The 7 Brutal Truths About Recruiting No One Wants to Admit

Don’t you love Clickbait titles!?  I mean you read that title and you’re like, “JFC, Tim! Okay, I need to see what crazy sh*t he’s going to say about recruiting and who he pisses off today!”

Okay, so, here you go!

I recently got back from CareerBuilder’s Empower. It’s basically a recruiting conference for CB clients. Empower had a great recruiting content for both sides. Both corporate recruiters and agency recruiters were in attendance. You can easily spot the two groups. The agency recruiters wear suits and have big watches. Watches so big Flavor Flav would be jealous. The suits aren’t your dad’s suit, either, they’re the new ‘modern’ fit suits that look like they might be one size too small.

The agency guys don’t care. They’re making twice what the corporate sap makes, who is wearing either jeans and button-down or Khakis and a button-down. I’ll say most of the corporate TA ladies dress smart and stylish, most are also former agency recruiters!

Being surrounded by 1,000 recruiters always helps remind you why so many folks dislike the industry and function of recruiting. Here’s my take:

1. There’s no difference between selling cars and recruiting. In cars sales you make the car look as great as you can, even when it’s a piece of sh*t. In recruiting you make the organization and the hiring manager look as great as possible, even when they’re a piece of Sh*t.

2. Recruiting has nothing to do with Quality. Recruiting is all about speed. Every recruiter wants to argue it’s about quality, but it’s not. It’s not because you don’t actually know if someone is a quality hire until about a year into position, for most roles. Recruiting is about filling positions as fast as you can with the best talent that is available at the time you’re actually looking to fill the position.

3. The majority of Recruiting leaders have no idea what they’re doing. That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? It’s mostly true for a couple of reasons. First, TA was a dead function for about 8-10 years in most organizations during the recession, so most TA leaders either weren’t in TA or weren’t developed. Second, the technology is evolving so quickly, 99% of TA leaders can’t keep up with it. So, you get a mix of incompetence and old school know-how.

4. Real Recruiters have figured out Employment Branding has little impact in filling positions. Great recruiters can fill roles in a company that has no brand, or a negative brand, it makes no difference to them. What real recruiters understand is that the majority of the population pays little attention to your employment brand. Great TA comes mainly from great recruitment marketing (which I know some of you will argue is all about branding). You can be great at recruitment marketing and still have a brand no one knows about and fill your positions.

5. Your organization would fill openings with or without a Recruiting Team. Ugh! That one hurts, but it’s true. I speak with organizations every week that don’t have TA and don’t use agencies, but still fill positions. What!? How can that be!? The executives, the hiring managers, etc. all do it. They own their own staff and make sure they find people to fill the needs they have. As an organization grows this becomes harder, but not impossible.

6. Corporate recruiters will always be less effective to Agency recruiters until you change your compensation. Corporate recruiters only have to work as hard as the weakest recruiter on the team. Agency recruiters have to work to eat. Corporate TA leaders would do well to add some incentive to the compensation mix to their teams that is directly tied to individual recruiting accomplishments of the roles they fill.

7. 90% of your positions are filled by candidates finding you, not a Recruiter finding them. Take a look at your source of hires, how many are sourced directly by one of your recruiters reaching out to a candidate that didn’t first reach out to you? This number will put that giant corporate TA recruiting salary into perspective! I can find a great admin pro to run a TA process for $15-18/hr.

What are your brutal truths about recruiting? Hit me in the comments.

4 thoughts on “The 7 Brutal Truths About Recruiting No One Wants to Admit

  1. I worked both sides of the fence before landing a job as the Global HR Director a few years back. The problem I struggled with as a recruiter was feeling like the industry was so “dirty”. While the whole TA job could be considered a noble profession, with 1000’s of “used car” sales people, how do you impact the industry…or your sphere of influence…Great post Tim, really enjoyed reading!

  2. Could depend on your definitions of Employment Brand, but #4 and #7 seems a little contradictory. If employment brand has no impact on recruiting, but 90% of jobs are filled by candidates finding you then you are assuming that most people know who you are to find or look for you in the first place…I do agree a great recruiter internal or external can overcome a brand, but why make it harder?

  3. Next week “7 Brutal Myths Exploded”. Same headlines different data. Recruiting in fact is both. the difference is who is executing on the truth or the myth. Those seeing it as truth will make more. Those seeing it as myth will live longer.

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