Top 10 Indications That You Are a Dinosaur (Old-School) Recruiter!

I have been involved in recruiting for over three decades, and I used to routinely say that nothing had changed in recruiting. However, in the last few years, the Internet, the mobile phone, and other changes in society have finally produced enough change in recruiting that someone can differentiate between “old-school” recruiting and “new-school” recruiting. Old-school recruiting relies heavily on old media, including newspaper ads, career fairs, large job boards, and mailed-in resumes.

In direct contrast, new schoolers are enamored with new communication media like blogs, podcasts, and text messaging. The divide is getting larger, and it’s becoming more obvious every day. Old schoolers in recruiting are decidedly uncomfortable with these new communication approaches, the same ones that the new schoolers can’t live without.

Incidentally, the term “new school” here doesn’t particularly refer to an age group as nearly every age group knows what “LOL” means. Instead, it refers to a lifestyle and a way of communicating that differs significantly from the approaches that were dominant just five years ago. Another distinction is that the prime recruiting target for these new schoolers isn’t the average, actively-looking job candidate that the old school seems to be satisfied to attract. Instead, the narrow focus of the new media approach is on the 5% of the workforce who are both innovators and game changers, as well as first users of this media.

10 Signs of an Old-School Recruiter

Here is a simple list that can be used by hiring managers to determine if the recruiters assigned to them are decidedly old school.

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  1. They don’t use text messaging. While only 20% of the adult population utilizes text messaging, over 50% of the younger generation uses it. In fact, they prefer instant or text messaging over email by a significant percentage. If you don’t utilize text messaging to communicate with your candidates, you’re likely missing a significant portion of this new mobile phone-reliant population that doesn’t require a laptop to communicate. If you’re not aware of the new IM applications and jargon, IMHO, you are so last year! In fact, the mobile phone is becoming the next must-use recruiting platform for those smart enough to successfully utilize permission-marketing techniques.
  2. They don’t blog. Having your own blog is no longer unusual, but it’s still a great way to communicate your message to potential recruits. Blogs by corporate recruiters give potential applicants a chance to get a real, unfiltered message about the recruiting process and what it’s like to work at the firm. They also provide an opportunity to make comments and ask questions before a formal application to the firm is made.
  3. They don’t have a MySpace or Facebook page. If you are a corporate recruiter and you don’t have a profile of yourself as a recruiter (and as an individual person) on a social networking site like MySpace or Facebook, you are a relative dinosaur. Most old schoolers are afraid of MySpace because they’ve heard about the lurking molesters who can be on it (molesters can also use telephones, but that’s no reason why recruiters shouldn’t use them). Some think that these sites are for only young people, but the average age range of a user on MySpace is in the 30s. Facebook is the fastest growing of the two, but there are many other social networking sites that allow individuals to learn more about you as a recruiter and as a source of potential recruits. It used to be that you had to have your own personal website in order to be new school, but it’s becoming okay to use social networking sites to display your individuality.
  4. They are not using LinkedIn. Business-oriented social networking sites like LinkedIn might themselves be well on their way toward becoming old school, but for now, they’re still an effective way for recruiters to become known and get referrals. Other non-resume based search approaches that new schoolers are likely to use include ZoomInfo, Plaxo, Jigsaw,, Passado, or
  5. They don’t use news alerts. As the amount of information that’s available to potential prospects and corporate recruiters expands, you need electronic help in order to keep up with the latest news and what bloggers are saying. If you’re not using Google alerts (or a similar service offered by Yahoo!), you’ll never be able to keep track of the activities (and then comment on them to build the relationship) of your targeted top prospects. Old schoolers don’t visit Google trends or to keep on top of what’s hot.
  6. They only use English. As the U.S. becomes more diverse, and recruiting from around the world becomes more common, only old-school recruiters recruit 100% of the time using the English language. Yes, even though the job itself requires English, it’s often still a good idea to begin the conversation in the recruit’s native language.
  7. Videos are too difficult. If a picture is worth a thousand words, think how powerful a “moving picture” would be. A significant portion of the world’s population is hooked on visual means of passing information and telling stories (TV, streaming videos, and/or films). New-school recruiters, at the very least, periodically visit their websites like YouTube in order to keep up with the latest trends. The very best new-school recruiters either post their own online videos that visually demonstrate how great their company is or they actively encourage others at their corporations to post their compelling videos. Although new schoolers love all forms of video technology, old schoolers would never consider using online video interviews or reviewing portfolio or video resumes.
  8. They don’t use podcasts or jobcasts. The majority of new-school recruiting prospects probably don’t even know what a Walkman is. Instead, they love MP3s or iPods (if you don’t know the difference is you’re probably old school). If you think they’re just for music, put yourself in the old-school category. Even Walgreens is utilizing podcasts as a recruiting tool. If you haven’t made a recruiting-oriented audio or video message available for download on these devices, you are missing a great opportunity to communicate.
  9. They’ve never tried contests. What better way is there to create a buzz than to offer online contests. The top firms have found that these contests not only allow you to identify and hire previously unknown talent from around the world, but they are also a great source to gather ideas and innovations.
  10. They don’t use nonrecruiting places or websites. While old school recruiters frequently attend job fairs, new-school recruiters, much like their targets, like to hang out for hours at places that have never been recruiting venues, like Starbucks. They see recruiting at these places (especially ones located close to major employers) as an opportunity, whether it means recruiting in person or by placing messages on the protective coffee sleeves that fit outside the coffee cups (Accenture, Sun, FlipDog, and LAPD have all used coffee sleeves in this way). Other prime recruiting venues for new schoolers might include concerts and industry conferences, as well as alumni, sports, charity, and community events. Places where well-paid people (and thus, likely top performers) frequently dominate the crowd. Old schoolers also see no value in spending time in electronic forums or placing recruiting links and banners in frequently visited nonrecruiting websites.

