Perhaps the most misunderstood people in the mix of the hiring process, especially for hard-to-fill and high-level positions are recruiters. Recruiters aren’t paid to get people jobs. Instead, they are engaged by companies to find the best possible talent to fit an employer’s needs. The client is the company, not the job seeker, and every recruiter’s loyalty is ultimately to their client company.
In some ways, recruiters are like bankers: eager to deal with you to give you a loan when you don’t need one, but impossible to gain help from when you are destitute and in need of funds to tide you over till you get back on your feet.
Chances are you’ve received annoying calls from them on and off over the course of your career as they try to lure you away from your current employer. Or, if you’ve been unemployed or desperate to find a job at some point, you’ve tried reaching out to them and found them to be altogether unresponsive.
There is a certain mystique about the headhunter as someone earns obnoxiously high commissions at the expense of both companies and the talent that they source for them. Sadly, few people actually understand the high risk and hard work that makes up the reality of a recruiter’s workday.
It’s likely that a recruiter’s day starts early, at about 5:30 am. Before it is time to interact with clients and candidates, this is a good time to check email and LinkedIn’s InMail in order to prioritize who needs what.
An executive recruiter typically arrives at his desk before 9:00 a.m. If there is no pressing work on an ongoing search, he’ll utilize the rest of the morning to reach out by phone, email or both to the multitude of corporate decision makers in his contact book. He understands that he continues to get new searches to conduct only because he knows his contacts well and keeps in regular touch with them.
Any recruiter worth his salt is always looking to make new connections and broaden their network of both corporate hiring decision makers and potential candidates. When everything is said and done, recruiting is a relationship building business, and it’s not uncommon for recruiters to have as many as 15,000 first-degree LinkedIn connections, with a network reach of tens of millions of people at the third-degree. LinkedIn has become a primary tool in the recruiting industry, with recruiting companies paying big dollars to have access to the whole database of LinkedIn’s members.
If his morning calls are successful, the recruiter has landed a new search assignment from a client company.
The next task is to establish a recruiting specifications document. This is an internal document, not yet a job advertisement. It outlines all of the key elements of the job, not just in terms of skill, effort, and responsibility. This is not a job description. It builds the persona of an ideal candidate, who are they going to report to (by title), who reports to them, how is this person going to integrate into the organization and what are the key skills of that integration.
The recruiter writes the recruiting specification, but it is approved by the client who buys-in to say, “Yes, this is really what I’m looking for.” Once this is approved, the next step is for this document to serve as the basis of crafting a series of questions that comprise the interview.
A recruiter’s afternoon is likely devoted to candidate identification and contact. This might involve reviewing the recruiting company’s own internal proprietary database of prior candidates and contacts or expanding the search to LinkedIn.
Recruiters and the people they employ as sourcers will spend hour upon hour constructing complex search queries on LinkedIn as well as trolling through LinkedIn’s Groups to find people who come close to the ideal persona. They will also search online to find lists of people who attend appropriate professional conventions and meetings, personal websites and a host of other social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and more.
Candidates are often interviewed extensively by recruiters, both to see how they respond to questions the client company wants to be answered as well as to generate a fulsome profile of the individual to determine how he or she will respond to particular types of situations, what strengths they can bring to bear, and what tips a supervisor can find valuable in how to manage someone during and after the onboarding process.
Recruiters will spend a fair amount of time preparing the presentation of their candidates to the client companies. They typically pass on to the hiring manager groups or panels of candidates, taking pains to represent each one with fairness.
They will include a summary of the candidate’s professional history and education, key achievements, salary history, and expectations, and for retained searches, their presentation will include a series of reference checks for each candidate. Most importantly, companies often rely on recruiters to give their unvarnished views about the pros and cons of each candidate.
Some recruiters share with their clients the resume and other information regarding every candidate they’ve interviewed. Others take a different tack and only pass on those they believe to be a good fit.
When it comes to putting together compensations packages to offer successful candidates, the role of the recruiter can vary widely. Some employers put together their own numbers and offers, while others ask for the external recruiter to be deeply involved in determining all the details of an offer.
Along the way toward a successful placement, a recruiter will likely speak with dozens, or even scores of potential candidates, spend many hours on the phone with the resulting panel of candidates, providing as much information as possible about the company, role, and key points to hit on during the interview, debriefing, dealing with concerns, objections and going back and forth as they may waver during the whole process.
If you step back and look at their overall work, recruiters not only have to build relationships but close multiple sales to make a single commission. They need to sell the client company on their capacity to conduct a successful search; they need to sell potential candidates on the value of the job to be filled as the next point in their career path; they then need to go back and sell their candidates to the company, and ultimately sell the candidate on a job offer that may or may not meet their original expectation.
So, the next time you get a call from a recruiter, or don’t get a call back from him or her, remember they are busy people, always juggling many people on all different sides of multiple searches simultaneously.