Don’t Idle Recruiting…Tune It.

For the past couple months, I’ve been on a national speaking tour, facilitating a series of corporate recruiter workshops, offering some unique perspectives on the core elements of recruiting, interviewing, managing candidates and hiring managers.  Somewhere along the way, I came to realize that this was an amazing opportunity to participate in a live, national discussion about talent acquisition in a unique economy.  It was a great audience comprised of a cross section of individual contributor recruiters, HR reps, recruiting and HR leadership, and senior leadership. 

The tour included some major cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, as well as some smaller cities like Newark NJ, Columbus OH, and Minneapolis MN.  I thought I would sense a deep morose in Michigan and Ohio, especially since there was a quite a number from several divisions of a couple of automakers and several manufacturing plants.  But not those groups….very resilient.  Impressive.  What are they all talking about? 

  1. How to recruit and do damage control in the challenging media storm covering their industry and in some cases, their company by name.
  2. What they can do in this market to attract candidates to address their attrition. 
  3. How to attract and retain a multi-generational workforce in such an uncertain economy.
  4. How to tie their social network recruiting efforts to their product advertising.

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Surprisingly, it’s not so different from other industries struggling with press related to lay-offs and lawsuits, Baby Boomers who are delaying retirement, and Gen Y’ers who are all-too-happy to take a severance package and run, and other traditional “road” hazards when it comes to recruiting. 

But what about these other industries?  These sessions were specifically designed to attract a wide audience with a variety of backgrounds.  A variety of industries participated including pharmaceutical, healthcare, retail, and many more.  Big companies and small, I’m surprised by how many have indicated that they sense a “thaw” and slowly beginning to hire again.  Of course many are being asked to “do more with less” as far as staff and resources are concerned, but their main topics of conversation have revolved around:

  1. Measuring the value of recruiting when there are no jobs to fill.
  2. Restructuring their recruiting organizations to accommodate company mandates for reduction, but knowing their hiring needs will eventually increase.
  3. Figuring out how to ramp up when the tide begins to turn with fewer resources.

I’m also hearing more of a focus on talent pipelining.  In some cases this is because they have the time to actually do it.  In other cases, it’s becoming a matter of necessity or they fear they will not be able to meet the future demand.

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I’ve talked a lot about balancing tactical execution with strategy, separating out and outsourcing low value from high value work, and the need to ensure that we lay out a business case with clear consequences outlined so the business knows what’s likely to occur as a result of our current decision making.  But here are some recommendations to consider:

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Some say Authentic, We say R-Thentic

Travis Furlow, colleague, recruitment professional, and friend of Aspen Search Advisors offers his advice and professional experience below:


So the deal is this; I have been a hiring manager, a recruiter and a candidate (off and on) for 14 years.  I have experienced frustration as a provider of services, the pain of a hiring manager who can’t locate the “right fit” and I have had the unfortunate experience of being a candidate who is NOT kept in the communication loop, which creates some horrible emotions during a highly emotional time for anyone looking for a new position.  The simple truth; I don’t like our “recruiting” industry.  I don’t like where our business is heading, I don’t like the flaws our business comes with, but I can tell you this; I have interviewed a large number of people and have assisted in offering positions to more than 2000 professionals over 14 years and when you impact someone’s life for the positive (be it a hiring manager or candidate) there is something magical about that. You FEEL the good that is being created, you right a wrong, you change lives, and it really is special.  This little rant is for anyone who has experienced the “frustrations” I listed above and to let you know that all is not lost.  There are people out there who recruit talent the right way, who hire talent the right way and who communicate to the candidates in this process the right way.

Our industry is funny.  Most of us (including me) are afraid to admit who we are and what we do (oh, you poor thing, you are a “headhunter”….one of “those” people).   Good God, at networking events, people hide from us (unless they need work) and if I ask one of my prospective clients to “partner” with me, 8 out of 10 times, the response is…… “Just find me good people” or “We really aren’t hiring right now”!  Sure, we haven’t done ourselves any good, renaming our titles and industries more times than the Detroit Lions have had losing seasons (I can say that, I’m from Detroit).  We have been known as; Personnel Specialists, Employment Specialists, Talent Consultants, Personnel Consultants, and Talent Acquisition Consultants (the list goes on), but the one funny part about our business, call us what you will, we are recruiters.