Looking Ahead to the Future

If you’re old school, there’s really no need to look ahead and anticipate recruiting tools that, while now used by only a handful, may soon become typical. Some of these trends that new-school recruiters need to plan for include using video games (the Army and the MITRE Corporation already use them) and TV shows (Donald Trump with The Apprentice and Southwest Airlines with Airline have already led the way) for recruiting.

Other future trends that old-school recruiters won’t need to worry about include sourcing using data mining of financial and credit card databases and focusing on putting together applicant pools (because nonapplicants don’t have to be tracked according to the commerce and EEOC guidelines). Committed old schoolers also need not worry about how expanding “work from home/anywhere” options will change recruiting forever (IBM, Sun, Best Buy, Cisco, and JetBlue have already jumped on this incredible opportunity) or how to recruit college students remotely without having to go through the career center. Other concepts to ignore might include using matching/dating sites for recruiting, as well as learning from/converting concepts from successful business approaches, including AdWords, viral branding, pattern buying, and capturing innovative product ideas from customers.

Final Thoughts

If you read this (or a friend makes a similar comment on it) and you think, “This is silly. I don’t need any of these modern, flashy techniques to be successful as a recruiter,” then the odds are that you are hopelessly old school. You probably also said similar things when these new wireless mobile telephones came out (you might have remarked, “I don’t see why I would ever need one of those”). In fact, it wasn’t very long ago that a majority of recruiters didn’t see any need to use the Internet to look for candidates or to post a job.

Like it or not, it has become a fact that recruiting all candidates, especially the 5% that are innovators, is closely tied to changes in the way people communicate and learn. As long as those methods keep expanding, recruiters will either adapt quickly or lose their jobs. It’s really just that simple.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



23 Comments on “Top 10 Indications That You Are a Dinosaur (Old-School) Recruiter!

  1. I really like this article. It reminds me of the story my father tells from his banking days. He was an executive and held loan committee meetings every Tuesday. He would run the meeting with a TI calculator and a 8.5X14 legal pad. All of his loan reps (snot jocks he called them) showed up with their laptops and spreadsheets. My father always achieved the same results in the same amount or less time than his jocks when it came to doing calculations.

