Recruitment – it’s NOT speed-dating

This is one of my favourite topics. I believe this is what will differentiate the winners from the losers in recruitment. In the end, a recruiter is as good as the number of candidates that she or he can close.

That is it.

So what recruiters are going to need in the next 3 years, is the ability to architect the deal. Something I feel we as an industry lost in the boom era.

I use the word ‘architect’ because it suggests designing, building, creating, managing. And these are the complex and subtle skills you will need to thrive going forward.

In recent years recruiters did no placement process architecture. What 90% of recruiters did, and still do, is pure introduction. That’s all we did. We were like organisers of a speed dating night. Throwing loosely compatible people together in an artificial environment for a short time and hoping they would fall in love!

That won’t do any more.

Those recruiters who understand that the human touch is still our primary tool in making a hire work, are those who will be most successful.

So how do we get better at ‘Placement Architecture’? There are three components to building strong hiring process, and these are skills you are going to need:

  1. Take the time required. Recruitment is a series of discrete human interactions, and great recruiters will manage, control, and influence the outcome of each of those interactions to maximise success.
  2. Listen better than ever before. Uncovering, questioning, and understanding are sadly undervalued recruiter skills that we need to hire and coach back into our business. Most recruiters do none of this. They act on the client’s word as if it is the true gospel, or they tell clients what to do without asking questions first. It sounds counter-intuitive, but great recruiters will purposely be “slow to understand”.
  3. Question everything. The biggest cause of placements falling through is people making assumptions. Recruiters taking what they are told at face value. Ask for the “why and how” of everything that does not ring true, and don’t stop asking until you get an answer.

The good news is that the role of the recruiter, per se, is not under threat from technology or anything else. But the bad news is that the days of the dinosaur recruiter, unwilling to adapt, are well and truly numbered.

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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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13 Responses to Recruitment – it’s NOT speed-dating

  1. Clarke March 9, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    couldnt agree more…unless of couse one is dealing with HR who perhaps are a bit defensive. I did all that recently and got told I was being ‘pushy’. They had told me that a Candidate didnt have a certain skill (from looking at a CV) so I got him to do an addendum explaining in depth his experience and rather than ‘thanks thats great you are really adding value’ I got told not to challenge decisions.

  2. Navid Sabetian March 9, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Great and very much to the point. Some of the concepts are also the same in the spin selling process where you have to ask questions and offer a remedy.

    The only challenge I have found that can sabotage this process is that asking all the questions and purposefully trying to get details takes slightly longer and at times clients like a quick fix. They like to spend as little time as possible and get as much as possible in return. Educating them helps but I suppose given most executives and hiring managers have very limited time we need to achieve a compromise in refining our questioning process to get as much information as possible in as little time as possible.

  3. Brad March 9, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    More great tips Greg thanks… A manager of mine from years gone by in recruitment – told me to always be talking to people. Networking 1-0-1 really but this advice came to me at a time when I was inbetween tasks i.e. where’s my next placement coming from. Sure the pipeline should be stacked but there are times and we’ve all had them when we experience “downtime”. So, call a candidate, call a client – phone to say hello, it will lead somewhere.

  4. Stephen DuFaux March 9, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    First let me say, that you hit the nail on the head. Very clear and concise statement validating the need for change. Change not only in applied methodologies, but also in behaviors.

    Dinosaurs did become extinct – being replaced with a higher level of knowledge, skill and execution… resulting in a positive outcome. We in the recruiting industry need to adapt and be part of that evolution or be left behind becoming remnants of an archaic society found in an archeological dig later on.

  5. Yuriy Shevchenko March 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    It’s both hilarious and frustrating to watch a recruiter act in total surprise when a placement falls through when the questions could have been asked all along.

    When a deal falls through it impacts negatively on the candidate, the client and above all yourself. Everyone’s time is wasted.

    If you “fly on instrument” as opposed to “flying on instinct” you’ll have far fewer deals falling out.

  6. Lisa Jones March 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Great post, couldn’t agree more – the normal job title is “Consultant”, so consult.

  7. mount recruitment March 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    Hi Greg. Great article and valid comments added. However I’m not sure i agree that there is no threat from technology to recruitment. Surely the flat fee models that utilise multi job posting technology can be counted as a threat? Of course that style of recruitment will never replace the more complex hires but they do remove some of the ‘low hanging fruit’ style vacancies and even more concerning is the way they devalue our industry. Of course recruiters must show the value they add but we cannot ignore the impact These companies can have.

  8. business review May 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    …. By Terry Petra CPC CIPC ..In I discussed the issue of what exactly it is that recruiters are guaranteeing about their placement with a client. This perspectiveis the Predict Prevent or Cause Approach. It can be presented as follows… If in the unlikely event an employee we place with your organization leaves or is terminated for cause before you have received an appropriate return on your investment in them lets agree to handle the situation in this manner… First of all lets ask ourselves client and or recruiter was there anything we could have done to predict in advance this particular outcome?.. Next if we client and or recruiter could have predicted this outcome is there anything we could have done to prevent it?.. Last if we client and or recruiter could not predict it or prevent it was there anything we did or failed to do that caused this outcome sins of omission or commission?.. With this as the basis of our guarantee if at any time an employee we place is terminated for cause or leaves prematurely we will review with you the specific circumstances.

  9. Avis June 15, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    What worries me about this article is that this is not what we need to be doing in the future….this is what all recruiters should naturally do already & I find it highly disturbing that this isn’t the way recruiters work already.

  10. Emma March 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    I have to say I agree with Avis. This is the way I have been recruiting since the 90’s. But I acknowledge that it’s a sector populated by a lot of ‘transactional’ recruiters, still using the ‘spray & pray’ approach and, if on big panels, still managing to succeed, swimming around in a sea of mediocrity. The term ‘consultant’ is used after ‘recruitment’ too frequently in my opinion, giving the impression that such individuals can be consulted with regarding recruitment. What is actually the case all too often is that they can be given a job brief and submit a list of candidates against it, arrange interviews and trigger an invoice if one sticks. Ask them for market intel, trends, legislation and you’ll receive top of the head, jittery, unqualified bull. Recruiting ‘consultants’ should be experts in their field and that means knowing their craft really really well so that they can really add value to their clients.


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