Is Recruiting a Profession?

Many people do not regard recruiting as a profession. HR generalists are prone to think that anyone can do recruiting. Managers expect unqualified people to act as interviewers and to give them advice on whom to hire. Even recruiters have mixed opinions, as many of them were not formally trained and were also HR generalists at some point.

Within many organizations, there is an uneasy relationship between human resources generalists, recruiters, and management. HR generalists often try to intermediate among everyone, sometimes creating confusion or generating animosity. Recruiters tend to work alone or to bypass the HR generalist, also creating bad feelings. Managers go to whichever one they have the best relationship with.

In some organizations, hiring managers simply bypass both and go directly to third-party recruiters outside the firm. They do this because these agency recruiters are seen as professionals. They meet three requirements: they are perceived as experts who have access to the right candidates, they are able to immediately respond to the hiring manager’s needs, and they are free of corporate politics and bureaucracy.

While this problem has existed for decades and is probably a normal part of corporate life, it can be different. Part of the problem is that HR is in the midst of changing from being administrative and transaction-centered to being value-centered.

HRIS systems have automated many of the administrative tasks of HR, and intranets and self-service philosophies have taken over some of their service elements. This has led to a need for fewer people within most HR functions and to an identity crisis for HR professionals who now have to re-establish a value-adding role for themselves. Many people see recruiting, or finding the right talent, as one of these and want to be part of the process.

Recruiters are faced with daunting challenges as well. They can no longer rely on volume to meet demands. For some positions, few people, if any, apply. For others, there are hundreds of applicants. The recruiter has to source people for the tough positions and screen them for the others. And they have to do the screening and assessing in a deeper manner than before and are held to tighter quality standards.

To be successful, they too have had to adopt technology that removes much of the clerical side of their work. They find that it is critical to know who the best performers are and what their competencies and skills are. Yet the HR professional often won’t facilitate an interaction or can’t identify the best performers and throw up procedural blocks to prevent recruiters from doing it themselves.

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Hiring managers don’t care about any of this. They just want good people fast. Because the HR professionals most often have the relationship with the hiring manager, they should be able to act as a broker between the hiring manager and the recruiter. Yet the two often work at odds to one another. Many HR people feel threatened by their own systems and by the recruiting technologies and easily fall back into their more familiar administrative roles of regulator and police.

Professionals usually have some set of established qualifications that give them the right to call themselves professionals. HR has struggled to formulate these criteria and has done so with the Society of Human Resource Management’s Professional Human Resources and Senior Profession Human Resources certificates.

No one has done this yet for recruiting, although there has been talk among groups such as the old Employment Management Association (now part of SHRM) and other such groups to create standards. Until some organization creates the standards, recruiters need to self-regulate. They need to formally learn skills such as how to conduct a behavioral interview, how to recruit ethically, and how to use the Internet and other tools to source candidates. They need to have formal training in the laws of their state and government. Recruiting is getting more difficult and more complex every year.

Flying by the seat of their pants is rapidly becoming a liability to both the recruiter and the organization who hires them. Until such standards are defined, here are five things to improve the fragile, difficult relationship between HR, hiring managers, and recruiters:

  1. Be responsive. Hiring managers want (and should get) attention and focus on the positions they have open. The HR professional is in the perfect position to facilitate the communication process between hiring managers and recruiters. In one organization, the HR professional acted as a team leader for a group composed of hiring managers, recruiters and a few technical experts. Together they identified competencies, developed interview guides and even made referrals.
  2. Educate. Make sure that hiring managers understand the market and appreciate how easy or difficult a particular placement may be. Agencies do this by negotiation and price. Internally, HR professionals and recruiters have to do more explaining. Recruiters need to know and explain the talent marketplace. The HR professional needs to facilitate and broker relationships, gather and share information about people and make sure that the talent of the organization is “managed” in a way that maximizes productivity and minimizes turnover.
  3. Reduce bureaucracy, employ technology. Make sure that the recruiting process is clearly understood by all the parties involved. Be sure that roles and responsibilities are well defined. Whenever possible, develop a service level agreement to actually spell out what each party will do (or not do) and when they will do it. Remove administrative responsibilities from the hiring manager and from recruiters and HR professionals by employing technology more effectively. Make sure whatever you want a manager to do with technology works flawlessly, quicker than it did before, and yields better quality. Would you use an ATM if it were twice as complicated and took more time than to go inside to the teller?
  4. Measure what you do. Just because the HR professionals and the recruiters have taught the hiring managers about the market or redesigned roles does not mean that they all understand the impact those changes have. Both HR professionals and recruiters need to gather data, test hypotheses, establish metrics and make the recruiting process as empirical as possible. Managers will understand and respond to hard data. Show them the cost and time saved and the value added.
  5. Use an evolutionary approach. Take things one step at a time. Don’t expect hiring managers to become recruiters, at least not right away. Don’t expect HR professionals to give up all their recruiting tasks. Those tasks will eventually disappear anyway. Don’t expect recruiters to become completely versed in all the rules and politics of the organization. Make people want to use the new approaches because they are faster, better, or cheaper. Remember to start by giving hiring managers what they want and need: good talent as fast as possible.

