Next time you hire a CEO.
Whoever you are, and whatever your involvement in the search...
Consider hiring a recruiting leader.
Scared much? Don't be.
We drive behavioural change - We are persuasive. We connect with people and influence them as part of our daily work. And not just influence them in a small way - we contribute the information and provide (usually impartial) advice that leads them to make life-changing decisions with far-reaching consequences. In short, people find reasons to trust us.
We get P&L management - Most recruiters work a system where they have to "cover their seat" meaning that they have to deliver sales revenue of at least their CTC (Cost To Company) before they are paid any commission.
This means that from the get-go, a recruiter will have to immediately embrace and understand the concepts of fixed and variable costs as well as forecasting, and this becomes yet more complex as they hire, shape and grow teams as they are running a sales P&L. ROI is always at the heart of what we do.
We are entrepreneurial - most recruiters will be familiar with "running a desk" and how that feels exactly like running your own business. Lonely and character-building.
Sure, some of the larger players in agency recruiting will provide support in terms of infrastructure, IT/finance and so on, but at the end of the day it's you - your desk, your team and there isn't much else driving the business. So most recruiters are natural entrepreneurs.
We can mine data for insights - In Recruiting Leadership, agency or corporate there are a million data sources and things to be tracked. Data and metrics are everywhere. You monitor sources vs costs, time-to-hire, cost-per-hire, quality-of-hire, sales... the list is endless. Even the seemingly straightforward task of reviewing a resume requires a special ability to read between the lines and dig out the signal from the noise.
We lead & empower - Great recruiting leaders know how to create the right lens through which their teams view the world, and enable them to interpret even the toughest situations in empowering and constructive ways.
We get social media - Recruiting has always been fundamentally social. So great recruiting leaders will always have a knack for it. We always embrace tools that can make our big-data-sifting job easier. We understand how it influences customer consideration. We understand the value of social analytics for identifying path-to-purchase bottlenecks and evaluating sentiment. We understand it's power to create online influence. We have used it to build communities and to crowdsource ideas. We use it to find the people we need. We understand how dangerous it can be if not used right. We understand it's not like Marketing used to be. We know that it's the future.
We listen and we remember - If you aren't a great listener, you'll never have been a successful recruiting leader. Active listening is an
exhausting essential routine that we practice daily with our candidates, clients and co-workers. The slightest detail, however nuanced, implied or subtle, has to be noted and retrieved at a moments notice. The nature of the personal relationships we build means that even if we are dealing with hundreds of people in a year - we have to make them all feel like we know them intimately to arrive at the appropriate trust level.
We are great troubleshooters - we love to identify and solve problems. Our business is consulting. We don't offer off-the-shelf, one-size-fits all - we offer bespoke, custom-fit solutions to tackle each issue. Our heritage in commission-based work means that if we don't solve the problem, we don't get paid, and this conditions us to be adaptable and iterative in our approach.
We understand the pain, purpose, and path of HR - we understand the critical role that culture plays in how a company performs and the valuable role that business-savvy HR contributes. We spend so long partnering with HR/Talent Generalists that we can relate to, and understand what they do as practitioners. There's no denying that contemporary CEOs like Marissa have a much better grasp of the importance of Talent/Hiring & Culture policies in driving the loyalty and engagement that a company needs to be a success. We also understand that the voice of HR has to be a clear signal in the noise, by speaking the language of the business.
We can deal with ambiguity and adversity - all recruiters understand that regardless of how they qualify their leads, how effective they are at sourcing, qualifying and passing talents to the hiring manager - stuff can go wrong. This ensures we have a comfort level with ambiguity that few other professionals have. We're dealing with facts but ride the unpredictability wave because of the human element. So we shape our daily work around dealing with that. Most great recruiting leaders are relentless.
We are objective - we don't let subjective analysis ("I really like / dislike this person") interfere with getting the job done right for the client. This emotional detachment and cold business-like appraisal is refined over time, and means we are able to make tough decisions when the chips are down, an essential CEO trait.
We can simplify complex concepts - We learn and adapt real fast. Recruiting leaders who operate in one or more niche industries will quickly have to develop tacit knowledge of their sector(s) extending to fluency with concepts, functions and technology.
Sometimes this stuff is very complicated. Then we assimilate and communicate that information with credibility to a sceptical audience. For example, I was recruiting for a company called CSR in 1998 just after they were founded - they more or less invented Bluetooth. Can you imagine trying to explain this crazy concept at a technical level to passively interested engineers as a non-engineer??
We can get the best out of talents - and getting the best out of people is key in any leadership role. Helping them discover their strengths, and matching them with the right job isn't a job that comes without a lot of practice, trial and error. It's the most important job a recruiting leader does. It's arguably the most important job a CEO does too.
We can see around corners - from the get-go, a newly minted recruiter will almost certainly have inherited what's known in the trade as a "cold desk" - despite what they might have been promised at the interview. What a cold desk means is that there are few or zero existing customers. This means that recruiters are usually highly proficient at 'reading' markets, conducting qualitative and quantitative analysis based on micro and macro trends, location and availability of talent. We're always on the pulse and are forced to adapt because of the constant need to expand and develop our customer / candidate network.
I'm not sorry for the long blog post. This is a topic about which I'm passionate. There are too many CEO's who are auto-selected from Finance, Operation and Sales - and too few who come from Talent, especially Talent Acquisition.
As a profession, we have a duty to raise the awareness of what we do, and how we do it, to those business leaders who have been overlooking our value.
If you made it to the end of this long post I would love to know what you think. Why aren't more recruiting leaders selected to be CEOs?