Category Archives: Working With Candidates

A Little Something For The ‘Post And Pray’ Recruiter In All Of Us

If you’ve been around recruiting long enough you have probably heard (but hopefully not directed towards you) the phrase ‘post and pray’ recruiter. In the event that you are unfamiliar with it check out the definition (with examples) from one of my new favorite sites (Paul McFedries Word Spy):

Whether you admit to it or not everyone has high hopes (and wishes) anytime they post a job. Sometimes a posting works out well and you get a couple of good candidates but many times they don’t and you feel utterly ignored by all of mankind.

That got me thinking a little bit about how potential candidates view things – are they more likely to send in their info for a job if it was as easy as hitting ‘send’? So, a couple of days ago I put together a one question survey that asked just that – “Are you more likely to submit your information to a job if all you have to do is email a resume vs. fill out an application?”

After receiving 520 results (I know that’s not a huge, huge number but I think it will do for now) the answer is a resounding YES (420 or 80.8% said so).

One of the things I like to do on surveys that I put together is to give the people who respond a chance to add their own two cents through a comment box and this time the response was a bit overwhelming (140 comments).

While some were answers you would expect to find in a survey like this there was one that stood out as ringing true with me:

“Excellent question!! Those applications take a long time to fill out. If a person has a full-time job (usually > 40 hrs/wk) and family responsibilities spare time is precious. A person has to be highly motivated to find and take the time to fill out the application.”

This comment leads to a very important question – could organizations be driving away the ‘passive’ talent that they so desire because of the fact that an application is required instead of just sending in a resume?

Just answering for myself (and probably everyone else out there) – if I was just passively open to listening to new opportunities the likelihood of me taking 15 minutes to fill out an application is oh, about 0%.

If you want to see the ‘official’ results and read all of the 140 comments that were left you can download the PDF here (Application vs Resume Survey Results).

Now that you have learned a little something about what job-seekers think I would surely appreciate it if you would take 30 seconds a fill out an anonymous survey (a whole two questions) that I will use to share with job-seekers about what recruiters think. You can find the survey at and will be able to read the results in a couple of weeks on my job-search blog.

Until next time – good hunting and good luck!


Recruiting Lessons Learned From Job-Seekers

Over the past several years I have led two intertwining lives. One is my recruiting life (pays the bills, etc) and the other is my career coaching (volunteer) life. I have always tried to keep the two separate but they always find a way to come together. Job-seekers want your recruiting knowledge and recruiters want your job-seekers network.

As I started thinking about both worlds and how they collide it hit me that there are many lessons that recruiters could learn from those in job-search.

Perception is everything. In job-search anything and everything you do can be perceived in a million different ways (i.e. if you call or email too many times you are annoying; if you don’t call or email enough you are not interested, etc).

Recruiting take away: How are you and your company perceived in your market place? What do people think about you and your brand. If you don’t know, you can’t begin to either overcome it or build upon it.

It’s a numbers game. In job-search the more active you are the likelier you are to find a job. You get out of it what you put into it.

Recruiting take away: If I have to spell this one out you should move out of recruiting right now.

The details matter. I always tell job-seekers that you have to cross all of your t’s and dot all of your i’s, spell the word résumé right (not resume), and watch the way you tie your shoes. As a job-seeker if you want to stand out in a good way the details are what makes you.

Recruiting take away: Top talent notices every little thing. I promise. If there is one thing out of whack or out-of-place in their interview with you there are 10 companies right behind you that would love the opportunity to speak with them.

You can’t be a technology dinosaur. A job-seeker who cannot efficiently operate in the digital world might as well forget about it.

Recruiting take away: Are you hanging out online where the folks you are recruiting hang out? No? You ready to settle for last place. Along those same lines I am always shocked by how many of us don’t know what Boolean is and cannot even spell Twitter.

It’s all about networking. Duh. Get off of the job boards and pick up the phone to make some networking calls!

Recruiting take away: Double duh. Get off of your computer and pick up the phone to make some networking calls!

Different spin on things, no?

Next a job-seeker reaches out to you, even for networking purposes – talk shop with them. You might be surprised what you learn about recruiting.

Until next time – good hunting and good luck!

What’s A Recruiters Responsibility To Society At Large?

I think as recruiters we all have a responsibility to help out those we cannot place, even in some small way. Today Carter Toungette, one of the best and brightest in the Nashville recruiting scene, weighs in on the topic:

As a recruiter and staffing consultant, I am tasked with finding the very best talent for my client – it’s what I get paid to do.  So, I meticulously go over resumes and question them about their background and quiz them on employment gaps and why they might have bounced around from job to job. 

I want to make sure that I find the best candidate for my client because lets face it, my reputation is on the line with each submittal.  But what about those candidates that just need a chance?

 We all know who these people are.  We see them at networking meetings or career counseling groups.  Some of them might not be the best communicators or dress professionally.  They have their resume posted on every database you can find with the word “Desperate” in the title.  They look to us for help in soliciting their resume to our clients but nobody is willing to use their good name to submit this individual as an option. 

The competition for talent is challenging enough, now I need to help this poor soul? 

I have always been a believer in “paying it forward”, but I’ve never been the best in my follow through.  When I first got into recruiting right out of college, it was for the opportunity to make good money.  Several years later, the money is good, but the feeling of doing good work, is just as rewarding.  

