Comparing the Competencies Between a “RINO” and an Exceptional Recruiter

Recruiting is a unique field because it has no entry barriers. Unlike most professions, you can become a corporate recruiter without any formal certification, registration, recruiting experience, or even a college degree in the discipline. Because becoming a recruiter requires no formal qualifications, you probably won’t be surprised to find out that in practice, there is a wide variation in the capabilities of individuals who hold the corporate title of “recruiter.” Many corporate recruiters are truly outstanding, but unfortunately in some corporations, many other recruiters can only be classified as what I call a “Recruiter In Name Only” or a RINO (pronounced as rhino).

In many cases, you can’t blame the recruiters themselves because there are no published standards that would tell an individual recruiter whether they met high recruiter standards, or alternatively, if they were really only a RINO who spends most of their time on administrative tasks. I have high admiration for professional recruiters, but at the same time I admit that I have some level of disdain for those who masquerade as recruiters. It’s not that their administrative work isn’t important, it just doesn’t rise to the level where what they do should be called exceptional or even professional recruiting. So in order to clarify the distinction between the two types, I have put together a quick checklist of competencies to help hiring managers and recruiting leaders differentiate “real recruiters” from a RINO. Individual corporate recruiters can also use this checklist to guide their professional development and growth.

14 COMPETENCIES FOR IDENTIFYING a  R.I.N.O. (Recruiter In Name Only)

Corporate RINOs spend an inordinate amount of time on administrative tasks that should be done by appropriately named recruiting coordinators. Exceptional recruiters should prioritize their time away from these RINO factors and instead toward the follow-up list of competencies and actions that identify exceptional recruiters. Some of the 14 differentiators that can be used to identify RINOs include:

RINOs focus on …

  1. An active candidate focus — they may spend nearly 100 percent of their time working with active candidates. Because these candidates are actively looking, “they will find you,” so most of the work involved is really sorting and verification, rather than the more difficult finding and convincing.
  2. An internal focus — a RINO recruiter is internally focused on knowing and following their own corporate recruiting processes. As a result of this 100 percent internal focus, they don’t research and analyze the recruiting approaches used by their talent competitors. That competitive analysis information could successfully be used to counter competitor recruiting actions.
  3. Cost conscious — RINOs focus on costs rather than increasing revenues or ROI. Their cost per hire approach pushes them to use the cheapest rather than the most effective recruiting sources, tools, and approaches that produce high-quality hires with a higher ROI.

How RINOs Spend Their Time

  1. Job posters and scrapers — active candidates can be easily attracted using newspaper ads, the corporate website, and major job boards. As a result, RINOs spend a significant percentage of their time writing job announcements, posting open jobs, and then harvesting the resulting active candidates. It doesn’t take any level of professional skill to get most of your hires from job boards.
  2. Requisition managers — pseudo-recruiters spend a good deal of their time creating requisitions and getting approvals for them. Unfortunately a requisition whether approved or not has nothing to do with actual recruiting. A RINO loves process, so these individuals certainly won’t start any recruiting effort without an approved requisition.
  3. Schedulers — even though scheduling can be better done by admin staff or on a scheduling website, RINOs allocate much of their time to scheduling interviews between managers and candidates. It makes them seem busy but scheduling is a waste of an exceptional recruiter’s time.
  4. Vendor managers — RINOs feel comfortable letting outsiders do their recruiting for them. And because managers like using third-party recruiters, RINOs do little to limit the use of this expensive external approach. As a result, they spend a significant percentage of their time managing vendors rather than actually recruiting and their costs.
  5. Offer-letter assemblers — understanding an individual candidate’s expectations are critical to successful closing. Unfortunately, RINOs are not experts in candidate closing so they restrict themselves to creating canned offer letters that are not designed to sell the candidate.
  6. Reference checkers — only occasionally does reference checking require an exceptional recruiter. In most cases RINOs only manage reference checking vendors or they make shallow reference checking calls that yield only positive results.
  7. They attend events looking for actives — RINOs spend a significant amount of time attending events like job fairs and campus career events that are created exclusively for active candidates. They may enjoy meeting people but the net result of this time-consuming approach are active candidate resumes that are probably already in the firm’s database.
  8. They sit in — RINOs love meetings, so they attend them at every opportunity. They also frequently look for opportunities to sit in on candidate interviews, even when they add no real value.

Other RINO Characteristics

  1. Use the same process every time — years ago research by AIRS uncovered the fact that most recruiters use the same exact hiring process for every job. RINOs are uncomfortable trying new approaches, so they literally use the exact same sourcing, screening, and interviewing process for every job (in some cases, over several years). This “one-size-fits-all” approach damages recruiting because success requires varying the approaches, tools, and sources so that they “match” the job family.
  2. No follow-up — after a hire has been completed, they “drop the hire over the wall” and consider their job to be done. They do not follow up in order to later determine the quality of hire and whether the hiring process that they used could be improved.
  3. Generalists are often RINOs — although there are obvious exceptions, in my experience, many HR generalists simply don’t have the aggressiveness, interest, or skill sets that are required to avoid earning a RINO designation. Some generalists rely on agencies to mask their lack of interest in recruiting.



Exceptional corporate recruiters can be identified because they produce high-quality hires in key jobs by spending most of their time doing things that hiring managers and RINOs can’t or won’t do. If you aspire to the highest level of professional recruiting, here is a list of the key identifying competencies and actions to look for:

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Exceptional Recruiters Focus On …

  1. Rapid learning — the best single indicator of an exceptional recruiter is rapid learning and benchmarking. Rapid learning and benchmarking are absolute necessities because not only do the recruiting market and best practices change frequently but talent competitors are continually updating their recruiting practices. So exceptional recruiters are continuous self-directed rapid learners and avid daily readers of both business and recruiting information.
  2. Becoming a business expert — research has shown that the best HR people are businesspeople first, and the same is true in recruiting. As a result, the second most accurate identifier of an exceptional recruiter is their in-depth knowledge of the business, the product, customers, and the product competition. Without this business foundation, they cannot work effectively with hiring managers or top prospects.
  3. A sourcing focus on not-actives — rather than sourcing the easy-to-find and sell active candidates, they instead focus their sourcing activities on identifying and convincing the top currently employed individuals to become candidates at their firm. Incidentally, they don’t call them passives because they realize that these prospects are almost always quite aggressive and demanding. Not-actives may be interested in future external opportunities but they must be approached first.
  4. A focus on selling and relationship building — exceptional recruiters realize that even if great sourcing or a strong employer brand brings in top-quality candidates, they know that the best candidates still have multiple job choices (including staying at their current employer). So these recruiters build their selling skills and focus on building relationships that allow them to build trust, identify, a candidate’s job acceptance criteria, and then sell top prospects on applying for and accepting a job.
  5. They prioritize jobs and candidates — the best realize that all hires don’t have an equal business impact. And as a result, exceptional recruiters prioritize and focus on high-impact candidates and the highest-impact jobs (i.e. mission-critical jobs, revenue-generating jobs, and hard-to-fill jobs) that require the highest level of recruiting skills. They never prioritize recruiting based solely on the date of the requisition.
  6. A focus on diversity — they understand the added business impact of diverse hires, so they develop skills and best practices to identify and sell diverse candidates. As a result, their hiring managers find diverse candidates in every candidate slate.

How Exceptional Recruiters Spend Their Time

  1. Direct sourcing — a primary indicator of an exceptional recruiter is the percentage of their hires who come from direct sourcing. Because they are primarily targeting currently employed individuals who are not in the job market, they realize that none of their prospects will apply to an open job nor will they have an updated resume. Direct sourcing approaches, which includes finding and evaluating a prospect’s work online, searching LinkedIn and social media profiles, proactively seeking out employee referrals, and even cold calling. Obviously direct sourcing requires advanced relationship-building and selling skills that most recruiters simply don’t have.
  2. Identifying not-obvious prospects — although every recruiter sorts through resumes, when exceptional recruiters sort through resumes, they find the hidden or “not-obvious” prospects who everyone else misses. They look beyond the obvious job titles, degrees, and experience that top firms to find the highly qualified that others have overlooked. They also excel in selling skeptical hiring managers to the point where they will agree to interview these “not-obvious” candidates.
  3. Building a candidate pipeline — rather than waiting for a requisition to open, exceptional recruiters are continuously recruiting. They are forward-looking and proactive, which requires them to be continually sourcing and selling top prospects for future openings. They don’t require a resume in order to begin recruiting a top prospect, and they also proactively alert hiring managers of sudden talent opportunities, even when there is no open requisition to fit the prospect. Exceptional recruiters also coach top-quality candidates who were not hired in order to maintain their interest and to place them at a later date. They also excel at convincing skeptical hiring managers to consider someone who has already been rejected by another manager.
  4. Identifying and using the best sources — exceptional recruiters use current data to identify the most effective sources for a particular job family (i.e. referrals, boomerangs, social media, etc.) and then they use the most effective sources exclusively.
  5. Using the best communications approaches — exceptional recruiters identify the communications and messaging preferences of those who they are trying to recruit. As a result, they vary their communications tools and approaches (i.e. mobile phone, text, video, social media etc.) so that they match the preferences of their target prospects and candidates.
  6. Quality-of-hire follow-up — exceptional recruiters know that without metrics, you can improve. So after a hire is completed, they follow up to track the performance and retention rates of their new hires. They use that information and data to improve their own hiring approach. They also know the negative impact of a bad hiring experience so they periodically assess the satisfaction levels of the hiring managers and candidates who they work with. They also conduct a failure analysis after all major recruiting failures.
  7. Hiring manager coaching — they use data to convince and coach hiring managers that they work with so that the hiring manager will also continually improve both their approach and their results.
  8. Global recruiting — while RINOs only have U.S. recruiting capabilities, exceptional recruiters find the best talent everywhere in the world and include them in their candidate slates. When appropriate, the best recruiters convince hiring managers to allow global and high-impact candidates who won’t relocate to work remotely.
  9. Expedited recruiting — exceptional recruiters realize that top candidates will get multiple offers, and as a result, they are likely to be in the job market for only a short period of time. So they develop the capability of rapid hiring when it is needed to land a quality candidate who has another compelling offer.

Additional Exceptional Recruiter Characteristics

  1. They become visible experts — exceptional recruiters realize the importance of building a personal brand, because they know that many top prospects will conduct a personal assessment on them before proceeding. As a result, they proactively make their recruiting and business expertise visible on social media including LinkedIn, as well as through their own blog, through speaking and writing articles, and through instructional YouTube videos.
  2. They convince recruiting leaders — in addition to doing their recruiting job, exceptional recruiters help their leaders build effective business cases for additional funding. They also help to convince their leaders to fund the latest recruiting technologies/tools and to adopt effective recruiting metrics.
  3. Beyond recruiting — the very best recruiters realize that the recruiting function doesn’t work in isolation, so they work closely with other related talent functions (including onboarding, retention, employer branding, professional communities, and compensation) in order to improve and integrate the entire talent management process.
  4. They don’t get caught up with fads — recruiting has its share of fads, some good and some not so good (i.e. Friendster, Jobster, Facebook, Tweetajob, MySpace, etc.). As a result, exceptional recruiters try new things but they quickly use data to sort out “what works” from what happens to be popular at the moment.


