Stop, I Beg You Fellow Recruiters … Please Stop What You Are Doing If It Is Not Working

It seems like every time I write an article for ERE or SourceCon I am annoyed with something. It’s like this place is my destination to vent. I’m not an ornery guy or crabby in nature.

I like most people most of the time and most people like me most of the time. Until, that is, I hear about the “war for talent” and the “talent shortage” and I react with sarcasm, or worse, and then some people don’t like me. Usually they are CEOs, senior leaders, and hiring managers.

Let me set the stage …

This month I hosted my first Midwest Recruiting Bootcamp and it went really well. A quick thank you to Shannon Pritchett, SourceCon Editor, Jim Durbin, Tim Sackett, and Maren Hogan for joining my speaker lineup.

We covered a bunch of topics including employer branding, LinkedIn, sourcing, recruiting, and inclusion of women and people of color in the workplace, recruiting to the Midwest and more.

I had a bunch of conversations with attendees and there was a common theme: some of what they are doing is not working.

And they know it.

But they don’t or can’t change it.

Here I go…


It’s been a week since the event and I can’t shake it … why do we continue to do things that don’t work?

Why are we stuck doing things those who were in our chair before us that did not work?

Friends let me be clear. If the answer is, “because this is how we have always done it” you need a fight or flight response.

Either choose to come up with new solutions, find best practices, A/B test some things, and “fight” what has always been done or … get the (bleep) out.

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Run fast. Run hard. And find a company who wants to use your knowledge, expertise and ideas.

I had a draft completed for my ERE Fall Conference presentation here in Minneapolis this October called “Blow Up Your Recruiting Strategy.”

This talk has a new meaning for me as I really want to challenge my friends and colleagues to be bold, to take some chances, and try new things. Take back your recruiting from marketing, legal, operations, or whoever thinks they know better than you do.

Here’s my challenge to you.

“If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it” is great but if it is not working for you … STOP.

Better yet … BLOW IT UP.


See you in Minneapolis.

Paul DeBettignies, better known online as Minnesota Headhunter, is a Minnesota Recruiter, Evangelist, and Advisor, who builds teams with startups and tech companies, and creates recruiting strategies for Fortune 500 clients. He’s also the author of Minnesota Headhunter, the longest running regional recruiter blog.

Paul is a frequent local and national speaker, trainer and subject matter expert on recruiter, HR, career, networking and social media topics. Activities include presentations at Twin Cities Startup Week, Google for Entrepreneurs, Michigan Recruiters Conference, MN HR Tech Expo, Social Media Breakfast, University of Minnesota, Target, CHS, MinneBar and ERE and interviews with NPR, WCCO AM (CBS) Radio & TV, KARE TV (NBC), MSP Business Journal, Minneapolis StarTribune and

Paul is involved in the Minneapolis and St Paul technology, marketing, and social media communities as a sponsor, volunteer, and mentor and is the founder of Midwest Recruiting Bootcamp.




15 Comments on “Stop, I Beg You Fellow Recruiters … Please Stop What You Are Doing If It Is Not Working

  1. Everyone should take this advice and tattoo it on the inside of their brains. Things are changing so fast in the recruiting landscape, the same tactics might not work year to year. If you’re trying to bring the same strategy you used 5 years ago, you’re going to be up a creek without a paddle. Relationships still matter. Personal connections are still important. But everything else has to be flexible. Nimbleness is going to be the name of the game for a while.

  2. Thank you, Paul. And when we do as you say, and actively and professionally work to improve the dysfunctional environments in which we and our colleagues are in and are fired for being troublemakers, or we say “I don’t need this, I quit!” will YOU hire us and let us continue to pay our mortgages, our kid’s college expenses, etc.? From my experience, the cell phone isn’t “ringing off the hook” with competing offers of companies begging my colleagues and me to recruit for them.

  3. It’s less, even, about “what we’ve always done” — so much of this backwards thinking comes from not defining success properly. Do the people you’re recruiting for want 200 candidates or 2 good ones? Expectations (around the role as well as recruiter deliverables) are broken. We have to communicate that better to our clients.

    1. Thanks, Genghis Philip. Absolutely- one of the most important things any recruiter needs to learn is how to manage a hiring manager’s expectations, aka: “getting rid of their sense of entitlement”.

  4. There is a disconnect between skilled available resources and company demand. There are several factors that play into this. The spin on words will not resolve the issue. Lets begin honest discussion without our internal and external influence.

      1. Sure Keith…..Corporate America is changing. The generation that is retiring received skills and training within the companies that hired them. Current generation of employees do not receive the same kind of training. The cost is too prohibitive not only for Companies to train within but to keep employee long term. So they turn to contracting. Which would be great except for the fact that supply and demand for skilled labor do not match. Frequently companies demand a proprietary skill set. Because it’s proprietary they won’t allow external training. There is a huge disconnect between company demand and skilled labor.

        1. Very true, Tiffany. In addition, there are the tens of millions of people who need substantial re-training (and a real commitment to re-hire and not just re-train them) over the next few years as their skills become obsolete due to automation. As you say, companies aren’t willing to train people in skills there competitors may be able to use if those people are hired away. Also, this Administration is unlikely to put forward/pass a massive re-training/re-hiring program. Do you have any ideas on what should be done?

  5. Excellent rant! Each recruit has its own nuance and its okay to approach the way you know works best. Autonomy is huge for recruiting success as well.

    1. Thanks, Devin. Yes- it would be much better for recruiting overall if staffing heads and hiring managers listened to those of us who actually do the work of recruiting people and know best what would make our aspect of the process better.

  6. I had a ‘because this is how we have always done it’ moment, A/B tested new strategies for 18 months and confirmed my hypotheses. Recruiters (on the whole) are not incentivized to support women getting into, or staying in tech.

    That’s why we set up SheCanCode.

    Anyone who wants more info on what we found and how we’re fixing hiring for diverse candidates follow our journey here:

    This just about sums it up: “If you think hiring for diversity means lowering the bar, you don’t know what skills you’re hiring for.”

    Great article, Paul. I wish more people came out and admitted they don’t know what they’re doing or the effect that it has, instead of f***ing it up for everyone involved.

    1. Well said, Nicole. From my experience, we (contract, corporate) recruiters are usually not incentivized to do much of anything, particularly diversify and expand the types of people hired.

  7. I will add two more rules (not really my rules, we’ve all hear this before): Keep/Stop/Start. Have a process to constantly check in with yourself, your processes, your teams, and your clients and/or candidates to evaluate what you get rid of (Stop), improve upon (Keep), and innovate or adopt (Start).

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