Several of us who are happy generalists have been trading giggles about a statement Josh made here that "if you are a generalist and use the job boards you won't be around long."  Well, we are generalists, we use the job boards, get great candidates and we've been around for over 30 years.  Niche is great if that's your model. We reach out to niche partners for splits, bringing them more biz.

 

It occurs to me that most internal recruiters have to be generalists able to pivot on a dime, recruiting for multiple departments since most companies have accounting, sales, administrative, marketing, distribution, mfg etc.  Don't know many internal recruiters who can get by with saying to the boss.."i only recruit engineers you want an accountant i can't do that."

 

What makes a good generalist?  Why are you a generalist?  Did it make last year a little less painful because you were a generalist?

 

I am a generalist because i get bored working with only one skill set or one industry.  I am a generalist because when one industry is slow another one is moving so i can move with them.  I am a generalist because it makes me a better recruiter to know accounting, engineering, IT, sales, R & D , medical and how they work together.

.

I think a good generalist has a broader ability to help move a candidate with several skill sets across industry lines.  It works to move a feedyard accountant into healthcare accounting when one knows that cattle on feed for 180 days is accounted for with feed cost, cowboy labor, medicine cost exactly the same way number of patients in beds, nursing cost, med cost and operational cost is accounted for in hospitals..and can explain it to a hiring authority.

 

So if anyone tells you that being a generalist means you will fail tell them you know some good generalists who have been around a long time and are fussing at their CPS's about all the tax they have to pay.  You might want to go internal at sometime in your career so it might be good to know something besides a very narrow niche.  There are plus signs on all the different models of recruiting.

 

I have a niche....My niche is recruiting.  If you have a pit i'll find a rattlesnake to hiss in it.  If you are Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm i can find some daisies for your basket

 

 

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Glad you're back to "go get em" Sandra!
None of the recruiters I know have been able to stick to their "niche" over the past year. A recruiter recruits. When times are bad you recruit for any good company in any industry for any discipline. I know all the advantages of specializing......I really do know my industry and can talk the talk. When I market to new clients in my niche they can tell I know their briar patch. All of those advantages put one placement fee in my pocket in 2009. The rest came from shameless generalizing.
Need a truck driver?

Hi Sandra - I hearken to what you said: I am a generalist because i get bored working with only one skill set or one industry. I am a generalist because when one industry is slow another one is moving so i can move with them. I am a generalist because it makes me a better recruiter to know accounting, engineering, IT, sales, R & D , medical and how they work together.

Allow me to rephrase:
I am a generalist (sourcer) because i get bored working with only one skill set or one industry. I am a generalist (sourcer) because when one industry is slow another one is moving so i can move with them. I am a generalist (sourcer) because it makes me a better sourcer to know accounting, engineering, IT, sales, R & D , medical and how they work together.

Today we're having a radio show on TalkSourcing at noon EST featuring Frank Scarpelli talking about what it means to be a full-cycle recruiter these days and Shally Steckerl will be joining the frey to talk about what being a "full cycle sourcer" means today and where the industry is headed. I'd be delighted if you could join us with your frank and pithy mouth! I'm delighted to see you back!
There is certainly more than one way to skin a cat. If you're a generalist, I say 'generalist on!' Well, that is if you've survived the Great Recession. Unfortunately, 60% - 70% of our pre-2009 industry is gone. I'd suggest most that are gone were generalists, but I have no data to back up that position. It's just what I see in the market.

If you're a job board scrubber, I also say 'scrub on!'. I love competing against board-scrubbers.

I'll stick with surgical, precise headhunting that commands higher fees coming from being an expert in the marketplace.

P.S. I like Generalist recruiters - I'd rather compete with someone who has no knowledge of my niche than someone who has deep knowledge like me. This way, when 3 weeks go by and the Client calls me (as the niche expert) anyway, I can command higher fees . . . or they can wait another few weeks and call me back when they're ready to make it happen.

P.S.S. For the record, I believe in being niched, but being a generalist within a given niche. In other words, slice deep, but not so deep that your search volume dries up. In down markets, you relax the breadth of positions you fill within your niche . . . but you're still niched. Anyway, just my $.02.
This feels like "limited" thinking and a limited approach to me. Just my opinion! Definitions are merely words and at the end of the day we all do what we need to do in order to survive. Isn't that what living is generally about anyway....survival?

