The growing demand for talent has led to tremendous career opportunities for recruiters and headhunters. But, like the rising tide that lifts all boats, the growing demand has opened the doors for many people who should not be in recruiting.
I’ve run search and recruiting teams for nearly three decades (crazy eh?). If you value the voice of experience, you’re wise to read on. I’m pretty sure I can save you from hiring the wrong person for this undervalued and misunderstood position.
Does she put bums in seats or sell a mission?
Recruiting is not about gatekeeping; it’s about enticing the right people to join your mission. Done right, it looks a lot like marketing and sales. As with all marketing, this demands a tone and message designed to resonate with your target audience. In this case, we’re talking about the top quartile of talent. If you want to quickly understand a recruiter’s mindset, ask for samples of job descriptions she wrote. If it’s a grocery list of prerequisites and responsibilities, the person is a gatekeeper. If she crafts emotional messages for the reader, she’s a marketer. Hire the latter.
Will he work alone?
In most small/medium businesses, there is only one recruiter, and he reports into Finance or HR. It’s ambitious to hire a junior and expect him to blossom without role models and peers with whom to learn. Don’t take it from me, look at Amazon on LinkedIn. The company employs well over 3000 people in various talent acquisition capacities; nearly 90% of them have 5+ years of experience. Look at Shopify and you’ll see 100+ people involved in recruiting, and only a handful have less than 3 years of experience. If sexy brands like these see the value of experienced recruiters, you should too.
One more thing: recruiting is learned by trial and error. While universities and colleges offer courses, most of the syllabus was developed when talent was abundant and the job of the recruiter was to be a gatekeeper. The reality is a different beast and one that overwhelms many rookie recruiters.
Who does she know? Check with LinkedIn.
Before you screen or interview a recruiter, be sure to connect with her on LinkedIn. You’ll learn a ton about her entourage and the work she’s been doing. Don’t just look for the people you know in common, look at the calibre of talent and seniority levels. Knowing what’s in her rolodex will underscore what she’s been working on and how well she gauges talent.
While you’re at it, have a slow read through her entire profile. How does she describe her accomplishments? Does she offer any performance metrics, or is she happy to regurgitate her job description? If she doesn’t know what’s important to employers that read her profile, she won’t be able to attract top performers, and you’ll need to make additional hires to compensate for the under-performers.
Never hire a recruiter from Google.
I love it when the media touts the brilliance of Google’s recruiting practices. It’s hardly a difficult job. Who wouldn’t be happy to take a recruiting call from one of the most desirable brands in the world.
Now, juxtapose this ‘challenge’ with what your company needs from a recruiter. You certainly don’t get as many people applying to your postings, and you’re simply not that sexy. You can be sure that recruiting for your company involves a lot more rejection and frustration. Pitching careers for an unknown company is exponentially harder than being the keeper of the gate to Google or any other well-known company.
If you’re like most growing companies, you need a recruiter with passion, persistence and the drive to achieve. You need a team-builder who does it for the love of the game. That takes fire in the belly. If you don’t see it, you’ll be heading for an ulcer.