Moving beyond competency assessment, recruiting leaders should also consider that in my experience, the output assessment of individual recruiters is almost universally weak across all major corporations. The time for excuses has passed and before the next recruiting boom gets underway, every recruiting leader should begin planning and taking steps to develop a standard scorecard for assessing the performance and outputs of individual recruiters.

I have provided a possible competency assessment checklist here, but in my follow-up article that will be published on on 6/10/13, I will also provide a sample of an individual recruiter scorecard that can be used to assess individual recruiter performance.

Final Thoughts

Anyone who aspires to be a professional to continually assess themselves against a set of competency standards. Whether you use the two competency checklists that I have created or if you choose to develop your own, individual recruiters need to at least once a year assess whether they are moving towards becomin exceptional or slipping into a RINO role. Recruiting managers can use these competency checklists to assess their current recruiters or for hiring new ones.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



72 Comments on “Comparing the Competencies Between a “RINO” and an Exceptional Recruiter

  1. Very informative and interesting. I commend you & appreciate your knowledge & the amount of work put into the article. Thank you. I am also happy to say I am not a “RHINO”! I have found that no two recruiter’s skills are exactly alike – every Great Recruiter has a consistant personal asset/trait that allows them to stand apart from other Recruiters. For me, I am exceedingly Honest, which in turn provides me with the trait of being original.
    A career as a Recruiter is not for everyone. If you do not establish your personal skill/trait as a Recruiter which makes you stand apart – then I guess you are a RHINO!
    Have a happy week – Irene

  2. I am glad you wrote this article. I could not agree more. Recently, I have been contacted by recruiters trying to lure me away from my present position. To say I have been shocked by the level of incompetence would be an understatement. Apparently, I have been running into the RINO’S? Below is a letter I recently posted on another blog:

    Recruiters are lazy and grossly overrated. Also, very few of them have the ability to look at the big picture – the long term. They are reminiscent of used car salesmen and they are only interested in making the placement that they have in front of them – that day; they do not have the ability to learn about a client (job seeker) – and recommend them when the right job comes along. They have the mentality of “I need to sell a car today to someone, anyone. And, if this next guy is not buying today – screw him”

    It matters not whether they are “independent recruiters” – or work in the corporate HQ — they are all the same as far as I have experienced, worthless!

    15 times (in the last 12 months)I have had (independent) recruiters contact me (I have been to law school and business (graduate)school & am the Director of a Financial Services Firm with 24 folks reporting to me.) I am no rookie and bring 25 years of excellent experience to the table. Though I never interviewed for any of the jobs the recruiters had to offer (they just were not a good fit for me), these recruiters all promised to “Keep my resume handy because I bring a lot to the table. Surely, in the near future, they will have another job that would better suit my needs and utilize the vast skills I bring to a company .” Not one of them ever called, emailed or networked with me again. Fortunately, I have a good paying job and I am not in the desperation stage that so many Americans are in today. So, I did not care as much. Recently, I phoned all 15 of those recruiters and none of them remembered me. They had lost my resume 6 months earlier.

    And those (salaried) “inside corporate recruiters” – are even worse. They too contact me and I have been less than impressed. Last month, a recruiter (who told me she was 23 years old) “…and the first of 7 people I would have to interview with” – if I continued with the interviewing process — The first question this young bimbo asked me was: “So, why would you be interested in a career in financial services?” She, obviously, had not read my resume and was asking a very stupid question. I asked, “Did you actually look at my resume?” She answered (while giggling), “No, I never actually read the resumes as I am only supposed to perform the initial, screening, interview.” Oy Vey, 25 years in the financial planning / financial services arena and she asks, “…why would I be interested in a career in financial services?”

    Her next question was, “Have you ever, in your 25 years, had a real ‘hairy’ situation occur in the office at the end of the day (and the boss was gone) and you had to make a big decision on that problem without the boss being there – all by yourself?” I hung up the phone at that point.

    Finally, the average resume will be looked at for 17 seconds (that is if the recruiter even looks at it). 17 seconds is what they invest. If these recruiters worked at my company they would be fired. I really feel bad for those folks that are unemployed or underemployed. To be subjected to the vicissitudes of semi literate “recruiters” must be very, very frustrating. I am positive that there are a few good ones out there. It is just that, I have never met one.

  3. Great article. But I’m sure we were all RINOs when we started doing this. Especially if it was the very first job we had. I believe if you actually care about what you do, you get to transform into the exceptional recruiter. Put in a little work, and you get labelled as the exceptional recruiter in no time.

    Great article on how you can spot weak recruiters as well. If you are in charge of the HR department and feel like recruiting is not going as you’d expect it to go, look for these signs. You are bound to find people who mind be in need of a few training sessions, or just to be pointed in the right direction.

  4. Thanks, Dr. Sullivan. “I’m shocked, shocked that there are recruiters like these!” A large number of these “RINOS” are doing (and doing quite well) EXACTLY what they’re paid to do.
    If an organization wants to pay for cheerful, enthusiastic, inexperienced, compliant, order-taking recruiters performing task that should largely be no-sourced, through-sourced, or outsourced for less than the cost of minimum wage/hr), and/or has a dysfunctional, bloatocratic, process-oriented hiring regime (as many large companies do), then this is what they get. On the other hand, if your organization commits to this (below) or something similar, you’ll get better results:

    Manifesto for Agile Recruiting

    We are uncovering better ways of hiring people by doing it and helping others do it.

    Through this work we have come to value:
    •Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
    •Quick, quality hires over comprehensive documentation
    •Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
    •Responding to change over following a plan

    Principles behind the Agile Recruiting Manifesto

    We follow these principles:
    •Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of quality hires.
    •Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
    •Deliver quality hires frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
    •Internal customers and recruiters must work together daily throughout the project.
    •Build projects around motivated individuals.
    •Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
    •The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a recruiting team is face-to-face conversation.
    •A quality hire which is on time and within budget is the primary measure of progress.
    •Agile processes promote sustainable employee development.
    •The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
    •Continuous attention to professional excellence and first-class service enhances agility.
    •Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
    •The best requirements, processes, and hires emerge from self-organizing teams.
    •At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.




  5. Well done, Dr. Sullivan! I do, of course, take issue with Tweetajob (and Facebook) being labelled as fads. Recruiters haven’t figured out how to best leverage these mass marketing/communication tools, but it’s too soon to dismiss them (well maybe Tweetajob, but you never know). Of course, by then, I will have built the first Snapchat Recruiting app! 😉

  6. Exceptional article dr Sullivan. Also, great insightful comments Keith!
    Keith – in your opinion, how much of what you list as mandates for agile recruiters is actually followed but in house recruiting organizations?

  7. Kenneth, unfortunately you a right about the vast majority of recruiters. Most of them don’t have a clue.
    The recruiting industry is much like any other industry. You have a few that are top notch, outstanding recruiters and then you have the rest. How many outstanding auto mechanics do you find in your lifetime? I have found only one and I am well over 50 years old. How many truly outstanding Doctors or Dentists do you find? I have found only one of each of these as well.

    I have been a full lifecycle recruiter for well over 20 years and I am guilty of none of the things you complained about from your experiences with recruiters. The few times I have seen a complimentary review of recruiters they are doing exactly what I do.

    Most recruiters don’t understand that the candidate is the number one most important asset that we have. They should be treated as such. Many of my past candidates have become lifelong friends of mine as have many of my clients. Even when I have had no contact with a client or candidate for five or ten years, if I call them for help, they will bend over backwards to help me. Integrity and respect go a long way when it is so rare in this business……..

    Kenneth I am sorry you have had the experiences with recruiters you’ve described. I am sorry that by and large your appraisal of recruiters is accurate.
    Remember that there are a few who don’t fit that mold that is so common.

    And Cindy, speak for yourself. I have never been a RINO even from day one. I admit that my recruiting started for me after years in business with sales, sales management and P&L responsibility. Being great at recruiting takes quite a bit more than a little hard work. It takes a lot of it!

  8. Dan, thank you for your salient response to my comments. I can tell that you are not one of the type of recruiters that I have experienced. BTW, one other point that I neglected to mention yesterday. The majority of the recruiters that have contacted me do not have the ability (or experience) to understand exactly what my skill set is. I can tell that they are “glossing over” when I describe what I do. It is analogous to a nuclear physicist describing nuclear fusion to a group of 4th graders. I, apparently, have not been contacted by “full life cycle recruiters?”

  9. Interesting article. Recruiters need to skillfully analyze a candidate to make sure he will fit the role in the organization, recruiters can use technology to enhance the recruitment process read something about this very topic a while back that readers may find useful. @

  10. Rhinos exist because companies allow them to exist. Until hiring managers start to recognize the importance of obtaining top talent in every position and seek to educate themselves as to what needs to be done, commit themselves to expediency and excellence instead of passing responsibility and delegating the process to individuals who do not feel the pain for a mis-hire, hiring managers will continue to engage in activities that result in 80% of the people that were hired last year failing to meet the goals and objectives discussed in the interviewing process. It really doesn’t matter how good technology becomes or how good the recruiting profession becomes, what matters is where the process is initiated and how good the decision makers become. When decision makers start to possess more knowledge, desire and commit to improving flawed thinking and processes and approach the level of expertise that professional recruiters possess today through experience and hard work, RHINOS will cease to exist, until then, welcome to the zoo.

  11. Dr. Sullivan. There are people in the recruitment sphere (some of which familiar ere names) that write you and your comments on all maters talent acquisition off, as being those of someone out of touch and not at the coalface why not as relevant as those in the firing line. To those I can only say, you are wrong, in fact very wrong, because no one that does not have a feel with what the market is like and what is going on can write an article like this (and much else of high value and learning coming from you)
    I am afraid I have to agree with earlier comments that the RINO’s are multiplying and are out there in far larger numbers and degree than ever before. I have met them and I continue to meet them and it is pretty scary stuff.
    Extraordinary that we as human beings are meant to evolve, to learn and to progress, yet in some instances we regress and do not learn or evolve.
    It is scary because never have we needed evolution and progress more than we do in today’s world, where we face bigger challenges than ever before. One would think (and hope) that with that being the case those that lead, and those that manage would strive to do better and do more, yet the opposite seem to be the case, it is n o t overall getting better but worse and with that companies loose out, people loose out, we all loose out. For me RINO equals waste, and I see waste increasing and with that the overall cost and loss of opportunity.
    Personally I hold those that are supposedly in leadership roles responsible for this regression, that they do not appear to have the will or interest to making things different and/or better, and on that basis I have serious fear about the overall future.
    I started out as a RINO, but thanks to places worked and environments and having had a mix of fortune and own drive to change to something far more advanced I have come to be in a very different place, – and yet I am struggling to find myself employment in talent acquisition! as said all a huge waste.

