Is your client seeing the whole picture?

The role of a recruiter and how the recruiter effectively contributes to the production of the enterprise is often taken for granted. That is what compelled me to write the allegory below. Please take a few minutes to read it, or re-read it if you already have, my own thoughts follow.

Once upon a time there was a man who needed a hole dug, but he did not have the means or the tools to do it. As he stood there looking at the spot where he wanted his hole dug a recruiter happened by. The recruiter saw the man staring at the spot on the ground.

“Can I help you with something”” the recruiter asked.

“I need to dig a hole,” said the man, “do you have a shovel?”

“No,” the recruiter replied, “I have a rope.”

“I have no need for a rope to dig a hole,” the man said. So the recruiter walked away.

The next day as the man stood there staring at the spot on the ground another man approached with a shovel. “I heard you need a hole dug.” He said to the first man.

“Yes," said the first man and he showed the man with the shovel where to start digging.

Later that day the recruiter happened by again. “I see you have started to get your hole dug, “he said to the first man, “can I help?”

“Do you have a bucket?” the first man asked.

“No,” the recruiter replied, “I have a rope.”

“I have no need for a rope to dig a hole,” the man said. So the recruiter walked away.

The next day as the first man supervised the man with the shovel that was digging the hole another man approached with a bucket. “I heard you need a bucket for the hole being dug.” He said to the first man.

“Yes, “said the first man and he showed the man with the bucket where to start removing the dirt from the hole.

Later that day the recruiter happened by again. “I see you are really moving along with getting your hole dug, “he said to the first man, “can I help?”

“Do you have a cart?” the first man asked.

“No,” the recruiter replied, “I have a rope.”

“I have no need for a rope to dig a hole,” the man said. So the recruiter walked away.

The next day as the first man supervised the man with the shovel and the man with the bucket who were digging the hole another man approached with a cart. “I heard you need a cart for the hole being dug.” He said to the first man.

“Yes, “said the first man and he showed the man with the cart where to start carting off the dirt from the hole.

Together with the shoveling, and the bucketing and the carting the hole progressed at a rapid pace, before long it was wide enough for all four men to stand in it and do their work. But as the hole got bigger and bigger it also got deeper and deeper until even all 4 men could not lift the cart out to take the dirt away. The hole was so deep that even standing on the cart and bucket and shovel and piling on top of each other they could not get out of the hole. They tried everything, and at every turn they could not find their way out of the hole. Finally the first man realized what they needed and he said, “I know just what we need.” And together all three of the other men said, “We need the guy with the rope.”

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I adapted the above from a story I told my children about how some people help us in ways that we never notice (it kept the kids engaged and gave us a lot to talk about after).

As the recruiter offers his help again and again the man refuses only seeing his immediate needs and not considering the whole (or hole as the case may be) picture. How often we encounter hiring managers with the same attitude. We know what their needs are, we see the entire enterprise and the direction it is either going in or needs to go in and yet they can only see a few feet in front of them. How rare is it that we encounter a hiring manager who really values what we bring to the table.

We may assume that as the man tells the recruiter what he needs and then that person shows up in a timely manner, that the recruiter found that person and sent them to work with the man. At the end of the story all the men refer to the man with the rope, so they all must've encountered him. This gives us further reason to believe that the man with the rope, the recruiter, was the one who sent them. Yet the man who needs his hole dug never asks the other men where they came from or who sent them, he takes this all for granted.

At the end of the story all for men agree that that need the guy with the rope to help them get out of the hole. This is not unlike what happens in many businesses where there is a lack of foresight and a failure to see how the solutions to the problem today may create a bigger problem tomorrow. But isn't this so much a part of human nature? Look at Wall Street today, look at the mortgage business, and look at Dubai.

Our job as recruiters is to really go against this part of human nature. We offer a tremendous under-appreciated value to the businesses we serve. We are able to take a broader view of the industry and marketplace and help our clients take a longer view. To go beyond the big picture and take a look at the whole picture. The HOLE picture. I am hopeful that things are evolving more than ever now towards a realization of this among our clients.

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