Dinosaurs, neanderthals, and stubborn old fossils. You?

This one is for recruiters. Especially recruiters with a couple of years experience, who think they are good. In fact you may think you are pretty damn good!

Well, there is a huge threat facing you. And it’s not social media, or technology or the economy, or RPO, nor the rise of  in-house recruiters.

It’s you.

To be more specific, it’s your attitude. And to be even more precise, it’s your arrogance and complacency. I can’t tell you how many promising recruiters have fallen off the rails, because of early success, which they have mistakenly understood to mean they ‘know it all’.

One of the things I always look for when hiring new recruiters at Firebrand is “coachability”. I don’t even know if that’s a word, but I sure know what it means.

The ability to learn new skills, the willingness to change, a mindset which seeks improvement, and the ego which accepts there may ‘be a better way’.

I see it all the time, and have done for decades. A new recruiter has raw potential, works hard, gets some basic skills, and has some early success. God knows, we all love recognition, but why is it in this business that ‘prima donnas’ bloom so early and with so little reason? Actually I know why. We all worship at the altar of ‘fees’ in this industry. And some companies will excuse ignorance, arrogance and lack of real understanding of client and candidate need… as long as a recruiter bills. In fact they reward it. So little recruiter Johnny, who knows 2% of f***all, is now a hero because he stitched together a good quarter of billings! No wonder he thinks he knows it all!

And that is the danger period. For you. Usually after about 2 years. Complacency emerges. The barriers to learning go up. In reality, little Johnny plateaus, stagnates, and unbeknown to him, starts to whither!

Give me a dollar for every recruiter who told me ‘we always do it this way’, ‘this works for me’, ‘I know what I am doing’, or heaven save me….. ‘that won’t work in this market!’

I would be a very rich man.

Or even worse, the ‘silent antediluvian’, who does not voice disagreement, but just avoids or ignores any new tactic or advice, any technological advance. It’s not that they want to sabotage. They are just closed to any new ideas whatsoever.

Dinosaurs, who are always looking backwards, scoff at training sessions, and maintain excel spreadsheets of candidates or hard-copy résumés in their bottom drawers. FFS!

Intransigent fossils, who dismiss success by new-comers with fresh ideas, as ‘luck’, and complain that new technology, designed to help them become more efficient, merely  ‘gives them more admin to do’.

And slowly these people start to fail. And the more they fail, the more they blame it in on their employer, on the economy, on the market, on the technology, on their colleagues, on their clients, even on their admin support! Anyone, anywhere, but the real culprit. Themselves.

You want to be great at this job? Forge a real career?
 Then you have to understand the concept of your “Skills Briefcase”.

Imagine all your skills, capabilities, competencies, and knowledge – and then place them in your imaginary ‘skills briefcase’.

The question is simply this. What skills, what knowledge, what tactics, what relationships, and what competencies will be in your skills briefcase one year from now….. that are not in there today?

Or, what is in there now that was not there 12 months ago?



Tackle skills you are not good at and perfect them. Look for a mentor. Seek training and coaching. Tune into industry trends and changes and grab what you need.

Above all, be open to learning the nuances of this tough job we all do.

Anyone can match a résumé with a job description. That takes a week to learn. And you may even make some placements. But it’s the craft of recruiting I am talking about. The art. The skill of it. That takes years. Decades. Forever.

Great recruiters are sponges. For life. You are never totally ‘on top of your game‘ in this business. You can always get better.

And if you don’t, others around you most certainly will.

And then, for you, it’s welcome to the 80% of recruiters who enter our industry…and fail.


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Views: 358

Comment by Christopher Lyon on January 24, 2012 at 11:07am

absolutely love this post. To many recruiters get complacent in their environment and think they are geniuses. Good to see someone calling them out on it.  

Comment by Jim Murphy on January 24, 2012 at 11:22am

Hi Greg,

Great post that really hits the nail on the head.

I often wonder if the high churn experienced in the recruitment industry is partly as a result of people's resistance to change within themselves. We are all very familar with change as a business concept and for the most part accept it as part of modern commerce, although perhaps we overlook the change required within to adapt to new modalities and circumstances.

Kind regards,



Comment by Suzanne Levison on January 24, 2012 at 2:08pm

I agree, good thoughts.


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