I'm an inside corporate recruiter, so I do it all. But for the past 14 years I've become a specialist for ecommerce marketing since that is the breadth of what I do every day and have built teams for companies from the ground up during that time. So that means I have deep contacts in the industry with both candidates and other recruiters who live in the same space as I do. But I can also just as effectively recruit a Sr. Web Developer, or a Director of Financial Reporting, or a Supply Chain Logistics Manager and would say because I can move from one discipline to another, I compete with the same depth as those who only specialize in those arenas. If you can read, comprehend, apply logic to a bigger picture and attract candidates because you have passion and understand your client (internal or external), then you'll most likely be a great recruiter. Specialist or Generalist. Who cares. It's results that count. Here's an example. The best restaurant/food critics are typically not trained chefs. Nor have most of them ever stepped foot into a culinary institution. But they know food and what makes it great. Therefore their opinions often times sink ships or raise them from the bottom of the sea because they truly know what they are talking about. It works the same here. A good recruiter is a good recruiter. A great recruiter does not limit themselves and is in a constant state of learning and stretching themselves. Why is there a need to compare? I don't see the point in that.

Joshua Letourneau said:
There is certainly more than one way to skin a cat. If you're a generalist, I say 'generalist on!' Well, that is if you've survived the Great Recession. Unfortunately, 60% - 70% of our pre-2009 industry is gone. I'd suggest most that are gone were generalists, but I have no data to back up that position. It's just what I see in the market.

If you're a job board scrubber, I also say 'scrub on!'. I love competing against board-scrubbers.

I'll stick with surgical, precise headhunting that commands higher fees coming from being an expert in the marketplace.

P.S. I like Generalist recruiters - I'd rather compete with someone who has no knowledge of my niche than someone who has deep knowledge like me. This way, when 3 weeks go by and the Client calls me (as the niche expert) anyway, I can command higher fees . . . or they can wait another few weeks and call me back when they're ready to make it happen.

P.S.S. For the record, I believe in being niched, but being a generalist within a given niche. In other words, slice deep, but not so deep that your search volume dries up. In down markets, you relax the breadth of positions you fill within your niche . . . but you're still niched. Anyway, just my $.02.
What i see in the marketplace is niche recruiters whose niche dried up scrambling around looking for something else to do.

I love competition of any form. In my opinion competition is what makes any industry work. The more competition we have it simply means that more companies are using recruiters. More companies using recruiters means more business for recruiters. Niche or generalist all of us are only as good as the last placement we made. I think the arrogant attitude of being better than thou is part of what gives folks the impression that recruiters are egomanical jerks. I love being able to bet a competitor that i can beat them when we are working on the same job. It makes me work harder, sometimes i win and sometimes i lose but the client gets the best of both of us. Then we go to lunch and comiserate about how could i have missed that one or how could they have not upgraded the position.

I love competing against a niche recruiter. I can pick up listings in four departments while they only get one. It's been my experience that everytime i start thinking i am an expert some sharp rookie will come in and beat me on one.

I'll just scub those boards, use my network , make those calls, use my multiple industry contacts in multiple departments, do splits with niche recruiters . There are only two areas where i consider myself an expert.
Animal cruelty investigations and Bernaise sauce. However, as to those higher fees. I am more than happy with four or five at 25 to 40K than one at 50K.

Just your little ole generalist hangin out here in the Texas panhandle tryin to get by in the harsh cruel world. Final interviews this week on a two HR positions, a board certified specialist doc, a feedyard accountant and two specialized high level oncology sales reps. Who knows if all will close but hey, My niche is recruiting.
Everyone of those clients seem to think that we did it with surgical precision.

Why would you want to skin a cat ? That's a class C misdemeanor in Texas under the cruelty laws. :)
Peter, super points - you're internal, so you better be adept within all functions, right? You probably have about 100 reqs on your desk, and I'll be honest: I have the utmost respect for Internal Recruiters because you're often asked to do so much with so little.

If you ever go rogue and join the Exec Search side of the fence, leverage your rolodex and core-expertise in E-Commerce Marketing.

You'll be seen as a true expert and you'll command higher fees. In addition, when you get a search assignment, you'll have immediate traction as you'll know just who to start reaching out to for discussions/referrals, etc. Instead of starting from scratch and learning the lingo and key players over time, you'll already have that knowledge. Most importantly, you'll have the most important thing in the world when it comes to being an Exec Recruiter: TRUST.

P.S. My comments about specializing are not for Internal Recruiters, only Headhunters.
I want the Bernaise sauce recipe, if'n u don't mind.
I'll trade you my Caesar Salad par Excellence

Caesar Salad Dressing
1 can flat anchovies
3-5 cloves garlic Chop together in food processor
Add 1 cup olive oil
3-4 shakes Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yoke
1 generous teaspoon (I use Grey Poupon) mustard
Juice of (barely) ½ fresh lemon

Better if you let it "melt down" before serving - (abt 1/2 - 1 hr)
Mix and toss into 2-3 heads Romaine Lettuce torn or chopped and ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese and ½ cup croutons. Fresh cracked pepper if desired. This can easily serve 12.
(Another hint: grilled chicken/steak or shrimp on this salad should be at least warm! Throwing in a ½ cup of chopped green onions is good too.)
I PROMISE YOU THIS - THIS IS THE BEST CAESAR SALAD YOU HAVE EVER EATEN.
There is something to be said for pure generalists vs. niche recruiters. I have been focused in technology my entire career so i guess i am a generalist in the technology niche. I work and cover any and all types of roles, some more successful of course than others.
but i also see the mindset of truly focusing on 1 specific industry/type of situation and becoming the industry expert if at all possible.
I do think finding that specific "niche" itself is very challenging.
Can i say i love recruiting in the technology field? Not really. I do love recruiting in general but i feel also love to find a space, niche and people and industy that i could become passionate about as well.
My point here Josh is that there are outstanding niche recruiters and outstanding generalist recruiters.

