5 Secrets to Effective Recruiting

Recruiting great employees is very difficult and, often is more complex than people perceive it to be. After running a headhunting firm for the past 10 years, I’ve learned that it is the little things which separate your ability to recruit the right job applicants.

Below, I’ve listed 5 of these secrets. They only work if the hiring manager is coming from a sincere place, is honest, and is trusted by the applicant.

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  1. Don’t ask an employee their desired salary; ask them what they are making now and increase that amount by around 15 percent. When we ask a job applicant how much money they want, they will tend to over ask. When an applicant gives a number (regardless of how outlandish it may seem), they tend to stand firm. Ask about their current compensation package and increase that number accordingly. It’s not best to give the applicant an open forum.
  2. Have a sales pitch. Know why employees should want to work for your company. What’s in it for them? Speak in terms of the other person’s wants. For instance, will they have access to the CEO? Will they have room for career advancement? Does the company offer great benefits? Ask yourself why you like working at your current company and draw on that for realistic inspiration. Always remember to be honest. If you promise something (ex: potential bonus) and the numbers are not close, you will have hired a resentful employee which could prove to carry significant ramifications to your management ability.
  3. The recruiting process should not be too long nor should it be too short. Too long, and you’re going to lose applicants and time. Too quickly, you’re going to lose the ability to make a sound decision. For a typical position, the ideal time frame is three to five weeks.
  4. Learn to look at resumes differently. Learn to look at a resume as an entrepreneur. Each resume tells a story not only of what the applicant has done, but one could infer as to what the potential employee can do. Sometimes, the prettiest resumes are written by those who have been on the job market longest.  Forget about formatting. Focus on content and extract the proper inferences.
  5. Learn how to stretch a budget. Recruiting employees is like shopping for a car. The more options (or experience) you want, the more you have to pay. Therefore, someone who likely has everything you’re seeking may be out of your budget. To properly stretch expenditures, learn what you can and cannot train this person on, and what is absolutely necessary from day 1. After close analysis, you should find some places you can cut costs.

In the end, make sure you treat every applicant with respect, as you are representing your organization to the outside public. If someone is not right for the job, politely tell them in a kind manner. Set firm goals and believe that you deserve a great employee and recruiting one should not be too difficult.

Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement, a sales and marketing recruiting firm specializing in staffing business development and marketing professionals around the U.S. Ken has been published in Forbes, Chicago Tribune, AOL, Business Insider, Ere.net, Recruiter.com, Huffington Post and many others. He has also appeared on MTV, Fox Business News and spoken at some of the country's leading business schools on HR, job search and recruitment.


8 Comments on “5 Secrets to Effective Recruiting

  1. Ken, thanks for the post. With regard to having a sales pitch, I want to add that it’s critical to be asking the right qualifying (discovery) questions first – before any sale pitch.

    While I totally agree that WIIFM is key, before making assumptions about the decision-making criteria of prospects/candidates (e.g., access to CEO, career advancement), recruiters need to begin by questioning and listening before making assumptions about what might be important.

    In my experience training recruiters, the #1 mistake they make is pitching the product way too soon. They make major assumptions about what’s important to prospects/candidates — instead of questioning & listening. So often recruiters sound like the company “marketing materials” instead of someone who’s genuinely interested and curious about the other person. Research has shown, actually, that when we pitch too quickly, we actually invite objections!

    At the same time, recruiters – like great sales professionals – need to know their “product” well enough to be able to craft a unique value proposition statement – one that is perfectly aligned with what’s important to that prospect.

  2. Keith, I agree.

    In addition, by checking salary and putting automatic 15% (or whatever)increase, you have assumed(key word here is assume!!) that it’s all about the money – always and for everybody. Not a good assumption.

    You have just negated any other factors that may have value and can be effectively leveraged (e.g., growth opportunities).

  3. Thanks, Nancy. A company may not need to offer a big raise, but it does need to offer SOMETHING to a potential candidate more than self-deluded marketing hype.

    Ken, your perspective may be affected by the fact that (presumably) your agency works with candidates you think you can get fees from placing. The vast majority of people aren’t hired that way. I believe that for most applicants in this economy, the very fact that you have a job for someone is a pretty good sales pitch for most applicants (even very good ones) in most areas.


  4. There’s a lot of implications on the 15% recommendation. It could throw off the wage scale for an entire department, which could lead to turnover because people do talk and there’s no stopping that. I think implicit in that is to target people who you know you can give a reasonable raise in salary while still staying within your projected range, which should be based on what the person’s output is actually worth to the company. This would necessarily lead to targeting people who may not be as experienced. Those people tend to have the potential, but they’re going to need to grow. Which means companies have to be willing to accept some growing pains, or some screw ups in other words.

  5. @ Richard: Well said. Taking the hypothetical candidate’s existing salary (100%) as the median for what you want to pay, if you offer a 15% salary bump and add in a 20-30% 3PR fee on top of that, your department/company is going to have a one- time hit of 38-50%. Unless you’re REALLY underpaying people, you can get very good people for a lot less than that.


    Keith “You Do the Math” Halperin

  6. In regards to the automatically offered increase in pay rate; I like to find out why they are in the market. Is it management, no advancement opportunities, culture? Then I focus on highlighting what I can offer in terms of improving those areas with my company. Sometimes it is all about the money and those candidates tend to turn me off. If we’ve both (myself and the candidate) agree on what a position will bear in terms of rate then we should be able to provide an attractive offer that includes the other enticing improvements.

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