What Real Recruiters Do

I recently posted a contract recruiter position and within four days I got over 400 submittals. Ugggggh.

Unfortunately, here is a look into what I saw: typos and misspellings on resumes; zero mention of accountability; inconsistent information; absent information from previous jobs; half-completed resumes; and six out of seven resumes were from recruiter wannabes. The sad part is that some of the wannabes took more time to position themselves than some of the veterans.

If you are a serious player, and you want to separate your candidacy from the sea of competition, I suggest you take your job search seriously, even if it is for a contract recruiter role. Take your time. Who you are being in your job search is a reflection of who you will be on the job.

Read the ad or job posting in full. If asked, answer the questions concisely and accurately; in recruiting, time is money. If there are instructions to follow, don’t demonstrate what a rogue you are. These days recruiting has lots of processes, and the bigger the company, the more risk involved. If you cannot follow the application instructions, you are sending a message that you can’t assimilate to their ways of doing things.

On the other hand, if you follow the instructions verbatim and don’t do anything above and beyond — like using some creativity in your communication or application — you may be sending a message that you give just what is asked and nothing more.

If you are applying for a job with me, look me up, find me on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and talk to me in my language. Don’t address me by Dear Sirs when my name is Margaret. When I get resumes like that, I can them immediately. I have never met a ‘Sir’ named Margaret. And it tells me you don’t care.

Typically a person hiring a recruiter is someone who has done the job before, and done it well, so they are expecting you to blow them away with knowledge, pizazz, terminology, and technology. If you are applying with me and I am a recruiter and we both share a common recruiter language and use the same type of vernacular, I expect you to use that to your advantage. Recruiting is a form of sales; show you know that by positioning yourself in the right manner.

Do your homework. Find out what company you are applying with, go to your browser, type in the company’s site, and look at who is requesting your services. Tailor your application and response to the buyer.

Job searching is a sales process. You are selling me on why I should invest in you.  That takes positioning, discernment, listening, questioning/probing, and salesmanship.

Remember, who you are being in your own search process is indicative of how you will conduct your searches for your new client, or if you are a rookie, who you are being in your job search is an indicator of how you will function in this role for others. This seems easy enough to understand; however, sometimes when we are too close to something, we catch a case of running on automatic, or a case of entitlement. We forget the game we are playing. We also forget that in this game, it is always about winning. Winning the game means working. Losing the game means keep looking, or keep on trucking to the next gig, until that gig runs out.

A real recruiter in 2008 lists accomplishments, numbers of jobs filled, time-to-fill measurements, submittals, or interviews to hire. Great recruiters know their retention rates and their percentage of good hires. In third-party recruiting, a successful recruiter knows their billings, per month, per quarter, if not per week. They also know their sendout-to-placement ratio and their job order-to-fill ratio. A solid recruiter knows their fill ratios and their (fall off ratio) misery index.

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As with every profession, people are evaluated by their performance; our performance in this industry is about quality of hires within a given time frame. There are a few other important metrics, yet none as important as whether this person filled the jobs with good people and whether the hiring manager/new employee was served within an acceptable time frame.

Another element of taking your search seriously is the level of effort you have put forth in personal competency development. What have you done to increase your awareness of the marketplace? What have you done to improve and expand your capacity to identify passive talent? If your biggest claim to fame is running an ad on CareerBuilder, scanning the resume and forwarding it to your client, you are in a bit of a pickle. While that sometimes might work, it is nothing to be all that proud of, unless you are spending a significant amount of time screening, assessing, and evaluating that talent, with considerably more tools than your gut instinct.

If you know how to and enjoy sourcing passive talent through using social networks and Internet mining tools, like Broadlook or Jigsaw, brag about it. Include your percentages of hires using passive candidate streams and social networks.

If you are a farmer of people and you use your personal and business community to continually generate passive candidate flow and you have your very own ‘affinity network,’ then brag about that as well. If you have a list, a database of candidates, live and usable candidates, hell that is something to brag about. You come armed and prepared to generate maximum results in a minimal amount of time.

Taking your job search and your career seriously means continually upping your level of service offering and depth of service. If your thing is sourcing, do it fabulously. Invest in your own development, learn the systems, learn the technology, and apply it. After all, you buy clothing, fine wine, and jewelry, so go buy a new way to source candidates, sign up for that $500 training, and then learn everything you can and apply it the second you get out of training. Brag about the results you produced.

If your bag is full-life-cycle recruiting, take that seriously and learn about the new wave of candidate selection tools that are being adopted into many company’s hiring processes. At the Onrec conference, a group of English business folks told me that 85% of all companies in their countries use behavioral interviewing, as well as competency and personality assessments to validate their hiring choices and create new employee development programs. I do not think the U.S. is there yet, but due to the financial and business strategy consequences of poor hiring practices, I believe many more are on that path.

