Fact or Fiction? Hiring Is About Finding the Best Talent
Spend a few minutes on social media wading through techie job search advice, and you are bound to see lots of pronouncements about how companies are “determined” to find the best talent, that there is a “severe” shortage of top talent, and that companies are “investing” more resources than ever in finding this top talent.
For the most part, they actually believe what they say.
After all, the recruiting industry is booming, thanks to the investments companies are making in hiring recruiters. And candidates are more desperate than ever to get the attention of a recruiter because a recruiter “has jobs” for them.
So what’s the problem?
Most of what companies have invested in to find this “top” talent does just about everything but find top talent.
As a technical career management firm, we have been fortunate to build a large database of internal and external technical recruiters in our network. We have spent a great deal of time getting to know what motivates them so that we can better advise our clients. We also have partnered with another firm to provide a recruiter strategy service that helps advise candidates on the best way to approach recruiters, launch a campaign, and find the “good” ones because as in most fields, including ours, they are not all created equal. And working professionals can spend a lot of time and frustration wading through them.
Here’s what we have discovered:
Hiring is really most often about meeting corporate metrics…because it isn’t what we say, it is what we do.
By and large, recruiters are just professionals like you and me, not some type of employment superheroes with their fingers on the pulse of all things “hiring.” Generally, they either are (1) internal recruiters who are part of a large HR department or (2) executive recruiters who most likely work for a recruiting firm, which is a mini (or a not-so-mini) corporate startup of its own. There are various studies out there regarding how much a recruiter makes (one that has a good breakdown but is a couple of years old is as follows: http://fistfuloftalent.com/2008/05/average-recruti.html), but generally it is wide ranging, anywhere from $30-40K for entry-level internal recruiters to about $125K for more experienced and external recruiters. The average pay for an external recruiter seems to come in around $75K, but of course, there are a few outliers making much, much more, as in any field. Internal recruiters generally seem to make less unless they are recruiting managers.
Internal recruiters are, well, internal, so they are wrapped up in the corporate mindset they operate in, and external recruiters, although generally considered more “sales-like” because they have to compete for their contracts, often have a hard time balancing meeting quotas while maneuvering through the muck and mire of the internal HR dogma of the companies they recruit for.
Obviously, though, whether they are internal or external, the recruiter’s job is to find this “top” talent for their companies.
Sounds pretty simple, right? It is until you realize that this top talent is supposed to materialize quickly and that hiring must take place within the confines of the often self-imposed governance these companies adhere to.
In a recent post on the site Recruiting Blogs, where a spat began regarding the merits of internal vs. external recruiters, some interesting insights about the profession in general came out of the comments section:
“I got tired of shmoozing for job orders and feeling like a used car sales girl when I convinced and pushed my client to hire some mediocre candidate just so I could close a deal. ”
“[M]ost of the work that 3PRs [external recruiters] do…is often performed by poorly trained newbies who dial for dollars, find candidates off boards and RPOs, and try to get 20% fees from clients too ignorant or desperate to know there are *much less expensive and quite effective alternatives available and as long as there are clients who are looking for excellence on the cheap, these second- or third-raters will stay in business.”
“I think you know there are plenty of recruiters form BOTH sides that are only trying to fill positions rather then putting the best people in the right positions.”
“An organization with people first in mind – many say they are, but very few walk their talk, unless by ‘people’ they mean ‘the people at the very top’.”
The takeaway for the job seeker?
Somewhere along the way, “some” companies and recruiters got the impression that they always had the upper hand in the process, and as a result, they got sloppy in how they handle their hiring practices.
Not surprisingly, then, they don’t have strong policies and procedures in place to hire the “best” talent, and hiring really becomes more about fulfilling metrics and putting butts in seats, hopefully fairly decent ones but maybe not always the “best” ones.
I mean it all makes sense if you think about it. Internal and external recruiters alike proudly brag that they spend 6 seconds or less looking at a person’s resume and that they care more about the quality of a person’s LinkedIn profile photo than about spending more than 6 seconds reading through a candidate’s materials. (Yet they seem to have lots of opinions about resumes…you know, this document they “hate” and don’t read.)
I get it. They see hundreds, thousands of resumes. Who has the time?
Oh, I don’t know…maybe a person whose entire job it is to find the best talent out there?
Recruiters are stuck in the corporate goo, and somehow that is supposed to bode well for you.
Let’s face it. To say your job is to hire the best talent and then brag about how little time you spend vetting candidates but somehow manage to do the best job for the client, aka the employer, is, well, gooey at best. Instead they just whine and wail about how they have to sift through so many resumes. Internal or external…that’s the same backward thinking that so many accuse corporate of, isn’t it?
And I won’t even get started on how they bristle when you try to bring talent to them…that’s a whole other post, I’m afraid.
But you can only blame recruiters for so much. After all, they are just trying to please the companies who write their checks…and those companies say one thing but really mean another. “Find us top talent.” But what they really mean is “find someone fast.”
So, is hiring about finding the best talent? Fact or fiction?
Answer: Fact. It is meant to be “about” that. BUT the way things are done right now, most companies can’t be sure their own recruiting practices haven’t brushed aside that talent in an effort to turn hiring into a fast food commodity run by government-like rules and regulations.
So, what should professionals do?
Be vigilant with your career management even when you “aren’t looking to make a move right now.” Be documenting and preparing briefs on project performance, gather testimonials and recommendations, and learn some tricks from content marketing. And maybe most important of all, learn how to attract recruiters to you BEFORE you need them. (For more tips, check out my post “The Top 2 Technical Career Motivators“)