Before I started working in recruitment there was a sense of mystery around exactly what a recruiter does. A sentiment shared no doubt by a number of others. A recruiter does a lot of different things outside of simply working on a job; however for the purpose of this I’m going to focus on what they do, from the time they take a job brief to post placement of a position.
Broadly speaking you can break that into three parts:
- Candidate sourcing;
- Job and offer management;
- Post placement.
1. Candidate sourcing
The role of a recruiter in effective candidate sourcing is to find an ideal candidate for a position whilst minimising the number of people a hiring manager needs to meet. Assuming every recruiter has good talent pools, in the candidate sourcing phase of a process, from a client’s side, the simplest definition of a recruiter is:
- Someone who acts as a filter to identify suitable candidates for a job based on a set of criteria given to them by a client.
At its core what differentiates an effective recruiter from a less effective one is:
- Their ability to understand the difference between a good and a bad candidate on paper, based on the criteria given by the client (and why);
- Their ability to use other inputs through the shortlisting process to advise the client how realistic their expectations are with respect to availability of desired candidates. Or to further filter out those candidates who will be a good personality/cultural fit for the position/business.
The other inputs include:
- Understanding of what the person who you are recruiting will actually do. This allows the recruiter to both test the client’s requirements as well as push candidates on suitability for a position.
- Which businesses have teams doing similar work, and of those teams which culture is the closest fit for the business you are currently recruiting for.
- This might seem strange, however by way of example, if I’m meeting a candidate for a role that needs someone who can influence a Blue Collar workforce, then throughout that meeting I’ll be reflecting if this person had to turn up to post match football drinks by themselves would they get eaten alive or could they hold their own.
As you can see, giving a complete job brief to a recruiter forms an extremely important part of the process, the quality of the short list you receive is also very dependent on the recruiter’s:
- Ability to understand the position and where it fits into the overall business;
- Industry and market knowledge;
- Ability to visualise the stakeholders they will need to influence and the type of person that will be able to influence them;
Good recruiters are more than happy to be tested on the above and choosing to do so will go a long way to ensuring you both:
- Find the best candidate for the position;
- Minimise the number of interviews to do so;
2. Job and offer management
- A recruiter’s role here should be to assist a business in taking the necessary steps to ensure they make the best possible hiring decision for both the business and the candidate. In this respect job management is like a referee in a football match. If it is done well no one will talk about it but if it’s done poorly it will be the only thing people talk about. Job management can be broken down into the following parts:
- Selling the opportunity to prospective candidates;
- Interview preparation and feedback;
- Ensuring suitable contingency in place;
Selling the opportunity to prospective candidates:
This is possibly the most important part of a recruitment process in my mind. As a recruiter you need to balance:
- Giving a client the best possible chance of securing the perfect candidate; with
- The probability the candidate is going to accept the position;
In order to do this a recruiter needs to know why someone would accept a given position. I recruit accountants for accounting firms. What is interesting about this to me is that compared to what I used to recruit, executive level commercial finance roles, there isn’t a great deal of readily available information on the businesses. There are literally 100’s of firms with 2-4 partners and 10-30 staff that if you didn’t know better would appear to be identical. So to use an example of a typical position that our team recruits:
- Business Services Senior;
- 3 Partner Firm;
- CBD (Central location);
- Competitive salary;
An average recruiter will be able to tell candidates:
- Hours of work;
- Type of work the firm does (% compliance V consulting);
In addition to the above a good recruiter will be able to tell candidates;
- Training and development programs available;
- Why the type of work said firm does is important to their development;
- Social activities and overall culture of the firm;
- Discuss their concerns about joining a smaller business and if appropriate advise them why those concerns won’t be present;
- Point to several examples of career advancement both within and external to the firm;
- Point to specific examples of why the candidate would want to work for the business and equally important why the candidate wouldn’t want the job;
- Provide candidates with information on how this position compares to others available in the market;
And so on. As you can see this additional information and subsequent discussions with perspective candidates will both:
- Eliminate the candidates who would have ultimately turned down the position for one reason or another;
- Attract the interest of stronger candidates who may have otherwise not wanted the job;
- Tying in with the goal of candidate sourcing which is to maximise the return on time invested for those involved in the recruitment process.
Interview preparation and feedback:
Something I’ve written about in the past is that there is a big difference between interview preparation and training someone to pass an interview. Interview preparation is:
- The process of working through the best way to present ideas and covering off on what are the likely areas of focus for a meeting; with
- The goal of helping a candidate feel relaxed and confident going into the meeting;
- Ensuring everyone gets the most out of the meeting;
A good recruiter will know the areas of concern for a specific candidate, alerting candidates to these concerns prior to a meeting will help ensure the candidate addresses them in an interview. Equally, they will know the reason why a candidate wouldn’t want a job, communicating these concerns to a hiring manager allows them to address those during the interview process. Training someone to pass an interview is:
- ROTE learning specific answers for specific questions;
Candidates tell recruiters things they would never tell a hiring manager and hiring managers tell recruiters things they would never tell candidates. What differentiates effective and less effective recruiters at this stage is how that message is communicated between the two and what solution they come up with. For example, a hiring manager might really like a candidate for a specific position however might have concerns about that candidate’s ability to work with certain types of clients/stakeholders. An effective recruiter will:
- Request a reference from one of the candidate’s clients/stakeholders tailored to the areas of concern;
- During a subsequent interview, prepare both for the fact it will focus heavily on client/stakeholder management and examples of how the candidate has been able to perform a specific task;
Another example is if a client wants to offer a candidate a position and the candidate wants the job but still has some concerns about the training and development within a business and the overall culture of the place. A less effective recruiter will:
- Push the offer through and get the candidates acceptance straight away.
An effective recruiter will:
- Advise not to extend an offer immediately and recommend getting the candidate in to meet with someone at peer level to discuss what it is like working for the business;
While I maintain that it is important to act quickly and show a sense of urgency throughout a recruitment process, in the instances where there is uncertainty, extending the process to reduce that uncertainty is a good idea because it will reduce the risk of making the wrong hiring decision.
3. Post placement
The recruiter’s role in this part of the process is to:
- Speak with both the candidate and client regularly to identify any teething issues;
- If issues exist, communicate them to the relevant party and work out the appropriate course of action;
In most cases it will be as simple as letting the hiring manager know the candidate is enjoying working for the business. In some cases it will be letting the hiring manager know the new hire is enjoying everything however would likely benefit from some feedback. In very few cases it will be communicating to either the hiring manager or candidate that it isn’t working out for whatever reason and working out if there is an appropriate solution.
In closing, recruitment has its niches and regardless of what level position you are recruiting, there will be several excellent recruiters who specialise in that niche. Taking the time to evaluate each recruiter you decide to work with on the above will make a huge difference to:
- Your ability to attract the best people to your business;
- Helps ensure the maximum return on your investment of time;
- Minimises the risk you will hire the wrong person;
So it is worth the initial investment of time.