If you are not getting better, you ought to get out, because before you know it you will be replaced by someone who is a lot more willing to do the same job for a lot, and I mean a lot less. If you like the business, live like you will be engaging in a job search, and stay ahead of the curve. Keep track of your results, operate with integrity, don’t make placements you know won’t work out, create solid contacts and networks, and learn everything you can. Always position yourself the way you want to be perceived.

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than 20 years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.    


14 Comments on “What Real Recruiters Do

  1. Lots of valid points, although I will point out a typo in the article, unless a “rouge” is a new form of employee rather than a type of cosmetic. I interpreted it to mean “rogue”.

    …”If there are instructions to follow, don’t demonstrate what a rouge you are.” …

    My metrics are solid, my requisition load is consistently high, my sourcing goes beyond job boards, and my vernacular is the recruiting language and I believe in behavioral-based interviewing. Email me if you want to talk about a virtual position. 🙂

  2. Good article, but what a shame that it had to be written. Hey, if nothing else, you got someone to drop “vernacular” into the discussion. NOW we’re cooking.

  3. Thank you for giving this point of view.As HR professionals, we often forget about being focused on targets,”selling” and economical results.

  4. Margaret, terrific article. it’s great to remind ourselves to take our own search as seriously as we undertake some of our clients’. Well written, on target, represents the kind of recruiter you probably were and are. Ours is an honorable profession, we make a quantifiable contribution and it’s good to remind people of that. Thanks,

  5. Margaret,

    GREAT article. I will use this in trainings in the future. every point was spot on, and this was, as someone mentioned, an article that unfortunately needed to be written!

  6. Margaret,

    This is right on the money – outstanding article.

    One sentence I wanted to expand upon is – “This seems easy enough to understand; however, sometimes when we are too close to something, we catch a case of running on automatic, or a case of entitlement.” In my line of work, I’ve also noticed that working with a professional writer can circumvent this problem as we have no problem seeing the forest as well as the trees and enjoy marketing our client’s high value. Most people really struggle with bragging on themselves and their descriptions end up stiff and boring as a result.

    This, curiously, is also true with many sales and marketing professionals, individuals trained in the art of persuasive communications. We are raised to be modest and it is often difficult to disconnect and look at oneself as a product.

    I recommend considering professional services for crafting the best career documents possible. After all, we are experts at what we do just as you are in recruiting.

    At the very least, everyone should submit their resume to a couple of writers for an evaluation and recommendations for improvement. Ask your networks to recommend someone reputable so you aren’t wasting your time with the “template” scare marketing tactics that some companies are known for.

    Thanks for a valuable read. I truly enjoyed it and learned from your expertise.

  7. Margaret,

    This is easily one of the best articles for Recruiters I have read in a while. It touches upon the most overlooked and ignored challenge our profession deals with every day – that Recruiter’s as a whole are not treating our profession with the respect and regard it demands. I am shocked as well at what I have seen.

    In my business, even after an initial scrubbing is done on the total resumes we receive, I still screen out probably 80% of the resumes that get to my desk simply due to the issues you point out. And given the fact that most of us SHOULD be VERY good at knowing what makes a resume great, one that the Hiring Manager will look at and say to himself “I HAVE TO SEE THIS ONE!” and not “ehhh, he can do the job.”, we should also know the weight it carries in the decision process.

    Sales people have business cards and product brochures, actors have head shots, and designers have portfolios. It is guaranteed that if they do not take the time to make those “marketing tools” as clean, professional, and on target as possible, they simply will not get the call, much less the job. The same applies to Recruiters.

    Thanks for the post. I hope this one is read and printed enough times that it effects the size of my resume inbox.

  8. A well-written article, and also one that made me think: “When I hear the word ‘profession’, I reach for my pistol!” Folks: we get paid, therefore we are professionals.
    Lighten up, and stopping taking ourselves too seriously! While it is always advisable to present a well-written resume, it seems Margaret is urging us to orient ourselves toward “salesy”, process-driven, micro-managing recruiting bureaucracies that I (and I dare say a few others) would as soon never see again. You can keep your metrics and your Franklin Planners and your PMA and your “recruiting-technique-of-the-day” hypesters; I’m in it for the FUN, and I do quite well, thank you very much!

