Because Recruiting Is No Easy Task

At the end of the day, recruiters are judged by the number of positions they fill in a given period of time. This assumption is, of course, predicated on the hopefully obvious concept that recruiters are the standard bearers, always looking to raise the bar and ensure that quality is more important than quantity. But quality aside and all things being equal, a recruiter who fills many positions will generally have greater value than a recruiter who fills fewer positions. If number of quality hires is a fair way of looking at the overall value of a recruiter, is there not a significant flaw in this apparently straightforward line of thinking? I propose that there is, because recruiters do not actually fill positions; hiring managers fill them. This brings up an interesting question: How can a recruiter’s value be judged on a given activity when that activity is, in reality, controlled by another? If we as recruiters bring the horse to water and are only judged if the horse drinks, we quickly realize this flaw can be fatal. So what is a recruiter to do to be sure that quality candidates are hired? Bluntly stated, they must do everything and anything necessary to get their candidates through the hiring obstacle course and moved along to the end of the process. Naturally, this task will be easier if you invest the time to develop relationships with the managers you support, as a good working relationship is the first and best tool you have to keep the process flowing. However, in the absence of that relationship, anything goes if it will get the job done, because recruiting is no easy task. As recruiters we must manage relationships on the inside, wheel and deal with candidates on the outside, and know exactly what buttons to push in order to get results. In my career, I have had to beg, cajole, threaten, strong-arm, sweet-talk, bully, and even charm hiring managers and candidates alike to move the process forward. (Kidnapping and assault should only be used as a last resort. Call me if it gets to this point.) I have also gone above managers’ heads and made a lot of noise when nothing else worked. This did not always mean everyone liked me, but if I am to be judged on results, then it is results I will deliver. I would rather be respected based upon the results I deliver than liked but seen as ineffective. (I have been many things in my life, but ineffective is not one of them.) Keep in mind that the recruiter has to balance the politics, lethargy, and inertia of the organization with the indecisiveness, sloth, and chicanery of the candidate. (As an aside, don’t you love it when a candidate tells you that “the money is not important” as the process begins? You can be sure that this one will drive you crazy for more money at the 11th hour.) For recruiters to be successful, there must be a constant and relentless push from the initial candidate contact right through candidate acceptance ó and the person doing the pushing has to be the recruiter. Remember, your value is determined by whether the deal is closed and the position filled. To this day, I will call hiring managers who are not responsive and tell them I was just about to call the candidate and to say we were not interested (agencies call this ploy “the takeaway,” and it works like a charm.) If the manager goes bonkers, you know it is time to push to set up the next step in the process. If they say okay, you have just gotten the answer you were looking for and can go on to find new candidates (by the way, the takeaway works with candidates just as well). If filling more positions with quality candidates seems like a reasonable way to add more value to yourself and the organization, consider these three concepts:

  • Getting people hired is the goal! The great football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will all be judged by only one thing ó the result.” That is what we as recruiters will be judged upon. Recruiting exists only to fill positions. Gathering resumes is not the goal, setting up interviews is not the goal, and making offers is not the goal. These steps are just part of the process, and ultimately we will never be judged on the process. Getting people hired is the only goal, just as making the sale is the only goal for your sales force ó cold calling, client demos, and proposal development are simply part of the process utilized towards making the sale. In this “show me the money” world, a miss is as good as a mile.
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  • Do not worry about being loved. Frankly speaking, all of us want to be liked, but it can’t stand in the way of us being effective. There are times you will ruffle a few feathers and step on a few toes. Big deal! That’s part of the job, and there is nothing personal involved. Do what you must to ride the process to the end and fill the position. I can assure you that all will be forgiven, as there is no balm quite as soothing as helping a manager make a great hire.
  • Do not agree with me and walk away unchanged. As recruiters, we are business builders, and that role is central to the success of the organizations we represent. Those in roles so critical need to take the advice they believe in and put it into practice ó not tomorrow but right now, while it is still fresh. I would prefer getting hate mail telling me that you don’t agree with me rather than having you agree and not change. The motivational speaker Anthony Robbins once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” That quote is ice cold but true. So if you have candidates who are jerking you around and hiring managers who have been sleeping on candidates for the last six months, the time to make things happen is right now.

