Archive for January, 2014

When Do You Need a Recruiter?

January 28, 2014

During one of the recent polar vortex induced cold snaps which included a 14-inch snowstorm, our winterized cottage offered up quite a surprise.  After shoveling 4-foot-high snow drifts to dig out the front door, I discovered our heating system was running, but blowing out cold air.  The temperature inside the cottage was a brisk 19 degrees.  Needless to say, all the pipes and fixtures had frozen and burst.  While sizing up the magnitude of this calamity, I managed to compose myself enough to compile a working list of recommend plumbers.  Of course, this sort of thing always happens weekends, doesn’t it?

I called no fewer than seven plumbers.  One called me back fairly quickly and offered to stop by within an hour.  Another called back shortly after that and offered to stop by as well.  The others never returned my call – not even during the ensuing week.  Of the two who responded, I gave my business to the one who was the most prompt and communicative, and who could best assure me that he knew how to tackle the situation.  He and his team did a great job.

The point is I didn’t know when I’d ever need a plumber until I found myself right in the thick of it.  The same holds true in the recruitment world.  When do you need a recruiter?  Often when you least expect to and are least prepared to work with one.

By the time hiring clients and I discuss their hiring needs, they’re already behind the curve.  They’ve missed their target hiring timelines, no doubt trying to do the recruitment work themselves.  They soon realize that in this candidate-driven market, recruitment is a full-time job and not something that can be easily accomplished by reaching out to those in their network or by engaging in reactive recruiting (i.e., posting a job on the career websites).  The money these hiring companies thought they’d save by doing their own recruitment quickly put them in the red by way of opportunity cost from not hiring, onboarding, and ramping up their much-needed new employee within the timeline their business requirements dictated.

On the candidate side, by the time most candidates and I discuss their needs to find a new position, they have already been laid off, see layoffs looming right around the corner, or for a variety of reasons, can’t bear another day with their current employer.  Generally, this doesn’t bode well for job searches and interviews.  In these circumstances, candidates may feel more desperate than they ought to be, resulting in less compelling interviews or settling for a less-than-ideal career move.

Worse yet are the hiring companies and job-seeking candidates that do engage with recruiters, only to mismanage the engagement by not committing the time and accessibility necessary to bolster the chances of a positive outcome.  Have you ever been met with radio silence when trying to follow-up with someone you’ve been in touch with?  Perplexing, isn’t it?  Exasperating as well.  Granted, hiring managers and job-seeking candidates don’t have the luxury of putting aside their many other responsibilities until they have this one taken care of.  Yet, not responding to your recruiter for days or weeks at a time is nothing short of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Ultimately, the optimal course of action is to line up your resources before you actually need them.  I’m not necessarily talking about tapping into your crystal ball to gain sagely premonitions on upcoming needs for a recruiter.  It’s more a case of treating recruiters like other valued networking contacts throughout your day-to-day endeavors.  Get them on your radar and get on theirs.  Treat them respectfully and well, just as you’d want to be treated (i.e., return their calls and reply to their emails!).

Meanwhile, I think I better line up a good electrician and carpenter.  Not that I need their services right now, but you never know when the next calamity may hit.


Action items:

1.  Whether a candidate or hiring manager, don’t wait until you’re behind the eight ball to source a recruiter.  Do it before the need arises and keep in touch.

2.  When engaged with a recruiter, don’t go radio silent on them.  If you’re going flat out, simply reply back, letting them know you’re booked solid and try to schedule a time to speak.

3.  On an ongoing basis, treat recruiters as networking contacts.  You just might need them sooner than you think.