Proximity and Relationships in Recruiting

The other night I was out having dinner with my wife and friends.  It is always interesting when our group gets together.  The guys sit on one side of the table and the women sit on the other. The guys talk sports, talk about our favorite beer and whiskey, and work.  The women talk about kitchen redesigns and manicures, botox and… hell really, and truly- I have no idea.  

This night was cool because as we started talked about recruiting.  The guy to my right was a recruiter.  No, not the kind of recruiter who places tech people or sales people.  He was a college athlete recruiter and coach. To protect his identity, I will call him Coach, but he recruits for one of the biggest colleges in Texas. 

I had never met Coach, but he knew everyone else at the table that night.   I asked him how he recruits.  I told him I know we do different kinds of recruiting, but was interested in learning about how he recruited.  The answer wasn't what I expected.  What he said was exactly what my mentor taught me when I was an agency recruiter in the 1990’s. 

He said he started recruiting by word of mouth.  He listened to everyone.  Who is the best?  What are they doing at their high schools?  What kind of personality do they have?  How would they fit in at the University? 

He said he would go on road trips to go see the players that everyone was talking about.  Coach made a point in telling me that it wasn’t just the parents he tried to convince.  It was their grandparents.  It was their classmates.  It was their cousins.  It was their brothers and sisters.  It was EVERYONE in their circle. 

I asked him “Where does he focus on recruitment?”  He answered with his finger and did exactly what the picture on this page says.  He would start at the cities closest to the college and slowly go out to other high schools that were within the nearest area.

The age of the internet has changed things hasn't it?  As a global sales recruiter, there really aren't any boundaries any more.  OR are there?  Sure a Texas school can grab an athlete from Kentucky or Kansas, but, really the odds aren't as high as landing that recruit in Texas. 

Salesman.. Recruiters.. Think about it!! We make our job so damn hard.  Why?  We need to look in our own back yard FIRST and then we can expand our locations.  Just like Coach said.  Just like my mentor taught me 20 years ago.  Relationships are key.  Look close first, and then expand your search. 

If you are an Account Manager for a recruiting agency firm, why would you even think about looking in another market for business when there is enough business in your city?  5 minutes from your office you could have some of the best business.  No need to go to another state. 

If you are a recruiter isn't it always easier to hire someone locally than relocating someone from another city?  I know it is easier said than done.  In technology it can be very difficult to find someone with the right skill set at all much less in your own city.  Still, we often forget to look local first.

Getting on a plane, or time zone differences can cause huge problems in relationship building.  Yes, it can be done, but if it can be done in close proximity to where you are, then why not start there first?

What are your thoughts?  If you are a recruiter, agency recruiter, corporate recruiter or salesman where has the majority of the business you have come from?

I think Coach has it right.  We need to take it to heart.  It obviously has worked for his Texas team and it should work for others also.

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