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Becoming A Better Recruiter: Follow These Steps

Adrian Dixon

March 11, 2020

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This point gets belabored probably way more than it should: we’re at an “interesting time” or “crossroads” in recruiting. In reality, people were putting that on their HR Tech slide decks in 2006. Because recruiting is a bedrock of getting the people you need both now and in the future, recruiting has to evolve (revolve) as the business does. The thing is, though: that’s happening, but the belief that it’s happening seems to always come largely from the broader HR/recruiter pool. Executives and other departments don’t necessarily believe we’re working faster and evolving with the business. There’s a couple of different things to unpack here, and it’s valuable that we try — and in the end, it might make your recruiting function a little bit better.

Relevance and work

Not a ton of science on this, but if you’ve ever had a standard office-type corporate job, you know that a lot of decision-making is rooted in preserving individual relevance. Recruiters do have a lot of top-of-funnel work that’s task-based or checking-boxes-based, from sourcing to screening to scheduling interviews to rescheduling interviews, etc. 

There are different studies out there on recruiter time usage but usually, you’ll see that about 70% of a recruiter’s time is spent on these activities. That means only 3 in 10 minutes are going to bigger, more impactful stuff like building relationships with hiring managers, building relationships with passive candidates, setting long-term forecasting strategy, etc. 

Too much time is going to the checking boxes stuff, in part because that keeps us busy and relevant and keeps the trains moving and we feel good.

Here comes the elephant in the room

That would be automation. Now, the discussion on automation and recruiting has been raging for about three years. The conventional argument inside the recruiting world is “We are people-facing! We could never be automated!” That is largely true, and complete recruitment automation will take decades if not more than that.

So what can you do right now?

In the short term, you need to find the right line between tech and your own skillset. What can tech help you with? What can it take off your plate? Now if you’ve moved task work from 70% of the week to a much lower number, what can you do that’s more valuable in that extra time? How can you be more strategic and valuable to your organization? 

You need to focus on areas of value. Find an amazing coder in your HQ’s area and take them to happy hour. Then, six months later, when they get disgruntled at their current job (because everyone does eventually!), you might be top of mind for them. They might reach out and say “Hey, I’m looking…” and you just landed your business an A-Player through being proactive with a passive candidate. That’s hugely a value-add. It’s much more important than rescheduling a bunch of interviews. 

The hard part is that we want to be busy because it underscores our relevance. But you need to move away from The Temple of Busy in the next few years because worrying so much about immediate tasks — and oftentimes tasks that computers will eventually be able to do even better than they do them now — is not going to set you up for a long-term recruiting career.