A Portrait of a Recruiter in a Few More Years

The world of the traditional, reactionary recruiter is gone. The traits that characterized the 20th century recruiter are summarized in the table below, along with those that will be requirements for a model, proactive 21st century recruiter.

Item Traditional Recruiter Proactive Recruiter
Focus internal to the organization external/global
Personal Style administrative/legal flexible
Resources resumes, job boards, physical referrals, relationships, virtual
Time Expectations days/weeks hours
Recruiting Strategy passive/wait for candidates active/networked
Skills sort/screen/process relations/sales/technical
Measures number of candidates/hires speed & quality of hire
Job Definitions job descriptions competency & skill profiles

With a broad, global reach and perspective, the modern recruiter will eschew resumes in favor of relationships and job descriptions for competency and skill profiles. A successful recruiter will use a host of tools, including email and referral software as well as sophisticated search tools such as ZoomInfo, to build competency profiles and to find, reach out to, and build relationships with a wide variety of potential candidates. If you have seen or used MySpace.com or Facebook, you are looking at the type of tools recruiters will be using in just a few months. Do you have a profile on MySpace? Why not?

Even when they’re looking for people to fit positions that are clearly defined and routine, they’re not likely to find candidates by running a keyword search or by using Google, nor will they find that person sitting neatly on some job board. They’ll have to tap into their own network, or the network of a friend or colleague, and then set up communication with potential candidates. An essential skill will be the ability to create enough interest in yourself and your organization to get the attention of a potential candidate. The most successful recruiters will be those who can be funny, articulate, friendly, and authentic, but still be focused on assessing and finding good people. Recruiters will also use these same tools to help the hiring manager build a realistic and comprehensive job profile, depending on how complex the position will be. A manager may say, “I need a person who can oversee a programming project that will involve programmers in three countries and that will be used by people in a fourth country,” or “Can you find me an MD with experience in a developing country who wants to do vaccine research?”

These are actual searches that some senior recruiters are in the midst of today, and before they can even begin the search process, they need to clearly understand what the job competencies and requirements are going to be. Working with hiring managers to identify the competencies such people need is tough and could be powerfully refined by reaching out to the network of practitioners and also of fellow recruiters and colleagues who are willing to offer suggestions and collaborate with the recruiter and hiring manager to build a profile that is realistic. Recruiters could put the request to the network and ask, “What skills would a person need to have to do this job? How important are project management skills? Team building practice? International living experience? Fluency in several languages? Knowledge of a programming language? Good sales skills?” The answers will come from the network as some combination of all of these.

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The recruiter and hiring manager will sort through the answers and, perhaps augmented with assessment tools, create a skills profile that can be used on the candidate network. The recruiter will stay connected to her talent circle through email, blogs, instant messaging, the telephone, and even face-to-face contact. At Microsoft, Heather Hamilton has built quite a following of potential candidates with her marketing-oriented job blog, and the company has embraced blogging as a recruiting technique. Take a look at its Jobsblog page. Blogs are fast becoming a powerful way to add authenticity and allow candidates a peek into the organization’s culture. The talent community (or pool or circle, as you wish) will be ever-changing and open to referrals from current members. In fact, no one will consider himself or herself to be a member, but rather a participant in something with benefits. The benefits will include the sharing of ideas, the ability to help profile jobs and use the collective wisdom of the network as a filter, collaboration on projects, friendship and communication, and eventually employment. The recruiter will be both the creator of this circle and the facilitator that holds it together, but the circle will have its own life as well. Time will also be a major component and driver of the recruiter’s life. Managers will say, “Get me someone in two or three days – this project is crucial.” And the candidates will say, “I have three offers and need yours by Friday so I can decide over the weekend.” The time between ask and get is falling to zero. So, the future recruiter has to be able to respond fast as well. Time has never been as important a focus in recruiting as has quality – or at least the illusion of quality. Now recruiters are asked for both. A grasp of the numbers will help the recruiter develop an “odds sheet” on how likely and how quickly a candidate can be located. And, the technology embedded in the talent circle will help hone in on the two or three most likely candidates.

With time being so important, meeting people at bars and social events can only be used effectively as a way to get more people into your network. These face-to-face encounters are too clumsy and slow to ever be a mainstay of a high-volume recruiter. This underlines why it is so important to proactively build large networks of diverse potential candidates using virtual tools. This will require some drastic rethinking about how we work and about how we meet people, but MySpace has already opened the door to this world, and Generation Z (that’s what they’re now calling people under 18) has already embraced it. Industries may have to collaborate and integrate recruiting approaches, as well. The medical, engineering, and IT professions could benefit if there were a meta-recruiting website not focused on any one company but on all of them. This site would provide information and marketing materials to attract students and young people into considering a specific career. Recruiters could tap into this through email and organization-specific sites.

