Four Reasons Why Recruiters Need to Look for a New Job

(Reposted from Make HR Happen6/19/2012)

Recruiters come in all shapes, sizes and varieties but they all have one thing in common: They all need to look for a new job. Whether the recruiter lives on a large corporate org chart or is an independent floater they need to be engaged in looking for those greener pastures. This goes for the agency guru, sourcing experts, yeoman full-cycle consulting/advising/contracting recruiters and even corporate recruiting managers. No, this does not mean that they should do something else for a living or want to quit being a recruiter. On the contrary, they will become better at what they do by following the same path walked by those they are recruiting. Only by following the job seeker path is it possible to get a big picture view of the entire recruiting universe. Counsel given to job seekers is to think like a recruiter so the opposite is equally true. If you profess to be a recruiter, it is important to look beyond your current situation for a number of reasons.

  1. To remain proficient in your craft – It is possible to know a process so well that you not only become complacent in your ability to view the big picture but also lose touch with important changes in the recruiting environment. Practice makes perfect and daily you deal with management “experts” who don’t understand what you do and assume it is just a matter of advertising a job, reading resumes that magically show up and then moving paperwork through the system. Even though you know the reality of the complexities of the process, outside variables such as changes in the demand for certain skills and economic impact on factors such as relocation and risk-taking are out of sight unless explored. View the job market as a candidate and see what impacts your thinking about your job as it relates to other possible jobs.
  2. To discover new things – The status quo will always be much more comfortable to most people so seeking out and experiencing new techniques can lead to personal growth and improve the professional value added. Even if you are a front-runner in the race for innovation there are still things outside of your visual boundaries. Many people who show strong opinions about such things as social recruiting may have valid reasons, but some outspoken critics have not even tried to use any of the popular social networks to recruit. Even those who profess to embrace social media use it the wrong way and merely continue to post and pray in the new medium rather than engage in a dialog to be social. Approach social media from the candidate’s perspective and see how others are luring candidates in an effective way. The results may be surprising.
  3. To produce effective competitive intelligence – The talent pool for many jobs is very tight while some others are like picking the low fruit. What are the other major players doing and are they doing it right? A better question could be “Is anybody writing effective job ads?” The marketing side of recruiting should sell the company and the job to a potential hire better than the competition. Walking through a job board or corporate career site application process is eye opening and can actually allow you to x-ray the competition’s application process relative to your own applicant tracking system and database. Seeing how different systems work from the candidate perspective gives a good view of the external facing side of their process. It is always useful to challenge your own system and perhaps stage a shoot-out between vendors to find something more efficient and not just from a marketing pitch.
  4. To improve the candidate experience – Your candidates do not view the world through the same eyes as you do. How many corporate recruiters have actually applied to a position through their company’s career site? Try it and see how far you get before you hit a stone wall or become so frustrated that you no longer want to apply. Most systems have an autoresponder system to notify candidates that the resume has been received. Did you get a reply? What did it say? How does it feel to be acknowledged but nothing further? It may be interesting to apply to multiple jobs and see if the reply sent to confirm application makes sense if there is more than one submission. A classic failure is for a job seeker to be called for an interview only to receive a botched batch delayed robotic reply to another job giving the impression that the company is not interested. Since most companies never survey candidates on their experience, walking in their shoes can be an eye opener.

Audit your job search process and plan a schedule to “job search” continuously throughout the year along with your colleagues. Take detailed notes on your progress and brainstorm with others about improvements to be made to the application, feedback, selection, and hiring process. Formulate a plan for implementation and execution of new ideas and decide on benchmarks to measure the results. Following up on changes are important as well to insure that the situation actually improved and did not create any unexpected new problems.

Of course, there is another side benefit to the faux job search…if you are not willing to stay current in your craft and seek improvement then you probably don’t belong in recruiting anyway and should be looking for a job. Good practice is never a waste!


Photo credit: Copyright © 123RF Stock Photos


Views: 2739

Comment by Ken Forrester on June 20, 2012 at 8:29am

Interesting thought and a very good idea indeed.  This might be very scary to some because they may find out that they are not who they thought they were.

Comment by Randall Scasny on June 20, 2012 at 8:36am

I do this on occasion to stay sensitive to the experience of my job-seeking customers. But, I'll be honest, when I've looked for a job, I've found it revealing on several levels. So, let me describe the last two job search espionage (as I call it) attempts I've done.

