The recruiter’s role in the job search process is a mystery to many people, including many recruiters. We are asked to support and advance the interests of all sides in the emotionally charged interview process. I suggest “all sides” because we not only represent the best interests of candidate and employer, but we must also represent ourselves, our firm, our industry and oversee the process so that it meets legal and ethical guidelines.
This is no simple process, as turnover in the recruiting industry attests. Recruiters are not born, they are made, often accidentally. For many in the industry, it’s a stopover point between careers or career moves. More often than not, it’s an accidental destination for many who found themselves sitting in an agency interview chair and asking the recruiter, out of frustration or curiosity, “So, tell me about your job?”
The difficulty in the role, of course, is the element of human interaction. Each side approaches the table as if in a high stakes poker game. The principal parties see this negotiation as a win/lose proposition. The recruiter’s role is to create a win/win, that is to find the best solution to effecting the best match, for the best motives for long-term growth and success. This is not as easy as it sounds.
The company’s role is to hire the best candidate to meet their needs. The urgency and cost of the need may be extraordinary. Companies are looking for an individual who can immediately stanch a bleeding wound in engineering, sales or production. They may be missing a critical voice in R & D, executive decision making or losing sales in a region missing representation. In addition to the costs of acquiring talent, headhunter frees, advertising costs, H.R. time, line managers’ interview time and expenses are the costs created by the empty chair. The loss of productivity in the vacant opening may be the most expensive aspect. Therefore the hiring process must be cost effective, time sensitive and thorough.
The candidate’s needs are more personal, but no less important. Each step on the ladder to success is represented by a career or job selection. Making the wrong move may land you in a career role that does not suit your training, strengths or passion. Being in the wrong career or company can affect your personal growth, happiness and effectiveness. Many spend years in a job that limits their creativity, contribution and human development. Library and bookstore shelves sag under the weight of books dealing with career issues. They discuss finding your bliss, your ideal job, best boss, career success, wealth, fame and self-actualization. Choosing the right career, job and company is compounded by the interview process itself. The interview is a battleground, laden with its minefield of behavioral questions, interviewer quirks and hidden agendas.
The recruiter’s role then, is to serve as an advocate for both sides, carefully interviewing both clients and candidates to understand each party’s core interests, needs and motivation. Is this a long-term development position or short-term solution? How does this hire affect all departments influenced by it? Does this hire affect the company’s investor values, philosophy, culture or management style? Does this position affect market share, sales team, product development and of course, engineering needs? What is the company culture and environment? It is critical for the recruiter to understand, in detail, the desired effects sought by both candidate and client.
Yet, often H.R. or line managers see the recruiter as a necessary last resort. Bombarded by recruiter calls, they often provide bare-bones job descriptions and desultory snapshots of the “ideal” candidate, made up of unrelated qualities and backgrounds that bear little resemblance to the best solution. Sadly, in the heated competition to be the “fastest with the mostest,” ineffective or inexperienced recruiters demand little more. It is no wonder that so many recruiters fail and that fees are so high.
Effective detailed communications are the essence of a successful recruiting assignment. Unfortunately, they are also often the least well understood and most ignored part of the equation. For a recruiter to fulfill his role as advocate, he must ask and understand the hard questions, honor all parties’ needs and operate in a lawful and moral manner. Seeking higher integrity in the search process is not simply the best way to achieve effectiveness; it is essential to securing the best solution in this critical win/win process. What is your experience? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.