A Parable: The two best recruiters I know are…

In my world, recruiting is something that comes naturally and never stops. I don’t have any employees to manage and on best days struggle just managing my own workload. But I do have two awesome furry, four-legged, tail-wagging buddies that I observe daily as they naturally go about their business, which includes recruiting.

The two best recruiters I know are Gideon, the Australian shepherd, and Gracie, a two-year-old Samoyed. Bear with me as I define their world. We live in an average suburban neighborhood with houses and people, yet there seems to be at least one canine in every other house. In our family, we believe in being social and getting out for walks. It is in this “circling the block” mode that Gracie and Gideon do their recruiting.

I watch in true envy as these two different breeds approach the houses where they remember another dog lives. Now, sometimes their job is easy, and the furry resident comes blasting around the garage or out of the front door to greet us. Oh, they are also confined by the miracle of an “invisible fence,” which limits how far they come, but the barking and wagging and jumping with enthusiasm of a welcome greeting radiates far beyond the natural boundary.

Of course, no two recruiters of the human species are the same. Well, the two best recruiters I know also approach their jobs differently. Gracie is a social networking guru. You know a recruiter like her; she is the one with 500 contacts on her profile and always in search of another website to source or join. Gracie approaches each and every dog, adult, and child she sees as a possible recruit. She spots them as far as a block away and intently stares and tugs at the leash until I give in and she is able to greet the on-comer. Gideon takes his time, is more discriminating, watches, but focuses only on the yards within his immediate reach. He is really “old-school” and wants to operate out of his personal network. He approaches recruiting more like a seasoned professional who realizes that only certain candidates are a fit and doesn’t waste his time with the masses. Gracie is the new kid on the block and sees the potential of a “best athlete” type of candidate in everyone she meets.

After the prospective recruit is identified, there is the typical screening procedure. Here, too, Gracie and Gideon have distinct methods. Gideon will watch, stare, and wait for the candidate to make the first move. If they don’t, he may just move on. Gracie can’t pass up a yard without casually strolling by, constantly in hope of some type of engaging conversation (insert barking if you are being literal). Gideon has a predetermined set of criteria that the candidate has to pass first. Gracie doesn’t and sees a possible fit for everyone. For Gideon, the candidate has to prove to be a worthy and specific fit. On the other hand, Gracie sees the possibilities beyond education (obedience school), previous experience (adopted from the shelter), or salary history (eats a lot).

The final challenge facing any recruiter is attracting and hiring that star recruit. My personal revelation occurred only last week as we walked and approached a neighbor with a little boy in a stroller. This toddler has an attraction for Gracie. He can’t speak much, but is enthusiastic about waving. Of course that is all Gracie needs for encouragement. She will begin with her own excited greeting and tugging to spend a few quality minutes with him. Then it becomes clear that she wants him to come home with us. The toddler seems agreeable, but the adult pushing the stroller decides differently and they walk on to their home. Gracie has tried but wasn’t successful. She will not give up, though, and I know she hopes every time we meet the little boy that he will change his mind and finally join our team.

For someone with only two legs approaching the world at six feet tall and not four legs and two feet tall, it is apparent that lessons do come from the least expected places. I understand that there are steps we take in our search for a top-notch individual that have proven successful for us in the past. There are also new ways to look at recruiting that today we don’t know about, yet tomorrow may be at the top of our list. I don’t know what the new cell phone will look like, and I am not sure about what new idea is percolating in a technology center out on the coast. What I do know is that the exciting part of not knowing is what keeps me enthusiastic and passionate about recruiting.

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Encouraging thoughts should always be the way we close out a conversation. So, for me, I will pass on these brief insights and hope that everyone in recruiting stays excited about the pure aspects of recruiting. You know, we get excited about the search and dialogue and networking that leads to finding that diamond of a candidate. That is what I mean by the pure part of recruiting. Don’t be bogged down by or dependent on some technology that frustrates you. Those are only the methods, not the livelihood of the job.

To quote a line from Marsha Sinetar’s book Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow, “Even though we are all fairly adaptable, elastic, and multi-dimensional, we are not born to struggle through life. We are meant to work in ways that suit us and draw on our natural talents and abilities as a way to express ourselves and contribute to others.”

Gideon and Gracie are naturals at recruiting. I hope you feel the same. Get out and around the block, your block, and take a page from the Gracie and Gideon book of recruiting. Never get disappointed and always look for that new recruit.

Jeff Gross has over 20 years of consulting experience where he has counseled many organizations on assessment-based methods to evaluate their company’s leaders and managers. He also has over 15 years of professional experience in both corporate recruiting and retained executive search. He is the creator of TopGrade Recruiting and has hired and trained recruiters in all facets of recruiting. Jeff can be reached at (216) 559-2246 or jeff@topgraderecruiting.com.

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