Be a Better Recruiter: Be Altruistic

I believe everything happens for a reason. That being said, my flight left that afternoon, my wife Kaella and I were off to New York (my first time). When the airplane lifted from the runway and Justin Beiber’s Never Say Never started playing, I thought, “…everything happens for a reason.” With an open mind I continued watching the movie and am glad I did. Beyond what I’m writing about in this blog, the movie showed how this child entertainer utilizedYouTubesocial media AND social networking (David Levine via to become an overnight phenomenon reaching hundreds of millions with every tweet.

Justin’s manager Scooter Braun explained something they do at every concert called Give Back. Just prior to the concert, Scooter and a small street team walk around the venue to neighboring folks who may or may not be in a position to attend the concert, and hand out front row tickets so to Give Back. He goes on to express interest in their lives, and getting to know them – “a little bit goes a long way.” He called it the best part of his job and I understand completely.

I’ve met with over 4000 software engineers and web developers in my 4 year career as a technical recruiter. I trust that all 4000 of them would never say I pushed an offer on them against their will or made them feel as if it was my personal interests over their career search. Why would I? It is their search. Any time we, as recruiters, are speaking with a candidate about commute, salary, working environment, leadership, technology, etc. I think it is important to remember it is their search and our role in this technical society is simply to gather unique information, present said information, and consistently work hard to add value in any way possible. After all and at the end of the day, the candidate is the one who will make that hour drive into work every day, make 10 K less this year, sit in that cubicle 50-60 hours per week, work for someone without vision, and/or work with outdated technology only to set back their skill set and career advancement trajectory. On the contrary, it is our job to help improve all or as many of those aspects as possible. I’m using the offer stage as a dramatic example but it starts with the first interaction and really it starts with every interaction each day as a technical recruiter in the tight-knit technical community. It could be as simple as getting honest and direct feedback to a candidate sooner rather than later or touching base even to let them know you do not have an update. This would mean putting their search (update) in front of our own ego (I don’t have an update yet). Any update is a good update!

Let’s accept the fact that there is a gap between technology and non-technology professionals combined with a steep supply and demand curve which favors the technical recruiter. Let’s embrace this and work altruistically to help everyone in need and in the end we will all succeed. Along the way we might just eliminate one or two of the black eyes worn by those who truly do work hard in the best interest of their candidates and clients (and in my case team) before their own.

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Comment by Erin Wilson on June 29, 2011 at 3:03pm
Jennifer - I appreciate the time you've invested reading and commenting on my post, thank you for that! Moving forward I will certainly pay attention to my diction. That said, I feel strongly about the use of altruism in this post. The theme of my blog is to help improve the actions and in turn reputation of my peers. As an HR Director yourself, you are probably aware of the overwhelming number of recruiters who do not add value to the hiring process and how frustrating that can be for everyone else they are working with at the time. Many times the approach and integrity behind the action is less than ideal and I think most would argue that action begins with mentality/thought process.

That in mind I believe an approach centered around altruism will ultimately lead to more positive and product work by a recruiter than actions centered around self interest. I am not stating that my candidates or clients have more or less value than myself. Instead, I am stating that it is their job search or candidate search and that my actions should be made with that in mind before I think about the transaction or money I will make as a recruiter filling a position. If altruism is kept in mind, then based on my experience I have seen more successful results with long-term relationships rather than fast-paced transactions with little integrity behind them.

Make sense?
Comment by Chris Wallingford on June 29, 2011 at 3:55pm
You can call it "altruism" but it is just plain good business practice.  I have always considered a candidate as a client, just as I do companies.  You do not development long term relationships with client candidates by being any less concerned with their best interests than you would with a client company.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on June 30, 2011 at 1:08am



I agree with your recommendation about recruiters being more altruistic because such behavior in recruiters will go a long way to dispel a lot of the negative perception of "recruiters" that exists with many employers and the general public.  However, I must say, facilitating the job placement of software engineers (technical professionals) is leaning more toward "opportunistic" than it is "altruistic"--particularly if you were paid a fee for the effort.  Unless, unless of course, a good percentage of those served were somewhat helpless and quite dependent on your involvement on their behalf that produced a happy ending.  If that's the case your efforts lean toward altruistic behavior.


Yet when I think of the term "Altruism", I automatically think who best represents that dynamic in my lifetime?  That would be "Mother Teresa of Calcutta".  Her picture should be placed next to the definition of Altruism, because throughout her working life..."helping, serving, or benefiting others, at the sacrifice of self interest (definition of Altruism-via Wikipedia) defined her.  Hell, she's up for Sainthood for her work with the destitute and dying in India.


Relative to recruitment and your recommendation to "Be a Better Recruiter" which was somehow triggered by the theme of "give back" a la Justin Beiber--maybe pro bono work is closer to the mark, e.g, helping the unemployed with resume writing and/or job interview prep.  That would be closer to altruistic behavior for a recruiter--yes?  No?

It has worked for me--past and present--and has made me a better recruiter.

Comment by Tracey Cress on June 30, 2011 at 9:40am

The opposite of altruism is egoism, the habit of valuing everything only in reference to one's personal interest; selfishness.  So, I do not subscribe to Friedrich Nietzche's philosophy, Jennifer.

Altruism produces more positive outcomes and long term success just as you stated, Erin.  I have witnessed this time and time again in recruiting and every other aspect of life.   

You may not buy into this now, but my challenge is this: try it once and see what happens.   




Comment by Sandra McCartt on June 30, 2011 at 12:31pm

There is great debate as to whether Nietzsche died of syphillis or just went crazy.  I suppose if one espouses and agrees with Nietzsche that "God is Dead" they might actually think it's all about self.


I am more of the opinion that if one casts their bread upon the waters it will come back many fold.  The narcissitic personality disorders that we are seeing more of in the current culture convince me that we have more of a responsibility to share our talents, whatever they may be.  Helping someone who needs a job badly is many time more rewarding to me than a big fee.  We all have the responsiblity to take care of our own well being if we are to be in a position to help others.


Empathy as opposed to sympathy i believe makes me a better recruiter.  Do you know what it feels like to sit on the other side of your desk?

Comment by Tracey Cress on June 30, 2011 at 1:00pm

Well said, Sandra!!


Comment by Erin Wilson on June 30, 2011 at 1:08pm
Thank you to everyone who has commented and contributed to this thread. I truly appreciate the ability to learn from the perspective of others. Again, thank you.


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