Recruiting is not a HOW business but a WHO business

Best practices. You know you’ve read that teaser a gazillion times.  One place you see this phrase are on popular recruiting websites and conferences.   The REALITY is this. Recruiting is ACTUALLY more about WHO than HOW.

Unfortunately, recruiters are lured away from the WHO and into HOW to business lately.

Let me illustrate this even more. Here are the recent article headlines over at ERE:

Bold Best Practices That You Should Add to Your University Recruiti...

How to Hire a Software Engineer at a Startup

Revealing The Most Innovative Recruiting Strategies That Are Used B...

How to Snag Your Dream Candidate Without Going Broke: Speed, Fit, a...

I'm not picking on ERE but a lot of their “industry experts” haven’t been in the recruiting trenches in years (if at all). Some of their articles are just pie in the sky how to articles. And some of their  “best practice” articles are unrealistic or nearly impossible to implement.

Selling the HOW To recruit business is booming and it caters to everyone in HR. You can market and sale HOW.  The WHO business is personal. It’s relationship driven. It can’t be bought and sold.  However,  The business of HOW TO has really changed our industry.

A lot of recruiters have abandoned the business of WHO and went to selling the HOW. The WHO business is difficult and often folks just get burned out. So, the HOW becomes more attractive to do. The problem is that some active recruiters have really gotten sidetracked over the years and focus more on how to recruit these days.

Who you recruit is more important than how you your recruit.

If you know the WHO, then the HOW is secondary. The best example is an employee referral. If a hiring manager knows who he/she wants to hire, the how-to plays a minor role. How to create a PROCESS around your employee referral program is important but it does NOT trump the employee referral.


Candidates with sought after skills will always chose a WHO when they decide to leave.  An example of this is when I worked as a corporate recruiter where I hired tons of folks. Majority of them got weekly emails from staffing agencies. They hardly replied to those recruiters. They didn’t know them. But, I was able to hire them because they either knew me or someone in the company. Forming a relationship and gaining trust is a lost skill in this ever evolving “how to” industry we are in.  

So before I close, let me again say that I’m not bashing these recruitment websites and conferences. They provide a lot of great tools, articles and news. And, I am guilty a lot of “how to” blog posts. However, as a hands-on recruiter, I’m seeing more emphasis around the HOW and not the WHO. Every day recruiters are burden with a process, tools, metrics, even just answering emails that pull them away from developing a relationship with a hiring manager or candidate. The constant feed stream of training, performance tuning, metrics, hiring practices and tools is big business.


Remember this. We are in the people business. A recruiter that focuses on WHO to hire will get Hires. A recruiter that focuses on HOW to get hires ironically gets fired.

(Glennlist your own stop shop for great articles on how to recruit. haha.)

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