As I wrote last week, recruiters are suffering from an identity crisis. The skills that once defined a corporate recruiter are not sufficient. Indeed, those skills are actually detrimental to success today. A corporate recruiter has always had a different skill set than a recruiter working in an agency or as an independent. While agency recruiters have focused on building relationships, on tapping into new sources of candidates and on assessing candidates against a variety of criteria, the corporate recruiter has evolved three very different set of competencies over the years. The first is the ability to deal with the corporate bureaucracy, hiring managers, and legal issues. Many recruiters have focused on these areas and are formidable navigators of the corporate landscape. They know every hill and valley; every bomb and sinkhole, and they can make hiring happen because of these skills. These skills are unique to a particular company, however, and do not transfer well. Recruiters with these competencies are most likely to be the “lifers” who have worked for the same firm for many years. Every bureaucracy has created people with these types of skills and would not function without them. The internal knowledge they have, and their ability to get things done in systems resistant to getting things done, makes them valuable only in that system. They are not adding anything to profit nor are they helping find or hire scarce talent. The second common skill is that of resume scanner. Some recruiters can consume piles of resumes in no time at all, scanning and sorting them into piles according to hiring manager, position, or past experience. They then forward them on to the hiring manager for a secondary screen and, perhaps, for eventual interviews. They act as human applicant tracking systems and offer the advantage or being much less expensive to buy and maintain. However, they are human and have limited memories, often have faulty scanning systems, and don’t always make good judgments. The third skill is that of receptionist, light screener, and tour guide. They may take a resume and call a candidate to ask a few questions. Their focus is to be “nice” and make a good impression while determining, based on some predetermined ideas of fit or suitability, who should be invited in for interviews with the hiring manager. Those so chosen are met by the recruiter, given a tour of the building or facility, and perhaps even taken for a coffee or lunch. They become of the liaison or interface between the company, the hiring manager and the candidate. None of these three roles are value adding. These recruiters do not actively look for good candidates or even know where to look for good candidates. Sourcing to them equals posting jobs on a job board, which is why job boards are so popular yet return so little in quality. They do not aggressively ferret out what competencies and skills the best performers have — indeed they don’t even know who the best performers are. They rarely interview candidates in depth or probe into the actual accomplishments or skills that a candidate might have. They do not offer alternative screening or assessment for a hiring manager, nor are they very helpful in closing. They put together standard offers based on what they have offered other people with similar backgrounds and experience. Even a computer can do all of this stuff. So what does a modern recruiter need to have for skills? Today’s recruiter is a different breed. He or she needs to have mastered five distinct areas: 1. The ability to build relationships. Most important and on top of the pyramid of skills is the ability to find great people and build relationships with them. This is what all great recruiters do. EVERY executive search guru is really a guru at building and maintaining relationships. Recruiters within organizations need to get out of the organization and get to know people at all levels and professions who might be useful to their firm. They need to utilize technology to help create the initial relationship, and then they need to leverage that by talking on the phone, sending frequent emails, having breakfast or lunch with possible candidates, and by always asking one candidate to recommend a few more. Those who possess this skill set are good at knowing who the best performers are because they also have good relationships with the hiring managers and other workers who can tell them. They assess why those people are the best and then try to find more with the same skills. 2. Knowledge of the market. The competent recruiter is able to tell the hiring manager what the employment market looks like, what the supply of talent for a particular job is likely to be in her area, and how difficult it will be to find and close on candidates. This knowledge has to be data-driven and can only be collected by vast reading, lots of discussion, the intelligent use of surveys and other data tools, and by being aware. As a part of this, the recruiter also has to know how the market for the product or service the company they work for is moving. Are competitors laying people off, which might open a fresh source of trained candidates for their firm? Is the market they are in growing, shrinking, or flat? This kind of information, combined with the ability to build relationships, can make an ineffective recruiting function very powerful. The market knowledge allows recruiters to focus their relationship building on the candidates who are scare and valuable and to spend less time on the commonly available candidates. 3. An understanding of technology. Technology already dominates recruiting. Applicant tracking systems, HRIS systems, email, job boards, the Internet, and recruiting websites are all part of the technology equation. If the recruiter is not technically agile and informed, she cannot be successful in the long run. Every day decisions have to be made about technology or because of technology. Only those who can understand it can make it work for them or for their firm. And by wising choosing and using technology, these recruiters gain an edge over everyone who doesn’t. 4. The ability to demonstrate their own value. Competent recruiters use metrics to put together business arguments for solutions they suggest, for programs they want to initiate or for the systems they want to buy. They have a core set of metrics that show how they have added value, raised quality, improved profits, or saved money. Ideally they show where programs should be expanded and where they should be shrunk or ended. 5. The ability to sell. Recruiters also need to be good at selling candidates and hiring managers. They need to know when they hear an objection and they need to understand how to overcome it or turn it into a positive. They need to offer solutions, work out compromises, negotiate and in the end, make the hire happen. This will become an increasingly important skill as we move back into candidate shortage. When there are two jobs for every person with skill, the recruiter who can sell the best and close the fastest will be king or queen. Have a great 4th!
Hundreds of tech hiring teams have halted their standard hiring processes in favor of remote interviewing, sourcing and screening, which can directly impact the candidate experience. Download this guide to see how the best-in-class teams approach remote tech hiring in a dynamic, candidate-centric market.