the individual with the position where they best fit. This is not a one-size-fits-all business.

Specialize and you will have happier employees, and most importantly, you will accomplish much more with the same number of people than your owner counterparts. Dare I say you can increase revenue by 50% with the same staff?

Specialists of All Kinds and the Wild, Wild West

There are many ways to organize a recruitment firm.

At my firm, what works best for us is to focus our team in specific areas. We market to establish client relationships and obtain search assignments (marketers); recruit to identify, cull, and qualify candidates (recruiters or PCs); and research to know the movers and shakers from the client and candidate perspective (researchers).

Each of these three positions MUST match the attributes and motivation of the person.

Let’s take them one by one, but first, a bit about the Wild West!

I love the West, I love to read about the Wild West, and I love to go there.

All kinds of people went west to settle and tame a very large and wild country. There were scouts, hunters, farmers, gold diggers, and then there were services to these unruly groups like merchants, bankers, and land surveyors. Oh, I forgot the saloonkeeper. Who was most important? No one in particular! Each had a role to play and they played the role that best fit them. Within even one group like ranchers, you had sub-specialization. Who was of more value: a cattle rancher or a sheep herder?

I do not want to carry this analogy too far. You get my point. People on the western frontier used the abilities they had to do a particular job, and they did it well. They were specialists of all kinds.

Hunters are like marketers.

They are a different lot and they have similar personalities and attributes. If you want a good marketer, find someone who loves to hunt. They like the chase. They are very impatient in general. They like the trails that are almost untraceable. It is a puzzle they like to solve. They love the words, “You can’t get a job order with that company.”

Watch them…they will do it! They look and look and finally find the herd. Then they pick the best of the best and go for the kill. Once the feast is over and they are rested, they are ready for the next hunt.

Have you ever tried to take a hunter and make him a farmer? Don’t try. Hunters are bored with farming. It takes too long. They are impatient and can’t stand to watch the wheat grow. They want to go hunt/kill something.

Farmers are like recruiters.
It takes determination and patience to be a farmer. There are a multitude of tasks to complete. Plowing, preparing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting takes time. But the farmer loves to work the good earth. They love the process to keep in touch with the land. Recruiters need patience to talk multiple times with candidates. Is this the best one? What questions are appropriate to ask? Are they the best fit? Follow up, then follow up, and finally more follow up. They love this process. They can have a 2-minute conversation or a 30-minute conversation. Recruiters listen well and always question where best to use candidates.

Recruiters are generally not marketers. The hunt — and especially the kill — are distasteful to recruiters. They like relationships. They like to be on the phone talking. They make excellent account managers because they like to stay in touch. Do not try to make a great recruiter into a marketer. Yes, it does happen, but rarely.

Land surveyors are like researchers.

Sorry, humor me and let me revert to the Wild West for a moment. If you were a hunter or a farmer and you moved to unknown lands in unsettled Montana, where would you go to hunt or to start a good farm? The first stop was always in town at the land surveyor’s office. There you would find detailed maps of the area and of surrounding mountains and streams. The land surveyor would tell you what is available and what is not. He might say this piece of land is excellent for farming…that area on the southwest of the mountain has large herds of elk…do not go here, but go there. They had researched the whole area.

So it is with a good researcher. They love to map the land, or in our vernacular, research our sector.

A good researcher will find the potential hot companies in your sector. They will find the potential candidates in your sector. They will know the news of the sector because they monitor daily news reports from the client websites. The result will be great data in the form of roll-up lists, or whatever you use, that is fed to the recruiters and marketers on a daily basis.

In Summary

Look at your staff: who are the hunters, the farmers, and the land surveyors?

Specialize and put them in a role for which they have the aptitude.

If you do, the result will be marketers and recruiters who are on the phone (which they love) talking to prospective clients or candidates. They will not be wasting their time researching for they have relevant and up-to-date lists from the researcher.

Go west, young man (and woman), and enjoy the bounty.

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