You're a Boss, Recruit Like One!

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Progressive thought leaders in both the staffing industry and in the internal talent acquisition function widely believe that the skills of internal recruiters are not as effective as they should be. The negative implications of this for organizations that rely on an internal recruiting department, be it large or small, are significant.

The inability to capture the most sought-after A-players at the right time for the right role can make the difference between successful execution of a business plan, or growth being stymied and even layoffs resulting.

Failure to convert candidates into employees is often falsely attributed to the candidate being unreasonable in their compensation requirements or simply dismissed as being unprofessional. Recruiting managers often present pretty reports asserting this is why recruiting has failed when, in fact, it is the result of their ineffective practices.


Why are internal recruiters ineffective?

There are multiple reasons why recruiters aren’t as effective as they should be. Two of the most prevalent are: 

  •  Department management and company leadership do not recognize that there are gaps in their recruiters’ capabilities. For example, recruiters can lack the sales acumen necessary to be effective in a hyper-competitive talent market. They may lack the nuance to know what to say and when to say it, and what to do and how to do it in order to close a hiring deal. And, make no mistake, convincing an A-player to join your organization is more akin to a business deal than just a staffing hire. 

  • Internal recruiting departments present a lower-stakes environment than agencies, which are highly competitive and with financial reward contingent upon success. Agency recruiters must be proactive in identifying and sourcing talent while internal recruiters can rely on candidates approaching them in response to job postings. Agency recruiters can positively impact his or her entire financial year through just a few months of strong performance, which is not the case in internal departments. Without the pressures and incentives found in an agency environment, complacency can afflict internal recruiting diminishing both skills and results. 

What can company leaders do?

There are steps company leaders can take to ensure that both recruiters and the people who manage them are highly effective:


  • Include some type of emotional intelligence assessment (EQ) in your hiring process. Aside from work ethic, high levels of EQ are one of the most significant predictors of effectiveness among recruiters. 

  • Provide ongoing training in recruiting tactics and ensure these are aligned with current market conditions. What worked during the recession for example does not work now, especially when recruiting so-called “passive” candidates. Those who manage recruiters should be assessed for their Adaptability Quotient (AQ) -- the ability to adapt and thrive in an environment of change. 

  • Senior leadership should dedicate time to the talent acquisition department and incorporate it into the actual business process as opposed to keeping it separate and distinct. Involving your recruiters in meetings where decisions are being made and projects formulated provides them with needed context for why something is being done The more they understand this the more effective they will be in engaging the appropriate talent. 

  • Hiring managers should be highly responsive to their recruiting team. Candidates are often weighing options, and there is only so much influence a recruiter can leverage if their own hiring managers do not get back to them. 

  • Ensure performance measures provide actionable insights and are not vanity metrics being used as a way to mask or explain away ineffectiveness. 

Access to capital and technology is readily available to companies, so what distinguishes a successful organization is its people, especially when those people are knowledge workers. This means that talent acquisition is one of the most important functions within an organization. Business leaders must take a thoughtful approach to their recruiting strategy or risk losing the A-players to their competitors.

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