    My point? Technology is wonderful, especially if volume is your goal. A search is still a search though and the human factor of character and truth will never be identified by technology. I find it hard to believe that ‘New school’ tools produce ‘better’ candidates than ‘Old school’. ‘New school’ is just a different vehicle to get the same result. A covered wagon or a Lamborgini to get to the same place. If time is not the critical issue in a search, usually the candidate being right is, than the pace should not matter.

    Who won the race between the tortise and the hare?

  2. The good Dr. is not my favorite contributor on ERE, though I do read his articles. I am often left with the question, ‘Is this person really familiar with our industry, and if so, in what venue?’

    His subtitle for this article is really where the action is (‘Is your recruiter and his recruiting approach obsolete?’). We are to believe this question was asked from the client point of view. Well, our clients range from $50M revenue to $35B revenue, and not one of them cares how current or outdated our approach is. The only concern they have is results.

    I get the feeling that Dr. Sullivan wrote this article as much to display his own hip, contemporary intelligence as to educate recruiters on what they might want to do to update their processes. Certainly, any recruiter who wishes to be effective five years from now would do well to be familiar with blogs, jobcasts, industry news tracks, etc. The same goes for knowing how to cold call, get referrals, and build relationships.

    In 2000, the bell tolled for recruiting firms, as many claimed ‘there will be no further need for agencies, once corporations become adept with job boards’. Well, just the opposite has happened. Recruiting agencies are as much in demand as ever, and those who provide results, regardless of how they get there, are more in demand than ever.

    We should dismiss neither the promise of new technology, nor the wisdom of ‘old school’ recruiters.

  3. Jim –

    I couldn’t agree with you more on your post. It would be interesting to see Sullivan’s resume (documented and verified) that reveals his ‘real world’ experience in the recruiting business. After all, at the end of the week, it’s all about Metrics (people interviewed and HIRED). Text messaging, blogging and other tools are great if they make a person productive – But Recruiters aren’t paid for effort. They are PAID for RESULTS!!! All of the gadgets, software tools, LinkedIn contacts, etc. won’t help if you can’t get someone HIRED.

    By the way, I haven’t used a job board in 4 years. Nor do I have text messaging, blogs, MySpace, Facebook, podcasts, etc. But I do have a ‘killer’ database, a phone and the ability to ‘make things happen’ – which brings me a ton of repeat business, referrals, standing offers to contract, incredible reference letters and lifelong clients who have become personal friends.

  4. Mr. Cargill,
    Outstanding and mundanely stated so much so to the point that I went straight away and laced up my wingtip dress shoes to stomp around the office and ponder why Dr. Sullivan’s
    banter is thrown up to us so often without merit………….then it suddenly occured to me, Dr. Sullivan is acting professorial again and again and again.

    Come get in the trenches with us Dr. Sullivan and you’ll soon be writing a new book that makes sense.

  5. I am surprised at some of the responses here. Time and technology are two things that march on and there’s not much we can do about them. If you don’t at least attempt to stay in step with technology, it will march right over you.

    Should recruiters be text messaging, IMing, and chatting all day with their prospective candidates? Heck no. Should they ALL be blogging? No way. None of the recruiters whom I support do any of that because that’s what I’m there for. To add the technology and social networking piece to the complete staffing package. This is my argument for a research/sourcing practice within your recruiting organization. I fully agree that recruiters MUST have cold calling and relationship building skills. BUT….if you ignore the fact that the new media to which Dr. Sullivan refers is playing a major part in the progression of recruiting, then you are in for a rude awakening.

    By the way, technology is NOT always just about generating volume. Example: I used an Affinity Circles-based alumni network recently to reach out to my University of Florida alumni network and connect with some of the PR folks there. Did that produce lots of volume? Nope! But it DID result in some relationship development (isn’t that what you recruiters do?) and two individuals who are moving forward in the interview process at my company. Oh and by the way, I JUST did this outreach last Tuesday.

    Kevin, I appreciate your comments about corporate recruiting being underfunded. As someone who spent 5 years in search firms and is now on a corporate recruiting team, I can respect that. That is why Kristin and I were hired as researchers/sourcers, to try some new methods of reaching out to our target audience.

