A Wake-UP Call to Recruiters

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I’m not sure if a business comes to mind where I’m hit up more than Recruiters.  Headhunters.  Staffing Agencies.  Every week it’s a different company (or 2-3) that offers to find me great talent, massive databases, great screening, etc.  What a difficult business to compete in when a small little company like LM Foods gets approached so often and the service providers tend to blur together.  What happens in a market of multiple players, all offering the same service?

  • You ignore the white noise and you stick with one or 2 and work with them.
  • You can try and “find the bottom” of the market……offer up a program that works in hopes of cost savings.  See who’s willing to invest and get their foot in the door.  The infamous race to the bottom.
  • You give the best one a shot, don’t negotiate.  See if indeed their model is better in the real world and how the recruiter delivers.  If it works, you’ve expanded your network of service providers.  If it doesn’t, you haven’t improved your model but your trying, and that counts.

Here’s some observations I’ve had with recruiters for LM Foods.

  • VERY few will customize their intro letter.

    • Sometimes they cut and paste and you can tell as font sizes/color are different.  Lazy & Careless.  Can’t they even view the website to understand what you actually do?

  • Even fewer offer to come tour the business and get dirt under their nails.

    • So let me get this straight, you want 20% of year one salary and you don’t even want to see my operation that you’ll be recruiting for?

  • Few will offer 100% cash refund at a reasonable interval, “if the employee doesn’t work out in 6 months we’ll refund 100% of the money!”

    • They get it, hiring is a crap shoot and there’s a reason why few will do this.  But doesn’t it undermine the premise of their very own marketing materials?  And since very few will offer this, isn’t that by definition a clear path to differentiating their product?  Wouldn’t the built in risk make them better at their craft?  

  • Many try and control the process (communication), protect the candidates identity, contact info, etc.  As if they “own” the individual and a company will steal the candidate in hopes of doing a back door hire to avoid a recruiter/agency fee.

  • I understand they are in the service business and some companies may try and “steal” a buck.  But the companies that do a back door hire are gambling with their reputations, and if they do, will the agency ever work with them again?  There is too much fear in this area and the recruiters should worry more about adding value vs playing protectionism.

There IS one exception I HAVE been fortunate to experience.  C-Level, Retained Recruiter.  A true executive headhunter looking for top talent.  It is humbling when you get approached for top talent and you know right away the recruiter is a pro.  How do you know?

  • They know YOUR background cold.  They know how to use Linked In, Google, and publicly available info.  It’s obvious they didn’t study you for 30 seconds.
  • They understand how the game is played.  They understand debt vs. equity.  How value is created, and how games are changed in business.  In fact, you would think they sit on the board of directors at the company’s they are retained for.
  • They broaden the conversation beyond the job at hand.  Yes, they may be looking for a CEO, but what they really want to do is meet capable people they can connect others too for areas beyond the task at hand.
  • In short, the conversation doesn’t feel like a transaction, it feels like the start of a relationship, where regardless of the outcome, you feel like someones going to be in your network for years.  They are business people first, recruiters second.  

This is an industry I’ve now probably had 100+ interactions with over the past year.  Guess how many fit the bill of the A-Player vs the rest of the pack that’s in a race to the bottom?  2!  That’s 2% of a world that stands out.  Shockingly small.  And I bet that % is consistent with your experience of great sales people, service providers, or other “professionals.”

Just think about anytime you’ve pitched in a variety of industries.  There are people that make your skin crawl, and they can be quite common.  And then there are the rare breeds, people you just want to be around, not because of their personality (although that can help), but because of their VALUE.

The recruiting business is ripe for A Players that can make a difference and improve on the dismal results I’ve witnessed.

Check that, ANY business qualifies as ripe to break out from the pack.  But they can’t do it by being the same as the pack, not focusing on value, and being flat out lazy.  Hustle, by definition is a verb.  

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