Since customer service is the meat-and-potatoes of all businesses, I went to google and typed in the Top 25 companies in Chicago, where I live. I went down the list and selected a well-known company, went to its website and applied to a customer service job and sent them a simplified resume (not the 4-page CV is usually use). Got a tel interviewing from an external candidate screening company; the recruiter was calling from texas. Passed that. In 24 hours, I went to my first interview. Went well. One week later I was brought in for another interview: this is where the problems began. The interviewer read questions verbatim from a hardcopy page and would not look me in the eye. Yikes! After the 15 minutes of questions she departed the office without saying anything. I looked around her office and on the blackboard I saw a chart where on the left side was english/ethnic slang and on the right side were correct english responses that a customer service rep would say. Apparently they were having problems hiring people for customer service jobs who could speak correct english! Yikes!!! Well, 10 minutes later the interviewer came back and shuffled me out of her office and sent me to another office where I interviewed with a tech expert who asked me engineering questions. After the interview, I asked, when are you making a hiring decision? He said, "We are not hiring anyone. We don't have a job opening." I said, "why did you interview me?" (Me thinking: and waste my time.) He said, "If we see someone of interest, we interview them just in case someone quits." Yikes #2.

The second time I applied to a technical writing job with my 4-page CV on Primarily because my CV matched the needs for a writer with an electrical and mechanical engineering background. I was called 6 weeks later. The telephone interview consisted of: This is the job and what we can pay, are you interested? It was low but I agreed. I came in for the interview, Basic interview. After showing him some writing samples, he quit asking questions and told me about the job. After that, he asked for questions? I said I had some. 1) How did you find my resume? Answer: 220 applicants applied. I went through everyone looking for someone with writing experience and selected 10 to interview. 2) What kind of candidates? Answer: people with fiction writing degrees, journalists, liberal arts people in "transition", and poets. It's a tough job market he said. 3) Did you use linkedin etc. Answer: No. Never have. Well, I got a 2nd interview with the boss/department manager. Basically, he saw that  I have not had a regular full time job in the last 10 years; my writing samples came from contract jobs I do on the side from time to time. He asked: If we hire you, will you quit? Essentially, he did not want to hire anyone who had not had a fulltime employment recently. The interview ended. 15 minutes later I was given a 350-question psych test and a handshake.

The moral of the story: I would not want to be a job seeker today.

Randall Scasny

Comment by Joshua Lee on June 20, 2012 at 11:47am

Excellent well thought out and written posting.  I dare say the best I've read thus far in this forum.  Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience.

Comment by Mark on June 20, 2012 at 11:53am

Thomas, good article.  This seems to be a good technique to keep connected to the folks we are working with.  They are having an extremely difficult time finding work and, in most cases, they are good people looking for a decent opportunity.  Now, how do we get more of them hired?

Randall, your own experience was very discouraging and makes me think, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."  Unfortunately, it's also typical of what candidates are up against.  The hiring standards are so exclusive that almost no candidates are "eligible," whether they are capable of doing the job or not.  The hiring manager in you latter example is good case in point.  They seem to think that if you  haven't had a regular, full time job during this recession, then you're soiled goods and shouldn't be touched.

I think a lot of this attitude has to do with the fact that managers these days are under a huge amount of stress to demonstrate perfection.  No mistakes, because just one gets you fired.  I don't think I'd want to be a job seeker or a hiring manager either.

Comment by Eric R. Derby on June 20, 2012 at 12:19pm

For external recruiters I suggest getting HR training and/or certification.  I got my SPHR and it was amazingly helpful with respect to learning how HR works, but more important, helping me to understand more of the business side of my clients.  I am a much better recruiter for it.

Comment by Darryl Dioso on June 20, 2012 at 2:25pm

I saw this title and thought "Great. Another post telling us that our profession is dying - for the 50th time". 

What a pleasant surprise. This is a great idea to stay sharp, inspire new ideas and to put ourselves in our candidates' shoes.

Comment by Paul Alfred on June 20, 2012 at 5:04pm

Not so sure veterans in the Recruitment business would utilize the same methods candidates would.  If you're plugged in to your industry utilzation of relationships will be heavily relied on ... I think it would become more difficult if established recruiters were looking to move into another industry ..

Comment by Martin O'Shea on September 13, 2012 at 5:12am

Excellent Article ! great way to approach certain situations. Putting yourself into the candidate shoes can be a real eye-opener. Thanks for sharing with us. 


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