    Mark, for you specifically, I think the MRI training videos would classify you as a Power Broker. According to your profile (on this ERE social network) you’ve got 20+ years of experience in recruiting. That is fantastic and I’m sure the relationships you’ve developed over the years, when these new avenues were not even available, have attributed to the majority of your database and referral activity. That is what every person who works in a recruiting capacity aspires to – to have so many people in their network that candidates come to you. I used to work with a guy named Marc who was in a similar situation; when he got a new job he just tapped his candidate network and found what he needed. I congratulate you on achieving this level of recruiting and don’t by any means belittle your methods.

    Interestingly, every last person who has responded thus far to this discussion either themselves has, or employs someone who has a LinkedIn profile. So for those who professed detatchment from social networks and other new media, that’s a pretty prominant social network to be participating in.

    I would be more than happy to discuss these topics with anyone offline. You can reach me through LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Xing, Yahoo! Mash or Kickstart, Ning, Naymz, Wink, Spock, my blog ( or my podcast at


    Have a great day!

  6. After seeing the debate I could not resist adding a few words. I think this article speaks differently to you depending on what type of role in recruitment you play. I have been on the Agency side as well as corporate. Great Agency recruiters will always be great recruiters because of their knowledge of the players in the niche they service. Many of the tools listed don?t really apply. On the corporate side the requirements become too broad and too many to be able to build relationships for each role that needs to be filled. The job boards are still yielding a lot of candidates but they are what I consider super active candidates and the quality is not always the best. The tools Dr. Sullivan list are solid ways corporate recruiters can possibly get a candidate that might not be so active that they are spending their time surfing the job boards. I?m a big fan of job videos. I?ve we use them and have seen results. Linked-In is a great tool. Bloging falls into the same category of Internet sourcing. It can be effective but in the wrong hands it?s just a time drain. I have not ventured into MySpace or Facebook yet, however you can bet I will jump there when our job requirements will be filled by recent college grads.

    If you are on the corporate side of the house I think you will always need to find ways to reach more people in a way they want to be reached. Job postings are not enough.

    If you are curious, here is the link to the job video?s.
    Feel free to pass the link to any engineering friends you might have? : )

  7. I have taken the good Dr’s advice from previous articles and set up all of that cool fancy cutting edge hip stuff and you know what? I still get my best candidates the good old fashioned way: human to human contact asking ‘who do you know?’

    In this rush to be hip I think a lot of recruiters are losing sight of the most basic, most fundamental aspect of recruiting that the commenters above touched upon: THE HUMAN ELEMENT

    And guess what, with millenials this will become a huge issue. Why you ask? Because the millenials most likely grew up knowing someone close to them who was laid off or downsized or let go by a company that turned around and paid a multi million dollar bonus to the CEO. This has bred a generation of very cynnical, jaded job seekers who are also very savvy in their ability to get info on a potential employer through all of these hip hot cool cutting edge technologies that he espouses plus add in sites like jobvent, vault, etc – all sites that millenials love to contribute the inside scoop to. I have millenials telling me things I never knew about my clients. things that make the job a ‘tougher sell’ (and frankly some that I have walked away from because I could no longer in good conscience try to convince people to work there)

    In Dr Sullivan’s defense and to contrast what these commenters above have posted, my hunch is that Dr Sullivan is referring more to corporate recruiters and the commenters are in exec search (based on context). I do think there are too many corporate recruiters who are locked into old school models – not out of desire or a refusal to change – but out of the limitations imposed upon them by their Recruiting Department and hiring processes. Staffing Departments are typically grossly under resourced and while recruiters are generating great ideas and have the desire to get out on the cutting edge, they simply cant spend the time because the resources are so severely constrained. A lot of corporate recruiters are throwing up their hands and getting out. Given my past experiences, I can only imagine how superiors would have reacted to recruiters spending time texting candidates, searching through myspace pages etc etc etc

    The bottom line: in the rush to the cutting edge and the newest /latest / coolest / hippest frontier, dont forget the basics: treat your candidates with respect, be honest and straightforward (this is sadly a lost art and guess what – of HUGE importance to these VERY JADED millenials) and of course MAKE YOUR NUMBERS / manage your metrics.

