On Becoming a Better Recruiter

Dec 19, 2013

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:

  1. Learn to engage: Recruiting is far more then matching candidate skills with job descriptions. Recruiting is a business of influence from both the client as well as candidate side. We need to take the time required to understand the forces/politics at work within our organizations in order to be more successful. We need to learn what is really important to our hiring managers. (Beware the hiring manager who simply hands you a sheet of paper and expects you to fill a role.) We should meet with our hiring managers,, ask questions, and try to really understand what is required to create a great hire. Having these conversations will help all of us.
  2. Tell them what and why: Let me tell you a bit of a secret. Most hiring managers will tell you that they know exactly how to hire. In reality, most do not. I, like you, have seen them say and do things with candidates in terms of interviewing, evaluation, and offer development that is simply stunning in its ability to derail and blow up deals. Do not let this happen to you. Tell the hiring manager how you work, why you do what you do, and how to best move forward in terms of making the hire. If you sense they are not comfortable, back off a bit and probe. Ask questions and seek out any objections to your methodology before it gets downstream and bites you later. Do this and you will have an easier road to travel.
  3. Understand the business and the possibilities: We do not recruit in a vacuum. One of the ways that recruiters go from good to great is by understanding the business, knowing the types of people who tend to be successful within that business, and seeking out those candidates who will really be a great fit. We owe it to ourselves to remain current on our organization, its place within the marketplace, and the overall realities of how we conduct business. Great recruiters communicate far more than just about jobs. They create and shape the vision of what is possible down the road to the candidates they seek to hire. Great recruiters want more then an acceptance from a candidate. They want excitement and commitment. Sound like marketing to you? If so, you are right on the money.
  4. Form relationships: In life, we very often have to make a choice. We can be effective or we can be right. Let me make this easy for you. Be effective, because being right seldom adds up to much. If you can accept that simple reality, then please accept this one as well: recruiting is always easier in the presence of relationships as opposed to the absence of relationships. Take the time required to get to know the folks with whom you work. Identify the quirks and the oddities and learn to accept the things you can’t change. Never fight unless it is a last resort in an attempt to do what is right for the organization. Learn to look the other way if possible and do not let the little things make you crazy.

I can write and speak endlessly as to the things we need to become great but time and space preclude it. If we go into the new year understanding that recruiting is a game of people and influence and style as opposed to just interviewing and technology and reading resumes, we will come away with more wins and achieve some of the greatness we so richly deserve.

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