None of this is rocket science, just some very basic things that are often overlooked. Change is difficult for both HR and line management, so guide and teach managers about how to recruit while you continuously figure out how you can support their efforts from a behind-the-scenes, value-added approach.

Finally, lobby to get a set of professional standards in place so that you can truly say you are a professional and not just an amateur subset of HR.

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, 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


33 Comments on “Is Recruiting a Profession?

  1. Kevin, as always, thank you for your contribution to our industry. I always attempt to empathize with corporate recruitment teams – I am not a fan of TPR groupthink that corporate recruitment is the real problem.

    Situations are never just black and white, and any point that we can step out of our own paradigm and learn more about the other side of the fence, the more tolerant and understanding we become.

    Thank you!

  2. The first sentence of this article, ‘Many people do not regard recruiting as a profession.’ sets an incredibly negative tone. Who are these people? Clearly the author seems to be one of them.

    This concept is the one I find most troubling and could not disagree with more, ‘The HR professional is in the perfect position to facilitate the communication process between hiring managers and recruiters.’

    Having the HR manager act as middleperson between the hiring manager and recruiter is a recipe for disaster. The recruiter does not need to be ‘managed’ by the HR manager. Recruiters are specialists and are professionals. Unless the HR manager is also the recruiter, then they should not be actively involved with the recruiting process…trust your recruiters to do what they do best…don’t get in the way! It’s important that the recruiter talk directly with the hiring manager and have direct feedback on candidates and insight into the job and any other nuances so they can recruit effectively.

    If agency recruiters are viewed as professionals, why wouldn’t corporate recruiters be viewed in the same way?

    In progressive companies, they are. When I was a contract recruiter with Bank of America for just over a year, I was very impressed with how things are done and the respect that is given to recruiters there. They do not report to the hr managers, they are equal partners and the hr managers stay out of the recruiting process completely, and are there only as a resource for comp issues, etc.


  3. Kevin, excellent insights and suggestions. Recruiting has too long been viewed as ‘entry level HR’ and your 5 steps are a great start to getting managers, other HR professionals and recruiters themselves to understand that this is a profession with a critical bottom line role to play in a successful organization. Thanks you.

  4. Keven

    As always, you have always have great insight as noted by prior post.

    A key point is that Hiring manager go to agencies because these agency recruiters are seen as professionals

    Having worked in both internal environments at large Fortune 500 companies and also worked in RPO environments, it’s the ‘professional’ part that is key

    Recruiters need to adapt, evolve to speak in terms their clients understand – ie, understand the business but present meaningful metrics with solutions.

    Not just the time to fill and source of hires, but the actual quality of the hires.

    For bigger companies, Recruitment departments may have some abilities to deliver metrics and for smaller organizations, it takes more creativity or manual work to acquire but even for the big ones, I don’t see any great work being done in my own benchmarking as to packaging metrics for recruiters to present to their client groups

    thanks for the great article

  5. As a former agency recruiter moving to the in-house corporate side I can tell you that I would have had more credibility with the same hiring managers had I stayed ‘outside’. Im beginning just now after 1 full year to convince my hiring managers that ‘I’m the recruiter!’ It’s been a real tough sell getting the hiring managers to trust me to source, call and network on my own to find candidates that would normally have come through a ‘vendor’ as I now call the outside recruiters. I correct every hiring manager that referrs to the outside vendor as a recruiter by telling them that ‘Im the recruiter!’ I’ve reduced hiring costs by as much as 80% in some areas and made imporvements on time to fill as well. You’re absolutely right- you must keep records on time and cost- just like you’re running your own business- its the only way to gain respect and attention.

  6. I have been a recruiter for 25 years and I feel it has NOTHING to do with HR. We are sales people, we sell the candidates on a job and we sell our skiles to a company. I want to be thought of as a sales person not an adjunct to HR.


  7. I’m not a corporate recruiter, but it bothers me to think that they are not considered ‘true professionals’. You have to admit it probably doesn’t help when TPRs notoriously use the same sales pitch like, ‘The best recruiters in the world work independently as 3rd parties, so anyone in corp recruiting is on cruise control since they have a base salary. When you work on a ‘eat what you kill’ basis, it’s easy to see how much stronger you’ll work to perform’. Upon just finishing my mba, I seriously have contemplated going to the corp side where I can move toward organizational development in the long run, but it worries me to hear that ‘recruiting is looked upon like entry-level HR’. I’ve personally given a recruiting presentation at GE (the first company to pioneer a valuation premium on ‘Great People and Teams’), and I can assure you that they don’t look at talent acquisition and leadership development as an entry-level activity!

