Recruiters – we are over-thinking things

Recruiting sure has come a long way over the last two decades. New technologies, new industries and whole lot of new fancy titles (let’s please kill the whole “ninja” thing, please?). I love the fact that I am constantly seeing new ways of doing what we do explored, whether through new strategies or new software solutions or sometimes even combining the two. Moving forward is a good thing, Yes – a lot of these initiatives may fail, but as the saying goes – you never know until you try. Conferences in our world seem to happen weekly now, and often with great attendance and some really thought provoking material (side thought – how do all of you have the time to go to all of these?!). We sure seem to have a lot to discuss, share and gripe about as an industry. Now, with these pleasantries out of the way, let’s get to the heart of the matter on my mind. We are over-thinking everything.


Having the experience in my career of seeing the recruiting world from an agency, in-house, sourcer, full cycle recruiter, TA leader and now running my own business perspectives I can tell you there have been a ton of lessons learned. The biggest one, though, is that usually the problem is not hiring processes, it is attraction. From large multi-nationals to early stage startups and everywhere in between, Talent Acquisition departments have been focusing on the wrong problem to solve. You will hear all about problems with the hiring processes, interviewing techniques, assessment tools, hiring manager engagement – this list goes on and on – and on. Teams inside and outside Talent Acquisition departments will spend countless hours tweaking, changing or contemplating how to be better at these internal processes and systems, when the reality of it is that none of it matters worth a dime if you don’t master attraction.  You could have the greatest internal process ever created, but if no candidates are going through it what good does it do?


As I have stated several times prior, you could have the best sourcing and recruiting team in the world – but guess what? They can find the best talent and initially engage with them, but if the company has no compelling attraction strategy in place those engagements will typically be a one and done. The landscape has changed dramatically for candidates. No longer are the employers in the driver’s seat. Candidates now have options and information. The internet, economy and social media have turned the whole employer/candidate relationship upside down, and the companies that ignore the fact that they need to market themselves as an employer will typically not get past the first conversation in the process. In my business, I am often delivering trainings on attraction strategies. Typically I ask the groups at the beginning of the sessions “if you could work for any company in the world, where would you work?”. Without fail, the answers are all the same and all, not coincidentally, at companies that do a stellar job of marketing themselves as an employer – not as a product or service. Big difference from a traditional marketing perspective. A recent LinkedIn survey of job seekers said it best: a company’s employer brand is twice as likely to drive job considerations as it’s company brand. Think about that for a second. A company might have unbelievable products, fantastic leadership, great funding and awesome revenue performance but that is not what is really driving candidates’ mindsets. What they really care about is “what is it like to work for the company?”.
This mindset is often hard for leadership at companies to initially grasp, and even harder for most of the recruiting industry to understand. See, we are all brought up in a very “old school” way of thinking about recruiting, We source, we screen, we manage the interview process, we disposition candidates in the applicant tracking system, we discuss pipelines in recruiting meetings, bitch about hiring managers and repeat. We worry about every statistic under the sun about our internal metrics except the one that really matters first – what is happening at the beginning of the funnel. Think about great sales and marketing departments. The bigger the amount of leads at the start of the funnel leads to more sales. Yes- there is the qualification process for the leads, but that is what a good recruiter is supposed to do. Screen through leads the find the best candidates. This is not discounting the external recruiting of “passive” candidates (I will always put that word in quotes – see my article here for why, but even in those scenarios why would someone who is content at their current role leave for something not attractive to them? Don’t think for a second one of these precious “passive” candidates, after receiving your inmail, doesn’t go searching on the web about your company as well as go off of what their friends or the industry might say about you. Glassdoor anyone? Yes – the first, and most important step in fixing “hiring” is focusing on attraction. Again – this is not discounting all the very important internal processes and tools great recruiting departments need to be successful. What I am saying is simply, what does any of that matter if no one is applying or responding?



Posted on April 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

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  1. Name (required)Roberta Matuson
    May 14, 2015 at 5:05 pm ·

    I love this post Ed, as it truly gets to the heart of the matter–Attraction. The problem is that most recruiters don’t have the power to create the magnetism that’s required in order to attract top talent. As I’ve written in my latest book, Talent Magnetism, you can shout and scream “I’m hiring” all day until you turn blue in the face and little will happen. Companies need to create that irresistible magnetism, that gets people lining up outside their door even when there are no job openings. Magnetism starts at the top. Be bold. Go tell your CEO that attraction is where it’s at!

    Roberta Matuson

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