Depend on the Recruiter for Recruiting

As I waited at the traffic light on my way to the ERE recruitment conference in South Florida, I watched in amazement as a teenager rode a bicycle while texting on his cell phone. I immediately thought about the new multi-tasking skills that are being developed by the next generation of talent. It also made me wonder what I would learn from this ERE meet-up session; the last time I attended a recruiting conference was in 2000. As I recalled, Job boards and ATS were the talk of the town and employers were beginning to take back control of their recruitment functions while reigning in fees paid to external partners by using the latest search technologies.

Here is a quick summary and the new information that I learned:

I attended the vendor session, and I must admit that the latest recruitment search tools on display were impressive. It was quite obvious that the new players in the vendor space were delivering to search professionals, especially employers, the tools they need to effectively compete for talent. What surprised me the most was the warm reception I received from the vendor Representatives. Each time I mentioned that I was a headhunter and in the recruiting business for 20 years; they all appear very interested in my opinion on the usefulness of their products. On the other hand I did feel somewhat like the character from the movie “Crocodile Dundee”. That movie was about a tough but sensitive guy who survived and thrived in the most hostile and primitive land known to man, the Australian Outback. Now all he’s got to do is make it through a week in another type of jungle, New York.

In this situation, I was a recruiter in the new age of technology still using the basic methodologies: telephone, relationships and specialization as means to deliver talent to clients. In other words, these vendors are selling machine guns and I am still using a rifle to hunt for talent.

I really enjoyed talking to the young people about recruiting; they all seem very passionate about the products they represented. I also found it interesting that they had little or no hands-on recruitment experience but are convinced it was not needed to effectively utilize their recruitment tools. I listen to one individual (in recruiter speak) describe his search technology as if it was a real person. He said: “Dude, let me tell you-within five minutes, Diver can scan 1000 search result pages on Google; display only the LinkedIn public view profiles, parse and load them directly into your ATS for pipelining, how long would it take you to do that?”

In my opinion, their biggest challenge lies in communicating their value proposition to HR decision makers.

I spent the most time talking to the folks at about their product. They invited me to their function for drinks where I met the founder of the company and some of the most brilliant minds in corporate recruiting. I have been pretty tough on corporate recruiters in the past, now I can see the view from the other side of the table. Here are some of the new things that I learned:

With social networking-It is no longer who you know, but who knows you

With technology- the use of external search partners is a luxury

A good recruiter does not use excuses (economy, HR, hiring manager, qualified resume flow) to justify performance

Selection-Hiring one “A” player is better than hiring ten “C” players

Telephone sourcing is dead, but having telephone skills is a necessity

Hacking is now a new recruiting skill

Within two years the technology to find anyone within minutes will be developed

On my way home I thought about the many conversations that I had with people from all over the country, but one person stood out in my mind, the Bartender. He made a comment, that he could tell that I was very good recruiter. When I asked why he felt that way, he replied “because you asked me questions about me”

What everyone saw was just another guy tending bar; what I learned was that this guy is one of the top real estate agents in South Florida. He is a people person and he is a bartender on a part-time basis because the real estate market is slow; he now has the opportunity to spend more time with his sons before they venture off to college. He receives an employee discount which allow his family to stay at any Diplomat hotel for less than $89 per night.

The ERE conference was a very meaningful experience for me; I would like to thank the folks at ERE and Indeed for making it possible.

Oh, one more new thing that I learned from the conference: The next killer app in recruiting is the recruiter.