Recruiting Goes Mainstream With Reality TV, Exposing Tech Divide Between Corporate and Executive Recruiters

logo_toprecruiterWith more than 11.8 million unemployed Americans (and millions more globally) it only makes sense for anything recruiting or hiring-related to get a lot of attention. In fact, recruiting has gone mainstream enough to garner not only national attention from businesses and their C-suites, but also its own reality TV show.

I was recently given the opportunity to participate in a new web-based reality show called “Top Recruiter 2 — The Competition.” Along with a colleague, I was able to build a challenge for six of the world’s best recruiters, all competing for the title of “Top Recruiter.”

The show afforded an up-close and in-depth glimpse into the world of recruiting and what it takes to attract, engage, and hire the best talent. While the contestants ranged in background and experience, they fell into two major groups with three corporate recruiters and three executive search recruiters. The key difference that emerged between these groups was how they embraced technology.

Comfort Levels

The corporate recruiters seemed more comfortable with recruiting technology as a whole. It makes sense — using an applicant tracking system to help manage a high volume of positions and candidates was already part of their daily job.

The executive recruiters, on the other hand, relied less on recruiting management systems and more on networking technology like LinkedIn, their own personalities and techniques, and a black book of connections to get the job done.

At the forefront of this divide was the use of company career sites to attract and educate candidates. A company careersite is a recruiting tool that gets a lot of play with organizations and their in-house recruiters because it’s one of the first interactions job-seekers have with a company — one that will either make them want to apply, or leave them with a bad taste in their mouths.

Executive recruiters weren’t using career sites to draw in candidates nearly as much as their corporate counterparts. They were mostly bringing potential hires in through relationships, viewing the job of aligning and educating candidates as theirs, not the technology’s.

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The divide may be driven in part by the job composition and compensation model. Corporate recruiters, on one hand, have other tasks and don’t get paid on a per-candidate basis. As a result, they seemed more apt to understand the benefits of the entire spectrum of recruiting technology, including the importance of a strong company careersite.

Looking beyond the use of technology, their styles and approaches were very different. As a group, the executive recruiters were much more aggressive and appeared to represent both the candidate and the company while the corporate recruiters seemed more focused on the company’s goals and the alignment of the candidate to their organization.

Understanding how each approach aligns to the employer’s need and considering factors like budget, time frame, the position level being recruited, and internal resources can help determine the which recruiter will best fill a job opening. Technology divide aside, both corporate and executive recruiters can provide unique and valuable services to an organization.

How are you, as a corporate or executive recruiter, using technology to your advantage?

As the director of product strategy at SilkRoad technology, Tom Boyle has more than 15 years of experience in Web-based talent management software including recruiting, vendor management, onboarding, performance management, learning management, and social media. His passion is working with sales, marketing, and industry analysts to share the unique value propositions these solutions bring to customers and the overall talent management market.


10 Comments on “Recruiting Goes Mainstream With Reality TV, Exposing Tech Divide Between Corporate and Executive Recruiters

  1. Thanks, tom. “… are you, as a corporate or executive recruiter, using technology to your advantage?” or “is technology using YOU to someone else’s advantage?”



  2. Thank you, Madelin. I fear I will now undue your goodwill:
    As the saying goes- “If you have time to build relationships with candidates, you don’t have enough reqs.”

    Happy 4th,


  3. In HR it’s all about relationship and you can’t substitute face-to-face interaction with technology only, but we should always try to find a golden mean in order not to lose balance between these two key factors in HR nowadays. The inclination to one of them may lead to the loss of potential talents.

  4. I think the title is misleading. If by “Executive Recruiters” you are saying outside recruiters that recruit C-Suite professionals, then yes this lines up. But as a 3rd party recruiter, i.e., I work for a recruitment agency and I place mid to senior level digital marketing and creative professionals, it’s all about the social media and leveraging it alongside strong relationships to discover the right candidate.

  5. Thanks for the great comments everyone. There’s no doubt that building a solid relationships and leveraging social networks is a critical element in every recruiter’s toolkit.

    My observations surrounding the specific recruiter challenge we created was more about how corporate recruiters seemed more comfortable with recruiting technology and talent management systems vs. their counterparts the executive search firms or 3rd party agencies, who were not required to leverage the same corporate technology on a daily basis. As a result some the concept and benefits of these systems seemed more foreign to the executive search/agency recruiters, especially in our challenge where we discussed the importance and role of a strong company career site when educating and engaging candidates.

    Technology should never replace the human interaction we have with candidates, in many cases those interactions can be the biggest differentiator, but what we can do is leverage technology to enhance the experience we have with job seekers and provide them a higher touch more transparent experience.

  6. @ Thomas:” There’s no doubt that building a solid relationships and leveraging social networks is a critical element in every recruiter’s toolkit.”
    Thomas: this is NOT correct in many cases.
    If you are dealing with high-level, slow, or and/or single/few hires, you ARE most decidedly correct. On the other hand, with low-level, quick, and/or, *high-volume/many hires you don’t have time to build solid relationships. As the saying goes: “If you have time to build a relationship with a candidate, you don’t have enough reqs.”



    *Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

    Keep movin’, movin’, movin’,
    Though they’re disapprovin’,
    Keep them doggies movin’ Rawhide!
    Don’t try to understand ’em,
    Just rope and throw and grab ’em,
    Soon we’ll be living high and wide.


  7. This is so interesting. Relationships are critical, but I also have very different strategies when recruiting say a Senior Tax Accountant and a Software Developer. I have worked both sides of recruiting – 3rd Party recruiting mid to senior level technology to currently working in-house and filling all open req’s (tech and non-tech). I don’t work for a large corporation with divisional recruiting teams, we are a one stop shop so while I do build relationships along the way overtime, I lack the time that say an external Executive Recruiter has to build a lot of relationships.

    I keep up-to-date with technology as well as continue to move quickly on hot candidates, my time working 3rd Party taught me to move quickly from interview to offer phase and have educated my hiring managers and our Exec Staff on that, something that I found lacking on the corporate side of recruiting.

    Thanks! MF

  8. How cool would it be to compete on one of these reality show contests – Sign. Me. Up!

    Having started on the agency side and then spending an equal amount on the inside, I rely heavily on both. I agree relationships are key and they need to be developed on both sides. However, most Corporate Recruiters I know use Linkedin and other various technology sites (whether resume databases like Monster, Indeed or Careerbuilder, or partnered referral sites like HiredMyWay). I am a big believer that balance between networking relationships and technology is needed to cover all angles. Thanks for sharing, this was a great post!

  9. Great article Tom and great observations on the key differciators that the show brought out. It is definitely a different yet similar world between Corporate & Executive recruiting.


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