    At the end of the day, I work independently (no, not even for a search firm where 50% goes back the house, after which you have to cough up 35%+ to Uncle Sam!) I don’t think of myself as ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than corp recruiters (base salary) or agency TPRs (recoverable draw comp) – in all sincerity, we as third parties just work the super-tough ‘purple squirrel’ positions. Since there is so much risk and the positions are so much more difficult-to-fill than others in what is (in 99% of cases) an already over-saturated requisition workload for most corp recruiters, we make more $. I just think to the concept of ‘High Risk, High Reward’.

    As good as I’d like to think I am from a relationship-building perspective, I will be the first to tell you that I would seriously have a rough time working 75 open positions! In manufacturing-speak, you can have the best widget machine in the world, but if it can only make 100 widgets/hr, that’s all it can do (despite the wonderful quality!) We also might think of ourselves like a recruiting Corvettes, but if you put us on a road with tons of traffic and red lights, we’re not going to be perform to full potential.

    Corporate recruiters don’t have it easy, like most of us TPRs would like to think. I’d rather work 5 high-level Director level+ positions than work 50 mid-level roles. It’s truly a matter of preference. My only advice is to invest in reading and studying other companies, business models, recruiting models, etc. – it will make you a more well-rounded business professional, and over time, I can assure you that hiring managers and upper mgmt will begin to take notice.

  8. OK, I haven’t responded to one of these articles in a while because when I did, I alluded to KNOWLEDGE of the product cycle/industry/discipline as being a base for recruiting. Not one response questioned what I meant, and I think that most of the readers didn’t have a clue (I may be wrong on that one, but will know from the responses, if any).

    Well, I’m on a sick day today, and am crotchier than usual, so thought I’d get everybody in an uproar with this question:

    EXACTLY what is IT that the so called recruiting ‘specialist’ is a specialist in?

    So far, most recruiters remind me of those people who are chiefly responsible for the failure of our education system, namely, ‘teachers’ with a degree in how to teach, but NO actual KNOWLEDGE of any particular subject to teach about.

    We have recruiters who know how to recruit (albeit using an antiquated system) but don’t know anything about what they are recruiting for (I know, do not end a sentence with a preposition!).

    To be good at anything, you must first KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW, and then set about learning BEFORE you begin working towards being a true ‘professional’ or ‘specialist’.

    I have known very few Recruiters over the years who know any of the nuts and bolts duties of the slots for which they are recruiting.

    And, as I have mentioned before, none know the product cycle which is the ‘key’ to evaluation of job specs and candidates.

    I suppose I should be a little more specific….if you have a job spec (worthless as they may be) and you have a resume (worthless as they may be),

    FIRST, you must first know the vertical and horizontal POSITION of the job slot within the product cycle.

    SECOND, you must then understand the TASKS associated with that job slot (Systems Engineer, Staff Engineer, Analyst, etc.).

    THIRD, you must know the PRODUCT genre (Electronic, Electrical, Mechanical, Machine, etc.).

    FOURTH, you must know the TOOLS utilized (Pro-E, HP, CV, M/S., etc.).

    Once there, you can select the ‘specialties’ in which you desire to ‘perform professionaly’ (adverb), ‘professionaly perform’ (adjective), and/or be a ‘professional’ (noun). [The diction lesson is there because the word ‘professional’ and its many variations is so OVER USED, and, evidently from your responses, without consulting ‘’ first.]

    Remember, however, that you cannot be all things to all people. Pick ONE, or TWO, or, if you are really bright and organized, possibly THREE areas of recruiting, and learn everything you can to have informed, intelligent discussions with candidates re their qualifications. Visit client’s facilities, have them explain what various levels of Designers, Analysts, Testers, Managers, etc. do for a living day to day. Look at products, manufacturing equipment, test devices, flow charts, workers, etc….get a REAL FEEL for what the hell is going on! Don’t be afraid to ask questions? As I have said in the past, and have been castrated for many times over the years, both sides of recruiting is filled with ‘pools of ignorance surrounded by dikes of arrogance’.

    CHANGE THAT! Be informed! Learn your trade from the ground up! Stop focusing on more fills (which SEEMS to be the major topic in all of these discussions!)and rather on how you can truly KNOW what you are talking about. DO YOUR JOB WELL AND THE MONEY WILL FOLLOW!