  8. This article is like a pancake. Both have two sides.

    I have my feet planted in both schools. The proven basics, which is phone based and the ‘new wave’ that utilizes social media in all of it’s flavors.

    One point not addressed in Sullivans article was different techniques like blogging, text messaging, video, etc. should be part of the recruitment mix if your requirements are skewed towards the millennial and Gen Y candidates otherwise the phone is the best way to reach the boomer generation.

    One of the sales masters I heard speak some time ago said something to the effect that if your going to sell in China you better learn to speak Chinese. Same with recruiting. You need to learn the language of your targeted candidates be it Chinese or text messaging, or in my case telephone.

    Since my focus in on the executive branch most of my candidates are boomers and the phone is my weapon of choice but I do dabble with Social Networks, IM, Blogs, etc. – just in case…

  9. When I first started in this business, one of the senior level guys said, ‘I don’t give a ____ about the Internet! All you need to make money in this business is a telephone, a pen, and a pad of paper!’

    I’d have to say there is some truth to this notion. It’s getting to the point that pretty much anyone can surf the job boards, but it does take a certain ‘gift’ (if you want to call it that) to be able to pound the phones day after day looking for candidates that, more than likely, at the moment you first contact them, have as little interest in looking for a new job than they would in having a root canal without benefit of anesthesia.

    HOWEVER, judging from the articles saying that even EMAIL is more and more often thought of as ‘Old School’ among the younger crowd, I do believe knowing how to navigate sites like MySpace is going to become increasingly important for MAINTAINING relationships after candidates with valuable skills and histories are initially identified.

    Quite often of course you’re NOT successful in an initial attempt to shake a candidate loose from a current position, but you certainly want to be in a position that you’re the first person the candidate calls when they ARE interested in looking for new work and I believe some of the newer sites and technologies are absolutely perfect for keeping in steady contact with candidates.

  10. Hello Everyone,

    My two cents for what it’s worth..

    The most successful recruiters I’ve met, regardless of age, experience or tools, are the hungry ones who consistently go above and beyond.

    I’m an old school type (18th year), but I see value in business intelligence sites and social networking. The risk to these tools is time – it’s very easy to get lost in the info abyss.

    Plan your work and work your plan – hit the sites and research in off hours. Quit reading blogs during the day. NOW GET BACK ON THE PHONE AND MAKE SOME MONEY – RECRUITING IS A CONTACT SPORT!




  11. And the answer is: ….. There ain’t AN answer!

    For over a decade, I’ve observed that the most effective recruiters are the ones with the most tools in their toolkit, and the greatest skill matching the tool(s) to the req.

    Lack of evolution killed the dinosaurs and, certainly recruiters who throw up barriers to new tools are doomed as well. But those who abandon legacy tools simply for the reason that they are legacy tools are equally doomed.

    Living on the cutting edge is cool. Delivering consistent results is … priceless.

  12. Bill’s comments about job postings not being enough are dead on. But a word of caution: even though a minority of our job board revenues come from job postings, I’m still a fan of them when they’re done right. For example, the postings that work the best are those which are well written. They’re like funnels: define the industry, your organization, your department, and then the position. Don’t just list your requirements. Boring!

    Also, put your recruitment video right into your job posting ad. Our site allows that at no extra charge and so do many other job boards. If they don’t, push them in that direction. In the long run, job postings which work well for the client are also good for the job board.

  13. I have been watching the responses to this article and it seems Dr. Sullivan has definitely hit a nerve. I just read John Kennedy’s recent post, and what was said to him when he first entered the industry. I first joined the industry way back in 1996, so the internet was not as dominant a force as it is today. However, the ‘gift’ (pound the phones day after day looking for candidates) John mentions, still existed, and I too was greeted with that philosophy by my first manager, coupled with his teachings of how ‘to close’ a candidate who was on the fence about a position.

