Recruiting: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Nov 17, 2014
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Image of male touching virtual icon of social networkTwenty years ago, I tentatively stepped into the recruiting waters – at first slowly and cautiously dipping in my toes, eventually diving headfirst with full gusto and an unbridled enthusiasm. Ever since then, I have been deeply and contentedly immersed in a career that promises – and delivers – challenges and rewards every single day.

As a recruiter, I’ve learned more about the variety of skills, education, experience and careers than I ever thought possible. I filled roles I never knew existed: from the travelling railroad chef to the vodka product placement model. I continue to be amazed at the diverse careers people choose to pursue. I still wonder what I would be doing if my high school counsellor had known about or suggested some of these roles!

As a career, recruiting delivers on the promise that no two days are alike. Each new day quickens my pulse with new adventures and challenges that I face head on. I celebrate my wins with enthusiasm. I learn from the setbacks and move on. It is a job I was born to do. Nothing brings me more joy and fills me with more pride than to make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to the success of businesses by matching candidates to jobs. It is what I love to do.

Yet, as dynamic as recruiting is, as much as it is inspiring, as unique as each day can be, I have come to realize that there are two industry constants that every recruiter must accept in order to be successful:

1) There will always be the “next big thing” that claims to be the demise of recruiters

2) Recruiting and sourcing is about high-touch or relationships between people, not just about high-tech or technology

Experienced recruiters know this phrase all too well:  “the next big thing.” We’ve heard time and time again that “the next big thing” will end our careers. This new tool, software or social media platform will make recruiting so simple, efficient and robotic, that companies, hiring managers and human resources will no longer require recruiters’ expertise.

I’ll be honest: as a sophomore recruiter, a number of years back, I was scared when I heard of “the next big thing.” What was going to happen to me with this new tool called a job board? As we signed the first contract with Monster, I wondered whether I would have a job next month. According to the forecasts, I would no longer be needed, no longer an asset in helping identify and secure the right talent for my clients. But, a month later, I was still there. The first year zipped by, and yes, I was still there. My job did not become redundant or deemed unnecessary. The volume of my work was not reduced. Sure, print advertising became nearly obsolete, but my role did not get any easier or less important. To my surprise, my role increased as I was now tasked with managing job boards, vendors, postings and applicants as well as training on this new technology.  In fact, the role increased so much that we needed to create a new role: that of the Internet Recruiter.

When job boards did not result in our demise, we heard that social media platforms, specifically LinkedIn, would be our downfall.  Social media was the big one. Why would companies need a recruiter to connect with talent when LinkedIn, combined with an applicant tracking system, would take care of everything? It was easy now: nearly everybody could be found on LinkedIn. Not just initial talent either: their referrals and their colleagues could be easily found and contacted. Bye-bye recruiters. Hello low-cost, speedy recruitment.

Over a decade has passed since the launch of LinkedIn and, despite the doomsday predictions, my job continues to evolve and play a critical role in the organization. Much of my role does involve social media: from sourcing talent to digital marketing to training recruiters how to be successful on-line. What still remains important is not only that I continue to engage with people, but how, as a recruiter, I do that. Engaging with candidates involves more than just email messages, job postings and social media updates – it’s about connecting with people at the personal level. It is about uncovering what makes a person tick, what motivates them, and what would inspire them to make a move in their career.

New job boards, new social media platforms, and new applicant tracking systems continue to come and go. They all promise to make recruiting easier, cheaper and quicker. As technology changes, successful recruiters know how to embrace it, yet still remain true to the core of recruiting: personal engagement and human interaction.

So, here’s to my fellow hard-working recruiters who do not rely solely on social media, job boards and ATS systems. To my respected colleagues and peers who recognize that recruiting still involves picking up the telephone or meeting a candidate for coffee or chatting with the person beside you on the train. You are successful recruiters who understand that the world of work is about engagement, providing personalized experience, understanding candidate’s perspective and showing a genuine interest in people.  Thank you for keeping this world of work in motion.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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