The future will be a highly virtual space. It will be fast-moving, dynamic, and techno-focused. The old world was built on stability; the new world is built on change and flex. The emerging world will require fast, flexible, passionate recruiters who have an active orientation and a grasp of facts and data. And, they will have to be able to put all this into a personal style that is persuasive, fun, and engaging. In short, the recruiter of the 21st century will have to be totally relationship-oriented and embrace the virtual.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.


3 Comments on “A Portrait of a Recruiter in a Few More Years

  1. Kevin,
    A great ‘futurist view’ on recruiting, and all of the elements added up in the present make sense to come up to the outcome you have summarized. Unfortunately you have neglected the most important aspect of our profession in fulfilling these SUPERMAN/SUPERWOMAN scenarios and client expectations. TIME. If you used any of these items you suggest, you would have found that having this capability would ‘Eat’ your entire day. I use several resources but am forced to use 3 as top ‘Go to’ resources to be productive and effective;

    National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) Recruiting Association resources 2006

    1) TheLadders.com – $100K + Jobs
    2) LinkedIn
    3) Thejobspyder.com
    4) CraigsList
    5) Careermetasearch
    6) Broadlink.com profiler/eclipse
    7) Spoke.com
    8) Zoominfo.com
    9) Jobthread posting/web site
    10) Careerbuilder/Monster via TalentHook
    11) Infogist
    12) TalentHook
    13) Erexchange.org Splitit Network
    14) Jigsaw
    15) Blogs(Heather @ microsoft)
    16) Indeed.com
    17) Simplyhired.com
    18) Recruit by see who has jobs open on TheLadders/LinkedIn
    19) John Ruppel ? Federated Services, Utah 801-582-2244
    20) Nimblecat.com
    21) Zillionresumes.com

    and after checking all of the emails, reading the resumes (screened and prioritized) from a Web portal site and replying to all of the outstanding ‘follow ups’ stacked up from my Applicant Tracking system and Outlook Reminders to support the 30 steps I have to perform as a Contingency Recruiter to ‘Coach along’ the process