    In the old days, we hiring managers (I was one before I became a recruiter)used to joke about the ‘know nothing-don’t wanna no nothing’ personnel (HR) types and their corresponding numbers in private recruiting who thought that a ‘bus’ was something they took to work, and that ‘packaging’ was something the bag boy did for them at ‘Ralphs Market’. Has it changed, I wonder?

    Let me know.

  9. If it walks like a duck and looks like a duck it must be a duck. If it takes hours, and you receive a paycheck, then it must be a profession.

  10. Mr. Aruzian, I agree that recruiters should strive to learn more about the functions in which they are recruiting for. In fact, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    However, I believe that there is a point of diminishing returns. While I would recommend reading about your industry and ‘specialty’ at least 1/2 – 1 hour per day (on your own time), I wouldn’t recommend diving into and/or memorizing a technical manual. If I’m recruiting for a Hyperion Essbase DBA, it’s not important that I know how to build a data cube myself – what matters is that I have enough knowledge to speak intelligently and understand what the candidate is communicating.

    It’s a new economy, and the face/attitude of the workforce is changing as Baby Boomers move into retirement and Gen-Y stampedes in to take their place. Emotional Intelligence and trust-based selling resonates more than knowledge of a specific specialty.

    I’ve met recruiters with incredible knowledge of a specialized skillset – in fact, some seem to convey their belief they are better for the job than those they are recruiting. Which leads me to wonder if it is these individuals you are describing (i.e. your reference to ‘teachers’ who have no practical knowledge)? If their knowledge is so highly specialized, then why are they recruiting? I don’t mean that sarcastically, but we’ve all seen the type I’m describing.

    The best recruiters today are those that have inherent sales ability, but built upon the right value-system. It also helps to strive for continuous improvement, which means having the passion to get ‘up to speed’ on what they are recruiting for. I wouldn’t say a ‘do-er turned recruiter’ is better than a recruiter that understands their job is to create value through a stronger talent pool for the organization.

    From the Bogart Corp website, I can see that you retired from the USAF Reserves, so I can use a certain military principle that you can likely relate to. In the Marines, you’re taught that each mission has the following imperatives (in order of importance): 1. Mission Accomplishment / 2. Troop Welfare. In recruiting, I believe the parallel is as follows: 1. Value Creation / 2. Specialized Knowledge.

  11. OK, I understand your points, and perhaps I did not adequately articulate what I meant re knowledge of job slots.

    First, I notice how ‘hung up’ most of these postings are with what I consider extraneous and irrelevant ‘nonsense’, such as, ‘Should we call ourselves ‘professionals?”, ‘How do we get more job fills?’, and so on.

    I think that if 25% of the time was filled with education on the operational discipline in which the recruiter was operating, without getting into low level details, it would ‘professionalize’ (a verbalization) the recruiting industry.

    Second, no one has yet to ask about PRODUCT CYCLE, the ‘baseline’ for learning where a job slot fits in the overall scheme of the organization…an absolute necessity in evaluation of candidates!

    Third, I am NOT advocating reading ‘tech pubs’ type documents, but merely educating recruiters at basic levels! My remarks about HR types thinking a BUS was something you took to work and PACKAGING was what the bagboy did at ‘Ralph’s’ were not exagerations. They are the tip of the gigantic iceberg of ignorance out there.

    I have mentioned before the HR type at the old DEC who had been the ’employment rep’ for a PCB repair line for 2 years and didn’t know what solder was, or the HR type at HP Medical Equip Div who had been with them for 7 years and did not know the basic function of the co product!

    These appear to still be typical. There is a need for an over view orientation in recruiting PRIOR to allowing so called recruiters (corp or private) to begin operation in their respective discipline specialities.

    If the military, to use your anolgy, operated the way the recruiting industry does, then any Haaavaad MBA could throw on a 10G suit, climb into the cockpit of an F-18, ands fire it up!

    You must EDUCATE….you cannot just send each other emails throwing around the word ‘professional’ and hope that somehow that will do it!

    I’ve been out of hi-tech for almost a decade, and am have been scrambling for 3 months to get up to date for recruiting 2nd level types in WC and IT. When I have sufficient education, and only THEN, I will begin operating.

    Thanks for listening!

  12. John, you’re 100% right – I couldn’t agree more. Isn’t it crazy that it’s has to be recommended that recruiters brush up on the basics of what they’re recruiting for? It’s a crazy world out here!

  13. Joshua:

    I am once again reading paragraph after paragraph about irrelevant nonsense containing no hints on how to get your ‘submittal to hit’ ratio down to a tolerable level, say 3 to 1.

    I have recently spoken with several 2nd level types in small to mid size manufacturing organizations, and they informed me that ‘things haven’t changed’, and, in fact, are much worse than when I left the business.

