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.
- 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.
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Guide: Practical Tips for Remote Hiring
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?