Archive for September, 2013

What Good is a Recruiter, Anyway?

September 27, 2013

It may not seem this way, but there are many high quality search professionals out there.  And the good recruiters more than make up for all the ones who don’t provide much value to their hiring clients and candidates.  Why are there so many less than awe-inspiring recruiters?  The same reason that there are so many mediocre salespeople – because anyone can become one.

Beyond the low barrier to entry, many recruiters have never walked a mile in their clients’ or candidates’ shoes.  They just don’t have direct experience in the fields they endeavor to serve.  Moreover, many recruiters live a myopic, transactional existence.  It’s all about filling slots for the current searches on their docket and nothing else. They aren’t knowledgeable enough to take a holistic view to link managing hiring objectives with attaining business goals.

The more effective recruiters take a longer term view of the landscape.  They make themselves accessible to many people with the knowledge that the world is only getting smaller.  They bring a strong understanding of the industries they serve, often from prior direct experience in those fields.

Regardless, many hiring managers and candidates alike take a dim view of recruiters in general.  So what good are recruiters…even good ones?   Aren’t they just ambulance chasers for employment?  Far from it and here’s why.

For Hiring managers, quality recruiters offer:

*  Counseling on hiring strategy, including setting expectations on timelines, methodology, prioritization, processes, roles definitions, and interviewing/hiring/onboarding best practices

*  Input on the talent market for a given role, including size of the potential candidate pool, compensation levels dictated by current market demands, and the “fillability” of the prospective search

* Development of job descriptions and messaging/positioning needed to attract top talent

*  Execution of the search in a proactive outbound model (as opposed to reactive job postings, which hiring companies can easily do without any external help)

*  Manage the entire interview process and play an integral role with reference checks and negotiations

* Provide additional insight into candidates’ motivations, preferences and tendencies

*  Keep candidates engaged throughout the process, especially during scheduling delays

*  Shrink down hiring cycles and save managers time by providing fully qualified candidates who possess the right combination of aptitude and attitude (quality vs. quantity)

For candidates, recruiters:

*  Give honest feedback and coaching on resume, interviewing prowess and attitude

*  Provide additional insight into the opportunity, not covered in the job description (e.g., hiring manager’s hot buttons, personality, interview style, and overall company culture)

*  Offer counseling on relevant parts of background to accentuate vs. less relevant areas to de-emphasize

*  Provide helpful post-interview feedback

*  Assist with offer negotiations

*  Provide honest assessment of how candidate stacks up in the marketplace as it relates to experience, aptitude, attitude, intangibles, compensation, career track aspirations

*  Assist with networking

If it were easy for companies to find, attract, scrutinize, and hire top talent, then there would be no need for recruiters.  Building out an organization in a scalable, repeatable manner, all while adhering to hiring timeline objectives, is exceptionally challenging.  This is especially true given the many other business demands that don’t pause for hiring managers to carry out the interviewing and hiring process.

Similarly, if candidates always found it effortless to discover great opportunities, attract interest in their candidacy, sail through interviews, and get hired, they wouldn’t need the benefits provided by search professionals either.  Top tier recruiters are one of a very limited number of resources that can give candidates the honest assessment needed to help build self-awareness.  And aside from common sense, the other vitally important quality that appears to be all-too-lacking in candidates (and people, for that matter) is self-awareness.

Every occupation has its share of incompetent fools and jerks and unfortunately, they taint the picture for the highly effective and caring professionals in their field.  Think of the people you know and the professions they’re in.  I’ll bet the vast majority of lawyers you know are not shysters.  Most doctors are not quacks.  Not every car salesperson is sleazy.  Most police officers don’t shirk their duties.  Many professional football players are not criminals.  Not every general contractor is a corner-cutting, short-changing cheater.  Not every member of Congress is a power-hungry, two-faced, corrupt politician.  Hmmm…Did I take this one step too far?

The bottom line is there are a number of high quality recruiters out there.  I strongly encourage you to get to know them.  They just might prove to be one of the most valuable resources available to you.


Action items:

1.  Quiz prospective recruiters on their history.  Have they actually worked in the industry they now serve?  What about their methodology?  Do they simply post jobs and scan the career sites for candidates or do they engage in true proactive outbound recruitment?

2.  Good recruiters want to learn as much about their hiring company client as possible – well beyond the position they’re looking to fill.  They’ll want to know about all facets of the business – its financials, product/services roadmap, customers, competitive landscape, business direction, new initiatives, recent changes, challenges, culture, people, etc.  Take note of how inquisitive they are when learning about a new prospective client company.

3.  The best recruiters clearly convey their knowledge about their client such that they effectively represent themselves as an extension of the company.  They know how to optimize the positioning and messaging to give an honest, yet compelling picture.  How detailed is that picture they paint when discussing an opportunity with a prospective candidate?