Where Have All the Great Recruiters Gone? 

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Nov 26, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Today’s tough labor market is putting recruiters to the test. While some of them are certainly rising to the occasion, a far greater number aren’t faring as well. Case in point: there are currently 7.1 million job openings, according to latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Assigning blame is tricky, with multiple factors contributing to this issue, including unprecedented pressure and lack of experience among recruiters.

Considering that time is a recruiter’s most precious asset, internal challenges such as cumbersome processes, limited training, and unreasonable funding continue to put recruiters at a disadvantage. Externally, recruiters are up against the lowest unemployment rate in years, a serious skills shortage across most industries, and, as a result, a “need for speed” that stresses even the most seasoned recruiters.

These forces come together to exacerbate the shortcomings of recruiters who are often under trained and over worked. To find the solution, we must go back to what makes recruiters great in the first place — making connections, forging relationships, and creating candidate-centric experiences.

There are three things exceptional recruiters do that result in getting the right people into the right roles.

They know the difference between job descriptions and job advertisements

In today’s candidate-driven market, there are two big mistakes most companies make when it comes to job descriptions. First, many organizations repurpose existing ones, borrow from other departments, or even use Google to find generic ones to replicate. Second, those descriptions are then handed off to the recruiter to post online in an effort to attract top talent.

Both of these are catastrophic to the hiring process. First, when little thought goes into a job description, it starts the search off on the wrong foot and sends recruiters out looking for someone who ultimately may not need meet organizational needs. The best recruiters understand the value of doing more work up front (such as doing a proper intake with hiring managers or using sample candidate profiles) to ensure a positive outcome.

Second, that same job description is not what businesses should use publicly. While the job description helps the recruiter understand the specifics of the position, the job advertisement should convey to applicants the type of experience they’ll have in the role. What is the organization like? How will the employee’s day-to-day activities impact the company? Who will they interact with and what kind of opportunities do they have?

A too-specific job advertisement causes candidates to self-select out of the process, so you never even get to meet with potential superstars. Worse yet, a lazy advertisement conveys to candidates that the role isn’t exciting or worth checking out.

They understand the value of the experience

With the record-low unemployment rate and widespread skills shortage, the emphasis has been on finding and attracting applicants. But by too narrowly focusing on applicants, recruiters are missing an opportunity to influence the talent pipeline in other meaningful ways.

The recruiting process should take into consideration the experience of every stage — from the applicant and candidate to the finalist and new hire.

Personal connection is more important than ever. Effective recruiting today means moving everyone through these stages confidently and thoughtfully, with the right amount of care and attention.

At every step of the way, timely, two-way communication is key. Constant confirmation of information, active listening, and frequent status updates go a long way. When recruiters neglect these steps, they not only risk losing the candidate, but they also put the business at risk of a reputation-damaging negative online review.

A candidate’s experience doesn’t end when a hiring cycle is complete. Those who get the job carry that experience — good or bad — into their role as a new employee. For finalists, their experience will determine whether or not they’d be open to a different position with the company down the road.

They are 100 percent aligned with hiring managers

This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to achieve, as every hiring manager brings a different perspective to the process. Hiring managers know what kind of person will fit in with their team culture, the skills that are non-negotiable for the person to succeed, and how their experience might translate to the new role. Great recruiters are accomplished interviewers, knowing exactly how to ask questions to qualify skills and using their gut and intuition to determine fit.

Many of the best practices for collaborating with hiring managers are centered on preparedness. First and foremost, great recruiters determine early on how — and how often — each hiring manager prefers to communicate, whether it’s by phone, email, text or shared documents. They also create a checklist of needs, conduct proper intake meetings, develop an interview strategy, and even create a mini service-level agreement with each hiring manager to ensure the process stays on track and they remain aligned on the deliverables.

The best recruiters also establish themselves as experts whom the hiring managers turn to for insight. They come to the table with market data, including compensation guidance; provide value and manage expectations throughout the entire process; and debrief hiring managers in a clear, concise way.

Recruiters must spend the time to learn both the job and the candidate, and then bring them together with a level of business acumen that demonstrates confidence and trust. A good relationship and strong, two-way communication with the hiring manager is key to making this happen.

Who’s accountable for making sure recruiters keep up with the times?

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of any organization to ensure all its employees — including recruiters — are qualified, properly trained, and motivated. It’s a challenging hiring market and creating a positive employee experience to boost retention is important in any industry.

Because of the market in which we operate today, too many recruiters are prematurely promoted and thrust into situations above their skill level. When this happens, the recruiters themselves should seek out coaching and training opportunities to continue to grow, and their managers should recognize this need and enable them to do so. It takes a proactive, engaged recruiter and a supportive HR leadership team to take recruiters from good to great.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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