    From what they said, it appears that the pool of recruiters on ‘both sides’, are over over 95% female, and further that whether male or female, these recruiters know little or nothing about the industries, the disciplines, the products, and the cultures. That is not exactly ‘professional’.

    They also mentioned that HR mandates the use of forms which makes articulating job specs difficult.

    In addition, they said that these job specs are ‘translated’ by HR into some nonsense emphasizing ‘style’ (color of necktie, team player) rather than ‘substance (relevant experience, expertise), resulting in a total waste of time reading dozens of resumes of candidates who are not even close to the job spec!

    If a COMPETENT recruiter were to read one of these ‘translations’, he/she would probably at least get a laugh out of HR’s total lack of knowledge as to what ‘tools’ are inherently required to perform a task. For example, here is what a typical example of an HR ‘translated’ ad might look like:

    ‘Mercedes Mechanic wanted…10 years minimum experience in automatic transmissions. Must know how to remove a transmission. Must know how to change transmission seals. Must know how to add fluid to a transmission. Must know how to re-install a transmission. Must know how to use wrenches. Must know how to make a hydraulic lift go up and down. Must know metric measuring system. Must have opposing thumbs’.


    I recently saw an ad for a Quality Control Manager written, evidently, by one of these ‘pools of ignorance’. Among other qualifications, it said:

    ‘Must be a good listener;
    Must be a good communicator;
    Must be able to establish communication at various levels;
    Must be able to manage;
    Must be able to communicate with other department heads;
    Must have knowledge of Quality as it relates to customer’s specifications (NOT QC’S JOB, BY THE WAY. THAT IS A FRONT END RD&D FUNCTION!)
    Must be a good writer;
    Must be a team player (OVER USED DRIVEL TERM!);
    Must be sensitive to subordinate level workers;
    Must be…’ (BLAH BLAH BLAH!).

    No mention of product knowledge, or of quality test systems, or ANY other really relevant requirements.

    So, I have decided that my words do not fall, in most cases, on deaf ears, BUT rather on ears of those ‘pools of ignorance surrounded by dikes of arrogance’ in recruiting who I mentioned a few months back. It’s a waste of my time.

    For those few of you who really want to know what they are doing, and who want to ‘do da job professionaly’, I urge you to get out of your high chair and begin touring your ‘customer’s’ facilities…ask questions…make notes…get demonstrations….talk with the worker bees…GET SMART! BECOME A POOL OF INTELLIGENCE!


  14. Wow!

    Let’s all breathe. In. Out. I’m a recruiter. Head hunter. I’ve been doing it for a long time.

    I’m not an HR person. Never have been.

    Recruiting is not an HR function. I know nothing about HR. I don’t pretend that I do. I place C level execs. Don’t know a darn thing about what they do. I have never seen one of my clients offices. I don’t have time to do all that traveling. I also have no intention of telling them how to run their businesses.

    I know the things you don’t know. The things you will never know. I know why your last offer was rejected. I know why nobody will work for your Tech Director. I know why the last 5 engineers left your company. I have your VP of Operations resume. I am not HR.

    I’m a salesperson. This week, I convinced two people who are valuable to my clients to accept jobs that they wouldn’t have accepted otherwise. Both of them had turned down the jobs previously. I convinced them to accept. I had to twist a CEOs arm to get 75K more for one of my candidates. I’m not sure anyone on the inside would have had the you-know-whats (male or not) to do that. I have been doing this all of my adult life. After close to 30 years, I believe that recruiting is a profession, and has nothing to do with HR.

    I am a recruiter, a salesperson. I can’t be replaced my Monster. Job boards can’t touch me, and HR is hostile. I am a closer. I convince employed high level people, or highly skilled people to change jobs.

    I will get your man. Whether I find him on a job board, one of my assistants finds him, or you tell me exactly who to go and get, I bring him in. Yet, I know nothing about HR.

    I know exactly who I am.

    Why don’t you?

  15. Barbara Goldman, you are pure genious !

    You broke the process down to the sublime and mundane to expose who you are and who we are……recruiters/salespeople and real proud that we are able to come to grips with the fact that we are not HR and don’t care to be.

    Perhaps HR should have a good look in the mirror and come to grips with who they are as opposed to who they are trying to be. More than likely you will realize after a fashion that we as recruiters/salespeople actually know what we are doing and most definitely will save you money and have no desire to step on your turf, just stay off of ours.


    Dan R. Friesland-CEO
    The Hygeia Group, Inc

  16. There are simply two brands of recruiters; those who move resumes and handle paperwork and those who partner with the client, who know the business, who hire to the culture of the company and who have an impact on retention and diversity. Above all they are experts in how to FIND, ATTRACT, CLOSE, and RETAIN the talent that will prove to be crucial to the growth and success of the business.

