Sunday, January 17, 2010

Recruiting Basics Are The Same At Any Level

A recruiter capable of articulating the key points of a job can recruit at any level. To date my experience has been recruiting individual contributors and lower level managers, and for a long time I had assumed that there was some sort of magic process used by executive recruiters to fill senior management roles. There's no magic in recruiting. Big and little companies all start with the same basic steps, a sort of recruiting process DNA that all us recruiters use.

    Here are things I believe are common to any search, whether it be for a customer service representative or a CEO:

  • In order to recruit effectively, one must clearly identify the most essential parts of a position. Any candidate who doesn't have those qualifications doesn't make the cut. Of course qualifications desired can always be adjusted, and the person hired rarely matches the initial list of requirements. When you clearly express your intent, candidates are free to say they are or are not a fit.

    "We want a customer service representative with excellent communication skills, a college degree, and passion for shopping."

    "The CEO needs to have been a C-level executive for an international oil company, have been involved in offshore drilling projects, and has worked with congressional lobbyists."

    "Our software engineer must have demonstrated an interest in open source technologies, have worked as part of a team for at least 2 years, and have an interest in the business logic behind web applications."

  • If a recruiter acts professionally, they will earn the respect of any worthy applicant. People are people at any level. I was initially surprised when recruiting candidates for this CIO position. I expected them to pushy managerial and authoritarian - these are people who would normally be my boss, or my boss' boss - yet the vast majority are all extremely pleasant to deal with. I tell them what I'm hiring for, we discuss their fit for the role, and I'm in charge the whole of the recruiting process.

  • A candidate's approachability and snappiness in communications is directly proportional to their interest in a position. Called and emailed a couple of times and don't hear back? Drop it for a while - that person isn't interested at this moment. If a candidate gets back to you right away, they're interested on some level.

  • Where you got your education doesn't mean a whole damn lot. In the past I've tried presenting job seekers with Ivy League or Stanford degrees to employers. Some employers get excited about the person's pedigree, but 99% of the time it comes down to "Can this person do the job?" In fact, for positions that do require a really prestigious education, I find most often the employer is just looking for someone so wrapped up in the prestige of their degree that they miss out on the fact that the employer is really looking for a smart person who is willing to work 100 hour weeks - ask any investment banker working for Goldman Sachs or any attorney at a top 10 law firm.

  • All companies love nice people.

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