    In my opinion, this gift is more of a ‘mentality’, and I learned quickly it was more about locating candidates as quickly as possible and then just as quickly, determine if they were submittable and hopefully placeable. Basically, it was more about making money then it was about taking the time to build a relationship and ensure that the placement was the best possible fit for everyone involved, the candidate, the client and our company.

    Now I know this is a broad brush and I don’t mean to paint the entire industry, but unfortunately I have been around long enough and met enough people to know that it is a majority of the industry. After all, haven’t we heard the stereotype that recruiters are the ‘Used Car Salesmen’ of the industry, and how do stereotypes become stereotypes?

    What I find ironic in all of this, is that the recruiting tactics born out of this mentality, is exactly what has driven the rise and power of the internet. In the good ol’ days before the complete saturation of the use of voicemail, email and the internet, we had a much better chance of actually talking with someone. In today’s world, these tools are used to insulate both candidates and clients from these tactics, and they can decide who, when and how, they will communicate with someone. This makes it extremely difficult to get your message across as to why you are ‘different’, and even have a chance to start, much less build a relationship.

    With all that said (sorry for the length), the Web 2.0 applications that continue to come out, are providing great tools that help combine the speed and efficiencies of the internet, with the ability to connect (and stay connected) and maintain relationships, IF USED CORRECTLY. There will always be those individuals that are able to survive utilizing ‘old-school’ tactics but as these new technologies evolve and the younger generations enter the marketplace, I believe it will be few and far between.

    Think of this, you just know there was that one caveman that said, ‘I don’t give an ugh about the wheel, All you need to get somewhere is your legs and feet and that’s it…….Oh, and this paddle-ball and this lamp’ (for you Steve Martin fans)

  14. While Sullivan’s article makes some great observations, some of the discussion is even more on-point. John Kennedy’s response reminded me of an old story, perhaps slightly apocryohal, that was told about Sid Boyden, one of the founding fathers of retained search, about whom it was said that he did his first search work in a phone booth in NYC with a legal pad and a rolodex. John K’s senior guy makes a good point, in that the essence of this business is very simple and it is a contact sport. While the market is now flooded with tools and intermediary devices, at its core recruiting work is a reach out and contact someone enterprise. All the new-school tools that allow us to parse certain steps of the process are not a substitute for the basics. It all matters and some of the tools will change with time, but the basics stay the same.

  15. I’ve said it over and over, in today’s tough talent environment, you can’t rely on one tool or another to make the hire. You had better be at the top of your game with all your tools.

    Employee referral programs, classified ads internet postings, LinkedIn, Facebook, data mining, telephone sourcing, cold calling, 3rd party recruiters and on and on, all work to one extent or another. You need to use all of them depending on the position and situation. No one tool is the ‘silver bullet.’

    Look at recruitment advertising, most of it is really bad. Someone says, ‘let’s run an ad in the newspaper or on Monster.’ Then someone throws a badly written job description up, gets no results, and says newspapers and job boards don’t work. There is a reason, that on the box of Stouffer’s Lasagna, there is a tasty looking color photo on the front of the box and the list of ingredients is hidden on the side.

    It’s the same thing with cold calling. Which message gets you interested?

    ‘Hi, Name, I’d like to talk to you about a hamburger, can you call me back?’

    ‘Hi, Name, I’m sitting here with a 1/2 lb flame grilled 100% fresh ground sirloin burger, oh, and there are hand-cut shoe-string fries on the side, and I’m looking for the person that can’t resist tasting this. Call me before it’s gone.’

    My advice, work hard, cast a wide net and do all of it better than the person next to you. Run great ads, reward employees for being evangelists for you company, get on the phone and talk to people, have a great 3rd party recruiter for the tough ones and stay current with the inevitable evolution of change.


    Brad Attig

  16. I’ve been in the recruiting industry for over 5 years, and I work with recruiters now on a daily basis. I’ve grown up in the Internet recruiting age. I love all the passionate opinions here, so I thought I’d add my two cents…

    Here’s a question: Where did Sid Boyden get his rolodex that he took into the phone booth? From networking with folks…how did he start networking with them? From events, meetings, etc…how did he find out about those events, meetings, etc.? Maybe from calling people he met at events and getting names from them and then names from those people?

