How to Improve Recruiting Leadership

Five Bad Recruiting Practices and How to Change Them

I have watched recruiting leaders come and go over the years, and I am always surprised that so very few have forged a function that competes effectively against other organizations by consistently supplying their organizations with quality talent. Even fewer become well known and are admired and sought after by VPs of HR, CEOs, and headhunters.

Most people become recruiters by accident or choose it as a stepping stone to a bigger role in HR. Of the few who assume leadership roles, their tenure often leaves behind a legacy of half-completed technology implementations, high staff turnover, muddled objectives, and unsatisfied hiring managers. As there is no formal training available to teach recruiting, most learn from others who are also poorly trained. In learning about recruiting, they pick up assumptions and habits that are not supported by science and may be highly biased or ineffective.

To change this, recruiting leaders might examine their own behaviors by asking for feedback from peers, looking at the research, and striving for an unbiased and objective approach. I have listed below five of the areas where I see recruiting leaders shortchanging themselves and reducing effectiveness.

Bad Practice 1: Myopic Vision

Perhaps most dangerous to success is not anticipating the future.  They get so caught up in filling requisitions and doing daily work that they do not take the time to see or understand the changes that technology, the pandemic, and demographics have created. It is dangerous not to be aware as it leaves you vulnerable and open to deep problems.

 But to be aware, you need to network and read widely, understand the direction of your business, and focus on anticipating what changes might occur. Try to imagine three to five years into the future and create possible scenarios. Imagine vast changes and then think about how you would deal with those changes. What would you need for skills or resources? Who would you want to work with you? What technology would be available? This sort of thinking and practice is what successful people do, and it is how strategies are put into place that helps to ensure success. Even taking one day a month and devoting it to this type of thinking can reap benefits.

Bad Practice 2: Arrogance about Practices and Beliefs

Yesterday’s successes probably will not be repeated by using the techniques or technologies of the past.  Change is rapid and inexorable, yet recruiters are incredibly resistant to new approaches. Most still believe that in-person interviews are the best way to judge skills and success, even though years of research show this to be not true.  Many recruiters use technology only as an administrative assistant and not as a tool that can provide insight and help them make better choices.  Tomorrow belongs to recruiters who embrace online assessment, artificial intelligence, social networking, chatbots, and other candidate relationship tools and combine the outputs of these with their own judgment and wisdom.  Labor markets are not confined to single countries, work can increasingly be done anywhere, and recruiting is a virtual, global game. This means recruiters need to learn as much as they can about the global l talent market, cultural differences, emerging recruiting tools, read the research on assessment and other aspects of recruiting, and talk to experts.

Building this competency will enlarge the talent markets you can tap and improve candidate quality and your recruiting processes.

Bad Practice 3: Not Embracing and Becoming Competent with Technology

Technology, automation, and artificial intelligence are the new buzzwords in recruiting.  While technology is not perfect and is not a complete replacement for recruiters, the gap is narrowing. Search tools are powerful and can significantly help to find candidates. There are validated tools that provide insight into a candidate’s abilities, assess their skills, and provide objective and comparable data about different candidates.  Chatbots can improve candidate engagement. And, virtual onboarding tools are well accepted by new hires.

Every recruiter needs to be aware of these tools and have some competence in understanding how they work and what they can and cannot do.  They need to access the websites that review and explain the many available tools and experiment with them as much as possible.

If you ignore or dismiss these tools, you are putting yourself at a huge disadvantage to those who are.

Bad Practice 4: Being a pair of hands; not a strategic resource

Most recruiters are obsessed with filling slots.  That is what they have been taught to do without regard to need or effectiveness.  They have a hard time discussing the value of positions with hiring managers who often regard the recruiter as little more than a clerk trusted to filter piles of resumes that are supposed to magically arrive each day because of the organization’s prominence or brand. They are given requisition to fill, and they dutifully go forth and do so – even if it is a poorly defined job or one that someone with a different skill set might do.

To break this habit, recruiters need to engage in meaningful conversation with a hiring manager and be equipped with knowledge about the organization’s strategic business objectives, the hiring manager's needs, and the state of the talent marketplace.  The recruiter needs to present numbers and data and make a case for hiring the competencies and skills that will be most effective.  In short, they need to act as a resource and consultant to hiring authorities and show a deep knowledge and understanding of the needs of the business.  And, on top of this, they then need to fill the position from a talent community they have built-in anticipation of the need.

Bad Practice 5:  Dependence on Obsolete Competencies

Many recruiters fail to see that the dominant skills of the profession are changing.  It is very easy to rely on the competencies that made us successful and not notice that times change, as do the skills we need.  In fact, over 80% of the skills that made a recruiter successful in 2010 are of less value today.  For example, interviewing skills, traditional search, and reviewing and screening resumes are not critical skills. Even less understandable are the recruiters who are competent at interviewing and who then focus on getting even better at it instead of developing new skills that might be more useful.

Building an online relationship, creating a social network, or enhancing an employment brand are more useful skills.  Engaging a candidate in online conversation, influencing a hiring manager, and communicating the value proposition of an offer are the skills that will make the bigger impact.  

The door is ajar and opening quickly on a new world of recruiting that uses technology wisely and effectively, that analyzes data and uses it to influence decisions, works with hiring managers and HR to develop a talent philosophy that includes the remote, part-time, and temporary workforce, and works with internal resources to reskill talent and find new positions for internal employees.

Recruiting can be an exciting and valuable profession for those willing to leap from yesterday to today.

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