  12. It just happened to me again! A young man (inside recruiter) cold called me and asked if I would be interested in, “Managing a fleet of ice cream trucks” – it pays $9 per hour with no benefits and it is only 8 months per year — as we have cold winters here in KC. I incredulously asked, “What on my resume makes you think that I would be interested in this position?” He replied, “I don’t see the resumes. I get a list every day with 100 names on it. I call from that list.”

    He claimed that their software scans the internet for resumes, looking for the keyword: “Truck” Apparently, my resume had the term…”Trucking & Transportation Law.” This triggered me being on that list!

    He ended up admitting that it is difficult and he has been calling since November, 2012. He needs to hire 100+ managers over several states. He was happy that, “I did not curse him.”
    This kind of inefficient, recruiting, behavior is repeated day after day after day? We do all of our recruiting internally. But ours is a small company (45 people). I could write another 1000 words on the inefficiency, lost opportunity cost, etc. – but I must go back to work.

  13. Kenneth, thank you for your kind words. Some advice for the future.
    Find a few recruiting firms that specialize in your industry. Speak with only the top recruiters at those who deal directly with “C” level clients. You do not want to work with recruiters that deal through a client HR department.
    A top level recruiter will have C level contacts and the ear of clients that are authorized to make unilateral hiring decisions.
    If you are as good as you say you are a great recruiter will recognize it. They will listen to you to find your best assets that will fit a future client. It is good that you are not desperate to find employment but open to hearing about new opportunities. You are the ideal candidate.
    Insurance and finance are both sales functions at the heart of their business. The same is true for recruiting. A great recruiter will focus on ROI for all involved in the hiring process including the candidate. They will know which candidates to call when an opening is available that fits. I mean really fits and not “close enough.”
    One of my last clients, the owner of a hi-end product manufacturing company looking for a plant manager, asked me, “Dan, why should I hire this guy?”
    I said “Peter you should hire him because a year from now when I call you to see how he is doing you will tell me that hiring him was one of the best business investment you have ever made.” I called him a year later and guess what he told me about that candidate?
    Good luck Kenneth. I hope this helps……..

  14. Interesting article and comments. I would have to say I’m both a RINO & ER. I do all of the above as I don’t have the luxury of a recruiting coordinator, sourcer, or support staff.

    I was trained as an old school recruiter where you had to pick up the phone, develop relationships, get referrals, and treat everyone with respect.

    I brought my agency mentality to the inside and it has served me very well and the results have followed, but that does not skirt me from my RINO responsibilities because my company expects me and pays me to do them.

  15. @ Manny: “how much of what you list as mandates for agile recruiters is actually followed but in house recruiting organizations?” Hardly any, either in startups or in Fortune 500 firms.

    @ Edward: Well-said again. I think RINOs exist because many employers want quality recruiting but aren’t prepared/able to pay for it. Much of RINO exists because of the GAFI (greed, arrogance, fear, and ignorance/incompetence) of those who hire

    @ Everybody: I wonder how many true RINOs admit to being RINOs, and how many so-called “great recruiters” are more RINO than they’d care to admit? Also, like John C, how many RINOs are thoughtful, committed recruiters stuck doing huge quantities of bloatocratic BS (like the large corporations I’ve spoken to recently where 60-70% of recruiters’ time is consumed in documentation/data entry)? I’d bet quite a few.


  16. Another great post by Dr. Sullivan that relates to The Head (e.g. the top 20% of ability and opportunity) of placement markets.

    However, in The Long-Tail (i.e. the low to mid-entry levels of ability and opportunity) defining competent dedicated personal assistance can not be defined the same way. Rather, there, defining competency relates to a solution that will be platformed, distributed, democratic and curated. The underserved masses (e.g. the bottom 80% of ability and opportunity) need solutions with different business models versus what serves The Head in this space.

  17. What really bugs me and as illustrated by Dr Sullivan is that RINO’s in today’s world are so pre 2008-2010 and going 25-30 years back. That in 2013 is fundamentally a waste and not understanding the opportunities of tools, solutions and methodologies of year 2013. There appear to be a distinct ‘too busy to innovate’ attitude and with that even more waste and not understanding the elements of pUsh and pull marketing (within which all recruitment sit)
    It is as if somewhere around 5-10% of the wider recruitment community ‘get it’ and act upon it, the remainder 90% are sleepwalking and applying same old tired and not very effective methodologies like those used for the last 25 years, and an that is simply an extraordinarily significant waste.

  18. The basic premise of recruiting has not changed, it is a contact sport. New tools and approaches are constantly being developed to make our task a little easier, however, what I have seen recently in recruiting is a lack of training in the fundamentals and too much focus on the tricks, gizmos and tools. The contingency part of the industry was basically developed by people 25-30 years ago, so don’t be too quick to dismiss people who have been in the industry for that length of time as being Rinos. Change is a constant in life whether you want it or not. The people who embrace change develop and grow regardless of age, those who don’t end up like dinosaurs-extinct. This article was written by someone who has been in the business for 25-30 years who is still innovating and creating. We seem to have embraced a working to be found recruiting platform, rather than distinguishing yourself through an outstanding performance platform that would set you apart from everyone else in the market. The emphasis seems to be on putting warm butts in cold chairs regardless of performance or productivity, a non sustainable business model. In my opinion, companies are the non-innovators, lacking creativity in investing in their people through training and mentoring and empowering people to become the best they can be. When company’s view their people as line item expenses rather than investments, which need to nurtured and developed, and cost cutting takes precedence over revenue generation, we have a problem. You can cut yourself into oblivion, or you can invest yourself into prosperity. Confusion, fear and greed seem to be the corporate method of operation and few appear to be working at changing their current position.

  19. @ Ed: We live in a “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone, so let’s do the deal” type of business climate. As long as you can currently reap the rewards and let the consequences fall on others after you’ve cashed out (as our well-compensated CXOs have successfully done) then it makes sense to slash and burn now to make your stock rise, while you’re actually gutting your firm.

    Our GDP is back to pre-recession levels, but we have 2.5M fewer people doing the work- incomes are stagnant overall and for a large number of people have declined. The jobs that are being created are a few good ones, a lot of crappy ones, and not too many in the middle. The “new normal” is fewer and fewer people will have a stable, FT, well-paid and benefited job, and as long as you have large numbers of people who want to have these things and not too many jobs like that, you’ll have most people treated like meat- we “move the meat” as the saying goes…. The reality is that many recruiting processes are fundamentally dysfunctional. and that ‘s just fine for the people running them. Consequently, you talk about a new tool or a new place to search, and NOT about REALLY fixing things, because that would create too many weaves, upset too many apple carts. … We’re always talking about “innovation” but that seems to stop at getting rid of the rot right where we are- it would make too many very well-placed people look bad if we did….


  20. To Mr.Kenneth Pallante:

    I am sorry for the methods utilized and the technology employed. We live in a world where recruiters are crippled by a methodology often does not work, by leadership that does not care and by recruiters who, by and large, do not even know what they do not know.

    We employ gimmicks in place of humanity, measure success by numbers as opposed to wisdom and ignore all that is wrong as we ride the wave of the latest cool new thing that usually falls by the wayside and embarrasses us in ways both big and small.

    I get the ice cream truck emails just like you. Every single day. It makes me cringe for all that is so dehumanizing and sad about what so many of us have become and worse, it speaks to the direction in which we travel. In college, I was told that teratology is the study of monsters but I only understood it in the most literal of senses at the time. I see it differently today. Welcome to the new world order.

    I hope you find what you seek.

    Best regards,

    Howard Adamsky
    Senior Recruiting Specialist

    Author of Hiring and Retaining Top IT Professionals and Employment Rage

  21. May be it would help if people who like to start a career in recruitment first get an idea about what professional recruitment is about and start studying first instead of becoming a “learning by doing” recruiter. We never stop learning, but starting without proper training and without a recruitment mentor / coach “endangers” the employment brand and the reputation of our profession.
    I try to avoid this by offering this workshop for people who think of becoming a corporate recruiter:

  22. Nice one Alexander and those that haven’t seen what Alexander produces, check it out, simply some of the best in the industry.
    I know of an agency recruiter in London, running a desk of 20 consultants. He takes them in from the street, give hem 2 months to learn a manual and all the elements of good recruitment and then make them sit an exam which they pass or fail (if fail, either because of too lazy to learn or too stupid in which case they are no good) He operates roles and clients purely in the US why he has his people work midday to 9.00pm mon-fri His business is booming on basis of 80% of candidates and clients coming through referrals. See this is smart recruitment and based on good sound principles that work. It IS possible to do, as long as there is some thought put behind it, some methodology and the right mind set.

  23. “There are people in the recruitment sphere (some of which familiar ere names) that write you and your comments on all maters talent acquisition off, as being those of someone out of touch and not at the coalface why not as relevant as those in the firing line.”
    Jacob Madsen

    It’s not a question of relevance, it’s a question of practicality. Some may consider me a RINO as I do a lot of what is in this article. I also fill 100K+ positions with solely passive recruiting. However, I am the sole recruiter in a company of 500+ people with just under 100 openings right now. All paperwork is done by me. All interviews are done by me. All admin work in terms of backgrounds. reference checks, drug testing, I9 and taxes, is done by me. I’ve had help in the past, two people, and during that time we were able to drop our job posting budget to zero because there was no need for it. Most of our recruiting was passive then. Am I still a RINO?

    Keith is unfortunately right. People get stuck doing certain things because that’s all their employer wants and is willing to support. And while it might be easy to pontificate in articles and comments on how to drive corporate change, it’s a bit more problematic to actually do that when you’re also the only person handling 2 to 3 times the amount of openings of the industry standard. The decisions are not hard, what people/companies ‘should’ do to increase profit and ROI is easy to find out. However, convincing the company owners/principles, who often assume they know how to do everything, that they are wrong and need to change their approach and their expectations, can be ridiculously hard and even cost you your job. So, a couple of points I think are worth noting…

    The Active Passive back and forth is ridiculous. Where are the best performing candidates? If they’re active and looking and I can get them that way, I’m not doing a lot of passive sourcing on that position, period. I have limited time and resources and there’s no need to build a ‘pipeline’ to get some water when there’s an easily assessible source of potable water nearby. Nor, again unfortunately, do most managers want top performers. The nuts and bolts of a company are people who do everything from Data Entry to Customer Service to Project Managers, Engineers, Technicians, etc. It would be great if they could all be top of their game performers. However those people also demand top salaries, top benefits, and top management. If every company can’t offer that, every company can’t get and retain those people.

