The Reason You Can't Recruit Anyone (And 7 Steps To Fix It)

I love recruiting.  It is the hardest job on the planet- both my client and my product can tell me no.  That is a tough spot.  Imagine walking through the grocery store, grabbing a jar of peanut butter and the jar saying, “NOPE!”, jumps out of your cart and runs away down the aisle.  That is recruiting (sort of).

Sometimes my clients think it is a good use of their time to go out, do research, try to identify candidates and then reach out to them directly.  You know what?  If you're an executive who has the time to do that, do it!  I know one CEO who does this and does it very successfully.  He is the exception.

The clear majority of clients’ hand recruiting off to people whose job it is but are often poorly trained and don’t know their market or space.  Even the best trained and experienced internal recruiters are often overworked requiring many critical positions to be filled with a job posting but no actual recruiting.  That means your next employee might be the best unemployed or the unhappiest (but employed) person who saw your job posting.    

That isn’t recruiting.  That is hoping for the best.  Recruiting is hard and you aren’t good at it.  Here is why… because you don’t understand it, you don’t understand the complexities of effective recruiting and the subtleties of the psychology that is involved.

We need to start with the assumption that you absolutely do not have time to train someone to do this job; you need someone who has the requisite experience doing the job you need done- either because you have no bandwidth to train, no interest in training or you need someone to be productive as quickly as possible.  Assuming one or more of those things, you need your candidate to be recruited.  

From there, here are the basic steps in the recruiting process…

1. We need to create a job order.

This is the outline of the requirements for the role and include qualifications and experience necessary for greatest odds of success in the role.

2. We need to do our research.

We need to build a specific list of target companies which will include direct competitors, partners, re-sellers or companies from our platform ecosystem.  From there, we need to use tools or our network to identify the people doing that job at those companies today.  We might even *gasp* make a cold call to identify that person.

3. Once we get that person on the phone, though, the trouble begins. 

This is where a professional recruiter starts to earn his/her money.  For the internal recruiter and most outside recruiters, the selling starts after the introduction.  “Mr. Candidate, I have a great opportunity and your background would be a great fit.  Would you be interested in learning more?”

The thing that gets ignored in almost every recruit call is the understanding that your opportunity doesn’t matter; the only thing that matters is what matters to the person on the other end of the phone.  That’s it!  Most recruiters don’t get this and will never get this.  Because of this they don’t engage the candidate in a humane or meaningful way, they don’t create a relationship, they don’t create a good impression for their company or themselves.  Ok, I’m off my soapbox (for now).

4. Now that I understand what matters to my candidate, I need to determine if my opportunity is a good fit. 

My client needs to be make this candidate’s life better in a way that matters to the candidate.  Sometimes that is money, sometimes promotion, sometimes a better leader…it can be just about anything.  Now the recruiter must effectively “sell” those things to the candidate. They also should tell their company story to this person in a way that will compel the person to take the action step of engaging in an interview process.  This is the art of connecting- most people don’t have this.  Soapbox time again….

I can’t tell you how many of my clients lose great candidates at offer stage.  Almost all of them.  It is because they aren’t paying any attention to the candidate.  They get caught up drinking their own Kool-Aid.  They think, “this candidate loves us”, “of course she’ll join us,” or believe some other grand delusion.  They fail to talk to their candidate- they fail to listen and they fail to care about the candidate.  They don’t ask about money until the end (dumb mistake).  They don’t ask about other companies that person is interviewing with (dumb mistake).  They don’t ask about the candidate’s concerns (ugh).  By doing a regular and comprehensive candidate check-in throughout the interview process not only do you get to smoke out candidate’s you’ll never, ever get to accept your offer, you get to save time and get to the best candidate far faster.

5. The management of the process begins now and the recruiter also needs to go into risk mitigation mode now. 

How do you mitigate risk you might ask?  I’m not going to tell you.  I will tell you that risk mitigation starts with digging into your candidate’s reason for wanting to make a change (psst…if the person has no reason to change jobs and you bring them into your recruiting process with the belief that “if they only see how great your company/opportunity/management team/ or whatever is, they will want to do this”, you are wrong).  And if the person has a great reason to change and you can’t offer whatever that is to them, don’t bring them to the party either.  

Risk mitigation also requires that you set an expectation for the candidate of how this is going to go and that you then do what you say you are going to do, delivering to the expectation you set upfront.  Risk mitigation also happens by qualifying money early and often.  Do you have any idea how many candidates have gotten a raise in the middle of my interview processes?

6. Don’t get afraid of asking for concerns throughout the process. 

Assure and re-assure your candidate throughout the process.  If the candidate seems nervous or it seems like something has changed, it probably has and you need to ask about it. 

7. Lastly, treat your candidate to a great experience. 

So few people seem to get this but the only person’s life who is being impacted in an interview process is the candidate’s life.  You are asking this person to make a major life change, to go to a new company and work with strangers and to assume risks.  That can be exciting for sure but it is also nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing.  

The business of recruiting is not only challenging but a time-consuming process requiring thought, strategy and persistence throughout to get the desired result with the best person for the job.  

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