The Real World of Recruiting

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” –Howard Beale, Network

Hi Folks,

I’m making a late introduction – I started writing last week after not doing so since 2009. Though it’s much easier and more enjoyable to tear apart other peoples articles, I decided to start writing some of my own.

My madness is because much of what I read as “professional wisdom from “recruiting thought leaders” is:

Marketing hype. The latest jargon served up as a juicy meal for potential Global 1000 clients.

Warmed-over, self-evident truisms?.

Impractical, theoretical solutions to specialized problems.

So, I ask these “recruiting thought leaders”: Where do your prescriptions for action come from? Is it from years of current or recent experience working at many levels in many types of recruiting environments, both good and bad? Is it based on extensive interview-based research with hundreds of all types of coordinator/schedulers, sourcers, recruiters, recruiting managers, and hiring managers to develop workplace-tested best practices based on real-life situations?

If they are, it must be a very curious group of companies you experts worked for and a very unusual group you have surveyed, because the prescriptions don’t often seem to be what I believe these people would say.

In the real world of recruiting, we’re often overworked, underpaid, and under-resourced. We use all the tools we have the bandwidth to use to get the people our clients/employers will hire, who aren’t elite superstars because neither the pay, the jobs, nor the companies will be able to get superstars, unless we’re really lucky. We like to think of ourselves as superstar recruiters, but down deep we know most of us aren’t; we’re just hard-working, reliable recruiting stiffs who get up in the morning, go to work everyday, and do the very best we can with what we have, because that’s the kind of people we are.

I said: “Dear experts: please give me something I can use where I am with what I have!” and I continued to get more of the “same-old, same old.”

If someone were to reflect the typical recruiter in “the real world of recruiting” it might have to be me.

I’m no expert. I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve worked for large, medium, and small companies: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve also done a lot of things at these companies, so I’ve learned what often works and what doesn’t, usually the old-fashioned way of making mistakes and learning from them.

Still, I’m just one guy. My reality may not be your reality; you may have had very different experiences from mine.

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A lot of the time, I’ll say things like “in my experience,” ISTM, or IMHO.

Another thing: Though I never worked as one, I was trained as a scientist, and some of that training still sticks. I learned to pay attention to the facts and the evidence, and not how smoothly or confidently someone put forth their opinions. Consequently, I typically won’t say something is “so” unless I cite some evidence. My scientific training also extends to the point that if you can show me some convincing, objective evidence that I’m wrong, I’ll publicly admit it. I think that may separate me from some of the pompous windbags who state their opinions as facts and seem to operate under the concept of “Recruiting Thought Leader Infallibility.” (Of course, nobody is like that here on ERE …)

I want you to hold me to my own standards, too. if you see me trying to pull “a fast one” on you, let me (and everybody else) know. It’ll keep me honest.

Speaking of which: I’m no saint, either. I’m admitting from the get-go that I’m using this column to further my own interests in getting as much work, money, paid engagements, SWAG, fame (or infamy), etc. as I can get from this. To do that, I’m going to try and write about things that make you think or feel strongly about recruiting. I will frequently be irreverent, vulgar, silly, intellectually lazy, and sarcastic, but I will work hard to never be dull (If you find me being all “perky,” “rah-rah,” and all positive-thinkingy,” call the ambulance, ’cause Keith has suffered serious head trauma!)

Also, as I said above (about stating opinions as facts): if you catch me doing too openly an infomercial or advertorial, let (our Gentle Readers) and me know about it. Finally, if you have anything that interests you that’s not making  the “news” let  me know — it spares me having to come up with new topics on my own …

Guess that’s about it … You’ve been warned.



Keith Halperin is currently working as a senior contract recruiter and performs additional sourcing work. He has worked in recruiting, placement, search, and research for highly diverse clients (from startups to Fortune 500 firms) throughout the San Francisco Bay Area since 1986. He conceived, designed, and implemented corporate recruiting strategies, and developed a white paper for a $70 million, five-year NASA CS recruiting project. He developed the Recruiting Process Methodology, a comprehensive open-source roadmap of recruiting. He co-founded MyIPOJob job fairs for pre-IPO companies, and founded Recruitersforum, an online job site for all types of recruiting positions.


6 Comments on “The Real World of Recruiting

  1. Keith, here’s a topic I’d love to read more about. So much of the advice on sourcing and recruiting seems geared toward hiring for professional positions. I’m a corporate HR generalist for a 125 person rural manufacturing company. I’d love to read some advice on how to source and recruit hourly manufacturing people. I’ve tried some of the recommended search techniques for professionals, and they just don’t seem to work for finding people such as machine operators and welders.

  2. Thanks, Michelle. I think that’s a really good topic. Fell free to contact me off-forum to discuss. I’d welcome the input of any skilled-trades recruiters out there- this is a national shortage, from what I understand….



  3. Keith – I think many of the “experts” overlook the basics. Fundamentally, Recruiting has not changed in that we find people and sell them on the opportunity. The tools have changed but the fundamentals stay the same. Recruiters need to know the product (jobs) and present it in such a way as to sell it to people.

    Whatever the metrics or measures Recruiting still comes down to sales and marketing. These are the “experts” we should be talking to.

  4. To me, there is no such thing as some generic “exceptional talent,” or “A++ candidate.” After all, my clients don’t hire “exceptional talent” in some generic sense. They hire exceptional talent for their environment. To someone else’s firm, these people may be B’s and C’s, not A’s but to my clients, they are an A.

    My job is to understand the skills my clients want, how they measure those skills (every firm does it differently) and give them what they want at a price they are willing to pay or educate them as to why I am unwilling to invest time to work to fill their job and risk having them not contact me again.

    As I wrote here at the time of his death, Steve Jobs wouldn’t have been hired by a lot of firms. Clearly, he was not “a team player” and had many personality peculiarities. Yet Steve Jobs changed the world and opened our eyes to possibilities.

    For many firms, he would have been a D performer who would not have been worth hiring.

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