How You Can Make Your Worst Recruiting Practices Go Away

If you look at best practices as “us” and see worst practices as “them,” I can assure you there are more of them than there are of us. As a matter of fact, I suspect the numbers are not even close. Be that as it may, this New Yorker has always been short of patience as it relates to problems that can be fixed yet remain the same year after year. Here’s a list of my personal favorites — and some ideas on how you might make changes that others are either not bright enough or don’t care enough to make themselves.

Wanting a Lot for a Little

Nothing annoys me more than companies that want a candidate who has 1,127 key skills but is unwilling to pay the price it will take to hire this candidate. The bottom line for these sad organizations is that the candidates they like are too expensive and the ones they can afford are not good enough to hire. Honestly, aren’t you just a bit tired of this? You are almost never, ever going to get a Cadillac for the price of a Chevrolet, because the first rule of money is that you don’t get a lot for a little. If you run into this Neanderthal line of thinking, I suggest that you present candidates who can clearly do the job and are available to hire regardless of salary, because what a qualified candidate is earning at another organization is not your problem and not your responsibility. Beyond submitting qualified candidates, consider utilizing such sites as to provide data and support you efforts.

Having HR In Charge

Long ago, HR was probably a reasonable place to have recruiting report to because it was an ancillary function in a world that was very different than the one in which we live today. I have nothing against HR people, but that solution is no longer viable. Recruiting now plays a major role in building the organization and, if done well, providing a competitive advantage. The author Robert Anthony wrote, “If you find a good solution and become attached to it, the solution may become your next problem.” Clearly, having recruiting report into HR fits Mr. Anthony’s sentiment perfectly. The time has come for every organization to have a Chief Talent Officer, either in spirit or in title, because the job of recruiting, as with most other jobs, will get done most effectively if someone who can do the job is clearly in charge of getting it done in the first place. If you are a recruiter reporting into an HR person who does not get it, I suggest that you consider yourself the person in charge and learn how to manage your boss. See How to Manage Your Boss: Developing the Perfect Working Relationship, by Ros Jay. Even if you can’t change the structure, you can still get great results.

Bashing Job Boards

“Monster first” has become my mantra, and I seem to be in good company. Industry darlings such as Microsoft, Google, Starbucks, and Amazon all post positions on Monster. Thus, Monster, as well as those companies, must be doing something right. You can bash the boards all you like, but Monster is so pervasive, so visible, and so entrenched that not posting there makes it look like you are not really serious about hiring in the first place. I know that passive candidates are all the rage, and I go after them as well as the next person; however, I have found such amazing candidates on Monster, many whom have lead me to other candidates, that not shelling out the money to see who you will identify is just plain silly. By the way, to my corporate recruiting friends, how many passive candidates did you source, cold call, convince to interview, and successfully hire last year?

Seeing Poaching as Stealing

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God bless John Sullivan. He might wear that funny-looking vest a lot, but he had the courage to take the social work out of recruiting and make so many people understand that business is business and you can’t steal a person because you can’t own one in the first place. You can steal clothing, computers, or Lou Adler’s iPod, but you can’t steal a person. All organizations that compete are competing for customers as well as the human capital to serve and add value to these customers. You can’t very well do that if the very best people are working for the competition; the best people need to be working for you! I suggest that you build your company and, not incidentally, your future as well, by sourcing the best people from anywhere you can find them. Hiring the best people is what you are paid to do and that is how you win big in this phenomenon we call business.

Not Managing Your Career

Recruiters are some of the most interesting and colorful people I have come to know. Unfortunately, many do not manage their careers very effectively, for reasons I do not fully understand. I personally know recruiters who are extraordinarily good at what they do but keep on working for companies who do such clever things as:

  • Not valuing their contributions
  • Having unresponsive hiring managers
  • Not communicating effectively
  • Failing to provide the tools needed to do the job
  • Expecting candidates the day after the requisition is approved
  • Lacking the ability or will to make hiring decisions

The list goes on. You know what these organizations are like to work for; most of us have done it, and if you have, then consider it a price paid to see what type of companies for which you do not want to work. If you never worked for one of these dogs, consider yourself lucky. If you currently work for one now, run, do not walk, to get your resume updated, find a great position with an organization that values you and will support you efforts to be successful, and resign your current position. You will wonder why you didn’t do it years ago and will be on the start to a better professional experience.

