Why Self-Proclaimed "Recruiting Thought Leaders" are Full of ****


There are a number of recruiters and former recruiters out there who can properly be called "Recruiting Subject Matter Experts". However, when someone calls her/himself a "Recruiting Thought Leader" (DEFINITION: “Someone who neither recruits, thinks, nor leads”) and

1) Isn't a recruiter/hasn't been one for a very long time, if ever.

2) Doesn't routinely talk/interact with ordinary, day-to-day recruiters who know far more about how to improve their own jobs than s/he EVER will, and in fact DISCOUNTS and disparages ordinary recruiters, preferring the company and opinions of those high-level staffing heads s/he panders to, creating and overseeing the problems WE have to deal with.

3) Often cites her/his opinions as facts, very rarely cites sources for facts, doesn't respond to questions, and usually has extremely unrealistic and impractical proposals that the vast majority of companies couldn't and shouldn't do.

4) Has been frequently very wrong (praising obviously dysfunctional hiring procedures), and hasn't admitted her/his fallibility, so

ISTM that we should probably discount the great majority of what s/he has to say, and feel very sorry for the pathetic"suckers" who actually pay this person for her/his advice, consultation, etc. and those other misguided folks who cite her/his as a reliable source of valuable recruiting knowledge. (It's good we don't have people remotely like this on RBC or other recruiting forums, just within the foul abysses of the Deep Internet, or so I'm told....)


I think that instead of seeking out and listening to the arrogant and ignorant, WE SHOULD RELY MORE ON EACH OTHER/THE WISDOM OF CROWDS, like you, and you, and well: maybe not YOU. As mentioned: we know a lot more how to solve our own problems than these high-level pontificaters ever will.


Keith "Low-Level Pontificater" Halperin

Views: 1700

Comment by Rob McIntosh on May 18, 2014 at 2:52pm
Steve - the nuance is some people are thought (sorry thinking/doing leaders) but don't proclaim it publicly. I am guilty of being a little self absorbed at times, but I have never called myself a thought leader on any site or profile. The ones that do IMHO are making up for the lack of doing, thus why the term applies appropriately.....just thought leaders leaders (err I meant people with thoughts of grandeur)
Comment by Steve Levy on May 18, 2014 at 2:56pm

Rob - that's what we called you behind your back. Pffffft....

Comment by Rob McIntosh on May 18, 2014 at 3:00pm
Steve - what you calling me self absorbed behind my back now to my front :-) lol
Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 18, 2014 at 4:19pm
Somebody once told me I could lead the charge of the light brigade. Before I could preen my feathers, they reminded me of what happened to the "light brigade".

Moment of fame didn't last 15 minutes. People who believe their own bullshit should be sent to "the Island of Thought Leaders" where they can only talk to each other. The banging of egos would sound like the Anvil Chorus, but the rest of us would have some peace and quiet.
Comment by Nicholas Meyler on May 18, 2014 at 9:40pm

One of my favorite William Shakespeare quotes:  "Where will Thought lead, but to prison?"

Comment by Steve Levy on May 19, 2014 at 7:45am

@Nicholas... Alas, my liege, that fine quote, albeit delicious, is from Antony and Cleopatra. Octavius speaketh..

Cleopatra, not what you have reserved, nor what acknowledged, 
Put we i' the roll of conquest: still be't yours,
Bestow it at your pleasure; and believe, 
Caesar's no merchant, to make prize with you 
Of things that merchants sold. Therefore be cheer'd; 
Make not your thoughts your prisons: no, dear queen; 
For we intend so to dispose you as
Yourself shall give us counsel. Feed, and sleep: 
Our care and pity is so much upon you, 
That we remain your friend; and so, adieu.

Comment by Cyndy Davis SPHR on May 19, 2014 at 7:53pm


Comment by Keith Halperin on May 19, 2014 at 11:41pm

@ Martin: I also enjoy hearing from REAL RTLs/SMEs- what they say is truly valuable.  However, it's the pompous, arrogant, over-paid, self-proclaimed ones who think they're delivering Divine Revelation and so offer no proof nor answer any questions, that I have problems with. Also: I'M an "attention whore, too, in case you hadn't already guessed that.

@ Carmen: "We need thought leaders.  People who can, think, write and speak about our industry with authority. People who write books and academic papers and train other recruiters and leaders. "                          I agree with you- we need people who ARE like this, and not folks who haven't  done real recruiting in years (IF ever), who don't rely on actual real-world experience or careful, documented, objective research, who state their opinions as fact, when in fact their opinions are frequently wrong.

@ Mighty Mo: Don't "sweat it"!

@ Nicholas: Quantum physicists- feh! Quantum physics ain't exactly Rocket Science.                                       "One of my favorite songs is Gedanke Scho:n, as sung by Wayne Newton"                                                        You may be nearly as strange as I am, Nicholas. We should talk...

@Rob: "BS and truth in the same article..." and my job is to try and make you figure out which is which.

@ Steve: "Hasn't EVERYONE here gone through the Thought Leader phase of their careers?"                             I'm still waiting' for mine- contributions gratefully accepted.


Keith "Grateful for All the Responses and Encouragement" Halperin

Comment by Steve Myers on May 20, 2014 at 12:22pm

I had the displeasure of wasting an hour of my time listening to the witch doctor. This was about 10 years ago. One of my former employers had hired him to speak to 40 of us recruiters. He went on and on about how wheeled luggage was such an innovation, and challenged us to hire an entire graduating class of engineers, so they could all work together as friends. Pure drivel. Thankfully he didn't ask us to recruit people at bars.

Though the HR Leaders loved it, we recruiters were left shaking our heads at the absurdity of the exercise. Great article Keith!

Comment by Keith Halperin on May 20, 2014 at 2:51pm

Thanks, Steve. Glad to hear someone has picked up the use of the 'Witch Doctor" handle

Despite my rant about the SP RTLs, they're actually to be congratulated for one thing: they're very effective in squeezing ready cash out of gullible, desperate and not-yet insolvent recruiters and their superiors who fail to recognize that in most cases they are futilely “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” of their companies’ ill-conceived, over-blown, grossly-dysfunctional hiring practices. The SP RTLs make money, the recruiters (heads) show to their bosses they are keeping up with things, and the fact that quite often nothing gets better (or gets worse) is a very minor consequence.

Lets consider an alternate scenario:

For probably less than the"Witch Doctor's" (whoever he might be) consultation fee, your former employer decided to have the entire recruiting staff meet out of work at a function with decent food and drunk provided. At the function, the Staffing Head would ask each person what things (tools, processes, support, etc.) s/he needs to do his/her own job better. After recording these in some way, the attendees would break into smaller groups: recruiters, sourcers, scheduler/coordinators, etc. to discuss and prioritize these suggestions, and see if there might be additional ones that would be more for that group as a whole than for an individual person. After each group had come up with its recommendations, they presents them to the Staffing Head, who subsequently GETS THE RECRUITING STAFF WHAT THEY NEED. Between listening to someone talk about suitcases with wheels or actively discussing what you need to improve your recruiting: which scenario do you think would have been more valuable and useful?



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