Recruiting is, within many organizations, slowly emerging as a more credible and well-informed force within the business community. As a result, many recruiters can have a more significant impact in hiring decisions, as organizations look not just for growth and the talent required to gain a competitive advantage, but for guidance and counsel on how to get there. Recruiting is closing in on making more of an impact organizationally then ever before. (See Recruiting Today: Good People in Difficult Times for a totally differently perspective.)
Recruiters who wish to seize this opportunity to make a difference, to be on the vanguard of great recruiting and noble contributions, can do so, but the price of admission is high. You must work hard and you must work smart. You must push forth initiatives that support organizational objectives and most of all, you must be willing to use technology, people skills, and critical thinking to reinvent not just the recruiting profession but yourself.
Bottom line: greatness is there for the taking. Need some help, tools, or ideas? It’s all out there for you. Look to AIRS or the Human Capital Institute. The boards and forums have never been better and the ERE community provides endless information and support. Make no mistake; these are good times! (When I was your age, we didn’t even have shoes, let alone the Internet.)
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The following concepts are not necessarily from the old playbooks, but rather the new ones being created now by those who want to leave their mark. Consider these concepts and you are well on your way to writing the history that future recruiters will someday read:
- Recruiting is important. Gone should be the days when recruiters felt bad about themselves. Recruiters are not a necessary evil of business; they are the necessary ingredient to its growth and continued success. Show me a great company that is inventing in the future and I will show you recruiters who are finding those future employees who will make this happen. Half of who you are is who you think you are, and this profession is poised to do some very significant things if we continue to push. Please see Let’s Put an End to Our Inferiority Complex and begin to feel good about being a recruiter.
- Use your influence. (Carefully.) Someone once said that it is better to be
a kingmaker than a king. I agree. (I have to or I would not have put it in this article). Success in any endeavor leads to credibility, and credibility leads to influence. Be sure to use this influence wisely, as each person hired changes the organization in ways deep and far-reaching. As you lobby for the candidates you believe should be hired, remember that you only bring them in for one reason: they are the best candidate for the job, not because they are part of some good “ol’ boys club,” and not because they are diversity candidates. Misuse the valuable influence you accrue and you will see that influence disappear.
- Extend your reach. John Sullivan writes constantly about different places to find candidates, so my question is: are you listening? His advice on this topic alone can make you a better recruiter. Traditional sources are fine places to start, as you never know where your next hire will come from, but you can’t stop there. Using nontraditional sources will yield even more candidates and that is what all of us need to be successful. (I am embarrassed to tell you some of the places from which I have recruited. I think one of my wives left me for that.) Please see Recruiting At Bars and Other Places Prospects Gather or any of the other 1,700 articles Dr. John has written this month.
- Balanced fanaticism is good. My wife has told me she pities the person who gets in the way of me and what I am going after. I used to resent that assessment, but I have grown comfortable with it. I go after things hard and I suggest that recruiters will be more successful if they do the same. Do I stop short of having the candidate take out a restraining order? Of course, but once my candidates are identified, I do not let up until they call me back. I have placed more candidates I had to chase then you might suspect, through pushing hard and presenting an opportunity that was clearly better then the one they possessed.
- Lead, manage, and motivate the team. Recruiting mangers have a very tough job: they are responsible for the team’s performance day in and day out. The best way to be successful in this position is to lead by example, support your recruiters at every turn, and meet with them as close to every day as possible for a few minutes. You should also know what is going on with every deal and help individual team members to close when possible. If successful, give all the credit to the recruiters; if unsuccessful, assume responsibility and move on. Support, mentoring, encouragement, and vision are the watchwords that build great recruiting teams. By the way, the fact that I didn’t include spending time in your office with the door closed was not accidental.
- Hammer Time. The day after Labor Day and the day after New Years Day are the times of opportunity and greatness because they are traditionally the best times to look for jobs. As a result, they are also the best times to find candidates. Labor Day is just around the corner and the time to commit to doing impressive things is now. Any recruiter, in any sector of the profession, who is not primed to do hard, focused, down-and-dirty recruiting at these times is making a big mistake. Hit the ground running and gunning the day after Labor Day and get a jump on those retained search guys still wearing white pants in October. (Eeuuuuuuu!)
- Deal or no deal. Recruiters do more than make terrific hires happen. They change lives and enhance careers. But there is a dark side: they move families. They uproot kids from the only schools they have ever known and away from the only friends they ever had. Recruiters change not just the career path of candidates but the day-to-day lives of the real people to whom they are attached. Please do not take this part of the job lightly; it is an issue of faith and an issue of integrity. Bottom line: if the deal is not solid, find another candidate. Please do not ever force a deal to make a few bucks or hit your number. You are changing lives so if you can’t change them for the better, don’t change them at all. I made that mistake once long ago and I still think about it. (I am sorry John O. I hope you forgive me.)
- Not the right DNA is not the right answer. For those among you who are molecular biologists, I suspect you know what this means but I do not. Don’t tell me you are rejecting a candidate because they are not the right DNA. I can see that as a good reason not to marry a giraffe, but I do not see it as a reason to reject a candidate. It is important that you understand exactly why, in specific terms relating to the candidate’s qualifications as matched to the position requirements, the candidate is being rejected so you can do better in the future. Not the right DNA imparts no information and therefore is of zero value and unacceptable.
I have always been happy and proud to be a part of this profession. I have seen good times and bad times, good ideas and bad ideas, solid growth and stagnation. These are the times that will allow the next great recruiters to emerge, gain visibility, make their mark, and change the world. I honestly can’t see any reason that next person should not be you.