I love those Dos Equis commercials “The Most Interesting Man in the World” where the most interesting man says, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do I prefer Dos Equis.” It’s great marketing that doesn’t seem to get old. It got me to thinking as well. I started my HR career in recruiting working for the company I’m now running, so in a sense I’ve come full circle. I started recruiting right out of college for a contingent staffing company, doing technical contract hiring, a tough recruiting gig, but it pays very well if you’re good.
When I left my first job, and the third party recruiting industry, to take my first corporate HR job. I left with a chip on my shoulder that armed me with such great recruiting skills I would NEVER, I mean NEVER, use a recruiting firm to do any of my recruiting. WHY WOULD I? I mean I had the skills, I had the know-how and I could save my company a ton of money by just doing it on our own.
So, I spent 10 years in corporate HR before returning to third party recruiting in 2009, and you know what? I was young and naïve in my thinking about never using recruiting agencies. It’s not just about having the skills and know-how; it’s much bigger than that. I worked for three different large companies, in three different industries in director of recruitment type roles, and in each case, I found situations where I was reaching out to some great third party recruiters for some assistance.
So, why did I change my philosophy on using recruiting agencies? A few of the reasons I ran into in corporate HR:
1. Having Skill and Know-How only works if you also have the time. Sometimes in corporate gigs, you just don’t have the capacity to get as deep into the search as you would like – with all the hats you have to wear as a corporate HR pro.
2. Corporate HR positions don’t give you the luxury of building a talent pipeline in specific skill sets, the same way that search pros can build over time. As a corporate HR pro, I was responsible for all skill sets in my organization. Niche search pros can outperform most corporate HR pros on most searches, most of the time. It’s a function of time and network.
3. Many corporate executive teams don’t believe their own HR staffs have the ability to outperform professional recruiters, primarily because we (corporate HR pros) have never given them a reason to think differently about this. Thus, we are “forced” to use search pros for searches where executives like to get involved.
4. Most corporations are not willing to invest in a model – people, technology and process – that puts themselves on a higher playing field than professional recruiting organizations. I would estimate only 1% of corporations have made this investment currently – and more are not rushing out to follow suit. Again, this comes from corporate HR not having the ability to show the CFO the ROI on making this change – to have the best talent in the industry you compete in. So, the best talent gets sourced by recruiting pros and corporations pay for it.
I didn’t always use recruiting agencies, but when I did I made sure I got talent I couldn’t get on my own, in the time and space I was allotted in my given circumstances. When I talk to corporate HR pros now, and I hear in their voice that “failure” of having to use a recruiting agency. I get it. I get the fact of what they are facing in their own corporate environments. It’s not failure, it’s life in corporate America and it’s hard to change.
Stay thirsty my friends…