    I think that a lot of folks in the industry think of ‘old school’ recruiters as ones who hit the phones, use their networking, etc., and ‘new school’ recruiters as ones who hop on the Internet, find a candidate that they’ve never spoken to before, and try to get them placed. This is giving the ‘new school’ recruiters a bad rep. This is the thought that I’m reading into the posts here.

    If you’re a great ‘new school’ recruiter, you practice the so-called ‘old school’ mentality in networking, hitting the phones, working your relationships, AND you use the tools (aka – videos, job boards, networking sites, and so on) to EXPAND your rolodex. I bet Sid would have killed for a thicker rolodex in that phone booth.

    As recruiters, if we have to talk to 3 people we aren’t interested in to get to the 1 we are, wouldn’t it be more efficient if we just had the 1 in our rolodex to start? Then we could work on building the relationship with them that much sooner.

    It’s so true that recruiting is all about the relationships. The ‘new school’ tools are just about finding the people to build the relationships with.

  17. Eric makes some great points. If you have not read them, please do (circulated on 11/30).

    I’m of the mindset that you need to do both traditional law-of-the-jungle phone work (the environment I was initially trained in)and embrace new technology. Fishermen did not use sonar and miles-wide nets 300 years ago because the technologies did not exist. Would they have it if did? I imagine so.

    Just as there is a new breed of IT talent (i.e. the so-called Generations X and Y), there is a new breed of recruiter; one that is tied to or at least closer in cultural and philosophical understanding to the new breed of candidate. To avoid meeting where they meet or playing where they play would be a mistake; as would playing exclusively by their rules.
    A foundation in referral generation and sourcing from scratch, candidate management and process control, coupled with some of today’s relationship building tools and processes – I agree with Eric that the game is less transactional today than 10 or even 5 years ago – is probably a wise way to go. Among the 15 – 20+ year recruiting legends out there, many of them probably made most of their contacts 10+ years ago, which has continually resulted in referrals, success stories and everything that dedication and ethics is meant to drive. Look closely at those who are still very much in the game (not just teaching or writing about it) and you’ll see them not only embracing new tools and technologies, but encouraging themselves, their staff and the industry in general to be early adopters.

    And thanks for the Steve Martin quote, Eric. I wonder what he’d take today? Blackberry? iPhone?


  18. Well leave it to Mr. Sullivan to stir it up. A timely topic for me, because as ‘old school recruiting’ something we’ve been talking about at the AzProfessional Recruiters Assn — and we’re putting together a program on the subject for early next yr. The article and comments tell me this will make for a heck of a panel discussion!

    IMHO, a nail gun does not necessarily make you a better carpenter than the guy with a hammer. How does a blog or nimble TXT thumbs help a recruiter deal with counter-offers, prep a candidate for the interview, overcome objections, or give them the passion and enthusiasm that’s so vital to the success of a recruiter?

    I especially appreciate the commentary from John Kennedy, my buddy Bill Vick, and Brad Attig, who hit the nail on the head about the need to have the right ‘recruitment mix.’

    I actually came to the same conclusion about the internet itself when it was in its infancy as a recruiting tool. I remember going to the EMA Conference in Chicago circa 1990 where the internet was the hot topic of many workshops and speakers, and Monster was making its debut on the exhibit floor. I was working for a recruitment advertising agency at the time, and when I got back to the office – my report to my colleagues was pretty much what Bill & Brad said: The internet is just being another medium and needs to be used appropriately in the proper media mix.

    I’m a dinosaur myself, with almost three decades in the recruiting industry; when I started, the fax machine was the cutting edge of technology (we called them telecopiers back then when the earth’s crust was still warm).

    My point is that the new school and the old school can learn a lot from each other. Isn’t that what this forum is about?

    Sylvia Dahlby
    Phone: (480) 502-4513

    >> SmartSearch >> Recruit the Right Way. Right away.
    Staffing Management & Talent Acquisition Software from APS, Inc.

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    Any views or opinions expressed in this message via newsgroup posts are those of the author only and not necessarily those of Advanced Personnel Systems, Inc.

