Over time, headhunters and recruiters have learned to use new tools to identify and contact the best people who can fill their clients open requirements. Change is one few of the constants of this world. Adapt or die.
But are these new technologies and tools really changing the nature of the recruiting game?
For many, <insert name of new amazing Recruiting tool Account Manager here) the answer would be a resounding “yes!” With the economy on the (shaky) mend, companies are in hiring mode and as always, the best talent out there are hard to find and almost always working (usually for a competitor).
What’s a company to do? How do you differentiate your efforts from the thousands of others looking for the same people? Are tools and technology really the answer? As we engage with potential candidates, “is the medium the message?” or is it the efficiency and ease with which we CAN ENGAGE with them more the change in the industry that the experts talk about?
True Change or Incremental Modernization?
The question is whether we are embracing change in our search for the finest candidates to fill positions in our clients’ IT Departments or we are simply extending the bridges to reach them? The distinction and definition is often muddied by our so-called “Industry Experts” and “Recruiting Guru’s” whose attention span is focused on how many times their names can be mentioned in industry news to raise their Klout score and get on meaningless lists of expert bloggers. It’s no wonder that the rest of us still focused on our clients requirements have a hard time distinguishing any meaningful change in our industry as we “run our desks” and focus on our bottom line.
There are modern ways of reaching possible candidates - mobile applications and online postings and Social Media platforms are just some of the obvious new tools adapted in the IT staffing and recruiting industry. With the help of these new tools, some of the best people in the pool can be identified. Applicant Tracking Systems can allow us to maintain candidate engagement and increase a recruiter’s chance of hiring that person in the future. But how many corporate HR people can relate to Recruiters cold calling in and yammering on and on about the size of their candidate database?
It’s not the size boys….it's whether you know how to use it. (I have ALWAYS wanted to work that into an article!)
Applicant Tracking Systems and candidate databases have been around for decades and I don’t see a switch to cloud based Applicant Tracking Systems as a major change. If anything it’s the MOBILE nature of these systems and the ability to connect to them via our ever more powerful smart phones that’s the biggest change more than the switch to the cloud itself or some new whiz-bang feature set dreamed up by the marketing department. Headhunters and recruiters can POTENTIALLY cut the time needed to search for people as they sit in a Starbucks line with their Smart phones rather than in the office bullpen. But is that real industry CHANGE or just more flexibility in how we go about doing it?
Tools, tools and more tools…for everyone…all the time…everywhere.
The more things change the more they stay the same. When I started in the recruiting industry 20+ years ago the major Financial, Insurance and Professional firms all took out giant ads in the news paper’s career sections every week. Job fairs were held in hotel conference rooms and entire floors of corporate recruiters were there to hire as many people as they could get their hands on. Not to be outdone, Recruiting agencies were there too. They had equally large ads in the papers, and had just as many hotel rooms booked on the same day as the job fair to ensure they got their share of candidates to add to their hallowed “candidate database”. The candidate database…the holy grail of recruiting agencies. The database that Recruiting firm owners always kept under lock and key in case anyone left the firm and somehow managed to take a copy of it with them! (Come on people…how many “old timers” can relate to this?)
Corporate Recruiters and 3rd part Headhunters all used the same methods and means. One was just far better at keeping track of candidates in databases because they could later “mine” that database for literal “gold” in fees. Today is no different except that Corporate Recruiters are more savvy, having spent time in the trenches of agencies for years and for some ungodly reason have decided to move away from the “dark side” of recruiting into the world of bi-weekly paychecks, vacation time, benefit plans and mandatory Halloween best costume contests. (Traitors…all of you)
How is it then, that with new tools, cloud based and mobile systems and 3rd party agency tactics used corporately that recruiters on the “dark side” working in their garages, small dingy home offices and from their favorite chair at the local Starbucks not only still exist, but thrive as the economy (and hiring) pick up?
It’s because the truth of recruiting, the dirty little secret that we all secretly know is that it has nothing to do with any of it. We ENGAGE with candidates. We give them a “warm and fuzzy” feeling when we reach out to them. We share articles of interest. We share jobs for them to share with their network. And it’s in that network, whether mobile, cloud based, candidate database or that stack of resumes you still keep in a filing cabinet in your office that’s the real truth of recruiting. It’s about people. It’s more than the e-mail blast (although certainly VERY effective at getting the word out as my friend and colleague Stephen Nehez will attest to). It’s more than the constant Social Media niceties and exceptionally clever posts that Stacy Zapar is so good at. It’s more than the RecruitingAnimals’ weekly call-in show where recruiters can bash each other’s efforts and tactics and hopefully learn enough to not be called out on our inept online efforts (Animal has rightly called me out several times).
The Change that we should be talking about is how to stand-out, how to differentiate ourselves and our efforts from the same Corporate recruiting entities that we ourselves serve. The change in our industry is NOT the newest tool or social media trend. It’s not that Corporate recruiting efforts have the same access to them. We’ve always used the same methods from the newspaper and job fair days and we thrived by placing people.
The Change in the recruiting industry is the recent widely held belief (especially on the corporate side of the house) that we can ALL do recruiting and be effective at it. So much so that even Hiring Managers are getting directly involved with it. Tools are so-well marketed and give us daily (even minute by minute statistics) about our posts and real-time “candidate engagement metrics” that we all believe we are recruiting gods. A BA in Psych, an online “recruiter” course or two. Perhaps some fabled “Recruiting Certifications” I’ve heard about and we’re all experts in our field ready to tackle any requirement that comes our way.
But it’s the “so what” of these tools and their metrics that we should be talking about. Successful Recruiting is more than engagement metrics. It’s more than likes, shares or re-tweets. It’s REAL, WELL DOCUMENTED JOB REQUIREMENTS. It’s WELL SCREENED candidates in the pipeline. It’s WELL PREPARED candidates being interviewed. It’s FULLY ENGAGED and HUNGRY candidates who WANT THE JOB going in for second and final interviews. It’s effective reference checking. It’s offer negotiation and PRESENTATION. It’s getting the OFFER ACCEPTED and getting BUMS IN SEATS.
Change is Not Change until we recognize the real truth of recruiting. Professional engage, recruit and most importantly PLACE people. Amateur’s just really like to have their stuff shared and track it in a nifty dashboard app on their smart phones sipping a Starbucks Grande.