Why Are There No College Degrees in Recruiting?

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Jun 7, 2016
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Recruiters have the most important role in the organization. And that is by no means an overstatement. The vast majority of CEOs we work with cite people as their top strategic initiative — putting the best people in the right roles. And, recruiters are responsible for making that happen.

According to LinkedIn profiles, there are more than a million recruiters in the U.S., representing an estimated $124.1 billion-dollar industry that continues to grow at a rate significantly faster than the overall economy. Despite the growth and strategic importance of this role, there are no college degree programs in recruiting. Sure, there are broad-based HR management programs which may offer a three-credit class that hits the high-level aspects of recruiting, though not one academic organization in the world has come up with even a bachelor degree to prepare students for this crucial role.

Think about that. You can receive degrees in Bagpiping, Auctioneering, Puppetry, and even Cannabis Cultivation from legitimate, respected colleges. Yet, there’s no college degree program for recruiters, the group responsible for facilitating an organization’s No. 1 strategic initiative.

Can you imagine putting a nurse on the floor without formal training? Yet, many organizations don’t think twice about putting a recruiter on the phone as the gatekeeper of talent for the organization.

There’s clearly a disconnect between academia and the needs of the real world when the highest level of education a person pursing this role can aspire to is a certificate program. If recruiters are the backbone of an organization — the gatekeepers of talent — why is there not more academic momentum behind it? And, how are recruiters expected to be successful if they have no formal training?

When recruiters are asked how they learned to do their job, over the shoulder or on-the-job training is most commonly cited. They found a great mentor and developed into the role. Their educational background more often includes a college degree in business or psychology.

Sure, there is formal training on how to use applicant tracking systems and assessment tools, but no formal education on how to source, assess, and hire the best person possible for a particular role; how to conduct an interview; how to conduct an intake to qualify a position; how to successfully move from requisition approval to orientation day.

What are the attributes of a successful recruiter? There is both a science and an art to it.  Behavioral-based interviewing, negotiating, presentation, and analytics all comprise the science side of it. But hiring the right people for the right role also requires the art of effective communication, building rapport, persuading star performers to join your organization, and much more.

While certain behavioral competencies such as attitude, judgment, idea generation, and sales orientation are essential to be successful at recruiting, equally important are skills to be developed such as proactive sourcing, understanding the monetary and non-monetary motives, candidate assessment, technology, and interviewing skills.

All organizations want the best of the best, and the best candidates always have the greatest number of options. The recruiters’ job is to engage with those candidates and persuade them on the merits of your organization. When you put the right people in the right roles, your organization can flourish.

Wouldn’t you think this crucial role in the organization is worthy of a degree program?

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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