What, as recruiters, are we trying to skate away from?  Are we skating away from the fact that some of us know how to locate talent, assess talent, talk to talent and care for talent in a way that makes them want to REFER people to us time and time again?  Are we skating away from the fact that the companies we assist, when a true partnership forms, can work together to find talent faster than the sum of our parts?  We get paid to create, manage and deploy a “process” with precision and passion.  We are challenged with building pools of talented professionals, who by the way, are generally scared, if not, terrified at the thought of having to “make a move” or leave a comfortable existence because of downsizings, corporate restructurings and layoffs.  Some of these professionals are recruited through some very creative processes, proprietary to talented recruiters and all the while, we think that our jobs should be downplayed?  Crazy isn’t it.

Our industry has hundreds of thousands of employees working every day and yes, some of these people are less than professional, but listen up, there are a select few who “get it”, who see that the companies they represent and the candidates they represent are better off for knowing them, better off for knowing the process that they hold sacred.  We become someone to vent to, bounce ideas off of, coach and guide through tough decisions and we also recognize how to keep a partner’s “brand” in a positive light, even if our partner has to share the tough news that the candidate we represented was NOT going to receive the job

they interviewed for (you know how a good experience travels much slower in relation to a bad experience, right)?  There are recruiters who pay close attention to the “process” that makes them great and when you find one of those recruiters, you have found a partner.  Does the thought of a recruiting “partner” make you feel ODD, well it shouldn’t, but for some reason, most organizations are too fearful of enabling a partner to do their job.

Have you ever met with a recruiter and said to yourself, UGHHH, do I have to answer these questions AGAIN, why is this guy asking me about culture and “right fit” and compensation and benefit plans, for the love of God, I just want some resumes!

If you have said that, then SHAME ON YOU, if the recruiter you were working with did not abruptly stop this discussion and tactfully demand these answers, then shame on them too (they are enabling the problem).  See, we have lived in a business model that has massive flaws.  Picture this; I ask you to bake a cake for me and I tell you that I would pay you $15,000 for a cake that you make me, but I have to enjoy eating it (assume I like the end result- flavor, frosting, texture, etc).  If I don’t like the cake, you will be responsible for all of the investment needed to bake that cake; money for the ingredients, the time it took to prepare, the oven rental, etc.

I know this is going to sound CRAZY, but the catch is, when you accept the task to bake me a cake, you do what most would do, ask me what I liked in a cake and here is the hilarious part, imagine if I told you that I didn’t have time to talk about what I like in a cake OR better yet, I’ll have you talk to one of my “friends” because they can probably guess what kind of cake I like.  If this is how the process went, would you really invest in baking me a cake?

As recruiters, the only way to really find out what kind of cake you, as a hiring executive need, is to have a partnership and talk about some of those critical ingredients, right?

Moving into the challenges of being a frustrated candidate, let’s assume you have found a recruiter and that person was able to get you the “resumes” you requested.  The interview selection process begins, you invited a candidate to interview, but somehow the wrong directions get sent to the candidate (on accident), but because of your hectic schedule, you miss the 2 messages the candidate leaves looking for interview directions and now, the candidate is getting frustrated, but they won’t tell you that (they’ll just tell ALL of their friends).  The interview eventually takes place and the fit is close, but not quite right, so your Applicant Tracking System sends a form letter that informs the candidate that they won’t be moving on in the process, very personable (don’t worry, the candidate will tell their friends about this too).  See, with a recruiting partner, managing this process is what we do and those who are passionate about it do it incredibly well.  The “good ones” will call candidates every 3-5 days, share information about the recruiting progress and the recruiter will begin looking for good and bad signs about the candidate’s ability to make decisions.  This kind of time and effort has shown a way of preventing nightmares from occurring during the interview, offer and negotiation processes and more importantly, helps ensure that even if the hiring manager has to say “NO” to one of these candidates, the candidate’s experience was so thorough, so planned, so detailed with feedback that they recommend 2 or 3 of their friends to us and WE work to get those people into YOUR organization for you.

As I said earlier, I don’t like our industry, but I do LOVE our business and I work with others who have the same LOVE.

See, all is not lost…………………………..


Travis Furlow is Managing Director for RESOURCE’s Managed Service brand.  More information supporting RESOURCE’s ability to do things the right way can be found at