“What’s the first rule of acquisition?” – Quark (more Star Trek!)

A couple of weeks ago we started a series of posts about engagement. I promised to talk about how recruiters should engage with candidates and clients, how candidates should engage with recruiters and how clients should engage with recruiters. This week we are all about clients! Whee!!

Throughout my recruiting career, I have found that client interaction generally falls into one of only a few categories:

  1. Sure, you can work on our reqs. They are posted on the website. Go pull them down yourself. No, you can’t talk to the hiring manager directly. We have no idea what we really need and you can’t have any details about culture fit. The salary depends on the candidate and if they are in our database at any point in the past you won’t get a fee. Good luck.
  2. No, we aren’t interested in working with recruiters. Ever. We need your help, but we worked with one once and it was such a soul sucking experience I would rather gouge my eyes out with hot pokers that do it again. The candidate we ended up hiring made a complete mockery of our business and we now think all recruiters are evil, smarmy creatures with no redeeming qualities what-so-ever.
  3. Yes! We would love to work with you and every other agency that calls us! Here is a job description that is pretty close to what the hiring manager thinks the needs are. We don’t really have a pay range. We have no formal hiring process. Just send us some perfect candidates even though we don’t really know what perfect is and we’ll take it from there.

OK – so those are pretty sweeping generalizations, but you get the gist. What it boils down to is companies don’t often have a good idea of how to engage effectively with a recruiter and it doesn’t matter if that recruiter is internal to them or with an outside agency. In defense of the companies, they probably get a ton of calls from recruiters and bad recruiters are a dime a dozen so there is a certain amount of justified wariness.

But, before we get into yet another recruiter bashing episode, let’s talk about the recruiting process in general. I don’t propose to be the end-all-be-all expert on all things recruiting – especially when every company has their own culture, needs, history, goals, etc. What I do propose to be an expert on is the basics. There are fundamental things all companies need to do without fail. The rest of your unique hiring process can be built on top of this basic framework.

  1. Understand your needs. You have to know what you are looking for. Is the job description really the right one or, are you simply using the one you used last time even though you have restructured since it was written? Do you need to replace the person who left or do you need to shift that headcount to something else because those responsibilities are covered? Take the time to conduct a needs analysis before you start the hiring process. Once you know what you really need it makes finding it a heck of a lot easier.
  2. Share information. When it comes to recruiters it doesn’t matter if they are internal or external – if you aren’t giving them the information they need to help you they aren’t going to be successful, you aren’t going to be happy and everybody loses. If you aren’t willing to share the necessary information to help the recruiter succeed don’t bother working with them at all. Just go ahead and fill it yourself…while you also stay on top of all your regular responsibilities.
  3. Move faster. Hiring new people onto your team is a very complicated and dangerous proposition. Every time you add a new person you run the risk of adding the wrong person. Good recruiters get this and they do a lot of work to screen for a strong personality match to your existing team. When they put candidates in front of you it is critical to make decisions quickly. The longer you sit on a resume the less chance there is you will be able to hire the candidate that resume represents. The first step is generally a short phone screen so don’t panic about moving fast.
  4. Have approval. If you start the interview process because there is a possibility you will get to hire you are wasting everyone’s time – and that includes your own. Budget approval? This ensures you are only considering candidates you can legitimately afford. Offer approval? This ensures you don’t lose a great candidate who has other offers on the table while you wait for an executive who travels 95% of the time to get around to checking his email/voicemail and giving you a rubber stamp so you can finally make an offer yourself. Nothing will kill your ability to attract top talent faster than having a reputation for wasting people’s time.
  5. Have patience. Recruiting isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t easy either. Anyone can post a job and wait for applications to come rolling in, but if you are looking for a very specific skill set, the job ads are unlikely to get you what you need. Recruiters work to build a network of professionals who can help them tap into the specific candidate pool you need. This takes time. It requires lots of digging and searching and talking to people before finally getting to the top candidates. These are typically people who will never see that job ad and even if they did see it they aren’t going to apply for it. Give the recruiter time to tap into that well of candidates. It’s worth it.

Just to add a bit more fuel to my argument here – there are a few other things experts want hiring managers to think about in regards to hiring.

“OK,” you might be thinking, “I can do all that, but recruiters still suck.” Well…you know what? You’re right. The unfortunate truth is that most recruiters in the industry these days do suck. It’s ok. I’m a recruiter – I can say it. The only good news is that most of the really bad ones will self-select right out of the industry and what you are left with are good recruiters who legitimately care about your company and the candidates they work with. I may be a just a tiny bit biased, but the recruiters at Technical Integrity care quite a bit about your company and our candidates. Just ask anyone we work with and I am confident they will tell you exactly that.

So, what do you look for when you are deciding whether or not to work with a recruiter? Well, we will talk about that in depth next time.

What?!! You didn’t think I was going to tell you EVERYTHING in one post did you?!