Monday, January 12, 2009

The Many Faces of Recruiting

The Junior Agency Recruiter
The Senior Agency Recruiter
The "real" Headhunter
The Corporate Recruiter
The Executive Search Headhunter
Specialized Recruiter (IT, Finance, Accounting, etc.)
Contract Recruiter

Recruiter, Headhunter or Staffing Specialist. A recruiter’s primary objective is to meet the needs of his customer and introduce qualified candidates to close open positions. His customer can be a Manager, Director, Executive, Owner or other decision maker of a company with a job opening. The bottom line is to find the perfect candidate who has the appropriate skills, years of experience, education, and personality traits that are needed to get the job done and fit into the corporate culture.

There is a world of difference between your average recruiter and headhunter. Let’s be honest we all have our strengths and weaknesses no matter what we do. Let's clarify any misconceptions about what "recruiters" actually are and what we do in our jobs.

Agency Recruiters can also be called "Headhunters" if they actually go out and proactively hunt for talent rather then passively screen job applicants. Now a days the two terms are interchangeble but it's really not in my book. The strengths of a good agency or staffing firm recruiter is that they are quick, have access to specialzied technology, resources, networks of contacts, (essentially software tools) and are prompt with follow up. A good agency recruiter is highly service oriented and make the client feel as if he is the center of the recruiter’s universe. On the flip side, the recruiter may only deal with the Account Executive of the agency who in turn is the real face of the staffing service at least to the client (client = company with job openings).

Junior Agency Recruiters: Most agencies (especially the big ones), like to hire people with like 1-2 years of sales experience. They do this because what you learn in a sales environment is similar to how you need to perform in recruiting. Also, if you have too much experience, it becomes challenging to unteach you bad habbits and retrain you into the way that they want you to perform (the recruiting agency). A college degree and 2 years of experience is ideal. Also, they don't have to pay you ver much. The down side: Exactly what you get, a junior 2 year out of college grad who really doesn't know anything about the business world or the positions he's recruiting for.

***My oppinion --- THIS is where a lot of bad recruiters are today. The real problem is in training. A lot of companies do a very poor job in training their people correctly and lack the follow up lessons with proper structure which over time allows these guys to become complacent and form really bad habits. It's a real disservice to all parties involved, especially their clients.

The term "Headhunter" is used to describe the most aggressive, specialized form of recruiter. This is a high level of performance that requires resourcefulness and tact as well as pursuasiveness and an understanding of the niche industry one is recruiting in. To me, being called a "headhunter" is a privilege you have to earn.

At this level, the recruiter becomes a "headhunter" by going beyond merely the processes and transcending training. A true headhunter is imaginative and resourceful in locating top talent and introducing them to a fitting job opening. They thoughtfully engage in meaningful business conversations and about realities in life that play significantly into decisions about job opportunities. Sometimes headhunters get a bad rap because they are seen as evil deceitful sleezey types who bypass the receptionist at all costs even resorting to lies and suave to get to a candidate or hiring manager at a highly gaurded company. The headhunter might pull away top talent which makes this company resent them for doing so. What people fail to realize is that there is another side to this coin. If that employee was treated farely in the first place and paid what he deserved, he wouldn't have had a reason to leave. Obviously, the recruiter was working for a company that could offer something that the former employee wanted and felt he deserved but was not given. It's a win for the recruiter's client and hopefully a lesson for the company that lost that prized employee and obviously a win for the employee who found something better.

As mentioned before, companies can either loathe or highly value "Headhunters" because what they do is a tremendously valuable service and extremely hard diligent work. They have to ferret out top talent, identify them, engage them in conversation and introduce a top performer from one organization and put him into another one which values and needs his skills. Does that sound easy to you? Maybe you should try it and find out for yourself. :P

A headhunter is a master of networking and cold calling with exceptional interpersonal skills. He is a serious negotiator and truly a solutions provider. Asside from that he is methodical, organized, MUST manage his time well, and be very tenacious and have thick skin.

Corporate Recruiter - The strengths are in HR process, documentation and balancing a broad range of needs. The corporate recruiter has a specialized group/corporate culture that he supports. Over time he gets to really understand the nooks and crannies of his company culture. He also has to balance reporting, process enforcement, and mostly administrative tasks which slow recruitment but uphold a more controled environment. The corporate recruiter sometimes uses agencies / staffing firms (mentioned above) to suppliment his own efforts when the need arrises. This is a different kind of role although the end goal is the same. Corporate recruiters of course need to ultimately make hires and close open positions.

Exeucitve Search Recruiters - These recruiters specialize in finding leadership members such as VP or C level executives such as CEO of corporations. Often they are retained (which means they get paid a fee up front for a dedicated effort and often at the back end as well when an actual hire is finally made). Since the time and energy put into searching individuals at this level is very specialized and demanding the fees make sense. These recruiters specialize in high level searches and often are former executives themselves with established networks.

Look, recruiters are just people who serve needs. It's a service. It's very intensive, time consuming, and laborous (often working around the clock late into the midnight hours and early mornings to catch people on the East Coast). It's a thankless job at times since really everyone just wants results but hey....someone has to do it.

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