    Steps to Recruiting

    1) Get a job requirement from a Client/ Do Biz Dev
    2) Revise requirement via 2-3 submissions to revise & narrow down specification (Get what they ?Don?t Have? to clarify what they DO HAVE (that is on the job REQ that ?Fits?) (The Original Job order Is RARELY EVER the correct ?Picture/Description? of what the Client REALLY WANTS or NEEDS. Submission of a couple of Candidates often acts as the ?Refiner? to the job description/function or ROLE. This also evolves over TIME after the Client sees different Candidates and different PRICE ranges and capabilities for those Candidates. Suggestion: always OVER ? Deliver so the Client has to say that they cannot afford ?What they want? so you can begin to setup realistic expectations for what they WANT VS. What they can AFFORD ($$). This also enables you to see how flexible the Client is on the ?UPSIDE? in their ability to pay ?For the Right Candidate? and what resources are available to accomplish that end, both in terms of MONEY as well as FLEX Options (Tele-Commute, RELO, Travel etc.)
    3) Find Candidates : Job Boards, Free Ads (Job Spider/TheLadders.com), ATS Search, Google Desktop search, TalentHook/Infogist Searches (resume search FEE/FREE Internet resume extraction)
    4) Email/Call Candidates. Send Applicant Intake Intake Sheet to cover overall issues.
    5) Send Candidate into Client for ?YES or ?No? interested?
    6) If ?NO? ? STOP ? START OVER and send in EXAMPLE Resumes of Candidates (stating such as opposed to ?FOUND? Candidates). To ensure you are on the ?right page? and have the same ?picture? of the candidate as the CLIENT.
    7) If ?YES? ? Setup Phone interview #1
    8) Send Candidate Interview Preparation Sheet
    9) Confirm PIV times on BOTH SIDES via EMAIL as well as Telephone (If Necessary) Make sure BOTH Side have EACH OTHERS numbers in the event the Interviewer forgets or gets caught up and does not CALL, The Candidate can ?remind? the interviewer of the pending Interview/Time.
    10) Get Feedback from Phone Interview #1. If GOOD Setup LIVE interview or 2nd PHONE Screen. If ?NO GO?. STOP Start OVER. Re-clarify REASONS and Get EXPLICIT FEEDBACK BEFORE PROCEEDING.
    11) Setup PIV Interview #2 Follow steps #6-9
    12) Setup Live Interview and Get Candidate all Direction Info, Yahoo Maps directions and confirmation of the ?players? involved in the Interview. If Relevant GOOGLE the names of the people involved in the interview to see what you can find out about them on the Internet. Check LinkedIn for Profile as well (Books written, companies worked for, past accomplishments)
    13) Get Feedback from LIVE Interview. If GOOD begin to gather Candidates specifics: ?What is it going to take to Get you on Board?? Get Benefit Questions answered and direct Candidate to a Person/Phone number where they can get all of their Q & A?s taken care of quickly.
    14) Prepare a list of Issues from Candidate and Mediate the Offer Letter from the Client. Align Candidate Priorities and communicate needs diplomatically.
    15) DO NOT Let GO of the communication or Process. Once the Candidate & Client start calling each other DIRECTLY and Emailing Each Other they begin to ?lose pieces;? and you become the ?scapegoat? for things not accomplished (like the Candidate sending back the final revision of the Offer letter by a certain date). This can cause wrong impressions, Hurt Feelings and miss-interpretations of motives and cause the deal to ?fall Apart?. The OFFER stage and Acceptance is the most FRAGILE part of the WHOLE Process. Recruiters thing the OFFER is a DONE DEAL. Far from it, people changing jobs ranks right up there on the Stress Level Chart with a Death in the Family, Marriage and Divorce. This is a real ?Hand Holding? time to offer emotional support and encouragement as people make LIFE Changes. As recruiters we look at it as ?Just another Deal? or ?Paycheck?, to the Candidate it is a SIGNIFICANT LIFE CHANGING EVENT. Fear of Change and the ?unknown? (unless the candidate has hungrily been initiating the process) are often the reason that passive job seekers have been ?passive? due to their ?fear of Change? and aversion to taking new risks.
    16) Cover- Counter OFFER Issues/ Current Other OFFERS Pending and time frames of current interview processes.
    17) CLOSE THE DEAL! Minor Take AWAY ? The CLIENT does not want to take the time/effort to write up an offer just to have it rejected. Make sure all outstanding issues are resolved and give a TIME CUTOFF/Expiration DATE for OFFER ACCEPTANCE.
    18) Get OFFER Acceptance
    19) Get Resignation Date from Candidate. Follow up on the day of resignation to ensure COUNTER OFFER has not come up and that the ?Field is CLEAR? of pending JOB OFFERS that are OUTSTANDING.
    20) Check References submit them to the Client
    21) Stay in touch over the 2 week time period that the resignation period covers and stay abreast of any activities of preparation between Candidate and NEW Company.
    22) Confirm Start DATE and ensure the Candidate has started.
    23) Bill the Client on Start Date for NET 30 Day payment (or Better)
    24) Ensure the Client has received Billing and find out what day they ?cut their checks? to ensure you have reminded them 1-2 days Prior to ?Check cutting & Signature Date? a week prior to DUE Date.
    25) Follow up with Candidate to see if ?all is Well? and is as expected After 30 Days.
    26) Get Paid
    27) Retain a portion (at least 50% of the FEE) for ?Fall Out?/Replacement/Guarantee Period
    28) Send ?Thank You? to Client for their Business
    29) Ask for More NEW Business/ Job Orders/ Referrals
    Get to Work on New Job Orders/business

    My 16 hr. day has passed by in about a ‘minute’. (and no focused time has been given to sourcing a specific candidate or need other than mental matching of resume skills against job requirements.

    I suggest a better solution.

    For ‘Direct Hire’

    #1- have an ‘engine’ that spiders your web site for job assignments posted on it. Have the run engine match all job orders against all emails or Applicant Tracking System entries.
    #2 – Have the engine provide you with a summary list of the Top 5% of candidates that fit the criteria of the job.
    #3- Call and Email those individuals (assuming there are 3-10 of them). Start the 30 Steps of Recruiting Process.

    For Contractors:

    1. Create Web Portal that allows you and E-bay like interface for Clients/Companies to post contract opportunities as well as recruiter/agencies to post available people/resources.

    2. Have the Search engine match the two requirement/resource and email notify you of the matches.

    3. Use the Online Portal to manage the process from the Client and candidate/resource view.

    4. Do the 30 Steps to recruiting.

    For all of the Vendors resources listed above. Integrate your resources with Infogist like ‘ranking systems’ and create indeed.com/simplyhired.com like interfaces that aggregate all of the resources and allow it all to be processed in one place. Quit building ‘closed’ and proprietary networks that fulfill part of the process but require individual searches for each resource site. Find ways to merge/consolidate/aggregate resources or fall the way of the dinosaur. Because Hotgigs.com has done the Portal thing for Contractors and Nimblecat.com has done the matching/aggregating for the ‘Direct Hires/ Guess What…The World of recruiting IS going to change. As 79 million Baby boomers look to retire by 2010 and only 39 million new Gen ‘Z’ ers are coming in to replace them, recruiting will either get more efficient or WAY more expensive. I think HotGigs and Nimblecat are on the right path. Like Closed and Proprietary hardware and software systems of the past, open and integrated systems are the wave of the future.

