I have led and managed hiring for high-growth startups and more established companies for over 20 years, keenly aware of the critical role hiring well play in the success and development of companies. And yet I’ve spent my life working in what is sometimes perceived as a sleazeball career. Most of us fell into recruiting by happenstance, and we didn’t know what it was all about until we spent more time in the field. Recruiters aren’t bad people, but the entire industry is challenged by stereotypical legacy agencies and their cultures.
We’re all familiar with those types: heavily commission-based business models, stealing resumes and candidates from colleagues, even defining success purely by how many resumes—good or bad—get forwarded to a hiring manager. Beyond the obvious detriments of this kind of recruiting, such a strategy does not (and will never) reward time and effort spent on the research to understand the problem the manager needs to solve and exactly what kind of person will be right for the job. This lack of collaboration and mixed motivation for best hiring outcomes leads to less than ideal results and with long term opportunity costs.
I’m sure we aren’t the only ones seeing this. Why don’t people take the recruiting industry seriously? Nobody seems to care that the process and result falls short of the ideal, that our technology is way out of date. So much time and money is wasted on bad recruiting, yet why is there no meaningful education, no MBA classes widely available to train and grow recruiters who can make a real difference?
Recruiting decisions start with the hiring managers. If they don’t yet need an internal recruiting team, likely they are using contingent firms that specialize in quantity over quality. What they don’t realize is the typical staffing firm dynamic of heavy commissions and competition leads these legacy recruiters to just throw any resume at them and cross their fingers and toes that something will stick. Then comes the constant pinging, the badgering of hiring managers that gives recruiting the bad name we know it doesn’t deserve. If this resonates with you as a recruiter or hiring manager, it may be time to evolve your process.
Hiring well is a key foundation for building a great company. My firm belief in this allowed me to build a successful recruiting business despite the overall industry setbacks. My career and company have thrived by cultivating a good reputation, believing in and building out our own internal recruiting process, and instilling trust in our customers by providing recruiters who are both personally and professional invested in the company’s success.
We know this about ourselves and our work, but when an opportunity doesn’t come from a referral or from someone who already knows us, we get thrown into the mess of recruiters that could have just as easily have been used car sales people. The difference between the work we do and the rush job of legacy recruiting agencies is so clear, but I still have to all but shout it from the the mountain tops, “We’re different, please believe me!”
I am passionate about about fixing broken things, about bringing a new lease on life to things that dwell in mediocrity. My husband and I constantly remodel our home or take on other renovation projects both as a challenge and, we feel, as a duty to restore something to its greatest potential. We love to see what’s possible and then make it happen as a team.
Rehabilitation is not necessarily cheaper or easier than starting anew, but there is a lot of creativity and joy in rehabilitating a space versus the permanent destruction that comes with tearing it down—it’s not only cost-effective to work with what already exists, it’s also fulfilling and wholeheartedly worthwhile. Would applying a similarly creative remodel approach to the recruiting industry achieve better results?
I envision companies fully embracing that people are their biggest asset. The start of this beautiful relationship with talented employees often begins with their interaction with a great recruiter.
I dream of companies investing in recruiter training, and supporting the time and space it takes to be thoughtful on finding the best candidates.
I can see an industry where recruiters would be emboldened to research the best potential candidates, the best skills, the best work pedigree, to really get to know who these people are and where they come from and forge strong relationships with them.
I can even imagine contingent firms would follow this lead and structure their companies’ pay and team towards the best possible hire, the best possible experience, and the best possible outcome.
At Recruiting Bandwidth, we intend to help manifest this dream. I hope you’ll join us.
Look forward to next week’s installment in the Elevating Recruiting series—I’ll delve a bit deeper into legacy/agency recruiting and explain why working with a “recruiting partner” is more effective than hiring an “order taker”.