“You’re only as good as your last deal” was a common phrase during my agency days. I didn’t just view it as a deal; this was a person’s livelihood by placing a candidate in a new opportunity. But when “deals” are associated with your income, people are commodities.
There’s a perception that productivity equals a good recruiter. We don’t consider the candidate experience, the relationship that the recruiter develops with their client groups, or how well the recruiter represents a client or company to a candidate. After all, the recruiter is the face of the company, and that’s the first impression a candidate will have.
While we need a metric to measure a recruiter’s performance, it would be prudent to avoid the “warm body” notion. That is, do we present and hire just anyone to meet our goals, therefore appearing as productive, or do we focus on the quality of candidates and the candidate experience? After all, candidates could be future clients.
In the corporate recruiter’s case, you may want the candidate to keep using your company’s products. People aren’t just commodities. When we hire, these are individuals who have to contemplate the stress of resigning, possibly relocating, and making decisions among more than one offer.
We all know of recruiters who are very productive but have an unsavory professional reputation. Some of them are known to be unethical, crass, and often considered used car salesmen. During my agency experience, I had a manager who told me to inform a candidate that the candidate should accept an offer because it would “make my numbers” for the month. How embarrassing! Why would this candidate care about my numbers?
Professional recruiters are like Switzerland with a twist. They remain neutral yet gingerly advocate for their client, and have honest discussions with the candidate about their career path and expectations instead of giving them false hope and pushing them into a position that is destined to not be a fit.
I’m not saying that we’re social workers. After all, we do have to be productive. But the recruiters who maintain a professional reputation are not known as body-bagging; instead, they balance the needs of the candidate with the priorities of the client.
Candidates and client groups remember and appreciate this level of candor and professionalism more than a bad hire remembers having been strong-armed into a position that ended up being a mismatched disaster.
While hiring managers are ultimately responsible for bad hires, somehow the finger is always pointed at the recruiter.
The agencies will always focus on metrics. Organizations with corporate recruiters do so as well to some degree. Agencies tend to hire salespeople from all walks of life, and it is a commissioned-based environment.
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Occasionally, there are agency recruiters who believe in the customer-service aspects of recruiting and want to “cross over” to corporate recruiting to take a different approach to recruiting that better addresses their values and interests.
Within corporate recruiting, there is a novel but not widespread thought of a requisition-less environment, encouraging professionalism, quality, and team collaboration, and decreasing the focus on metrics. I was once in an environment that was requisition-less, and hiring committees, not hiring managers, made the hiring decisions. It was a relief to not have hiring managers chase me for candidates and to focus on one profile instead of many.
It was also refreshing to be able to manage candidates better, since I wasn’t overwhelmed by a variety of requisitions. I was providing a positive candidate experience. The downside to this was that I became bored with just one or two profiles and I had no influence over who was hired. I felt like a transactional babysitter, not a true recruiting consultant.
It was also unclear how I was measured. It wasn’t about productivity as much as managing the process and assuring the candidate had a positive experience along the way. However, there was always the background judgment of how productive one was even though one didn’t have influence over the hiring. Thinking about metrics never really stopped.
While I think there will always be a focus on metrics, since it seems to be the one comfortable and conventional measurement used to evaluate recruiters, I think we need to consider other factors besides what our last deal was.
It only takes one unprofessional recruiter to ruin the reputation of those who strive to be professional. Perhaps this means changing the overall recruiting model as far as how we hire and how we are measured.
Let’s figure out how we can be professional recruiters without compromising the quality of service that we are providing candidates and our client groups.