The Recruiting Landscape from 60,000 Feet

  By Russell Glass  |    Tuesday June 27, 2012

Category: Recruiting


Recruiting is critical to business even if not all executives buy into this idea – in reality, it is the future of any business. So, as long as capitalism is around, the future of the recruiting industry is very bright. Add to that the looming talent shortage with baby boomers leaving the workforce and the population aging in general, and the need for recruiters – especially savvy, creative recruiters – is greater than ever and will continue to grow.

But are recruiters working harder not smarter? Has internet recruiting become more of a distraction than an enhancement? What recruiters and their employers need to remember is that even though new tools come along there are strategies and skills that will continue to be required for recruiting success. Here is a brief introduction to some of the issues I’ve seen in today’s recruiting landscape. To learn more on what 2007 holds for recruiting or to see how other companies have made recruiting a competitive advantage; check out ZoomInfo’s newsletters at

I’ve seen many companies today use recruiters in the wrong way and as a result many recruiters don’t know their place or their value for companies. Companies should use recruiters as offense, not defense, because hiring the right talent is a competitive advantage regardless of the role they’re in – and recruiters should be proactive in finding this competitive advantage rather than reactive in letting resumes come to them. As a founder and manager of multiple companies, the most costly mistakes I’ve made have all involved hiring the wrong people. At the end of the day, recruiting is all about having the right person in the right position, yet there are so many companies (and recruiters) out there that don’t even know where to start and thus end up turning to the nearest job board.

Job Boards certainly have value and a place in the recruiting market, but the best candidates are the superstars who aren’t looking for a job or even anticipating a recruiting call. Of course, many in the recruiting space talk about this audience, but I don’t believe most recruiters truly grasp how and where to find these perspective employees. More training and focus is needed on how and where to find the right candidate that will deliver a competitive advantage for the company/client. They won’t be found hanging out in social networks, and they certainly aren’t going to be milling around job boards. They are happily executing; they’re performing. Performers don’t have time for social networks (although their friends might, so there can be some use for these tools).

Recruiters simply need a way to quickly identify that targeted population of passive candidates by going beyond providing shallow “connections” to provide the context they need to know if this person could be a fit, such as who has relevant experience via past companies and industries. Recruiters need to be able to simply define the ideal persona of a candidate – via education, location, title, industry, credentials, or whatever it may be. And then, using tools like ZoomInfo that search the entire business web, find a narrow – but highly targeted – list of people that fit that persona.

Then comes the hard part – what most recruiters are still missing is that they still need to do the legwork. The best way to find great producers is through actual communication – picking up the phone. Where they get the contact from is almost irrelevant as long as this person is performing and looks to be a good fit for the organization. While speaking to someone who is happily producing for another company can be a daunting experience, with practice and tools that provide the recruiter with a great opening for the initial call – all but eliminating the “cold” side of a cold call – they can find quick success.

For example, two of my last three hires have come from blogs that have impressed me. The key is that I didn’t just monitor the blog, I was proactive – I picked up the phone and personally engaged the bloggers in conversation. If I see a blogger that’s fits a persona I’m looking for, I tell them that, or I ask my recruiter to get in touch.

In the end, recruiters use job boards because finding the right candidate takes a lot more time than finding a bunch of wrong ones. However, once the right candidate is hired and in placed, the competitive advantage and reduction in turnover cost is immense.

What may separate the truly successful recruiters from the average ones in the future may be their willingness to be judged on the longevity and productivity of their hires. If quality-of-hire is truly more important than quantity-of-hire, why not compensate recruiters based on the long-term performance of an employee. They need to be paid on the close, but there should also be heavy bonuses on the continued success of the hire. For example, if the success fee is 25% of the first year salary, what about a structure where the success fee was 35%, but paid out as 15% immediately, 10% in year one and 10% in year two. This would ensure alignment with the strategic goals of the position and force the recruiter to think about the long-term viability of the candidate and how the candidate can be a benefit to the company not just after placement, but for years to come.

As the talent shortage becomes a reality, the recruiting industry will continue to need new and better tools but they also need to remember the basic skills and business models that have proven successful time after time.


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