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  19. Though I am fairly new to recruiting, I thought that using most of the techniques described here is normal. It almost amazes me if they are not being used. I can’t tell you how many times I have used texting to keep in touch with candidates prior to starting, or to relay a quick message of being late, etc. I currently have a blog that I have started that focuses on different areas of my life as a recruiter, a salesperson, and just knowledge I have. More than 80% of the candidates I interview make some type of comment about reading my blog more than reading our corporate website.

    Great article!

  20. Well said from a 20 year veteran recruiter. The process hasn’t changed, there are just more tools available to contact candidates. the end result still will be from building a relationship with a potential candidate.

  21. Each recruting tool has its own set of fans. Most of us know that each tool attracts a different set of candidates depending upon their age, trade of business or industry, technological saaviness and personality. A hiring manager’s description of the person he/she wants to hire is going to give you some clues what tool to use to find that person. I appreciate Mr. Sullivan’s suggestions and plan to try a few of them out. That being said, yes I guess Im a dinosaur, that buises my ego just a bit and we all need that from time to time to keep taking steps forward.

  22. Some excellent responses here. Adding to the examples of old vs new: Not having my pole when fishing with a friend, I used the Huck Finn method and tied a hooked line onto a stick. It didn?t matter that I couldn?t do a proper cast or reel in; I caught the first trout of the day and the stick is now my spare pole. I agree that for recruiters to get the desired results that they need to be flexible and knowledgeable in using a variety of tools, old and new.

    As Kevin said, don?t forget the basics (respect, honesty, straightforwardness). People and businesses have to work harder at building and maintaining relationships because of current technology and doing so is more important now than ever. Human interaction will always be a key factor in relationships.

    I liked this, from BLT Management: ?Gone are the days when our database consisted of index cards in a shoebox. Advances in technology and e-mail have changed the way we communicate and the pace at which we work. CV?s can be submitted at the touch of a button, and the internet has helped to streamline recruitment processes. But at BLT we still adhere to our key values of building relationships and providing an ethical service. In our view, there is still no substitute for picking up the phone.?

  23. I enjoy Dr. Sullivan’s articles: the adrenaline rush I feel reading them makes me feel very alive!

    In the real world of recruiting, we’re often overworked, underpaid, and under-resourced. We use all the tools we have the bandwidth to use to get the people our clients/employers will hire, who aren’t elite superstars because neither the pay, the jobs, nor the companies will be able to get superstars, unless we’re really lucky. We like to think of ourselves as superstar recruiters, but down deep we know most of us aren’t- just hard-working, reliable recruiting stiffs who get up in the morning, go to work everyday, and do the very best we can with what we have, because that’s the kind of people we are.

    Right now, I’m working for one of the best companies I’ve ever worked for. They are very pragmatic and the hiring process is very functional. Most of places I’ve worked for aren’t like this for various reasons, and I think one of the main reasons so many companies aren’t pragmatic and functional in their hiring is a combination of elitism and arrogance- ?How can those people we’ve hired to actually do the work have any ideas about how to improve it? No, we’ll have to turn to the experts; they’ve been to the right schools and have the right type of clients to prove they know something.’

    So I ask these experts:
    Where do your prescriptions for action come from? Is it from years of experience working at many levels in many types of recruiting environments, both good and bad? Is it based on extensive interview-based research with hundreds of all types of coordinator/schedulers, sourcers, recruiters, recruiting managers, and hiring managers to develop workplace-tested best practices based on real-life situations? If they are, it must be a very curious group of companies you experts worked for and a very unusual group you have surveyed, because the prescriptions don’t often seem to be what I believe these people would say.

    In conclusion, much of what I read as ?professional wisdom? is:
    1) Marketing hype- the latest jargon served up as a juicy meal for potential Global 1000 clients
    2) Warmed-over, self-evident truisms
    3) Impractical, theoretical solutions to specialized problems.

    Dear experts: please give me something I can use where I am with what I have!

    Meanwhile, I thank you again Dr. Sullivan for creating articles which make us feel and think so strongly about recruiting.


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