    This constant harping on passive recruiting is like demanding people only learn to cook 5 course French Cuisine masterpieces and use that as their only source of food. It’s not necessary and can be detrimental, because you spend a lot of time and money achieving a result, the equivalent of which could have been achieved sooner and less expensively. How would that affect ROI? If you just want and need a PB&J sandwich, and no one wants a souffle, the why the hell are you going to bake a souffle?

    The focus on ROI is admirable. However, what makes you think ROi is judged the same by all people? ROI, as all costs both monetary and non monetary, are subjective. What matters is it worth giving up what you have to achieve what you’ll get. A great many people in this world are subject to GAFI prinicples; it’s worth more to them to hold on to a business model even if it will fail, because at least then they feel in control and/or vindicated. Businesses fail all the time, this doesn’t happen because they’re all run by brilliant, innovative people with open minds and a drive to be the best. Nor are the businesses which succeed necessarily run by such people.

    This goes to the point of remote work, some people are opposed to such a thing AT ALL COSTS. I know one manager who was so paranoid about people working from home that he ran after an employee who was taking work home one day and jumped on the hood of his moving car to stop him. And the whole company was run by people like that. Their judgement of the ‘ROI’ of people working remotely wasn’t the same as Dr. Sullivan’s. Not to mention the fact that the majority of employers are not mega corporations, they are small to medium sized companies whose managers were never trained to manage, they were just the best performing guy or gal in the department and one day found themselves ‘managing’ it. Maybe that person could figure out how to manage remote workers. More likely than not he’ll blame the remote work situation for his own failures. It’s a laudable goal to want to change this kind of behavior, it’s not going to happen any time soon, if ever. Nor can those companies necessarily benefit all that much anyway from a guy working half way across the planet from their office.

    The Requisition Manager claim is also problematic. With such a focus on ROI it amazes me that it would be accompanied in the same article by a claim that recruiters should spend time and money filling unapproved jobs. If you work for a third party agency with an industry focus this is more feasible as is a pipeline, because it qualifies more as an investment. However internally I don’t necessarily have a bunch of PM positions I need to fill, nor can I manufacture more by prospecting companies. I have one position to fill, and you can bet your ass I’m going to make sure it’s approved before I put the time into it. I can’t recall how many times I and others have worked in family owned companies and, as an example, the owner’s son decided he needs an accountant but his father disagrees, but you’ve already recruited one. Such situations occur and offers can be and often are rescinded. Getting approvalsis vital so you know where you should and should not invest your time, and any recruiter who ha worked in a company as opposed to for one as a vendor would know that.

    At my current company my predecessor was an agency recruiter who worked out a nice discount to handle this company solely, as a house account of sorts, a recruiter in residence. He had t change someo of what was going on here, but he also had to change a lot of what he did and assumed. When you work behind the lines, in a company, you see the result of massive amounts of people working from GAFI principles. Keith is right. So, do I try like hell to change all that, and likely go the way of almost everyone else in history who has tried, or do I pay my rent?

    Which goes to my last point, the majority of these articles seem to be Corporate Recruiters and Third Party/Agency Recruiters claiming one or the other group aren’t doing ‘real’ or ‘exceptional’ recruiting. With all due respect, I say cow twinkies to that. We are all in different situations and to the extent we excell in those situations, we are exceptional. Working at an agency is different than working corporate; there are different requirements and expectations and there is more project management on your plate than as a third party/agency recruiter. If authors want to bat around the idea that one is superior or more ‘real’ or ‘exceptional’ than the other, or that regardless of where they come from that some are ‘real’ recruiters while others are ‘RINOs,’ they’re welcome to it. Given my experience with agencies, where every resume they sent was almost without fail the same tired sent of resumes I got when I did a posting on careerbuilder, I don’t see any more competence there than I do in corporate land. Nor do I see any difference in tenure or performance in active or passive candidates. Now maybe I suck at recruiting, and maybe that’s just because I’m finding equally horrible people. Or, maybe it’s because agencies have an incentive to push the idea that finding good people who perform well is a hard ‘art’ that can only be done with a phone book in an agency that incidentally gets paid 20% to 30% of the person’s first year salary, with no real accountability for their tenure past 90 days, maybe a year if you go retained and get lucky.

    Likewise maybe corporate recruiters have more RINO characteristics because working internally with a company is a different experience with different priorities and they are needed to make sure we don’t go off the rails and to preserve ROI. We see all the openings, and the reasons for those positions being vacant. I recall one position in a previous company I worked at, turnover in it was ridiculous, meaning several people a year. The reason? Well the manager was insane. Literally insane, and medicated because of it. But the manager was also a long term family friend of the owners and so not going anywhere, nor were those behaviors, so I let the position languish. People weren’t sticking and not for reasons I could reasonably be expected to control. There’s only so much harrassment, screaming, cursing, professional demeanment, personal insults, and physical assaults even the most tolerant people would stand. So I posted it and blamed a lack of candidate flow on the position being vacant. It went to some real exceptional agency recruiters. To my knowledge they still haven’t filled it.

    Dr Sullivan outlined some best practices I have minor disagreements with. Many companies are not open to applying best practices because they’d rather have their practices, all other costs considered. Some can change, some do change. Most do not. Is this to their detriment? Likely so. They’re still not going to change. So the real question is how do you try and get the best of what these practices have to offer in an environment hostile to them while not getting fired, is really what it comes down to.

  24. @ Richard, great read, much to take away and well said. I neither believe in the many boxes or the segregation that things are placed in regarding candidates, and frankly it doesn’t really matter whether active or passive, what counts are the results.
    As with the real Rhino’s in Africa, roaming free and not bound by borders and territories, RINO’s are everywhere, agency through to corporate and they are if you ask me equally bad and without the required care and interest in what they do. I wonder what may in fact cause a change from where we are today and to what is a wholly and integrated,respectful and professional approach, and given that we are sill little further in applying best HR practices taught us 2530 years ago, I think we a in for a massive long haul, if indeed ever going to get there.

  25. To Richard Araujo,

    Richard, well said. You bring insight that agency recruiters do not have. I feel for you and your circumstance. I too have worked under managers who have no clue what they are doing and when I pointed out solutions to improve have lost my job.

    You seem to have a very good handle on your role and its limitations. Unlike many in-house HR driven recruiters you understand how to balance your resources (or lack of them) effectively. You have a lot of common sense which is rare in today’s world. You seem to have the ability to work with whatever you are given and figure out a way to make it work.

    I have been an agency/independent recruiter for well over 20 years. I know how to spot talent. If I had an in-house corporate recruiter or even recruiting manager opening to fill you would be first on my list to call. It sounds to me that you are woefully underemployed.

    Thank you for your perspective.

  26. @ Jacob

    We’ll never get there, for the same ultimate reason we’ll never end bigotry or other irrational human behaviors. At their base is what Keith charitably calls GAFI principles, but which I like to refer to as stupidity. And you can’t fix stupid. I’ve managed to break through the BS a few times and get people to concentrate on potential and performance more than hire by rote. And out of those times a few didn’t workout, most worked out great. One example is one particular department where the salaries just will not rise to market for internal reasons. My solution was to get younger people, concentrate on potential, education, and mentoring to make sure the good get moved up and the bad get moved out. That department is now handling more than two times the volume it previously could with less people, with no change in systems or infrastructure. Now that’s not all my doing by any stretch, but I can safely say I contributed a good bit.

    However, every new hire in that department is the same war all over again to take the approach were are currently taking and which is succeeding. I have to make the case for this approach every time. Every. Single. Time. Every single time they want to go back to the hire by rote, point by point resume match method.

    Driving change is like herding marbles to the top of a hill, unfortunately. You get a few up, look away for a second and they slide right down to the bottom again. If you have no support from management/owners, or even limited support, or even worse support in word but not action, you’re setting yourself up to fail by even trying.

  27. @ *Richard: BRAVO! We need more reports from “the real world of recruiting” where most of us work and live, and fewer “pie in the skty” suggestions on what we could do if we worked for a rich, famous, well-run company with reasonable and powerful supporters, huge budgets, and nearly unlimited time.

    I’d find practical solutions to problems like:
    1) “I have way too many reqs and no support.” or
    2) “The founders insist all candidates have five interviews with 6-8 interviewers in each round.” or
    3) “The Staffing Manager supports and ‘gets’ us, but the HR Director is a micro-managing, process-driven corporate bloatocrat and keeps trying to give us more paperwork to do.”
    to be much more useful…


    Keith 415.672.7326

    *I may have solutions/resources to help your situation.

  28. @Keith,

    Throw those solutions at me and tell me the price.

    As for the specifics you’ve brought up, this is how I deal with them:

    “I have way too many reqs and no support.”

    Prioritize and suck it up and deal, dole out to agencies what you can. If people complain about the cost show the cost of an Jr Recruiter who could handle that vs the agency fees.

    “The founders insist all candidates have five interviews with 6-8 interviewers in each round.”

    Set candidate expectations beforehand, much as it sucks. Set manager’s expectations that they will lose good people because of the process length. If they drag their feet, CYA the hell out of the situation and let EVERYONE know when and why delays are occurring. It’s sad and juvenile, but if you don’t do it, when ‘analysis’ time comes it’s going to be your fault regardless.

    “The Staffing Manager supports and ‘gets’ us, but the HR Director is a micro-managing, process-driven corporate bloatocrat and keeps trying to give us more paperwork to do.”

    This one I’ve yet to find a solution to. I tried to push paperless, we have the system to do it, and the cost would be less than the time I spend entering and re entering data for someone else to enter and re enter. However, no one has bought in despite that. The ATS I had put in here, iCIMS, works well and can integrate with pretty much any other system. No one seems to care though, because they’re not doing the paperwork. They don’t personally see the opportunity cost, so as far as they’re concerned it doesn’t exist.

  29. Richard, Your continued responses and solutions to the quagmire of restrictive circumstances you are faced with confirm my initial appraisal of your talents.
    I have placed a myriad of candidates in every type of position you can think of over the years. I have never had a call for a corporate recruiter or recruiting manager and don’t have one now. There are however recruiters that do that work and if you don’t get a call from several of them as a result of your comments today I will be surprised.
    There has to be others in our field that sees what I do about you……..
    Good luck to you…..

  30. @ Richard. Will do. Please contact me offline (see below).
    You should write a “Practical Solutions to Real Recruiting Problems” Column here in ERE, or perhaps we could collaborate on it, although remember Jack Nicholson’s lines from “A Few Good Men”? :
    Jessep (Nicholson): You want answers?
    Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I think I’m entitled to them.
    Jessep: You want answers?
    Kaffee: I want the truth!
    Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!


    Keith 415.672.7326

  31. @Richard,

    One of the best responses I have ever read here. You captured and outlined my situation to a tee. Good luck and keep up the good fight!

  32. @Richard Here’s how Placement 3.0 will solve each problem…

    1. “I have way too many reqs and no support.”

    Candidate identification, filtration, and evaluation will be distributed to a curated network of referrers with deep domain experience in your community (community defined geographically, by industry or interests). The results will be more accurate, faster and more affordable than any other solution.

