My Exclusive ERE Top 10 List for Becoming a Outstanding Recruiter in 2013

I was talking with a bunch of corporate recruiters and talent leaders in San Jose last month about the future of corporate recruiting. At the end of the session one of the corporate recruiting managers asked me for a specific list of things her recruiting team could do to better compete with external search firms. Here’s what I came up with, in David Letterman-like order:

10. Develop and implement a talent scarcity acquisition strategy based on attracting top people in, rather than a talent surplus model designed to weed weak people out. While you can do this one search at a time, it’s best if management gets involved early, especially the hiring manager. Here’s a video you can watch to help you get started.

9. Prepare career-oriented communications that excite. You must understand your ideal candidate’s intrinsic motivator before you start looking for the person. Then you must capture all of this in compelling stories told via postings, emails, and voice mails. Here’s a sample job posting demonstrating this concept.

8. Implement a 20/20/60 sourcing plan if you want to see and hire more top passive candidates. This approach will allow you to attract great people whether they’re active or passive. The idea behind this is that in order to reach all of the fully-employed talent market, you need to spend 20% of your sourcing efforts on compelling job postings that are either pushed to your ideal prospects or easily found. Another 20% should be based on using “Clever” Boolean (see Point 7) and related search tools to identify possible prospects and reaching out to them using career-focused emails. The remaining 60% should be focused on networking and obtaining high-quality referrals. Here’s a more detailed summary of this type of multi-level sourcing plan.

7. Consider LinkedIn Recruiter as a network, not a database, and learn to be “clever” at Boolean. Since all I use for sourcing is LinkedIn Recruiter, I find it rather simple now to find 10+ worthy prospects (qualified and seriously interested in having a career discussion with a hiring manager) in a day or two for any assignment, no matter how difficult. To generate the initial list, all it takes is a basic knowledge of five Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT, “_” and (_), the ability to find nodes (people who know your candidate), developing clever terms that separate the best from the rest, and a phone (see point 6). I suggest using “achiever” terms to do the separating (e.g., award, honor, society, patent, speaker), diversity terms to do the categorizing (e.g., NOT (VP OR vice OR director OR manager) to find staff-level youngsters, (she AND VP) to find female executives), and project team and co-worker terms to find connections (e.g., scrum manager to find Ruby developers or CPA partners to find hot staff accountants). Being even more clever you need to narrow this list down to 50-100 hot prospects, then send invitations suggesting a chat about career opportunities. Follow this up with a compelling voice mail.

6. Learn to pick up the phone and network like the best third-party and retained recruiters in the industry. This means you need to call every hot prospect you found in Step 7 (done properly 80% will call you back!) and either recruit or network with them. This ability will do more for increasing quality of hire, your personal productivity, and time-to-fill than anything else you do. Note: since you can search on your connections’ connections using LinkedIn Recruiter you need to master Step 3 below to take full advantage of this capability. This is so important we’ve decided to demonstrate how to do this in a webcast next month.

5. Improve your assessment accuracy by learning how to conduct the two-question Performance-based Interview. Not only will you be able to increase assessment accuracy and measure cultural fit, but you’ll also eliminate the top five reasons competent people underperform. Even better: you’ll be able to convince hiring managers that they’re not evaluating your candidates correctly. This is the shortest way to achieve your interviews/hire metric of four. Here’s a quick story on how I taught a CEO how to conduct the two-question interview in a few minutes.

4. Learn how to tame your hiring managers, aka, “How to Conduct a Rich Intake Meeting” and control their yes/no hiring decision. Part of this is by defining Quality of Hire using a performance-based job description before you start the search and use this as the basis for assessing the person. Done properly you’ll never need to present more than four people for any job ever again! Here’s my favorite story on how to do this with the toughest, no-nonsense CEO on the planet.

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3. Learn the basics of passive candidate recruiting, i.e., maintain applicant control, bridge the gap on first contact, convert jobs into career, get the candidate to sell you, and never make an offer until it’s 100% accepted. These skills are essential for increasing your first contact to close yield and to recruit the 83% of fully-employed and passive candidates who are only interested in career moves. Here’s a taste of the why this is so important and what it takes to be a professional passive candidate recruiter.

2. Stop using traditional skills-infested job descriptions for hiring. This is essential if you want to hire great passive candidates and hire more high potential candidates, and critical if you want to rapidly expand your diversity and returning military veterans hiring programs. Here’s an article describing why this is so important. Because this represents such a huge shift in thinking and process, we’re hosting a webcast with Littler Mendelson (the largest U.S. labor law firm) describing why it believes Performance-based Hiring is a superior approach and in full compliance with U.S. labor law and the OFCCP.