We all do the same thing no matter what our model is so i think it is destructive to our industry if i make a comment that niche recruiters will fail because they don't have the ability to work several industries or multiple skill sets because that is what works for me. I think it is destructive to our industry if you make a concrete statement that generalists who use the job boards will fail since they don't do it the way that works for you.

All of this "expert" stuff is in my opinion pontificating to try and blow up one's own self importance. There is nothing self grandizing about calling ourselves specialists if we are specialized and work a niche. Let's get real and support everyone in our industry rather than saying anyone will fail if they are a generalist ,a specialist, use the boards, direct recruit, social netowrk recruit or whatever tools they use.

In my opinion it's time for our industry to grow up, get positive and do what we do and do it well with passion and integrity.

It's an old joke that an "expert "is anyone who is fifty miles from home and has an attache case.
Maureen, that one is already in my database. LOL sorry i couldn't help it. Does the "but for" rule apply to Ceasar Dressing?

Maureen Sharib said:
I want the Bernaise sauce recipe, if'n u don't mind.
I'll trade you my Caesar Salad par Excellence

Caesar Salad Dressing
1 can flat anchovies
3-5 cloves garlic Chop together in food processor
Add 1 cup olive oil
3-4 shakes Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yoke
1 generous teaspoon (I use Grey Poupon) mustard
Juice of (barely) ½ fresh lemon

Better if you let it "melt down" before serving - (abt 1/2 - 1 hr)
Mix and toss into 2-3 heads Romaine Lettuce torn or chopped and ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese and ½ cup croutons. Fresh cracked pepper if desired. This can easily serve 12.
(Another hint: grilled chicken/steak or shrimp on this salad should be at least warm! Throwing in a ½ cup of chopped green onions is good too.)
I PROMISE YOU THIS - THIS IS THE BEST CAESAR SALAD YOU HAVE EVER EATEN.
"...but for..." LOL
I tried. I still want the Bernaise recipe.
Have you tried it? You have any twists on it?

Sandra McCartt said:
Maureen, that one is already in my database. LOL sorry i couldn't help it. Does the "but for" rule apply to Ceasar Dressing?

Maureen Sharib said:
I want the Bernaise sauce recipe, if'n u don't mind.
I'll trade you my Caesar Salad par Excellence

Caesar Salad Dressing
1 can flat anchovies
3-5 cloves garlic Chop together in food processor
Add 1 cup olive oil
3-4 shakes Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yoke
1 generous teaspoon (I use Grey Poupon) mustard
Juice of (barely) ½ fresh lemon

Better if you let it "melt down" before serving - (abt 1/2 - 1 hr)
Mix and toss into 2-3 heads Romaine Lettuce torn or chopped and ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese and ½ cup croutons. Fresh cracked pepper if desired. This can easily serve 12.
(Another hint: grilled chicken/steak or shrimp on this salad should be at least warm! Throwing in a ½ cup of chopped green onions is good too.)
I PROMISE YOU THIS - THIS IS THE BEST CAESAR SALAD YOU HAVE EVER EATEN.
For the record, I only work very difficult-to-fill roles. This is another area that many disagree with me about, but that's ok. There's room for all of us to fit in. I'm certainly not saying my strategy is the best or only one. It just works for me.

If we took my philosophy to Toyota or Honda, they'd laugh. What works for Aston Martin is something completely different, so they'd agree with my approach. It's all relative, so I respect your approach.

I know that I just recruited a gentleman from Hong Kong to the U.S. in less than a week . . . at a 30% fee. How did I do it so fast? Niche specialization. Niches lead to a global rolodex (thank goodness we have Skype) :) I mean, maybe I'm not "getting real", but I know the check coming is real. Real checks pay the bills.

And being that I'm not recruiting 60 hrs a week right now (as I'm working on another simultaneous initiative), that's not too shabby. I can now yield the same headhunting result in 8 hours what used to take me 40 (before I built a competency network and built trust.)

I don't see being niched as about exploding one's sense of self-importance. To me, it's intelligent business. With further and further micro-fragmentation of not only consumer markets, but also talent markets, I can't imagine operating without a niche mindset. That being said, to each his own.

P.S. I'm suggesting targeting a given niche, and then being a generalist within that niche as you need to. But ultimately, stand for something. Have an elevator pitch that resonates, not "Hi, I'm Bob and I'm a Recruiter."

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