    2) “The founders insist all candidates have five interviews with 6-8 interviewers in each round.”

    If the founders insist such to reduce the risk of a mistake hire then a curation mechanism will accept that “risk”. In other words, transfer the risk to the referrer network.

    3) “The Staffing Manager supports and ‘gets’ us, but the HR Director is a micro-managing, process-driven corporate bloatocrat and keeps trying to give us more paperwork to do.”

    Hmmm…I’ll be kind to the HR Director. Placement 3.0 will be platformed (easy to use), distributed (crowdsourced), democratic (transparent feedback), and curated (ranked for trust that is referral success). Your HR Director will eventually buy in as a “late adopter”.

    As I envision Placement 3.0 it will kick the crap out of an ERP mainly because companies need to attract talent from the relevant edges to guard against homophilly–a killer of innovation for companies that need to be adaptive from the bottom up.

    Here’s the truth for those who can handle it…Placement 3.0 will disrupt the whole recruiter space (except for the top tier of ability and opportunity which Dr. Sullivan’s advice applies to very well) because it will redistribute the rewards for placing ability at best-fit. Ouch!

  33. @Kevin,

    It sounds like an interesting idea, I’ve read some of your blog, but I think you’re going to hit the same brick wall a lot of such ideas hit.

    The problem isn’t the technology, the problem is humans and their nature. When companies fail to consistently get good referrals, not because the referrals aren’t there but because the companies themselves suck to high holy hell and no one wants to send them referrals, how long do you think it would be before they do something to collectively kill the idea?

    The problem with your idea is it distributes responsibility up the chain as well as down. Companies do not want to be in a position where they actually have to attract the best and brightest, and potentially face the fact that they can’t because their management, benefits, and pay levels aren’t up to snuff. Getting a good referral requires a good match between the company and the referred candidate. How do you think some companies will respond when their referrals are constantly: “This guy is second rate and undervalues himself even at that level of performance, so he’d be great for you!”

    Or in other words it’s too much like Glassdoor. Great potential, but great potential to upset a lot of apple carts too, which is why it likely won’t happen or go mainstream, useful and effective as it could potentially be.

    Employers in a real sense are selling their employment as a product to people, like cars, and for every Ferrari dealer out there there’s thousands of Kia and used Datsun dealers. And companies don’t want the judgement aspect of the market to be applied to them by prospects, they want to apply it to prospects. They want a one sided, managed market approach that gives them a permanently high level of desperate and unemployed people to force wages down and lock more people into jobs rather than deal with a fluid, open market on which they actually have to compete for people. Which is why every ‘rate your employer’ service has essentially tanked. Like it or not, they’re in the driver’s seat.

    Your Placement 3.0 idea puts too much of a spotlight on the companies themselves, their practices and what they really offer to their employees in terms of compensation, monetary and otherwise. It would be fair. What makes you think the people in the driver’s seat want fairness? Did the banksters want fairness when they lobbied to change banking rules to allow the creation of bad debt, flooded the market with money to fund gambling on that bad debt, and then dumped it all on the taxpayers for a bail out while they gave themselves bonuses when it all went wrong? Do you think the successful lobbying in the 80s by car companies for tariffs on imported cars was due to fairness, or because they didn’t want to pay to retool their gas guzzler production lines to produce more efficient cars as the Japanese were already doing?

  34. @ Richard: You did it again- said what I always say, but said it better.

    @ Kevin: Do you you wish us to believe that there are technical solutions to the GAFI of the people running things? If you do, there are lots of “desperate and not-yet insolvent recruiters and their superiors who fail to recognize that in most cases they are futilely ‘rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” of their companies’ ill-conceived, over-blown, grossly-dysfunctional hiring practices’ ready for you to take their money. These are at the same companies that would likely be spending loads of money going to recruiting conventions and hiring *high-level recruiting consultants (who haven’t recruited in a real environment in years), but wouldn’t dream of having sit-down sessions with their own people to sincerely ask and carry out suggestions on how to make their own work better.


    * Not like anyone here on ERE, of course.

  35. I’ve been a recruiter for 25 years and still love it. I was trained to make a marketing plan (cold call list), have a script and start calling. We used index cards.
    Fast forward… I worked for several years as hired gun doing internal corporate recruiting. Most of them wanted RINO quality work and loaded me with interview scheduling and other RINO tasks. 90% of what I experienced was RINO expectations from Human Resources. Human Resources doesn’t like exceptional recruiters, they don’t understand us, are intimidated and frequently don’t like to do recruiting.
    I’m at an Executive Search firm now and like it much better. By the way, I get a lot more respect than I ever did from HR.

  36. @Richard Let me be clearer Placement 3.0 will not be an Employee Referral Program (ERP). It will not be company centric but rather people centric. It can’t be company centric. It will disrupt the recruiter space and benefit you, the person in your position, greatly. Crappy management and crappy recruiters will hate Placement 3.0 just like crappy hotels/motels hate AirBnB.

    @Keith The technical solutions surrounding AirBnB are putting GAFI (your acronym for greed, arrogance, fear, and ignorance/incompetence) hotel/motel operators out of business. Likewise, the technical solutions surrounding Placement 3.0 will put GAFI employer organizations and GAFI recruiters out of business.

    Oh, by the way, Placement 3.0 is not an idea. It is simply evolving from web 1.0 and 2.0 as is every other industry on earth, bar none.

  37. Keith, John and Richard,

    By the tone of your responses, you seem to be knowledgeable and effective people in unhappy situations. Since you possess a competency level that few exhibit in the corporate scheme of things, why don’t you either move to a company that will be more in line with your thought process, or perhaps, start your own firm? By staying in a company that doesn’t view you as professional enough to listen to your advice, all you are doing is enabling the company so they don’t have to change. If you were going to a cardiovascular surgeon because you had a heart condition, the two things that aren’t going to be discussed is how you want him/her to perform the procedure and how much you feel like paying for it. Life is too short to tolerate daily BS. Take your time and talents to someone who will appreciate them.

  38. @Edward

    For my part, I hate sales. I can’t stand it, I hate it with a passion I can’t really capture with words. I like solving puzzles, and recruiting is the puzzle I like solving. Getting the right person for the right job. I’m more than happy to ‘outsource’ the operations and sales angle of the job by working for a company as opposed to myself, it means nothing to me. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and at sales I suck, big time, likely because I hate it so much. I’ve got no qualms about working for people, nor am I particularly unhappy. I think you’re missing the point.

    My point is that the situation I describe is REALITY for the vast majority of people and companies, and this is not going to change. Therefore, ‘strategies’ for excellence that depend on everyone else having their crap together and being competent and reasonable aren’t really helpful.

  39. @ Edward

    As a followup, the Requisition Manager point comes up again. If your managers can not or will not recognize the value of branding and building relationships for the long term in the recruiting function, despite the fact that they demand as much in sales, then acting to fill positions that aren’t even open is not a recipe for success and a long career, it’s recipe for getting fired, and if that happens you’re not doing the company much good then, are you? It’s the difference between the way things should be and the way things actually are. How things ‘should’ work in an ideal world with ideal conditions and ideal people isn’t terribly relevant to people who live and work in an imperfect world under less than ideal conditions with less than adequate resources and partners with exceedingly different ideas of how things ‘should’ be done.

  40. @Richard

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but recruiting is selling. A company is selling opportunity and an individual is selling capability. If you have tried to institute change where you are at and get no response or cooperation, you are banging your head against a brick wall. While there is no perfect situation, there are opportunities that exist where you will experience less frustration. Change happens when people vote with their feet or their pocketbook. Functioning in the environment you describe is not healthy.

  41. @ Kevin: re: AirBnB- if that is so, good for them. (By the way, THEIR application process is cumbersome- you have to sign up for AirBnB prior to applying,IMSM). ISTM that when people flatly say: “Technology X will put such-and-such out of business,” they’re usually wrong- e.g., the predicted elimination of mainframe technology by client/server and web, and the elimination of job boards by something. On the other hand, who predicted that Craig’s List would destroy the newspaper industry?

    @ Edward: I have been called many things before, but rarely “knowledgeable and effective”. Please watch your language! 😉
    But seriously: though it were otherwise, I am not in a situation where I can pick and choose among substantial numbers and types of exciting, empowering, highly-paid contracts I do. I have recently started a gig in what seems to be a very pleasant and functional place. These are rare, at least for me. I may be biased, but I think that my situation (and that of Richard A, and John C’s) is not that uncommon.
    In a nutshell, Ed: unless it’s REALLY bad (and I’ve had those, too), a crappy job beats no job at all for most of us out here…

    @ Richard: You hit another good point. There’s SO much talk here on ERE about going after the passive (or as i prefer to say SLOW”) candidates and build talent communities and pipelines. Who the **** has time to do that when you’re drinking from a firehouse? I recently talked with a company that was interested in having someone build a talent pipeline, BUT they also wanted the person to be responsible for current reqs. That combination of completely different responsibilities and approaches is a “one-way ticket to Crazy Town” if you ask me…

    Keith “Has a Round Trip Ticket” Halperin

  42. @Keith Since I brought up AirBnB and you brought up Craigslist which are both way off track for Dr.Sullivan’s post feel free to contact me at my and I’ll send you a link to how AirBnB is eating Craigslist lunch in the “overnight rental” space.

  43. “Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but recruiting is selling.”

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are obviously differing opinions on the matter. As for my current environment, I’m never bored, and that’s worth a lot to me. Unfortunately the pay off can be pretty severe sometimes.

    As for recruiting being selling, I disagree. Maybe one aspect of it is selling, but ‘sales’ encompasses people who truly believe, and are right, in saying they have the best product/service available, as well as the stereotypical slimy used car salesman. The latter has been my experience with almost every single agency we’ve dealt with. If their services are so great, why is there a new ‘recruiter’ there every other month? If their services are so great, why do I see the same resumes I get from a job posting coming from those agencies, despite their claims of being embedded in this or that industry and sourcing ‘passive candidates’? I’m sure there are good ones out there. However the blanket judgement of agency recruiters/agencies somehow being superior is something I’ve yet to see data to support or experience to validate, as is claim of certain RINO attributes. But, be my guest. Go work in a company and spend your time and their money building a pipeline for positions they never intend to fill, in the process making the necessary and commensurate sacrifice of time and energy spent filling positions which are open and needed, since of course you’re the only one there doing this stuff, and let me know how it works out.

    The aspect of recruiting that is not sales is making damn well and sure the product you’re producing is up to spec and worth buying. If it is, the sales tend to take care of themselves. But, to go back to the car analogy, it gets a little weird when every article here seems to be trying to convince people that every company should want, need, and be able to afford a Rolls Royce employee for every opening. Is there any human being on this planet who actually does this in their personal or business lives?

