What Real Recruiters Do

Sep 25, 2008

I recently posted a contract recruiter position and within four days I got over 400 submittals. Ugggggh.

Unfortunately, here is a look into what I saw: typos and misspellings on resumes; zero mention of accountability; inconsistent information; absent information from previous jobs; half-completed resumes; and six out of seven resumes were from recruiter wannabes. The sad part is that some of the wannabes took more time to position themselves than some of the veterans.

If you are a serious player, and you want to separate your candidacy from the sea of competition, I suggest you take your job search seriously, even if it is for a contract recruiter role. Take your time. Who you are being in your job search is a reflection of who you will be on the job.

Read the ad or job posting in full. If asked, answer the questions concisely and accurately; in recruiting, time is money. If there are instructions to follow, don’t demonstrate what a rogue you are. These days recruiting has lots of processes, and the bigger the company, the more risk involved. If you cannot follow the application instructions, you are sending a message that you can’t assimilate to their ways of doing things.

On the other hand, if you follow the instructions verbatim and don’t do anything above and beyond — like using some creativity in your communication or application — you may be sending a message that you give just what is asked and nothing more.

If you are applying for a job with me, look me up, find me on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and talk to me in my language. Don’t address me by Dear Sirs when my name is Margaret. When I get resumes like that, I can them immediately. I have never met a ‘Sir’ named Margaret. And it tells me you don’t care.

Typically a person hiring a recruiter is someone who has done the job before, and done it well, so they are expecting you to blow them away with knowledge, pizazz, terminology, and technology. If you are applying with me and I am a recruiter and we both share a common recruiter language and use the same type of vernacular, I expect you to use that to your advantage. Recruiting is a form of sales; show you know that by positioning yourself in the right manner.

Do your homework. Find out what company you are applying with, go to your browser, type in the company’s site, and look at who is requesting your services. Tailor your application and response to the buyer.

Job searching is a sales process. You are selling me on why I should invest in you.  That takes positioning, discernment, listening, questioning/probing, and salesmanship.

Remember, who you are being in your own search process is indicative of how you will conduct your searches for your new client, or if you are a rookie, who you are being in your job search is an indicator of how you will function in this role for others. This seems easy enough to understand; however, sometimes when we are too close to something, we catch a case of running on automatic, or a case of entitlement. We forget the game we are playing. We also forget that in this game, it is always about winning. Winning the game means working. Losing the game means keep looking, or keep on trucking to the next gig, until that gig runs out.

A real recruiter in 2008 lists accomplishments, numbers of jobs filled, time-to-fill measurements, submittals, or interviews to hire. Great recruiters know their retention rates and their percentage of good hires. In third-party recruiting, a successful recruiter knows their billings, per month, per quarter, if not per week. They also know their sendout-to-placement ratio and their job order-to-fill ratio. A solid recruiter knows their fill ratios and their (fall off ratio) misery index.

As with every profession, people are evaluated by their performance; our performance in this industry is about quality of hires within a given time frame. There are a few other important metrics, yet none as important as whether this person filled the jobs with good people and whether the hiring manager/new employee was served within an acceptable time frame.

Another element of taking your search seriously is the level of effort you have put forth in personal competency development. What have you done to increase your awareness of the marketplace? What have you done to improve and expand your capacity to identify passive talent? If your biggest claim to fame is running an ad on CareerBuilder, scanning the resume and forwarding it to your client, you are in a bit of a pickle. While that sometimes might work, it is nothing to be all that proud of, unless you are spending a significant amount of time screening, assessing, and evaluating that talent, with considerably more tools than your gut instinct.

If you know how to and enjoy sourcing passive talent through using social networks and Internet mining tools, like Broadlook or Jigsaw, brag about it. Include your percentages of hires using passive candidate streams and social networks.

If you are a farmer of people and you use your personal and business community to continually generate passive candidate flow and you have your very own ‘affinity network,’ then brag about that as well. If you have a list, a database of candidates, live and usable candidates, hell that is something to brag about. You come armed and prepared to generate maximum results in a minimal amount of time.

Taking your job search and your career seriously means continually upping your level of service offering and depth of service. If your thing is sourcing, do it fabulously. Invest in your own development, learn the systems, learn the technology, and apply it. After all, you buy clothing, fine wine, and jewelry, so go buy a new way to source candidates, sign up for that $500 training, and then learn everything you can and apply it the second you get out of training. Brag about the results you produced.

If your bag is full-life-cycle recruiting, take that seriously and learn about the new wave of candidate selection tools that are being adopted into many company’s hiring processes. At the Onrec conference, a group of English business folks told me that 85% of all companies in their countries use behavioral interviewing, as well as competency and personality assessments to validate their hiring choices and create new employee development programs. I do not think the U.S. is there yet, but due to the financial and business strategy consequences of poor hiring practices, I believe many more are on that path.

If you are not getting better, you ought to get out, because before you know it you will be replaced by someone who is a lot more willing to do the same job for a lot, and I mean a lot less. If you like the business, live like you will be engaging in a job search, and stay ahead of the curve. Keep track of your results, operate with integrity, don’t make placements you know won’t work out, create solid contacts and networks, and learn everything you can. Always position yourself the way you want to be perceived.