Posts Tagged ‘hiring’
If you follow David Graziano on twitter, read his articles, or listen to his contributions on call-in programs such as Recruiting Animal blog talk radio, you will already know that he is one of the good guys. With more than 28 years of experience as both a corporate and third-party recruiter, David has seen a lot of changes in the industry, and has watched recruiting firms come and go. Recognized as one of the 25 most influential recruiters on twitter, he is a vocal critic of a recruiting industry subculture that treat candidates as commodities. I had the opportunity to speak with David recently about his concerns.
How did you get started in recruiting, and are you any good at it?
I kind of came into recruiting through the backdoor. I am a master’s level clinical psychologist, and when I first relocated to St. Louis I saw an ad for a recruiter. I thought it might be a good interim job while I looked for a placement in my field, so I applied and got hired right away. It was a sweat shop. High volume, lots of pressure. The technology wasn’t there yet, but you could see the early warning signs that transactional recruiting was coming. But my background in counselling gave me a leg up over other recruiters in the firm, and I did what nobody had ever done in the history of the company: I made my first placement within five days of being hired. I had empathy, and I understood the importance of building trust. Instead of transactional recruiting I did relational recruiting. I did my best to be genuine when I talked to candidates and hiring managers, and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions. This made it easier for me to recognize candidates who were going to be a good fit for my client’s needs. Not just a good fit on paper, but a good fit for the long haul.
Later, I worked as a corporate contract recruiter, and the recruiting center relied on ATS technology. The firm’s average time to fill a job was 75 days, but their goal was to reduce it to 65 days. I did 10 days better than that. My time to fill was 55 days, and I did it through relational recruiting. If somebody called me, I stopped to talk to them. Why? Because if a candidate is going to pick up the phone and call me, that speaks volumes about them. And in a 15 minute conversation, I can find out more about a person’s talents, knowledge, goals, and motivators than an ATS system could ever discover. Sure I leveraged the ATS, I made sure that the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed. But I took a transactional recruiting model and made it relational, and that was the key to my success.
What do you see going wrong with recruiting practices today?
I deplore the transactional nature of the recruiting business today. We are all technocrats, 1984 Orwell-style, and technology is vastly taking over relational recruiting. Recruiters and corporations are under the misconception that an application tracking system will take the place of engaging, communicating, connecting, and this behaviour is permeating the industry across third party, corporate and staff recruiting. It’s all “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, and candidates are being treated like a commodity.
There’s a huge push toward transactional recruiting, especially in this economy where there is such pressure to reduce hiring costs. Corporations at the senior level are thinking that their sophisticated applicant tracking system is reducing their cost per hire, but they are deluding themselves because they are measuring the wrong things. They aren’t considering the time to fill a position, the lost opportunity costs, the impact of a black-hole application process on their employer brand. They don’t understand the value of having a good recruiting process that is built on people, not just technology.
Is it fixable?
Frankly, I don’t know if the problem is fixable, but I think it can be influenced. People like Jerry Albright, who understand that picking up the phone is the primary way of making things happen, they are quietly following a relational model of recruiting. It’s not really revolutionary, good recruiters have known it for years. But there is more urgency now if the recruiting industry wants to survive. The recession has only made it worse. Recruiters aren’t recruiters anymore, they are resume sourcers, paper hangers.
There is a lot of buzz about social media and recruiting through social media. As if social media is going to be the new recruiting panacea. Tools like twitter and Facebook are just another form of handshake. The value is still in relationship building, and this takes time. You won’t magically improve your cost of hiring by setting up a twitter account and blasting job ads. Companies like Sodexo know that. They are actively online, building candidate relationships. Most companies haven’t figured that out yet.
Corporations need to be taught how to use recruiters more effectively. We can save them money, we can improve the quality of hire, we can shorten the time to fill jobs, if we go beyond a transactional model. Perhaps I need to offer a series of seminars on how to work with recruiters. It isn’t all the fault of the corporations. Recruiters haven’t been all that transparent or forthcoming. Some recruiters are afraid of looking stupid, so they don’t ask questions. They are afraid of risking the client relationship, so they don’t push back when corporate processes aren’t working. It’s the emperor’s new clothes thing. So they end up with job descriptions that are poorly written, or jobs where there is a hidden agenda, and because recruiters aren’t taking the time to really talk with the hiring manager, they aren’t seeing the intangibles. They just get told “no, he’s not the right candidate” or “bring me somebody else”, but they aren’t finding out why.