    Do you have the best of everything? Is your home theater/stereo system some custom job by Mark Levinson or Krell, or do you have a Sony or Yamaha, or something similar, as I do? Do you drive a Ferrari, or do you have a Honda or a Toyota? When you eat is every meal prepared for you by a master chef, or do you mostly just grab a sandwich from the deli instead and go for the good stuff when you feel the need for it? If getting the best of the best all the time every time is not how anyone anywhere approaches decisions, for the obvious reason of scarcity of time and resources, then what good is advice essentially telling people to do just that? How does it any way address reality?

    That’s my point. Not that I don’t like where I work, in the end I do. However there are certain limitations and obstacles we all have to deal with which are truly out of our control. Once someone can explain to me how an agency recruiter can embed themselves in a company and know its culture well enough to know what jobs the managers, however unfortunately, regard as throw-away positions, where the best is not necessary, is not expected, and will not be paid for, I’ll start giving those articles more attention, and I’ll give more thought to working at an agency again. When you’re in a company you learn that stuff, and you realize it’s not because of a lack of commitment to excellence on the part of the managers. It’s because things need to get done, and slightly above average, or even average work now is better than perfection a few months from now and at a much higher price. Perhaps article writers here need to realize that the perfect can be the enemy of the good. People make marginal decisions, almost no one ever demands the best of everything all the time. There’s always point at which the cost for one extra smidgen of quality isn’t worth the extra time or effort. That’s how prices are determined on the market, that’s how all decisions are made in the end, price or no price. And you will not always agree with the standards people are using to make those judgements. Since we’re talking of subjective value in the end, the only validation of any approach is customer satisfaction and whether or not it works to achieve their goals. More than one approach is therefore valid and ‘real’, and worth pursuing.

  44. @ Richard

    Sales is basically needs fulfillment. It is finding out what someone needs, wants or desires and satisfying those requirements.

    What criteria do you use when selecting a “search firm” to determine whether a company or an individual can do the job? If someone is a specialist in a particular market and have been in business for a while, they should know where the good people are, or a least have enough knowledge in the industry to be able to find them without having to resort to job board posting. In my 30 years in the search industry, I have never posted an opportunity. If I am doing what the client company can do, what value do I add? If people aren’t properly trained in recruiting they will resort to the same methods you use which are likely to be posting to job boards and using social media. The reasons for using these methods may be different, but the results are the same. The real professionals in recruiting don’t engage in “slimy, used car salesman” practices, that’s why they are still in business today. If you have some time, read “Good to Great” and “Topgrading”

  45. @Edward

    Your last post is the first I have seen from a recruiter that is in line with my own MO.
    I have been a recruiter for well over 20 years most of that time as an independent. I too have never posted or advertised a position. I don’t have a website, my phone # is unlisted and I do not want unsolicited resumes from candidates.

    When I need to fill a position I either know who to call already or know how to find them.

    I agree with your entire post. Nice to see there are some who get it……..

  46. @ Kevin. Thank you.

    @ Richard: “If getting the best of the best all the time every time is not how anyone anywhere approaches decisions, for the obvious reason of scarcity of time and resources, then what good is advice essentially telling people to do just that? How does it any way address reality?”

    As I mentioned in my article (, it’s not only NOT based on reality, it’s a very foolish and perilous strategy to build a successful company on. The whole concept feeds right into the arrogance and sense of entitlement which many founders, CXOs, sr. execs, and hiring managers have. These folks weren’t told “NO, you can’t have that” and/or “What makes you think YOU”RE so special?” enough, IMHO.

    Why do we devote so much time and discussion to recruiting methods and practices which are of very limited applicability and/or feasibility to the overwhelming majority of us here? It’s as if the Cooking Channel only had cooking shows which involved really complex recipes using truffles, caviar, Kobe beef, or other ultra-premium ingredients which hardly anybody could do or perform, or if you had a car repair show which only dealt with working on Rolls, Bentleys, Lambos, and Maseratis. How about more content related to “the real world of recruiting”?”

    How about these five statements:
    1) “We will continue to need sophisticated, high-quality 3PRs for the foreseeable future.”

    2) “We will continue to have unsophisticated, low-quality 3PRs for the foreseeable future.”

    3) “In most corporate environments, recruiting will continue to be perceived to have transactional rather than strategic value.”

    4) “Articulate and interesting ‘recruiting thought leaders’ (and those who aspire to be them) will continue to propose simple, quick, and easy solutions to difficult recruiting problems which aren’t any of these things, or to trivial recruiting problems which are.”

    5) “Little will change in how recruiting is done until the fundamental premises, prejudices, and biases of candidates, hiring managers, recruiters and their superiors are examined and dealt with in an empirical, fact-based way.” (Don’t hold your breath.)

    @ Edward, @ Dan: It sounds like the kind of high-level work you do is worth every bit of 30%. Well, most companies don’t need and aren’t prepared to pay 30% for premium, quality work such as you offer, and that’s why there are hordes of agencies getting resumes off the boards or from offshore $1,000/mo folks and then selling them through newbie recruiters to customers (who could go directly to the offshore folks for the resumes but don’t know about ’em) for 15%-20%…. If you want to get rid of the 3PR “RINOs”, you’ll need to educate the customers that they can do better and cheaper without them.


  47. @Keith

    Companies do need to pay for quality work. They need to invest in their companies and their people. At this time, based upon statistics that are available, 80% of new hires are not meeting the goals and objectives laid out in the interviewing process. Bersin and Associates had a study that showed out of all the people that were hired in 2012, the average tenure of a new hire generated from job boards and social media was 12mos, not exactly a great ROI. When more companies fail to meet revenue goals, shareholder expectations, wall street analysts expectations and finally realize you get what you pay for, the 3PR RINO’s will disappear because they don’t have a value add proposition that makes sense. Quality people are in short supply. We have 10,000 people a day leaving the workforce- a trend that will continue for the next 19 years, the birth rate last year declined 4%, we have 80 million baby boomers in a workforce of 140 million people. The perception is that with the unemployment rate being what it is, quality people are readily available and willing to work for what companies are willing to pay them. When all the low hanging fruit has been picked, then what. Recruiting is going to get tougher, the survivors will be those well trained individuals who know how to generate results. At some time an investment will have to made in people, both inside an organization with training and mentoring, and a process that will obtain productive people outside the organization. There are no cheap solutions, besides which, my fees are a tax deductible cost of doing business.

  48. @ Edward

    “Sales is basically needs fulfillment. It is finding out what someone needs, wants or desires and satisfying those requirements.”

    That is where we disagree. That’s the ideal model of what sales should be, not what it is in reality. In reality it’s that sometimes, and the rest of the time it’s convincing people that what’s being offered is going to fulfill their needs, whether it will or not. I don’t believe in that practice at all, but it is a real aspect of real world sales, and the ultimate root of the used car salesman stereotype.

    “What criteria do you use when selecting a “search firm” to determine whether a company or an individual can do the job?”

    Performance on both counts. For people I mostly use Lou Adler’s Performance Based Hiring method with a few exceptions. For agencies, it’s what kind of people do they produce measured by the same standard. However, more than one recruiter has tried to substitute baseball tickets or a good meal for performance. I don’t want a free lunch, I want good people.

    “In my 30 years in the search industry, I have never posted an opportunity.”

    What makes you think you are representative of the market? I hear a lot about these ‘real professionals’ in recruiting, I’ve met two total in my entire career that are currently practicing, and one of them, though he definitely walked the walk on passive sourcing and pulling people directly out of companies, couldn’t get the cultural fit right. If you are indeed a top level recruiter then congrats, and you deserve every cent of your fees. The market is average, even if you are not.

    However the market is what’s presented and available as a solution to most, and I don’t think you and the few people who make up the top ten percent are going to fill all the open positions in the US in the next few weeks. Of course the best in the industry do not act like slimy used car salesman, however not everyone can access or afford the best in the industry, nor can everyone access or afford, nor do they necessarily need, the top ten percent of all employees available. You can’t design your business model assuming the left 90% of the bell curve doesn’t exist and that you’ll never have to interact with it, that’s a recipe for failure.

  49. @ Edward

    “Companies do need to pay for quality work. They need to invest in their companies and their people.”

    That’s nice rhetoric, it sounds good in a speech and reads good in an article, and I agree in principle. Making it happen is another animal entirely. And I don’t doubt that most business leaders agree with you, and already think they’re doing that, despite the dysfunctional nature of their methods in practice.

    The simple fact is saying companies need to pay for quality work is simply stating that you don’t think they are paying the ‘right’ or ‘fair’ price for the proper quality work, in your judgement. Well, it’s not you running the company, and the people who are running it have their own ideas about what constitutes quality and what price is reasonable. You have to change their fundamental opinions on certain things before you ever have any hope of convincing them of the practicality of implementing what you have in mind.

    And people rarely change on that level.

  50. s far as huge numbers of Boomers retiring= we’ve discussed this before
    1) We’ll hold off as long as he can, ‘caue many of us Ccan’t afford to retire.

    2) The good jobs that many of these folks had are being no-sourced (eliminated), through-sourced (automated) or out-sourced (sent away) with the consequence that a few of the newer jobs are quite well-paid/well-benefited, most new jobs aren’t, and very few are in the middle.

    As you say, until managers are willing to hire who they can really get, and not just who they want, recruiting will remain tough.

    “At some time an investment will have to made in people”, and at some time we will all be dead, and in the meantime, I see very little on the horizon to show that things will be getting substantially better any time SOON.

    I’m glad that you and Dr. Sullivan typically real with a better and more-refined clientele than most of us do, but in that respect what goes on in the upper-echelons of recruiting (Corporate or 3PR) isn’t very useful to the rest of us. An analogy: it’s a bit like reading escapist literature to help forget the dreariness of day-to-day life- it may make you feel better for awhile (and maybe think about better possibilities), but it doesn’t really help improve things.., because that’s not the world we live in.


  51. The comment below was posted on Yahoo in response to an article about not being called back after an interview.

    My wife interviewed for a full time faculty position at a local university. She had the initial interview with the department head (90 minutes). She was called that evening by the dept head and asked to come in for an interview with department members the next day and have a sample lesson prepared to deliver. She went in, of course, and did that (3 hours). Everyone responded positively. One of the faculty members stopped her on her way out and told her how impressed he was with a particular spreadsheet she had created and used in the lesson and asked if she could send it to him. She, of course, said yes and send it that evening. Two days later she was called and asked to come in for an interview with the Dean and VP. She did that (2 hours), thought it went well, especially given how both praised her for her scholarly work and her teaching skills. She was then called for a day long campus visit with students, other administration, faculty and staff. When the department head walked her to her car she told my wife that she was on everyone’s short list and a decision would be made within a week. Then, she waited and waited and waited. Hearing nothing for two weeks, she called HR and was told a decision was going to be made soon and they would be in touch. Hearing nothing for two more weeks she called again to get the same non-information. She emailed the department head and got no reply. She called and left a message on the department head’s voicemail and got no reply. Believe it or not, the agony ended a week later when she read an announcement in the local newspaper telling of the person who was hired. That’s how she found out.

