3 (More) Reasons Recruiters Get a Bad Name

Recruiter inside voice: “You hear those papers shuffling in the background? That’s me frantically trying to find your resume, but in the mean time I’m going to seamlessly small talk until I remember who the hell you are.

Candidate inside voice: “Seriously? You called me yesterday, jack-wagon.

If you’re part of #FOTNation, chances are North of 100% that you have:

  • Conducted a candidate search
  • Been on the receiving end of a candidate search
  • Both

Hopefully, your answer is “both.” There is no better training for a recruiter than to have been recruited at some point. Most of us have heard the complaints about “no call backs,” “no feedback,” or even a lack of understanding of the very position for which you are sourcing. But if you haven’t been on the other end of the phone for a while, you may have also forgotten some of the insensitive things we do when sourcing candidates:

  1. The Handoff: When you contact a candidate and they actually respond, do you immediately hand them off to another colleague (e.g., a subordinate)? In Texas we have a saying (actually, we have a million, we’re good like that): “Dance with the one what brung ya, son.” If you hand me off, you’re making a statement about my value (the candidate) vs. your value.
  2. The Re-Boot: I know, believe me, it’s impossible to keep the list of names straight when you’ve got 35 open reqs wallpapering your office. I’m an infamous multi-tasker and could have a 10-minute conversation with a person and  not even recall the gender, so I had to consciously change that instinctual behavior. Make a connection with each candidate, take copious notes, and have a master ledger of your conversations. Asking the candidate to “Refresh my memory” is another way of saying, “Remind me who you are again?”
  3. Not on The First Date: Have you ever been in a conversation with a recruiter, prospect, stranger, etc., and they mention something from your background that is pretty deeply indexed in your LinkedIn profile? Just a little too familiar, too soon, you know? Tap the brakes a little bit and work through some of the “favorite color” questions before we ask about how I like my eggs, Miss FancyPants.

Being a recruiter can be a thankless job—you’re squarely in the middle of two vocal client groups, you know way too much about bad CVs, and you have a love/hate relationship with all forms of technology (basically, it’s all out to get us)… candidates flake, clients freeze reqs, interviews go horribly wrong—and that’s not even counting the ways our inside voice is screwing us over.


Baby Got Back

What about your back-end?

Excuse ME????!?

No, not that back-end, I’m talking marketing life-cycle back-end. Think in terms of your product and services – how do you continue to promote and differentiate a brand that is way past the honeymoon stage?  What is your strategy for keeping a brand profitable in the mature stage?

What if your “product” is you?

When independent consultants break off into their first venture (present company included) we are constantly defining and refining our message. It’s become rote to realize that a “brand” is critical when you are attempting to establish yourself in a crowded marketplace. “What’s your elevator pitch?” “What’s your 3-word personal brand?”, etc. – we hear it constantly, and in turn we spend a lot of time innovating, creating, simplifying, and testing our story.

Well, how about those of us who are a little saltier? When was the last time you/we seriously explored the need to breathe new life in our brand message?

Use the pharmaceutical industry as a model for the importance of “mature brand strategies.”  For every successful drug, patents expire. As the pipeline for new products starts to dry up, it becomes even more critical to keep the “back end” strong for the existing portfolio: strategic pricing, brand loyalty programs, repackaging, new market penetration, product re-positioning, taste enhancements, dosing changes ~ there’s a lot of ways to skin this cat.

So how about you? Are you a “mature” product? Might be time to work on that back end.

Recruiters, Take Heart

So the Broncos drafted a linebacker in the 1st Round two years in a row. Only last year they had the guy play quarterback.” – Sports Pickle, commenting on Tim Tebow

Football season is upon us…one week from now, the NFL regular season begins and for at least one week all is well in the world. It’s also our first real look at the new employees, aka, draft class.

The entire process is, perhaps, the most comprehensive, systematic, machine-like recruiting process in the world. The problem is, the “machine” is run by humans to select humans.

  • Teams panic and “reach” for a need rather than the best available player.
  • Teams ignore the evaluations of their scouts and make a selection based on a gut feeling
  • Players inexplicably fall in the draft based on opinion and rumor rather than fact
  • Teams draft players that look the part, even if their resume shows little in the way of actual results
  • Teams draft players from known “football factories” rather than smaller, lesser-known programs
  • Other players go undrafted, unappreciated, or otherwise under-valued yet somehow go on to stardom

So the next time you’re licking your wounds regarding a new hire that didn’t quite work out, remember that for every Troy Aikman or Adrian Peterson, there’s a Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Matt Leinart, Tony Mandarich…you get the picture.

As long as humans are the product, there will be hits & misses…take heart, it could be worse. You could have the draft record of Jerry Jones.




Throw The Monkey

Nobody ever under-sells the size of the fish they caught.

How many of your employees share their confidential information with each other? Specifically, their compensatory information.

For whatever reason, the discussion of salary and bonus amongst co-workers is no longer considered taboo at the employee level. The challenge is, despite the practice being unwise, it’s not illegal.

Some companies use paper tigers to discourage such talk, i.e. “Employees are prohibited from discussing their salary or wage levels and company benefits with other employees. Any employee violating this policy will be considered to have committed a breach of confidentiality and will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and possibly including termination of employment.

Good luck with all that. The National Relations Labor Act has a provision specifically protecting these discussions, so again – just because it’s stupid doesn’t mean it’s illegal.

So, what can you do as an HR professional when you are made aware of these discussions? What do you do when your business leaders ask you to take action?

Throw the monkey right back at ’em.

Schedule conversations with your business leaders, or even individual employees who are openly discussion (or seeking to discuss) this information. This is a classic example of not letting “YP” (your problem) become “MP” (my problem.)

  • Employee: “I know Gavin is making more money than me, and I’ve been here longer.”
  • You: “Is that right? And that’s a problem for you?”
  • Employee: “Well yeah it’s a problem for me; it’s not fair.”
  • You: “Okay, so let me ask you – how much more is he making?”
  • Employee: “Not sure the exact amount, but I think it’s about $5,000 more a year.”
  • You: “Okay, I can’t & won’t confirm of deny that information, but let me ask you a few questions.”

and that’s when you toss the monkey…take your pick of a few questions, but make this an educational session instead of a gripe session:

  • How do you think compensation levels are established?
  • Why would people have different levels of compensation even in similar roles?
  • In your opinion, do more people tell the truth about their compensation, or exaggerate?
  • What are the pluses of having discussions about private information?
  • What negatives could happen as a result of discussions about private information?

You get the gist – don’t make this your issue. I find it hard to believe that people would find value in comparing income, but we know it happens, right?

Cut that monkey off mid-flight.