    John A’s incredulous remarks are a prime example of someone who?s had to work mostly with resume pushers, not experts, and further proof that Recruiters have to earn respect.

    You go to a doctor, dentist, or hire a Big 4 consultant for their degree and training as much as for their experience. Do we need a Harvard Recruiter School or a Masters from Stanford in Staffing to be a real profession?

    How about the compensation? Does a 6-figure salary lend credibility? Many of us make as much and often more than the Hiring Managers we support, those Manager’s whose license plate frames have to tell you they have their MBA. Big Deal!

    To call myself a Recruiting Professional is to prove my expertise every day and work as hard as any top Recruiters do to make the impossible talent search, possible, even if we do sit somewhere in the middle of the totem pole.

  17. Barbara,
    Without a doubt the most intelligent and accurate post I have seen in quite some time. Outstanding.

  18. This is a very well written article…….

    The reality is the Corporate Management teams have very little value in the HR Departments. Many of the HR departments are occupied by people with poor training, low skill level and poor pay. This is due to the automation of the hiring function.

    I am a 3rd party recruiter with 20 years of outside sales experience. I do not consider myself superior to the HR professionals but simply very experienced in networking and negotiating which are clearly sales and marketing functions. I have also spend many years training to be the best at my professional learning new skills and attaining greater knowledge of industries and laws. My goal has always been to add value to my clients in order to be taken seriously.

    The corporations think very little of their HR departments. In fact they think very little of their sales people who they think are expensive and overpaid. The hope is that automation of these valuable functions and or simply the relocation of these functions to ASIA will prove to be successful in attaining greater profits.

    The end result is a backlash from hiring managers who wind up spending considerable time hiring rather than doing their job at no extra pay. They simply leave because of spending too many hours on the job at the expense of their personal family life. There is also a backlash from customers who realize quickly that the supplier is not providing very good service or has huge turnover, or poor quality products as a result of these turnover issues.

    The reality is that the OBVIOUS GREED OF OVERPAID SENIOR EXECUTIVES is in fact creating conflict and tremendous turnover with the very companies that they manage poorly.

    We need to change the mindsets of these corporate management teams that are so focussed on profits at all costs including conflict, employeee turnover, no law compliance, shareholder revolts. We need to hire Corporate Executives who put the stakeholders first in priority and not their personal interests which include multimillion dollar salary packages that are rewarded even on poor performance.

    People need to work together….and not in isolation with technology. I can never be replaced…..because Passive Advertising does not always work in gain new clients or negotiating contracts.

  19. Denise makes some very good points and I agree with most of them. However, I will suggest that it is a mistake (especially for a Recruiter) to suggest that Recruiters are experts in ‘retention’.

    By it’s very definition, ‘Recruiting’ is what takes place prior to the individual beginning their employment with the company. Once they’re on board, they fall under the jurisdiction of ‘human resources’. Retention is an HR issue, not a recruiting issue.

    As a career Recruiter who also did time in various corporate HR (including non-Recruiting functions) roles, I certainly appreciate the intent behind a Recruiter taking pride in doing their job well enough that the people they Recruit actually do stay where they’re hired/placed. I am completely on board with that. However, we’re setting ourselves up for misplaced blame by allowing the retention issue to reflect on our efforts.

    No matter how great a job we do in the corporate Recruiting domain, the reality is that there are simply too many factors (that we have zero control over) which impact an individual’s tenure…any number of things can and do change which serve to materially alter the landscape of what we Recruited someone in for. As Recruiters, we simply don’t have the authority to fix a lot of that…so why do we allow ourselves to take shots for what are really HR issues?

    If corporate America wants to hold it’s Recruiters accountable for retention, then two things would need to take place.

    1. Recruiters would need to be given the authority to fix the issues which might be impacting the tenure of their recruits


    2. Corporate America would need to reward it’s Recruiters for successful retention of their hires. How about a bonus every time one of your hires completes a year of service…or gets promoted…or is rated ‘exceeds expectations’, or exceeds their sales quota…etc?

    Neither of those is likely to happen…and they probably shouldn’t (although I will make a case for them being highly applicable in professional services firms) because there simply are too many things which impact an individual’s tenure that are beyond the control of the Recruiter.

    Let’s absolutely take pride in what we do, Recruiters! But let’s also recognize that we shouldn’t set ourselves up to take the hit for something that’s not in our control.

    I’ve asked this here in this forum before and I’m asking again, can someone show us even one corporate compensation program which rewards their Recruiters for, specifically, retention of their hires?

  20. I believe the very foundation of our existence, as well as the measure of our quality, is in our ability to identify talent and facilitate their transition into an organization.