  52. @Kenneth There are those stories and examples that one read that amazes and baffles (in a negative sense) and then there are those where it leaves you utterly speechless and as one huge question mark. I doubt many ever come across anything as utterly shameful and grotesque as this. I have myself a vast collection of own and others stories about what experienced in respect to seeking a job, this one simply topping them all. I have said it before and in numerous ERE discussions, it a l l comes down to mind-set and ‘where there is a will there is a way’ Looking at companies and organisations in the ‘Candidate Experience’ award sphere (US and UK) it is transpiring that a number of these companies operate under an ‘internal code of candidate experience and talent acquisition conduct’ by which there are rules and agreements setting out what should a l w a y s be done. Sadly we are talking lower end single digit numbers why storiies like your wife’s and others will be around for a very very long time. Shame on every single one of those involved and shame on those in charge.

  53. Jacob, I never thought I would post so many times – in response to an article – especially since I just stumbled upon the, ERE, web site last week. Also, for the record, the comment above did not involve my wife – it was posted by a another guy on Yahoo – and I just reposted it here.

    That being said, the experience that this man’s wife had are nowhere near the worst that I have heard. I realize this is not a contest of superlatives, however, here in the Kansas City area, horror stories like the one above are extremely common. I will post below some examples that will really make your hair curl. These are just not hearsay – I have, literally, let two individuals move into my home after they lost their own homes after being laid off — and have not been not hired since.

    1) Bob, a licensed civil engineer who has built some of the largest bridges, roads and tunnels in the state of Missouri…. Since being laid off by MO DOT (2009), Bob has sent out over 1500 resumes / applications. ZERO companies have responded. ZERO. I have assisted him in his job search and I have attempted to help him by letting him live in my basement for the past 2.5 years. This college degreed candidate has been mowing lawns and picking up cans to pay for gas and food. Yes, he would be willing to relocate.

    2) Joe, who has a law degree & 21 years of (award winning) sales experience has applied at 5,512 companies since he was laid off by SPRINT in 2007. (16,000 layoffs over a 24 month period). You read that correctly, Five Thousand five hundred & twelve applications! He rents a bedroom from me too and I have also assisted him in his job search; he has been unemployed for 6 years. SIX YEARS! 9 of the companies responded and one interview was granted. After that one, single, interview – he never heard again from the employer and learned that the nobody was ever hired and the job was posted again. As of last week, the job was reposted for the 4th time in 27 months.

    3) I was approached by a recruiter for the giant corporation, MMC in 2007. They had one position open in their Kansas City office. Over a six month period, I interviewed with 18 different people for this one position. EIGHTEEN DIFFERENT PEOPLE. Ultimately, they did not hire me and they have re-listed the job every year since 2007. The way they let me know that I did not get the position was by having a low level flunkie named Kneisha call me and tell the bad news. BTW, 18 interviews is par for the course at MMC and my brother in law (one of their highest executives) who had referred me, told me, “That is just the MMC way. When I first joined the company 15 years ago, I went through 15 interviews.” He could not explain why the manager of the KC office could not pull the trigger and hire someone? BTW, this indecisive manager earns $350,000 annually. This is absurd, unnecessary and totally ridiculous. I don’t think that the number one draft choice in the NFL goes through 18 separate interviews.

    4) Me again….what I describe here is very, very, very typical of what I hear from my friends and neighbors every day (I hope this is not too confusing):

    At my former employer of 17 years (WKUS Law & Business), 400 of us lost our jobs when they had a “reorganization” in 2007. Six years later, they have realized that they made a mistake and they are looking to fill the very same positions that they eliminated On Monday May 27th, I received an email from a recruiter (“Senior Corporate Recruiting Specialist”) named Pam. She works at the, “WKUS Staffing Center of Excellence.” The email subject line was: “Extremely well qualified candidate” – and she wrote: “Your resume indicates you may be a perfect match for the position below. Please indicate when you would be available for a 30 minute telephone interview?” I replied that I was available that day, from 12:00 noon to 7:00pm.

    I did not receive a response. On Tuesday, the 28th of May, I telephoned her number and left a v/m stating that I had replied to her email and wanted to interview – but had not heard from her?

    On Wednesday, May 29th she sent me a second email… The email subject line was: “Extremely well qualified candidate” – and she wrote: “Your resume indicates you may be a perfect match for the position below. Please indicate when you would be available for a 30 minute telephone interview?” HUH? WTF?

    I again replied and said I was available anytime that day or any time on Thursday. Once again, she did not respond. I, once again, called and left a message (recruiters never, ever, actually answer their phones – they let it go to voice mail 100% of the time). She did not respond to my v/m.

    On Monday, June 3rd, she sent another email stating: The email subject line was: “Extremely well qualified candidate” – and she wrote: “Your resume indicates you may be a perfect match for the position below. Please indicate when you would be available for a 30 minute telephone interview?” Responded again by email and phone and…you guessed it – no response.

    On Tuesday, June 4th she sent a 4th email and asked if I would be available on Wednesday, June 5th at 3:00pm for a telephone interview? I replied, “Yes, that would be a perfect time. Please be kind enough to confirm with me that you have received this and we are scheduled for 3:00pm tomorrow.” She did not reply.

    On Wednesday, June 5th, 3:00pm came and went with no phone call. At 3:30pm I called her phone number and gently said, “I was under the impression that we had an interview today? Would you please be kind enough to call me?”

    At 3:45 pm she called and the first thing she said was, “Man, you have to learn how to calm down.” She then claimed she only had 5 minutes to interview me. I told her to forget it. I said, “If WKUS has sunk so low that you are what passes for a ‘Senior recruiter’ – I want nothing more to do with the company.” She, in effect, chased away an excellent employee; I won every award that WKUS offers for sales excellence and production. I worked at this exact position for 17 years. Hiring me to fill this position should have been a formality. WKUS allows their flunkies (recruiters) to work out of their homes and they make $65,000 annually plus bonus’ based on “production.”

    This kind of experience is so common in today’s world that everyone I know who is looking for a job has experienced it on a regular basis. While the folks on this blog are (mostly) recruiters, I think that most are not aware how bad the behavior of their colleagues has become. As I wrote in my original posting, I feel bad for those that are unemployed or underemployed — they are not being hired because of incompetent flunkies that don’t have the decency, skills or professionalism to reply to an email or confirm an appointment. I have heard from a few professionals that post on this site and I know that there are actual, professional, recruiters out there. Unfortunately, the majority are the antithesis of “professional.” One of the requirements for the position described above was: “Excellent written and verbal communication skills.” How can a flunkie who lacks decent communication skills even have the ability to judge my communication skills?

    Finally, it was recommended to me that I get a copy of the, “Kennedy Book of Recruiters.” This book, ostensibly, lists the recruiters that are “retained” & “professional life cycle recruiters that will take the time to meet and know me and be able to position me within a company that could utilize the skills I bring to the table.” I got the book and I have left a voice mail and sent an email to two of the firms listed. Neither has responded to me yet. I find this lack of communication to be the most frustrating. Particularly since I have such high standards. In my current position, I would be summarily fired if I did not return the calls or emails of a customer — or co-worker — or anybody for that matter. I do not know what it is like to have a job where one does not have to respond to emails or voice mails.

    Thank you,

  54. Okay, ignoring the feeling of helplessness of trying to improve the above referenced human nature problems relating to irrationality, stupidity, and GAFI (@Keith’s acronym for greed, arrogance, fear, and ignorance/incompetence) and b) how it sucks how much time it will take and we’ll all be dead anyway before innovative solutions are implemented to solve the problems identified above…what can we do today to improve processes in this space to place human capital (i.e. ability) at best-fit and at best-price? (It’s obvious the goal is a moving target and never to be reached consistently enough to be perfect or acceptable enough…it is not a theory nor a dream, it is a process.)

    First, let’s give a name to human nature problems relating to irrationality, stupidity, and GAFI as FRICTION. At best, this FRICTION slows down every process designed to improve the placement of capital at best-fit and at best-price…at worst, it kills the processes, that is, they fail. (Yes, we all know of horrendous examples of failed capital placement processes, especially in financial services.)

    Next, consider that the financial services industry has dealt with FRICTION for over 100 years. In spite of the FRICTION it has made tremendous strides to place financial capital at best-fit and at best-price over that time (technology is a part of that story). In fact, the financial services industry is the 2nd most responsible industry for the most improved 100 years for humanity across the board, around the world, ever. No other 100 year period comes remotely close. Of course, the human services (to include education) industry is mostly responsible for the improvements by default (i.e. you can’t have financial services professionals in place without a human services foundation that supported their development and employment), and always will be.

    Additionally, the financial services industry is twice the market capitalization of the 2nd largest capitalized industry, that being information technology. That means that their business models (to include their systems/processes) deliver value to markets to earn that distinction from investors compared to other industries. That is a sign they know something about designing systems/processes to place capital efficiently and effectively.

    So, what am I doing to help? I’m building a business model that realizes “hiring” systems/processes as a subset of human services and I need only look to “investing” systems/processes as a subset of financial services to work towards reducing FRICTION. For when a business model reduces the FRICTION of getting through capital placement processes it gains efficiencies and therefore becomes more effective at adapting to the realities in the market place as they “are”, not as they “should be”.

    In ending, I think that when we apply new social technologies, a lack of government regulation/intervention (which, in my view, was/is part of the FRICTION is financial services) along with investment services systems/processes to the hiring space THEN we’ll will see evidence of the improvements we are looking for.

    Lastly, please no abstract theoretical questions if you reply to this comment. I won’t respond to those.

    Note: To show the similarities between placing human capital and placing financial capital I replaced some hiring terms with investment terms in a previous ERE blog post by @Keith. You can read it here >

  55. @Kenneth, Simply stunned into silence and so would anyone reading your last post. I knew from own experiences and what seem and been subject to myself that things bad, but that there are not one but numerous examples to this degree simply stuns me. You see as a corporate recruiter I know what it takes in terms of time,efforts and process, and the shocking news is very very little. I come from a very small country of only 5 million inhabitants, and very very fast (aided by what people write on social media) bad experiences start to bite their tail faster than you can imagine. Obviously the larger the country and market and with excess of supply this goes out of the window. It is however grotesque reading article after article on ERE and seeing the issue of ROE and branding and EVP being what what companies supposedly focus on, when in fact on a daily basis the mere basics are done as badly as they are. I bet you that a degree of same companies that you give descriptions of have elaborate programs and focus on branding and EVP, yet cannot get the basics right. It makes a complete mockery of all that is said and done and shows how utterly flawed the entire subject is. We can call this whatever we want but to me it is decline, regression and indifference and everything that is the reason why we are in the quagmire we as a world are in.

