IT Staffing and Recruiting – The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

Many so called “experts” swoon at the thought that there are “paradigm shifts” in the techniques and trends of the IT staffing and recruiting industry.

Over time, headhunters and recruiters have learned to use new tools to identify and contact the best people who can fill their clients open requirements. Change is one few of the constants of this world. Adapt or die.

But are these new technologies and tools really changing the nature of the recruiting game?

For many, <insert name of new amazing Recruiting tool Account Manager here) the answer would be a resounding “yes!” With the economy on the (shaky) mend, companies are in hiring mode and as always, the best talent out there are hard to find and almost always working (usually for a competitor).

What’s a company to do? How do you differentiate your efforts from the thousands of others looking for the same people? Are tools and technology really the answer? As we engage with potential candidates, “is the medium the message?” or is it the efficiency and ease with which we CAN ENGAGE with them more the change in the industry that the experts talk about?

True Change or Incremental Modernization?

The question is whether we are embracing change in our search for the finest candidates to fill positions in our clients’ IT Departments or we are simply extending the bridges to reach them? The distinction and definition is often muddied by our so-called “Industry Experts” and “Recruiting Guru’s” whose attention span is focused on how many times their names can be mentioned in industry news to raise their Klout score and get on meaningless lists of expert bloggers. It’s no wonder that the rest of us still focused on our clients requirements have a hard time distinguishing any meaningful change in our industry as we “run our desks” and focus on our bottom line.

There are modern ways of reaching possible candidates - mobile applications and online postings and Social Media platforms are just some of the obvious new tools adapted in the IT staffing and recruiting industry. With the help of these new tools, some of the best people in the pool can be identified. Applicant Tracking Systems can allow us to maintain candidate engagement and increase a recruiter’s chance of hiring that person in the future. But how many corporate HR people can relate to Recruiters cold calling in and yammering on and on about the size of their candidate database?

It’s not the size boys….it's whether you know how to use it. (I have ALWAYS wanted to work that into an article!)

Applicant Tracking Systems and candidate databases have been around for decades and I don’t see a switch to cloud based Applicant Tracking Systems as a major change. If anything it’s the MOBILE nature of these systems and the ability to connect to them via our ever more powerful smart phones that’s the biggest change more than the switch to the cloud itself or some new whiz-bang feature set dreamed up by the marketing department. Headhunters and recruiters can POTENTIALLY cut the time needed to search for people as they sit in a Starbucks line with their Smart phones rather than in the office bullpen. But is that real industry CHANGE or just more flexibility in how we go about doing it?

Tools, tools and more tools…for everyone…all the time…everywhere.

The more things change the more they stay the same. When I started in the recruiting industry 20+ years ago the major Financial, Insurance and Professional firms all took out giant ads in the news paper’s career sections every week. Job fairs were held in hotel conference rooms and entire floors of corporate recruiters were there to hire as many people as they could get their hands on. Not to be outdone, Recruiting agencies were there too. They had equally large ads in the papers, and had just as many hotel rooms booked on the same day as the job fair to ensure they got their share of candidates to add to their hallowed “candidate database”. The candidate database…the holy grail of recruiting agencies. The database that Recruiting firm owners always kept under lock and key in case anyone left the firm and somehow managed to take a copy of it with them! (Come on people…how many “old timers” can relate to this?)

Corporate Recruiters and 3rd part Headhunters all used the same methods and means. One was just far better at keeping track of candidates in databases because they could later “mine” that database for literal “gold” in fees. Today is no different except that Corporate Recruiters are more savvy, having spent time in the trenches of agencies for years and for some ungodly reason have decided to move away from the “dark side” of recruiting into the world of bi-weekly paychecks, vacation time, benefit plans and mandatory Halloween best costume contests. (Traitors…all of you)
How is it then, that with new tools, cloud based and mobile systems and 3rd party agency tactics used corporately that recruiters on the “dark side” working in their garages, small dingy home offices and from their favorite chair at the local Starbucks not only still exist, but thrive as the economy (and hiring) pick up?

It’s because the truth of recruiting, the dirty little secret that we all secretly know is that it has nothing to do with any of it. We ENGAGE with candidates. We give them a “warm and fuzzy” feeling when we reach out to them. We share articles of interest. We share jobs for them to share with their network. And it’s in that network, whether mobile, cloud based, candidate database or that stack of resumes you still keep in a filing cabinet in your office that’s the real truth of recruiting. It’s about people. It’s more than the e-mail blast (although certainly VERY effective at getting the word out as my friend and colleague Stephen Nehez will attest to). It’s more than the constant Social Media niceties and exceptionally clever posts that Stacy Zapar is so good at. It’s more than the RecruitingAnimals’ weekly call-in show where recruiters can bash each other’s efforts and tactics and hopefully learn enough to not be called out on our inept online efforts (Animal has rightly called me out several times).