    As far as being replaced by someone who makes a lot less than we are currently making, I’ve been maintaining for years that if you’re basically a “resume slinger” (however creative, intelligent, and hardworking), the outsourcers are going to eat your lunch.(See below) You need to find an “angle”: something high touch, high value-add, being a niche-guru, maybe being able to convince folks that the sucky company you are recruiting for is better than the really sucky company they’re working at now. I can believe in a realistic scenario that within a few years a large percentage of us are no longer working in recruiting, but most of us who still work in it are doing quite well, because we’ve done just as Margaret says and kept our skills up-to-date.

    Keith Halpern keithsrj@sbcglobal.net 415.586.8265

    I Active Sourcing & Calling/Resume Screening/Job Posting:
    A. A recruiter with experience in dealing with clients and candidates in the required industry will be made available as per hours and time zone required by you.
    B. VOIP-designated telephone line with a local number, voice mail and Caller ID.
    C. 24/7 support for work classified as ‘urgent and top priority’.
    D. Personal monitoring of progress by senior management on a daily basis.
    E. Our fees: USD $2500 per month (based on a three month contract).
    F. As an alternative, we can do searches for you on Monster, Hotjobs, Careerbuilder, for USD $85 per week per position or less for longer periods or more positions. You keep all the resumes and candidates to hire now or to develop as a pipeline for future needs. We can also do a variety of postings on the various *sites. If you are dissatisfied with the searches for any reason, we offer a **100% refund for the first 3 days.

    II. Marketing for candidates or “on-the-bench” consultants that you need marketed and interviewed?
    Our fees: USD $1500 per month.

    III. Passive Sourcing for candidates not on any job boards and from other/competing companies?
    Our fees: USD $1250 per month.

    IV. Lead Generation for positions other companies have advertised on the Internet and compile information to enable you to map a market by skill, qualification, profession, region, industry segment, etc., so you may market your services more accurately to your prospective client companies.
    Our fees: USD $1000 per month.

    V. Interview Scheduling and Coordinating:
    Do you need to schedule and coordinate interviews between candidates and the hiring team?
    Our fees: USD $800 per month.

  9. Keith…..I can not tell if you are slamming me or acknowledging me using my article to self promote your business.

    Either way, opinions (including mine) are like books…. everyone writes one to sell their idea, and that is what makes the world go around.

    For the record, to me being accountable and aware are different than micro managing. Fun to me is producing results. I work in the Silicon Valley the 1st thorugh the 15th every month, and it looks like by the phone number you are in the bay area. Can I buy you a coffee to learn more about your busienss as we do completely different things. Margo

  10. Thanks everyone who posted comments and those of you who reached out to me directly or on linked in or recruiting blogs….please post your thoughts here as this is a really fun way to get the ‘dirt’ and the ‘fantastic’ on the table….WE ARE PAVING THE WAY FOR THE FUTURE !!!

    OH and Rogue is spelled like this… no accident that as I am making the recruiting world wrong for typos I had one…..hmmmmm

  11. Make that, two, Margaret. I’m afraid “wanna-bee” is actually spelled “wannabe.” Ah, the traps and pitfalls of the English language.

  12. Margaret:

    Bravo! You’ve hit it right on the head.

    I’ve recruited Recruiters for internal roles and also placed recruiters as a third party vendor and agree with you completely.

    The only slight dispute is with time-to-fill ratios. Let’s face it, many hiring managers suffer from the “hurry and wait syndrome.” They want star candidates now but fail to interview them quickly and subsequently they go bye-bye.

  13. Thought you would enjoy reading this comment from a candidate

    Dear Ms. Graziano:

    Very interesting article. I would like to offer an opinion from the job seekers point of view.

    I recognize that recruiters are working for the client and that they (recruiters) have the client and there own best interest in mind.

    My experience with recruiters from all size firms has been less than a positive experience.

    All of the recruiters (male & female) have little or no knowledge about the positions they are trying to fill.

    For example, my field is purchasing. The majority of companies utilize some type of purchasing software packages to process purchase orders and

    prepare purchase order reports. Since this one of the key job skills for this type of work, you would assume that the recruiter would be able to tell the

    candidate what type of system the company utilizes. All of the contacts that I have had no idea of what type of system the company utilizes and would

    they train a new person in the use of the system. Additionally, to get the recruiter to get an answer on the subject, you swear that you were asking for a

    major trade secret. I could say more on the subject, but I believe I made my point.

    Best Regards,

  14. GM Let bygone be bygone.

    I enjoyed your article. Thankyou for your advice and critique, in behavior management. I for one, can train people to write resumes, but then they are short a quality proofreader and editor. You do get hints though–Like…pop-up–what can YOU do to make your resume stand out to recruiters? Free resume reading—yeah right! Let’s rethink this one from the inside out. If I give more than I get, am I still worth something?

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