One last blunt, to-the-point thought. Recruiters are very good at advancing the careers of others. Most people they are responsible for hiring advance their careers just by making the move you helped to orchestrate. What about your career? All of the things you have told candidates to close the deal apply to you as well! Do not allow yourself to become complacent in your position. Manage your career and always keep an eye out for new and different opportunities. You know what is required to be successful as a recruiter. If your organization does not give you the tools necessary to do your job, provide you with ongoing employee education, or value the role of a recruiter as a whole, fire them by finding another job. Top-shelf recruiters should be with top-shelf companies. Tell me, are you with the right company?

Howard Adamsky has been recruiting since 1985 and is still alive to talk about it. A consultant, writer, public speaker, and educator, he works with organizations to support their efforts to build great companies and coaches others on how to do the same. He has over 20 years' experience in identifying, developing, and implementing effective solutions for organizations struggling to recruit and retain top talent. An internationally published author, he is a regular contributor to ERE Media, a member of the Human Capital Institute's Small and Mid-Sized business panel, a Certified Internet Recruiter, and rides one of the largest production motorcycles ever built. His book, Hiring and Retaining Top IT Professionals/The Guide for Savvy Hiring Managers and Job Hunters Alike (Osborne McGraw-Hill) is in local bookstores and available online. He is also working on his second book, The 25 New Rules for Today's Recruiting Professional. See if you are so inclined for the occasional tweet. Email him at


4 Comments on “Because Recruiting Is No Easy Task

  1. ‘Because Recruiting Is No Easy Task’ by Howard Adamsky should be published as the Recruiter’s Creed! Recite it and live it each day. For those of us that chose this career path and did not fall into it via HR, you must admit that the motivation to be here is purely the thrill of the hunt and the adrenalin it takes to close that candidate and the hiring manager. I still do cart wheels in my office when a ‘big fish’ accepts an offer. Thanks, Mr Adamsky for putting our passion on paper.

  2. You know those were my feelings as well. It’s similar to sitting in church or listening to a motivational speaker touch those cords that are very close to home.

  3. While I think your points are well stated the way that they are phrased reminds me of the recruiters from the past. Being honest with your cleints insead of lying to them is always a better way. Sure you will make money in the short time by making things up- and treating it as a transaction. However for us to be seen as partners with HR and more importantly hiring managers we need to be open honest and humble.

    Others will disagree with me and will continue to make money by doing it the wrong way. However that way of doing things will only validate the perception that all we are are body brokers/ used car salesman.

    Others of us will continue to fly under the agency model radar making money the new way we feel comfortable, while also slowly but surely showing hiring managers that there is another option.

  4. Garrick
    hear, hear!!
    Excellent comments that I agree with completely.

    Having been recruiting for over 10 years as of this year I can absolutely say that Recruiting does not have to leave a bad taste in anyone mouth, neither clients nor candidates.

    If there is a good match between a company and an applicant then There is no reason to have to prod, cajole, beg or entice a candidate or client into a hiring mode. Is it not possible that if one has to do so then maybe one is Not listening to the requests of either the client or the candidate. Hearing what they really truly desire and working your hardest to meet their needs.

    We have an awesome job, we can help someone from becoming postal today, help put braces on some kids teeth finally, or get someone the respect they deserve by helping them make more money, get better benefits, or get them away from the dictator manager. The same also holds true in reverse. We can make promises to someone that will not materialize, and they find that their benefits will be less, that they wont get the bonus that was promised, or the new boss was worse than the last.

    Yes I think that Recruiters are truly lost their empathy. We forget that we are influencing peoples lives completely with every placement we make. Whether it be negative or positive. Making a career move is and should be a very difficult decision for a person, and it does allow them to be vunerable especially if they have been with a company for a while.

    They trust us, and what we are saying, they forget that we are getting paid for our services, and they are counting on us to tell them the truth – Yet for many of us it comes down to numbers, quotas or dollars, rather than remembering it is people we represent and not just the candidate or client, but their families too will be affected by the outcome.

    Better and stronger Placements, job orders and even more referrals will come your way if you remember to treat you Clients and candidates with the respect they deserve. When one remembers that we are dealing with feelings, emotions and peoples lives, that we are dealing with human beings and not selling Used Cars.

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