The Game Has Changed, and Your Recruiter Needs to Play by Today’s Standards

When I first started out in the recruiting industry two decades ago, our value to employers was in finding candidates. Period. I was trained in using expensive, proprietary databases that aggregated the names and contact information of top talent in a way that was completely inaccessible to the outside public. It was our job to find candidates and the employer’s job to hire them and keep them happy. 


Our value in simply finding potential candidates was so high, it was a win-win for us both. But times have changed. 


These days, many recruiting firms have a dirty little secret: They find candidates in the same ways and in the same places you find them. They’ll check LinkedIn, they’ll use Indeed, they’ll access Monster and CareerBuilder tools, just as you would. There are no longer any magical proprietary databases that hold treasure troves of job candidates that can’t be accessed by anyone else. 


The recruiting industry is antiquated in this way. Those who still sell the assertion that they can find candidates where others can’t are either naive or lying. The fact is, these days, we all have access to all the job candidates we’ll ever need—a global network of professionals right at our fingertips. Many of them are within our very own social and professional networks right now. 


So, if recruiters can’t necessarily find a pool of candidates better than anyone else, what separates the great ones from the pack? As the recruiting industry evolves, there are two simple answers to that question. The best recruiting partners:


  • Recruit passive or in-demand candidates when others can’t. 
  • Are a more holistic consulting partner, not just for recruiting but in helping to communicate company culture and values to candidates and new hires.


Recruiting Is an Art

Less than 5 percent of U.S. workers are unemployed, and that number is believed to be even lower among executives and other white-collar professionals. At the same time, the retirement of senior-level professionals and talent shortages are rising in industries like accounting, construction, engineering, logistics and IT. There are nearly 6 million jobs waiting to be filled right now, which is a record number since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking job openings in 2000. 


In short: Employers are more desperate to fill jobs than employees are to find them. It’s a candidate-driven job market. 


The good news is that at least half of working professionals are open to switching jobs. But how do you convince them to leave a job they may already be satisfied with? And how do you decide who is valuable enough to spend time and resources pursuing in the first place? 


It’s at these moments recruiting becomes an art form.

At recruitAbility, we use a combination of analytics, relationships and expertise to pursue what we consider A+ players. Sometimes that means only one out of 10 potential candidates we identify is top-graded as a true fit. These top candidates are often being recruited by others as well, so the art of recruiting includes finding the right connection that will resonate with them. 


Asking questions like, “If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?” is a great way to start. Knowing when and how to ask these types of questions, however, is crucial. I often tell clients that I find job candidates the same way they would. The difference is in how I engage the candidates once I find them. It’s a delicate balancing act. 


Recruiting Is Also a Science

Recruiting top talent in your industry is one thing. But the true value for you is whether the talent sticks around. Employee retention is a huge issue, especially in the current job market. Something you need to start doing right now as you choose a recruiting partner is to insist on shared accountability when it comes to employee retention. This would have been unheard of 20 years ago, but it’s no longer a far-fetched idea, thanks to science.


At recruitAbility, we use powerful data and analytics to find talent that is not only able to be recruited but retained, too. We do this because we know that employee retention is your ultimate goal. And we’re able to do this because of the increased technology and data available to us. 


Surveys, benchmarks and other data points can help determine what works and what doesn’t when it comes to retaining talent at your organization. For our clients, we study not only what works and doesn’t work for them, but we’re able to compare that data with other companies to further identify best practices. Things like culture fit that were once abstract ideas are now quantitative. And recruiting on a reactive or “just in time” basis can now be done more proactively.


How can this translate into finding a more accountable recruiting partner?


Traditionally, recruiting firms charge about 20 to 30 percent of a new recruit’s first-year salary when the employee is hired. That fee is usually due within 30 days from the time the employee starts.  What happens after that is solely in the hands of the employer. 


But you no longer need to let your recruiting firm off the hook at this point. After all, one-third of new hires quit their jobs after only six months. 


We made a bold decision to create a payment model that spreads payments out for up to one year after a recruit is hired. This allows us to share accountability throughout the recruitment, onboarding and engagement process with a focus on retaining the placed employee. It can be done, and it can be successfully. 


It’s time to stop using recruiting partners simply to find candidates. Look for recruiting firms that understand how to source and engage job candidates better than anyone else and demand shared accountability when it comes retaining the talent they find. Once you engage an outside recruiter, you’ve got too much at stake to settle for yesterday’s tactics. Find a partner who understands the art and science of recruiting in today’s job market. 



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