I Don’t Get No Respect! or Why Recruiters Are Often Treated as Second-Class Citizens

Managers frequently complain to me that their recruiters are ineffective and expensive. Many feel that their recruiters are incapable because positions go unfilled for long periods of time or because the candidates they see are not what they were looking for. Recruiters, on the other hand, rarely find managers who understand the market and who realize how difficult it is to find and then to hire topnotch people in this growth market. I hear them complain about managers who never have time to interview or who scare off potential hires with anecdotes or stories about previous incumbents. But, let’s face it, the recruiter has to sell herself and show how she is really contributing to the future of the company. Credibility is something we build up over time; it’s earned. By slowly learning the business, by making some good hires, and by learning how to communicate with the management team; you will develop this precious tool. Here are several specific ways to improve your image and show how you can contribute to the boss’s success. Tip #1: Develop an in-depth understanding of the business and the technology that the boss deals with every day. Take the time (yes, even your own time) to learn whatever you need to so you can hold intelligent conversations and ask good questions. Without this as a baseline, you are already slipping behind the credibility curve. If you are in a software field, get to know the languages that are being used and learn about their history, level of difficulty, and who the “masters” of the language are. Study the acronyms and know how to speak the language of the profession you are seeking. However, be cautious not to learn just the terminology as you will be found out quickly and have your credibility further reduced. Tip #2: Work on the personal relationship you have with the managers you are serving and with the entire management team. Listen to suggestions they may have and put as many of them as you can into play. Get them involved in sourcing by asking them for leads or referrals and by using them to gather names at conferences or trade shows. When they are partners with you, they are less critical because they understand the barriers you face. Tip #3: Measure everything. Develop a set of metrics that cover costs, activity, and also quality. Find measures that your management teams will respect and that they agree with. Balance your results against benchmarks that you report. Make your targets exceed the benchmarked ones and show how you are progressing on a regular basis. Report these metrics at least quarterly, but even better do it every month. Tip #4: Educate the managers about the market for the talent you are seeking and give them as much hands-on recruiting opportunity as they will accept. Many managers may be unaware of the huge changes that have occurred in the marketplace for people. They may have never used the Internet for sourcing or email for talking with a candidate. This is when you can become a teacher and help the manager learn the tools and practice using them. Pass on articles, include them in the ERE distribution list, and get them to be your partner – not your adversary – in finding and closing on great people. Tip #5: Find out what managers expect from you. Perhaps one manager hates to interview more than 2-3 candidates while another manager expects to interview a wide range of candidates. It is your responsibility to determine what each manager’s hot buttons are and give him or her what they want. This is called good salesmanship – focusing the offer on what the customer wants. I think many recruiters try a single approach with every manager. The highly successful recruiter knows the manager and her personality and tailors his recruiting style to it. Recruiters have to be good internal salespeople, good external salespeople, and they have to show their value. As the Internet promises managers more direct access to people, it will be increasingly tough for recruited to show how they add value. Those who simply scan the job requisition, find a few partial matches and set up interviews will quickly find themselves looking for other work. Those who understand that recruiting is a relationship business and a sales function will have more work than they can handle.

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


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