    We all know that there is a distinct difference in the operational model between head hunters and corporate recruiters. We are also very aware that both types of professionals work diligently to satisfy clients. Having worked a full desk through search and exercise my political prowess in corporate, I would venture to say that there needs to be a merging of the three pillars of Recruiting that would assist in having what we do globally recognized as a profession. The art, the science and the process.

    There are countless concepts, theories, methodologies and models that can be packaged in a manner similar to law or medicine to validate our profession. Our ‘profession’ is in essence a practice. Visualize this with me for a moment ? you?re at happy hour and you meet someone new. ?Nice meeting you. What do you do?? you ask. They respond, ?I practice law.? You know immediately that they are an Attorney. What if they would have said, ?I practice talent acquisition?? Would you know immediately that they are a Recruiter?? You should! But it is not intuitive to our society, culture, economy, business environment ? however you want to slice it. In recruiting there are no absolutes, no guarantees. But factoring in research, historical trending and solid expertise in the field, a good recruiter can infer their propensity to be successful as a professional.

    So yes, Recruiting is a profession. When will we take ownership of our life’s work and demand respect from our society. The Chief Recruiting Officer role or at least a Chief Talent Officer role should be just as common as the CEO, CFO, COO and CIO. Can we imagine what our discussions will be like when our perception of our profession is a given and not a variable???

  21. I have been in recruiting for 30+ years. And proud of it. I have done some ER, training, benefits and comp. And as a recruiter, I need to know a little of all of these areas. And recruiting IS a part of HR if you are in a corporate setting. I prefer recruiting. Recruiting is the tip of the spear. If I am not bringing quality staff in the door….then the organization suffers. Without recruiting, the rest does not really exist. My two cents.

    John Lenotte
    Staffing/HR professional

  22. I do work for which I’m paid: I’m a professional.

    IMHO, I think we should stop trying to get respect from people who require making ourselves over into their image to consider granting it, after all, most of us are ‘NQTT’ (‘Not Quite Their Type’). It’s not worth it.

    I believe John Falstaff said it well:
    ?Honor pricks me on. Yea, but how if honor prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honor set to a leg? no. Or an arm? no. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery, then? No. What is honor? A word. What is in that word ?honor?? What is that ?honor?? Air. A trim reckoning. Who hath it? He that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. ‘Tis insensible, then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore, I’ll none of it. Honor is a mere scutcheon. And so ends my catechism.?

    -Henry IV, Part 1

    Substitute ?professionalism? for ?honor? and you get my point.

    Keith D. Halperin,
    Sr. Recruiter

  23. David,

    I hear want you are saying, but I do want to point out that every organization is different. In the firm I work for, recruiters are part of the retention process and you know why? Because recruiter are naturally relationship builders (most HR professionals are not). So who better to develop a long-lasting relationship with an employee? Answer: A recruiter. But I do agree that if that is part of a recruiter’s job, comp them for it…


  24. Wonderful post Barb…We are salespeople. and when HR attempts to manage our sales process through a prism of ‘risk management’ the same way they manage their operations, recruitment goes down the tubes. Recruiters succeed by their vision of ‘what can we sell’ and ‘what is possible’, rather than ‘how can we avoid risk.’

  25. With all due respect your note comes across acrid, condescending, and bitter.

    I know many ‘C-Average’ multi-millionaires.

    Obviously, they possess something that schools fail to measure, emphasize, identify or evaluate. This is more of a statement against the education system than it is of anything else.

    It does not mean they are ‘stupid’ because they were ‘C-Average’ in a ‘community college’ (As you so put it). It means they were lousy students. Yet highly successful business individuals in certain cases.

    I know of a million dollar per year stockbroker who can not talk about anything other than sports (hockey baseball). Most of my conversations with him have to be ‘dumbed down’ as he never spent one day in a college. Is he dumb? No. He earns a million a year in fees so he can’t be that dumb.

    Just smart in a different area: that of convincing people to fork over money!

    I had a gentleman call my office early this year demanding my coaching services for his failing recruiting practice. He was handling ‘Civil Engineers’. He went on lambasting, ranting and raving how ‘lousy’ it was to be a recruiter handling civil engineers and how ‘all civil engineers are overly analytical’ and ‘ruining his business’ … etc. etc.

    I discovered he had a degree from Harvard. In fact, he made a point of telling me at least three times during a 15 minute conversation he was a ‘Harvard Grad’.

    I very politely told him ‘Perhaps you are now learning that what you learned in Harvard and what is required to succeed in the real business world
    are two completely different skill sets?’

    I don’t think he ‘got it’.

    Later the next day my wife who had stopped in the office overheard one of his follow up messages play on the speakerphone. She was able to pick up the bitterness in his voice and told me ‘You’re not thinking about training THAT GUY are you?’

    I had by then concluded I was not.