If jobseekers want to fight back against a “candidate as commodity” talent acquisition culture, what do you suggest that they do?
If you get a call from a third-party recruiter, ask questions. Not just about the job, but about the recruiter himself. Or herself. Figure out if this is even a person you want to work with. Ask how long they’ve been in the business. What kind of success have they had? Who are some of their customers? What do they know about your current skill set – the marketplace you work in? As a candidate you have the right to ask this stuff, and if the recruiter resists telling you, they may not be somebody you want to work with. Also, pay attention to whether the recruiter understands the position being filled. With the tools available for a recruiter to get up to speed on different verticals, there is no excuse for them not to be able to have an intelligent conversation about your industry. But they should also be willing to acknowledge what they don’t know. If they can’t do that, they shouldn’t be in this recruiting space, and you as a jobseeker shouldn’t work with them. Don’t forget, only 5% of jobs are filled through third-party recruiters. You have options.
I’m probably going to get a lot of flack for this, but my recommendation is that, for a lot of companies, jobseekers should by-pass the corporate recruiter altogether. If you see a job that interests you, find out who the hiring manager is, and connect with them. In my experience, most in-house recruiters don’t care about the candidate experience, and they add little value to the hiring process. These are the ones I hear from all the time saying “I’m too busy to speak to every candidate” or “I can’t possibly make all the follow-up calls”. Don’t believe it. Corporate recruiters who think like that just aren’t aggressive enough. There are exceptions, and Sodexo is a shining example, but unfortunately companies like that are rare.
Jobseekers should also learn how the hiring process works so that they can work it to their advantage. Understand the different players – the third-party recruiter, the corporate recruiter, the hiring manager, and who does what, when, and why. Understand the so-called rules, the small-p politics, so you can know which rules can be broken, which ones can be bent, and which ones they absolutely must comply with. It isn’t easy, I know. Jobseekers have to be much more savvy than they did in the past. But using tools like twitter and recruiting blogs can help, because recruiters and HR experts share information with each other that is valuable for jobseekers too.
Are there experts you would recommend that jobseekers follow?
There are some really good people, both corporate recruiters and third-party recruiters, whose voices are helping to bring integrity to recruiting and talent acquisition. Lots of them are on twitter, and jobseekers would do well to listen in on the conversation. My recommendations include:
- @Greg_Savage: Greg Savage, CEO of Aquent International
- @Deandacosta: Dean Da Costa, Senior Talent Sourcer/Recruiter with Microsoft
- @CincyRecruiter: Jennifer McClure, Founder of Unbridled Talent LLC
- @SodexoCareers: Kerry Noone, Head of Marketing & Employer Branding for Sodexo
- @sullivanmarkd: Mark Sullivan, Director of Recruiting for Time Warner Cable
- @BooleanBlackBlt: Glenn Cathay, Vice President of Recruiting at Kforce
- @Ray_anne: Rayanne Thorne, Marketing Director at Broadbean Technology
- @lruettimann aka @punkrockHR: Laurie Ruettimann, HR Blogger and co-founder of New Media Services LLC
- @ResearchGoddess: Amybeth Hale, Editor of ERE Media’s The Fordyce Letter & SourceCon -
- @AmitaiGivertz: Amitai Givertz, Principal at AMG Management Advisors and Program Leader at Brown Bag Recruiter
- @animal: twitter persona of Michael Kelemen, Canadian Headunter and host of the Recruiting Animal Show
- @BillBoorman: Bill Boorman, producer of The Recruiter Unconference events, with TRU Conferences in North America, Europe, and soon in Southeast Asia and Australia.
- I would also recommend Jerry Albright. He’s not on twitter any more, which is a shame because his voice is missed, but you can catch him as host of the Recruiting Animal aftershow.
Follow David Graziano through twitter @DavidGraziano
connect with him on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidgraziano
or follow his blog http://davidgrazianostaffing.blogspot.com/
Meet Karen Siwak
An award-winning Certified Résumé Strategist, Karen has crafted top calibre career transition packages for thousands of clients. Her specialty is helping people identify and articulate their unique brands and value propositions, and she is passionate about empowering clients with the tools, strategies and confidence to take control of their career search. Read more...
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