  56. @ Kenneth

    That is an unfortunate thing to happen. I like to give people expectations and stick with them, and if circumstances dictate changes, to communicate them as openly and honestly as possible. That would include letting candidates know if the managers just can’t decide for no particular reason, which in the end is what it comes down to most of the time. The hiring decision is one decision on their plate among many and a lot of people deprioritize it. Some recruiters and HR people just have a problem calling people and apologizing for the delays, especially when the explanation, more often than not, is, “The managers have their thumbs up their butts, and aren’t inclined to remove them just yet.”

    That said, there have been times when I’ve dropped communications. When it comes down to the most usual reason for communications being dropped, it’s almost always an overload of things to do, and there comes a point where you do have to leave the office and sleep occasionally. You take 30 positions, with say 3-5 candidates each you’re communicating with, all of which need a 5-10 minute call, that’s anywhere from 7.5 to 25 hours of work at the low and high end respectively. So basically a work day to half the work week. And it should be our primary concern, but that’s when being over tasked with non value add admin type work, which also needs to get done and upon which you will also be evaluated, eats into your ability to do your actual job. Companies could hire candidate reps and outsource the communications portion a bit when necessary, but they need to see value in the act itself before they’ll commit to that. And I’m not so sure it would improve the candidate experience to be honest.

    Your experience with MMC is particularly enlightening for people to know about, because that’s what happens when companies assume they can have the pick of the litter. They interview like crazy, over think things, make hiring mistakes, don’t pay enough, treat people badly from the start, and don’t match them with the proper job and comp, and that’s what gets the revolving door going. Their view is likely, “There are so many candidates available and we put so much time into this, how do we keep messing up?!” Of course, after numerous failures it becomes apparent that the problem is with the company and the managers, not the candidates. Unless of course they really are that unlucky or their recruiters are that bad. But the more they fail the less likely that becomes, because at some point you’d expect even a lousy recruiter to land one by accident. But often they simply will not hear or accept that maybe, just maybe, it’s their fault.

    As for your friend Bob, I’m sorry to say but we are in a depression, euphemistically called a recession. It sure ain’t no recovery, as expected it’s just Wall Street types who have ‘recovered,’ on your and my dime. My guess is this will continue until the current bubble bursts and then things will get real bad, but the banksters will get bailed out again. However, this plus MMC really lets you know what’s going on: labor at all levels is cheapening. Wages may be nominally sticky to an extent but labor has been devalued and it will show up in others ways even if wages stay relatively stable. Going through candidates like they’re nothing is one way this occurs, just as when material is cheap in a manufacturing process then people don’t care as much about minimizing loss or recycling it. We’re seeing more of this behavior because real wages, the value assigned to labor, is going down.

  57. @ Kevin: Thank you for referring to this article ( then). I’m glad you found it a useful starting point.

    @ Kenneth, @ Everybody: I think it fair to assume that unless someone is very much in demand (“Fab 5%”) and/or have a personal connection with a powerful internal person(“politically connected”), there’s a pretty good chance they will be ignored and/or poorly treated as they progress through the hiring process of most companies, and they should be pleasantly surprised when they’re not treated like this.

    @ Richard: Quite true. Furthermore, social mobility is decreasing in the U.S. (,, so I think there are likely to be fewer people in the higher echelons who haven’t had their ways smoothed for them and have gone through the same hard knocks that most of us have (as we’ve described).

    No Cheers,

  58. @Keith Spot on clear and succinct in your last reply to @Kenneth and @Richard which communicates a realization that dedicated personal assistance to facilitate placement at best-fit is needed and valued.

    BTW, my reference to your article above is far from a starting point for me. Let me suggest that it be a starting point for you to contact me to be part of the solution of reducing the FRICTION in this space.

  59. @Keith and others.

    So we have come to that due to the state of the world, the unfaltering inability of the human race to learn, to evolve (in respect to the overall subject of human resources) to make it worse for themselves (through elected politicians lack of imposing rules/regulations and restrictions) to a point of us seeing the truly ugly face and results of Capitalism and free market forces (no I am not of left wing orientation although I cannot help feel the Western World model has gone bust)
    We have come to a point like in mass population countries like India and China where life is not really regarded that highly, where loosing 100.000 or a couple of million in the wider process is ‘just the way things are’
    When the French president Hollande can give a speech in Japan that Europe is ‘back on track’ yet his country has the highest unemployment rates in 18 years, then we are indeed out there where reason has well and truly stopped.

    Meanwhile families are broken up, homes lost, children becoming victims and misery and dreams and hopes shattered.

    Irrespective of situation there IS a decent way, a way involving conscience and respect for fellow human beings and for handling the entire process in a manner which becomes companies and those that represent them, it costs nothing and can so easily be done, and even a no/rejection that may be given and received for the 1000 time can be one with a touch of human respect.

    Dr Sullivan started this conversation with an acronym, I have another one that appear utterly lost RWC Recruiters With Conscience or RTC Recruiters That Care.

    What a truly sad (non) evolution and state of affairs, and although I know there are good people out there, they are and appear to be trampled over by all those that are indifferent.

  60. Okay Quora, what is a Referrer in this space?…

    A referrer is someone that sources, identifies/qualifies, persuades, screens, and interviews in ways much unlike Recruiters, who are professionals at doing so and business models use them as a distribution channel to service “The Short-Head” of markets where monetization rewards their value delivered.

    Referrers are amateurs but are responsible for 10,000X (100,000X ?) more best-fit placements across the world than Recruiters because there are so many more of them in every community*. Referrers are motivated by rewards that do not solely motivate Recruiters and there are burgeoning monetized business models that reward their amateur service to those in The Long-Tail of markets.

    That is why Dr. Sullivan’s competencies only apply to business models monetizing The Short-Head of markets.

    * community defined geographically, by industry or interests

  61. Apropos of what has been written heretofore vis a vis “recruiter” horror stories, I past below a letter that was posted by a person on the, Kansas City Star career blog. Even though it does not involve a recruiter per se – it is an example of how the government is using software to weed out excellent employees. This time, it is the US Government that is missing out on good people.

    Recently it was announced that the Department of Homeland Security / Immigration was going to hire 800 people in the KC area. I immediately went to the government employment web site (USAJOBS . GOV) – and found 16 different positions that I am very well qualified for. These were not entry level positions and I had the requisite experience, skills and degrees necessary for all 16 jobs. At the end of the application I had to identify my age, sex, race etc. This is what doomed me.

    Within 24 hours of applying for all 16 positions, I received 16 “DO NOT REPLY” email’s which all said the identical thing: “You do not have the minimum necessary experience that this job requires.” WTF? How could that be? I had 2 to 5 times the experience they were looking for? More importantly, it was a Saturday when I submitted my resume to all 16 positions. I received the declination emails on Sunday – when the offices are closed. Obviously, no human had looked at my resume.

    So, I called my neighbor (a 29 year old disabled woman) who is a manager at the very same office of Homeland Security / Immigration that I had applied to. She informed me of the following:
    1) The computer automatically rejected me because I am at the very end of the “preference list.” This list has 134 spots on it and I am dead last at place 134: White male, over 50 and I am not a veteran.
    2) The computer scanned my questionnaire and determining I was a White male, over 50 and not a veteran — which automatically sent me the declination email.
    3) This email declining me has nothing to do with my skills or experience; the government (at least this office) is so screwed up that they use the same declination letter for all applicant’s – whether it is true or not. All applicants receive the same (yet, incorrect) letter stating: “You do not have the minimal experience…” If you are a convicted criminal, you receive an email that sates: “You do not have the minimal experience…” If you have a drug history, you receive an email that states: “You do not have the minimal experience…” If the job requires heavy lifting and you have a bad back, you will receive a letter that states: “You do not have the minimal experience…” I think you get my point.
    4) Her office fields over 100 calls every day from folks like me who are puzzled because they do have the requisite experience and education necessary. What a time waster.
    5) At the top of the list are: Female (minority) veterans who have been disabled in the last two wars; White female veterans who have been disabled in the last two wars; Male (minority) veterans who have been disabled in the last two wars’ White male veterans who have been disabled in the last two wars; minority spouses of disabled veterans from the last two wars, etc., etc., etc.

    My neighbor (who is from a wealthy family and would never have to work if she did not want to) told me she got the job — and was promoted to manager because she is a “disabled white woman.” That is number 17 on the “preference list.”

    While I have no problem with disabled veterans getting to the front of the line, I wonder how many of them have the experience for the jobs that I am interested in? The jobs that I applied for were for well experienced professionals with at least one graduate degree plus 10 or 15 years of experience. How many of these young, injured, veterans have that kind of experience? These “preference lists” virtually insure that the best person does not get the job. By its very nature, these lists guarantee that a lesser qualified applicant will get the job. 14 of the 16 jobs I applied for required a CPA (which I have) & an MBA – which I have. They also required a project manager designation (PM) and 15 years of (IT) full life cycle experience. Whom on the list ahead of me has all of those?

    It is enough to make me leave the Democratic party and become a tea bagger! Extremely frustrating.

    Felix Montalevicz
    Lee’s Summit

  62. @ Kevin: Thanks again.

    @ Jacob: I really don’t think we have COME to this state of affairs, I think this just IS the state of affairs, exacerbated by the current economic situation. It could be that THIS is the norm; that there are occasionally periods of time where labor shortages improve how typical applicants are treated (WWII, in the US), but that most of the time, most applicants for most jobs are poorly treated.

    @ Kenneth: Quite understandable- nobody likes it when they can’t game the *system and get things their way.


    *and because we ALL have inherent cognitive biases, the system is always gamed even when we try hard not to have it that way; we just need to be aware of those biases and take them into account when we choose and when we hope to be chosen…

  63. @Keith Ohhh yes we have COME to this alright, yes it IS the state of affairs, but I dare say that there has been and still is a steady decline in the level of care and the level of conscience.

    The come to is due to people in management (be they C-suite, in-house or agency folks) that have ‘forgotten’ what decency is and how it is exercised. We have come to this through becoming hardened and indifferent, through pushing for profit and margins rather than looking at the whole thing holistically.
    We have come to be so squeezed on all that we do (due to competition and the push for profit) that all matters people and all matters respect have been lost.

    That we are in a state of IS is undeniable, but a human regression it certainly is.

  64. @ Jacob: I hear you. When were things substantially better (during a previous labor-surplus recruiting environment), and why do you think they were? *I just don’t think there ever was a Recruiting Golden Age, followed by Silver, Bronze and now the unpleasant Iron age where all is struggle and evil. I DO think we are in a more economically unequal, socially stratified, and socially immobile society here in the U.S. than we have been in my lifetime- perhaps that translates more directly into what you’re talking about than I’m seeing….

    Thank You,


    *I’ve been recruiting for quite awhile, including two prior recessions.

  65. This is an excellent article and is required reading for members of my team as a precursor to an upcoming training session. We hope to have a lot of discussion around this. Thank you!

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