Recruiting is Broken

I hear all too often that recruiting is a mindless job and I’d take offense to it except it’s not a false statement when talking about today’s average recruiter. Recruiting has turned into a button-clicking job that doesn’t take a lot of thought, problem-solving, or consideration for the craft that it used to be. Put simply, recruiting is broken.

Before Monster, LinkedIn, and all other software that opened the recruiting floodgates, recruiting was a craft that required strategy, interpersonal skills, and a lot of industry-specific knowledge of your vertical. Today’s recruiter is off-putting not only because they spam a bunch of people at once for the same job, but because modern recruiters also don’t take the time to learn their respective industry. Recruiters lack the vocabulary to truly communicate with the person they’re recruiting and fail to invest time to wrap their heads around the skills, tools, and responsibilities of these positions. Instead, they put a couple acronyms into a search and send an “okay” email that is broad enough to use on repeat to everyone that matches their buzzword bingo.

Recruiting is about building relationships with other humans. At the core of good recruiting you’ll find human relationships combined with being an industry analyst. Recruiters that still specialize in the craft of recruiting know the good, the bad, the challenges, and all that goes into the job they’re recruiting for. These recruiters take time to know the people that develop and hone the skills to do the jobs. These recruiters pay attention to what is happening in the industry with new technologies, demands, pivots, company trends, layoffs, and a lot of times know before the general public.

The craft is dying.

Many recruiters today aren’t really recruiting. Instead, it’s an administrative process management job of managing email campaigns and ATS reports — making it such a mindless career. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying social media and email are bad tools for recruiters to use because they can be great to show “I’m a human that you can connect with!” instead of “I’m a robot that forwarded you several phrases from a job description.” The key is that human authenticity is what inspires people to connect, not blanket emails or spam. One of the most important qualities in a recruiter is trust, and the growing number of bad recruiters breaks the system.

How do you ensure that your team and company are employing good practices? Here are some quality solutions:

Hack the right system.

  • Instead of trying to hack recruiting with Google and LinkedIn by researching everyone with Java in their profile and then emailing all of them with the same or similar emails, use better tools to solve problems. Hacks should be around things that don’t require relationships. Research is great. Dig deeper though. Not sure what I mean? Check out these posts: Resist the Spam or Intentional Recruiting for Diversity. There are some great research tips in there.
  • Let’s hack which humans you should take time to send a message to, but not the message itself. Don’t send a mass email. Your outreach should be a very personable thing. Remember that you are helping someone invest in their future and know that they’ll be spending a large amount of their daily, weekly, and annual hours at work. That’s a lot of responsibility and opportunity to impact someone’s life. It’s not something that should be done by someone that knows nothing about the job or the company they’re recruiting for.

Brand your company with care.

  • Employer Brand is more than a logo. Did you know that your recruiting has a direct impact on your brand? Think about it this way, engineers don’t take kindly to spam, and they can spot it instantly. It’s a reflection of your company to them, and it’s sloppy. If they get crappy recruiting emails from your company, it’s foreshadowing for what to expect from the company in the future. This won’t leave a very positive impression and you don’t want them to share that negative impression with other engineers.
  • Developers judge companies that send crappy recruiting spam just as they “judge” companies that take pride in recruiting. Companies that take the time to do research and send an email more like, “Hey Vivianne, I watched your lightning talk last night at the Lean Meetup and read your post this morning on Python best practices. I sent it to my crabby R developer friend who’s always complaining about Python’s limitations, glad I could share something so actionable with him! It was a really resourceful write up. I’d love to chat with you about what you’re doing.” This approach is powerful because I’m asking to learn from her and showing that I’m paying attention to what she’s done, making it very clear that this email could have only ever been written to her. When you take the time to research a person, you can truthfully give a genuine compliment that they would appreciate. What you’ll find is someone that may not be looking for a job, but the research you did leaves a lasting impression that can lead to welcoming you into their online network, an introduction to a potential candidate, and a bookmark in their mind for when they are looking.

To sum it up: Hack ways to zero in on the right people and automate stuff to help the conversation, but don’t waste the opportunity or cut corners on getting to know someone. Know that every interaction you have can have a bigger impact on your company’s reputation. Build relationships, invest in people, set yourself and your company up for some good karma. And remember, even if cutting corners worked once for you, it can still backfire, so just don’t do it.

Recruiting doesn’t have to suck. When you invest in the strategies and priorities, you can quickly rise above the lazy recruiters to be one of the good ones.

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