1. Master “Little Data” before you get mesmerized by “Big Data.” If you don’t measure how well you’re doing all of the above, implementing big data initiatives won’t help you improve the quality of each hiring decision or the underlying process. Little data process control metrics include interviews per hire (it should be no more than four), the time it takes to put together a slate of prospects to present to the hiring manager (with LinkedIn Recruiter target 72 hours max to find worthy candidates who are willing to have an exploratory conversation with the hiring manager), the number of pre-qualified referrals obtained on every networking call (target at least two), and the ratio of pre-qualified warm calls to cold calls (it should be 4:1). These metrics are especially important for recruiting leaders to track their team’s performance. Done properly this is how you maximize Quality of Hire, minimize time-to-fill, and reduce cost per hire to the lowest possible without sacrificing quality. Here’s a blog post demonstrating the concept that the cost of quality of hire is free.

If you learn and do everything described above you will have a great 2013, but it’s totally up to you. As Jim Rohn said, “things will get better for you, when you get better.” I hope the list helps you get better. — Lou

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007).


12 Comments on “My Exclusive ERE Top 10 List for Becoming a Outstanding Recruiter in 2013

  1. Great article Lou. We also recommend trying to find “hidden talent” by looking in other places where most recruiters aren’t. LinkedIn is an incredible resource but with so many recruiters having licenses, the in-demand folks are pretty picked-over. We’re seeing a lot of companies having success by finding folks in other places and by reaching out them in new ways. This blog post describes some of this strategy in more detail.

  2. Thanks, Lou. You’ve said what an outstanding recruiter needs to do. How do you define what an outstanding recruiter is?


  3. @Keith – it’s all of them! But point four is when Quality of Hire is defined as a series of performance objectives and point one is managing the process to ensure the goal is achieved.

  4. @martin – I don’t think LinkedIn’s Recruiter product was ever intended to kill the TPR market, especially since the Corporate and TPR versions offer the same features. So to me discussing the idea is irrelevant.

  5. Sorry I’m unclear. You’ve described what things an outstanding recruiter does (to be outstanding). But what IS an outstanding recruiter?

    I’ll make an analogy: I have a beautiful house, and I do certain things to keep/make my house beautiful. But couldn’t someone else do these same things and have just an ordinary house? In other words, couldn’t someone do what you’ve suggested and just be a regular, decent recruiter? Are you an outstanding recruiter just because you do all these things successfully, or are these things “necessary but not sufficient” to be an outstanding recruiter? Couldn’t someone be an outstanding recruiter by doing different things,like filling more than the usual number of reqs, or filling them more quickly, or getting better than usual people hired? What if you do these things but your paperwork is terrible, or no one can stand working with you, or “you just aren’t quite one of us” or on the flip side- you’re marginally capable as a recruiter but are a master office politician and always manage to look great in your bosses’ eyes and come out ahead? What if you work in an environment where you don’t do any sourcing or formal assessment at all or have little/no say over how you work- could you then be an “outstanding recruiter” by your definition?

    Summary points:
    1) These are good things for recruiters to do, but are they the best things for us to do, and what makes these things better than other things for us to do?

    2)Doesn’t doing these (or other good things) depend on the nature of our work and the environment in which we do it?

    Finally: before the corporate “talent leaders” had you speak to them, did most/all of them they spend substantial time and effort soliciting input and implementing recommendations from the rank-and-file recruiting staff (since we’re the ones actually doing the work), finding out what we thought might improve the work we do as far as streamlining processes and improving results? It’s “funny” how so many “talent leaders” willing to shell out the bucks to go out to the conferences and bring in the “big guns”, wouldn’t bother to genuinely ask the people working for them how to make their own jobs better. (Maybe they’re out there- I’ve worked for a few, but they’re the exceptions….)



  6. Great article as always, Lou. And loving the Letterman Top Ten style to get the point across!
    As you have indicated, your tips are great for the internal (corporate) recruiters out there. But they are just as valid for independent recruiters out there too. They just need to substitute “hiring manager” with “client” and take note of everything you’ve said.

  7. @ Brian: What’s a “phone”? Is it that thing you play games on and send text on and take pictures with? Didn’t people in the 20th Century actually use them to TALK on? GROSS!



  8. Great article! The link to the sample posting doesn’t seem to work – can you please provide an active link to the posting or posting text? Thank you!

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