What Independent Recruiters and Headhunters Are Being Sold

In case you hadn’t noticed, recruiting  is an industry — and a fairly large one. It has its own set of technologies, including keyword-scanning machines, search technologies and many new hybrid software packages that wrap up social networks and search queries into easy-to- digest packages of candidate information.

Like every other industry, recruiting has had a tough year, but that hasn’t stopped the need for conferences and other events — although their scope has

diminished. Experienced recruiting vets still need to understand trends and the future of recruiting technologies.

Recruiter Ken Forrester visited an event hosted by ERE, the first conference he’s attended in about nine years.

In a recent post, Forrester, who has 20 years of industry experience, admits he’s behind the technology (”Vendors are selling machine guns and I am still using a rifle to hunt for talent”) but also claims that many vendors of recruiting technology are uneducated about how recruiters really operate. Forrester writes:

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 Indeed.com 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

Forrester is frankly amazed at the technological improvements in the industry but skeptical about their efficacy. His point is good recruiting takes a whole lot of asking and listening to connect with clients. (He demonstrates his knack in a conversation with a bartender at the event, during which he got the man’s employment story and career goals.)

The takeaway for the job seeker: No amount of social networking or search technology is going to replace stellar communication traits  when dealing with a headhunter, recruiter or other employment agent. It’s about developing a relationship, and not replacing it with technology.

LinkedIn and other professional networking sites are important; recruiters are using social networks in candidate research more and more frequently. But don’t lose sight  of the human touch.

Forrester’s takeaway: “The next killer app in recruiting is the recruiter.”

Originally posted on The Ladders