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


5 Comments on “How You Can Make Your Worst Recruiting Practices Go Away

  1. Howard,

    First, let me say, I appreciate your articles. They are some of the best on ERE.

    I cannot tell you how much I agree with you about the poaching/stealing issue. I never have understood what is wrong with the notion that in order to fill a position with the best possible candidate, you must present passive candidates. People who are successful doing the position for a competitor cannot be overlooked. In order to be able to present them, you must recruit them. That is the job of a recruiter — to recruit. In fact, I strongly believe that even the use of words such as poaching and stealing do a great disservice to us all. Stealing is certainly illegal, and unless you’re talking about eggs, so is poaching. Why even use those negative terms? Both imply that someone else owns what we seek. As you said, you don’t own your employees. At best, you rent them on a mutually agreeable basis, unless and until a better opportunity exists for either side.

    So, since you are widely read, how about replacing the words ‘poaching’ and ‘stealing’ with the word ‘recruiting’? Let’s agree to stop using them. Maybe that can be the first step to eliminating the whole issue….

  2. Howard,

    Good stuff! The ‘Board’ issue is key and while I don’t use Monster for exec search I do access BlueSteps and it has proved to be a very useful tool for me. Not a panacea but useful in the right situations. Keep up the practical advice!

  3. How You Can Make Your Worst Recruiting Practices Go Away
    Thanks Howard Adamsky for your time and attention to this article packed with many topics. I will humbly provide my opinions for review.

    1. Wanting allot or alitte?
    I?m sure we all understand this can be an obstacle or opportunities within this industry. Depending on our experience, expertise and relationship with the hiring manager and fully understanding the search criteria is the key. A competent and confident recruiter / search consultant will add value only if we become partners in the process.
    2. Having HR In Charge
    I agree completely, however only focus on what we can control, our attitude, commitment and desire to provide the best solution. Having a Talent mind set is a passion topic of mine and at the end of the day if the Board, CEO and Senior team all have the same like-mind that?s the true win/ win. However on are side of the court, focusing on what we can do is the only real solution. As Howard stated if you work for an HR team that does not embrace the talent mindset, my advise master your current position and put yourself in a position to be a person of influence. Adding value is always a good strategy.
    3. Seeing Poaching as Stealing
    ?WoW? always a tough conversation, Think best practice and what?s the end in mind. Great people always find a way to win, integrity is a gold standard that many miss.
    4. Not Managing Your Career
    Again great insight, however most professionals rush into a position. My practice is mostly C-E level, I am amazed that assessments, personality profiling and when I ask what are your core competencies they get stuck. So with that said, always make your selection process slow well thought out and be sure it?s a win /win. Take assessments and truly learn to understand the best match for you and make sure you know your strengths.

    Brian Anderson is the principal founder of BA Search Group an Executive search, coaching and retail consulting practice in the Naperville, Aurora, IL market.

  4. I agree with most of what you have said except for the ‘HR in Charge’ in charge part. You present the case for working around, pushing aside HR in what seems to be a agency recruiters almost God given right to ‘help’ the organisation (aren’t recruiters such nice people). Come on… really? If there was no such thing as commission would they really care? Sorry off on a tangent – not the point I wanted to make!

    Recruiters should work with HR to help in the transfer of the sourcing skills they hold so dear. Indeed I agree that resourcing specialist should be part of every organisation but think that they should definitely be part of HR – the links between resourcing and the rest of the HR business are too strong to have it anywhere else.

    Indeed a good resourcing specialist is so much more than a good recruitment agent.

  5. Thank you for publishing the following comments.
    We would like to express our opinions.

    Wanting a Lot for a Little
    ‘….companies that want a candidate who has 1,127 key skills…..’ .

    There are companies who ‘beef up ‘ their skill requirements in postings on diversity job boards to insure they get diverse candidates who are really worth their time to review. These retarded companies post the same job on major boards with less requirements. Dumb.

    Bashing the Boards

    Companies, whose websites are a void of any references to diversity, ask for site statistics within two minutes of a phone call. It’s usually an assignment given to the newest associate in the HR dept. The task is to gather information for a selection committee.
    Seldom does the committee agree on a board since none of data, provided by the boards, match their ‘requirements’. Some committees decide to post one job on a selected board one time with ‘beefed up’ skill requirements knowing they can bash the board for poor candidate results.Sad.

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