    I called him back and politely told him to seek out another recruiting training service as I felt his mind-set, attitude, demeanor was all wrong for our business and no amount of training at any price (for the record he had agreed to pay the full rate for one-on-one coaching for whatever length of time was required) was simply not worth my time.

    I saw no point in having my time wasted by a student that was not going to benefit, not listen and was too disgruntled and frustrated to be able to succeed and get out of his own way.

  26. I suggest, that if you do have an ‘unorthodox’ career path-that you should avoid recruiters all together. Recruiters are paid a lot of money to bring a company someone with the EXACT background that they are looking for-unfortunately a company is not going to pay a fee for a truck driver now looking to rejoin corporate america.

    Instead of getting mad, and offending, I suggest you find a list of companies that you would be interested in, and start applying!

    BEST of LUCK!

  27. Well, Bernie’s post is gone…I’ll miss him. Sounds like Bernie needed a hug.

    As for his response in this thread, my first reaction was that perhaps it’s his seemingly abrasive and pessimistic attitude that keeps him from re-entereing the ‘corporate’ world. However, his post does highlight a growing perception of recruiters that I would liken to professional baseball’s expansion problems. As Major League Baseball adds more teams, the overall quality of players decreases. Yes, there are still superstars in the majors (the guys that have natural talent that you just can’t teach). As a result of expansion, though, the league needs more professional players, but they’re still drawing from the same pool of people.

    I think the same is true for recruiting. There are still superstar recruiters, and there always will be. But, more and more companies need recruiters, so they hire people into these positions with little or no training. This, I believe, diminishes the profession. However, like in baseball, we are drawing more people from the same pool, so this is to be expected.

    However, as much as Bernie may not like it, recruiters ARE gatekeepers. It is one of the primary functions of a recruiter: sift through the resumes and find only those who meet the qualifications as outlined by the hiring manager and/or company. In my experience, it is not the role of the recruiter to be a ‘visionary’ – to see what potential a candidate may have. It’s great if it happens, but it’s not the role. And recruiters cannot be exepcted to inundate hiring managers with visionary candidates. The only time I would expect it to occur is with recent college graduates who have little or no work experiience, and whose only possibility of getting a job is on their potential.

    I’ve been in recruiting long enough to see the good, the bad and the ugly. Where and when we can, we should try to fix the bad and the ugly while improving on the good.

    Oh, by the way, recruiting, like ANY profession, is only a profession if you are dedicated, involved and continuously improving yourself within it. Otherwise, it’s just a job.

  28. Nice Henry the 4th quote, Keith, but don’t forget Plato (in The Republic), who said [my paraphrase], ‘Wage earning and one’s profession are two different things.’

    I think there are such things as ‘honor’ and ‘professionalism.’ There are if we make them so.


  29. Executive Recruiters are commissioned salespeople. We’re Gorillas, as can be seen here:{F011C9CC-13E5-49AB-B04F-7DF36C34E728}

    As far as whether recruiting is a profession, consider the fact that a recruiter (especially an executive recruiter) can do more to help or hurt a company than just about any other player.

    A CFO can redeploy capital, buy back shares, select projects with higher payoff potential, etc. These actions can have positive or negative short-term and/or long-term effects.

    However, an Executive Recruiter can pull your CFO, your COO, and your VP Sales & Marketing in the same day.

    Call it whatever you want – it doesn’t matter to us. Just recognizing the power an Executive Recruiter has is what is important.

    Because if you don’t, your competitors do, and nobody likes to walk into a meeting of empty chairs in the board room.

  30. I would have to disagree with the statement ‘it is not the role of the recruiter to be a visionary’. That is exactly what my role as a corporate recruiter is…..

    Each day, I impact the bottom line of the organization by introducing quality candidates to hiring managers. These candidates, when hired, have the ability to move this organization to the next level of greatness. I not only consider what they can bring to the table in the role that they are being considered for but also where they could go as the organization changes.

    Being ‘futuristic’ is part of who I am as a Recruiter and this big picture thinking has served me well throughout my recruiting career.

  31. ‘Executive Recruiters are commissioned salespeople. We’re Gorillas, as can be seen here:{F011C9CC-13E5-49AB-B04F-7DF36C34E728}’

    Speak for yourself please.

    ‘Call it whatever you want – it doesn’t matter to us. Just recognizing the power an Executive Recruiter has is what is important.’

    Us? It matters to me and I hope most others on ERE

    All this Gorilla talk and chest beating really doesn’t do any of us any good so again, please speak for yourself rather than the community.

    This is a profession and we should all act like professionals. Our priority should be to help companies, not destroy them.

    The Executive Recruiter has no power if no one uses them, however hard they beat their chest.

  32. I don’t think anyone doubts the value of a good recruiter. But the old saying, ‘Pride goeth before a fall’ might be applicable to this discussion.

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