  2. Bravo, Tim. You just outlined my day/week/etc – and I’m sure many others on this board – in 30-step system. And I was wondering why I was feeling productive, but couldnt get to the phones to make enough of those ever-elusive cold calls!

    It’s always help to have a process simply laid out – now all we need are 7 or so extra hours in the work day. 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions and hopefully implementing a new process along the way!

    Happy Sourcing & Placing,

  3. July 27, 2006 Back to Articles Archives

    By Doug Berg

    Building good relationships with clients and consultants is at the core of successful staffing companies. But there are so many obstacles to maintaining those relationships. Among the biggest challenges is managing the chaos of having to track three moving targets:

    Information about a company’s needs;
    Information about a consultant’s availability;
    And the accepted/rejected status of every consultant in your staffing pool.
    This article shows you an easier, more effective way to manage the details so you can focus on the things that drive your business.

    A Typical Day For a Staffing Rep
    Take a typical day in the life of a staffing firm rep. You may spend 60 percent of your day updating records, checking facts on the phone and by email with consultants and clients at breakneck pace. It’s a frustrating process, really. The moment you have a fact confirmed, the company’s requirements change behind the scenes in discussions between a company’s recruiter and the hiring company’s IT management and director. You on the other hand start running for the consultant, only to discover later that the requirements have changed.

    Meanwhile, you’re constantly in doubt regarding how those clients really view you. Are you responding quickly enough, are you getting the facts right? No doubt you have a sinking feeling that you could have done a better job if you’d devoted more effort to the human aspects that really drives your sales–and rightly so.

    What’s Wrong With This Picture?
    The Internet is partly to blame for the chaos. It has opened up a flood of informational exchanges between staffing firms, contractor/consultant, and every hiring company. More data means more to track, more to share, more to filter–match making, juggling, contracts, more, more, more of everything–right now. It’s enough to leave you breathless!

    ‘Solutions’ exist for automating the core information management of the staffing supplier business. But let’s face it–none of the automation solutions for staffing firms brings much value to the staffing enterprise. Instead, the tools slow down the staffing reps, many of whom don’t use the tools because they hurt productivity, rather than help it.

    Let’s look at one example: Companies will typically use a spreadsheet to track the candidates submitted by several staffing firms. The process is cumbersome, tedious, and flawed from the outset, as the information changes faster than a recruiter can respond.

    However, if done right, some degree of automation makes it easier to focus on the customer and the ‘relationship thing.’

    An Automation Tool that Really Helps
    Unlike a spreadsheet, HotGigs helps companies automate this kind of tracking. Instead of picking up the telephone to manually accept or reject candidates, hiring companies can say if a candidate is a ‘no’ or a ‘go’ via a click of a button to a staffing supplier on the HotGigs exchange. This kind of automation can boost productivity tenfold, when one considers the dozens of staffing firms and hundreds of contractors a hiring company has to sift through.

    This same automation can help you at your staffing firm, too. HotGigs makes it easy for firms to market and promote their candidates to hiring companies. Instead of manually creating profiles, writing introductory emails and painstakingly sending them one by one, HotGigs automates candidate marketing and sales for a staffing firm.

    If a company accepts or rejects your candidate, you automatically receive an email. At the same time, the HotGigs exchange simultaneously updates that status in real-time. It’s like having your very own client/candidate dashboard. HotGigs also does the following:

    Tracks which client requirements are still open;
    Tracks which consultants are available for gigs immediately and in the near term;
    Reports on the accepted/rejected status of the consultants submitted in response to a company’s requisitions;
    Reports on the consultants that will be available in the next 20 to 30 days;
    And reports clients’ anticipated staffing needs in the next 30, 60, and 90 days.

    Without some automation, the staffing world is like unbridled chaos, cowboy country. And let’s face it–your relationships suffer because you’re focused on the minutiae and not the big picture important things such as:

    Learning your client companies’ cultures and processes
    Working your relationship as a preferred vendor so as to avoid the lengthy legal process of executing a master contract every time you want to bring in a new consultant
    Understanding what companies expect in contract and consulting resources
    Getting to know your consultants’ skills and personalities in order to understand if they’re a match for any gigs
    A dashboard for all your staffing data
    HotGigs On-Demand Staffing Exchange automates the information aspects of the staffing industry by giving companies, firms, and consultants a dynamic place where they can do business more fluidly and efficiently with one another.

    HotGigs acts like your dashboard, enabling you to work on the ‘relationships’ that are productive for your business. We replace the confusion created by a back-and-forth between companies and their recruiters so you can focus on what really matters–your relationship. Instead of spending 60 percent of your time on detail management you can spend 60 percent of the day deepening those important client connections. Just imagine how your life and your business will change.


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