The Change that we should be talking about is how to stand-out, how to differentiate ourselves and our efforts from the same Corporate recruiting entities that we ourselves serve. The change in our industry is NOT the newest tool or social media trend. It’s not that Corporate recruiting efforts have the same access to them. We’ve always used the same methods from the newspaper and job fair days and we thrived by placing people.

The Change in the recruiting industry is the recent widely held belief (especially on the corporate side of the house) that we can ALL do recruiting and be effective at it. So much so that even Hiring Managers are getting directly involved with it. Tools are so-well marketed and give us daily (even minute by minute statistics) about our posts and real-time “candidate engagement metrics” that we all believe we are recruiting gods. A BA in Psych, an online “recruiter” course or two. Perhaps some fabled “Recruiting Certifications” I’ve heard about and we’re all experts in our field ready to tackle any requirement that comes our way.

But it’s the “so what” of these tools and their metrics that we should be talking about. Successful Recruiting is more than engagement metrics. It’s more than likes, shares or re-tweets. It’s REAL, WELL DOCUMENTED JOB REQUIREMENTS. It’s WELL SCREENED candidates in the pipeline. It’s WELL PREPARED candidates being interviewed. It’s FULLY ENGAGED and HUNGRY candidates who WANT THE JOB going in for second and final interviews. It’s effective reference checking. It’s offer negotiation and PRESENTATION. It’s getting the OFFER ACCEPTED and getting BUMS IN SEATS.

Change is Not Change until we recognize the real truth of recruiting. Professional engage, recruit and most importantly PLACE people. Amateur’s just really like to have their stuff shared and track it in a nifty dashboard app on their smart phones sipping a Starbucks Grande.

Views: 662

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on February 25, 2014 at 12:18pm

Boom. I love it Daryl. Recruiting is just that simple in theory - very very hard in practice. :)

Comment by Daryl Daley @IntelMinds on February 25, 2014 at 12:22pm

Glad you liked it - and you are right of course.  It is hard in practice.  But practice makes perfect and purpose!

BTW:  By commenting on this blog post you have a MANDATORY obligation to post pictures of yourself  from Microsoft's HR Halloween Costume Contest.


Comment by Matt Charney on February 25, 2014 at 12:26pm

For a case study, please see #TChat.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on February 25, 2014 at 12:35pm

I did dress up and bring the kids to Microsoft to trick or treat. :) Pics on facebook lol

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on February 25, 2014 at 2:27pm

Thanks, Daryl. Enjoyed your well-written and interesting article. I think your questioning the status quo is correct, but I differ on the answer. I think the dirty little secret isn’t that “we all secretly know is that it has nothing to do with any of it (a big candidate database)”. I think the dirty little secret is that your company with its arrogant entitled, and clueless management won’t be able to hire who they feel they deserve, because their pathetic, wannabe, also,-ran, has-been company with mediocre salary, benefits, or anything else tangible and/or meaningful HAS NOTHING TO OFFER THE PEOPLE THEY WANT. The answer is to go after the people they reasonably CAN get (, treat them all like kings and queens, and move so quickly and efficiently that while the other companies are waiting to schedule them back for their 4th F2F interview, you’ve already sourced, pre-screened, phoned screened F2F interviewed (once or twice) and made a very reasonable offer. THAT’S how you stand out and hire solid, qualified, hard-working, grateful people while your competitors moan and groan they can’t get anybody good enough to work for them…

Keep Blogging,


Comment by Derdiver on February 25, 2014 at 3:13pm

LOVED. THIS> "It’s not the size boys….it's whether you know how to use it. (I have ALWAYS wanted to work that into an article!)" Article was pretty good to...

Comment by Daryl Daley @IntelMinds on February 25, 2014 at 3:27pm

Keith - thanks for the comment - Recruiters can only act as advisers with respect to salary, benefits, vacation policy etc and inform decision makers what the market landscape looks like in terms of compensation etc.  You can lead a horse to water...but you can't make him drink.

Comment by Daryl Daley @IntelMinds on February 25, 2014 at 3:28pm

To Derdiver - this is just for you:

Knights of Badassdom Quote:

"It's not the size of the young knave's blade, but his lust in the thrust by which legends are made!"

It had to be posted.....just had to...

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on February 25, 2014 at 5:02pm

You're very welcome, Daryl. ISTM that not so many companies today (if there ever were before) are looking for experienced recruiters to advise them on what to do and how to do it, but prefer to hire young and enthusiastic  order-taking "Sr. Recruiters" with three years of agency experience behind them and mouths full of buzzwords, like "disruptive," "engagement," and "passion," who'll "drink the Kool-Aid" and say "yes sir, yes sir, three cups full!"


Keith "Prefers Iced Tea to Kool-Aid" Halperin

Comment by Derdiver on February 25, 2014 at 5:06pm
Daryl very true.

Keith could not agree more!


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