Over the years, several of these types of candidates have passed across my desk, each with their own set of problems.  Unfortunately, there is not a magic eight ball for us to shake to give the answers, but we do have a responsibility to help. 

The question still remains; how do we help the seemingly helpless.  For some it could be a person to listen to them, or give guidance and encouragement.  Some might need the dreaded suggestion of changing professions.  Even a simple resume critique or constructive criticism regarding their conversation habits might be all they need. 

It’s not always easy and there will most likely be those that either don’t want our help or take suggestions well.  A professor I had in college used to say to us regarding our daily work, “do well, and do good”.  It’s easy for us to only focus on the doing well part, we get paid for that, but let’s not forget to do good.  

What are your thoughts? Agree, disagree, indifferent? How do you try to help those that are unplaceable in your specific practice?

To connect with Carter check out him out on LinkedIn(

Until next time – good hunting and good luck

The Terrible Twos + Mustafa = Recruiting Success?

My youngest son turned two back in June and over the last couple of weeks has really started acting his age and much to my horror the terrible two’s are revisiting my house for the third time (I was hoping third time was a charm).

One of Alden’s current terrible two quirks is that when he is in his ‘zone’ you sometimes have to ask him more than once to get any kind of response out of him.

The last time this happened he reminded me of Mustafa, one Dr. Evil’s henchmen from the Austin Power’s movies. Mustafa has many claims to fame but for today’s purposes we are going to focus on his inability to not answer a question when asked a third time (see video below).

Revisiting Austin Powers trying to drag information out of Mustafa before he was (allegedly) done in by Mini Me reminded me of the fact there when talking to candidates there are three questions that you need to ask.

  • Are you interested? This one is self-explanatory. If they are interested in the role you are one step closer to hopefully filling the req.
  • Who do you know? Again, self-explanatory. If they are not interested, who do they know that might be worth calling on.
  • If you were me and looking for someone like you, where would you search and who would you talk to? One of my favorite questions to ask because no one else does. If you strike out on the first two, most people will have an opinion on this one which could lead you closer to the ‘right’ fit.

Hope these questions prove valuable to you in your recruiting efforts!

Until next time – good hunting and good luck!

There is (ALMOST) Nothing Original About Recruiting

I don’t know about you but I always have to laugh when someone says something along the lines of ‘The way we recruit is so different from anyone else.’

When I hear that I have two different camps that go to battle in my head – either to just let it go (which I always do and regret it later) or to set them straight. If I were to really tear into the topic and push it a bit this is how I imagine that it would go:

Them: We do things differently. We are not your normal recruiting department / recruiting firm.

Me: Oh really? So you have found a new way to try to understand what a hiring manager needs and then go out and find it. I’d love to hear about it.

Them: No, we still do that. It’s just all about relationships for us. 

Me: Well how about that. Can you tell me the birthday of the last three candidates you spoke with? What about their dog’s name or what sports they like to play.

Them: Well, no but….

Me: So you plan on having lunch with them next week even if there is no chance of you placing them… ever?

Them: Well, no but….

Me: So it’s not really about relationships is it?

Them: It is – I promise. What really sets us apart is our search process.

Me: Well I am as excited as the day is long. So you have developed a new way to search outside of Boolean and web-search operators.

Them: What’s Boolean? We don’t rely on old technologies. We use social media and networking.

Me: How many placements did you have last year from Twitter?

Them: I don’t really track that.

Me: Zero right?

Them: (silence)… (crickets churping)… Another thing that makes us different is we have a proprietary database that has a lot of good candidates in it.

Me: So you are telling me that if I went through LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice, Google, and Bing that I could not find the same people you have in your database?

Them: Well, you probably could but we have relationships with them.

Me: How many folks are in your database?

Them: Fifty thousand or so.

Me: So you are telling me that at any point you could call anyone in your database and have them call you back and be interested in an opportunity when you want them to be?

Them: Well…… No. But we work harder than anyone else.

Me: Excellent. So if I were to call your office on Saturday evening at 7:30 you would be there cooking up new Boolean strings?

Them: No, but we work smarter than anyone else and that sets us apart.

Me: So you are telling me that no one in your office plays around on Facebook uses work time for anything personal?

Them: Well, no but we have great relationships with our hiring managers.

Me: Wow – that’s pretty amazing. When was the last time the hiring manager invited you out to lunch when you weren’t working on one of his reqs?

Them: Well, never really…..

Me: So when was the last time a hiring manager invited you to lunch when you were working on one of his reqs?

Them: Its happened I’m sure, I just can’t remember when. Whatever the case we have such a good understanding of the culture and what makes the company tick that we can fill our reqs all day.

Me: Really? What does the bathroom next to accounting look like?

Them: What?

Me: If you really know the lay of the land there you will know what the bathroom closest to accounting looks like.

Them: I can’t really tell you that.

Me: So you’re not so different after all are you.

Them: We are, I promise.

If you are in recruiting please face the fact that we all do the same things. Some of us are better in some areas than others and that might set you apart a LITTLE BIT but there is not that much different going on. I promise.

Want to really understand how unoriginal recruiting is? I got the idea for this post by reading an article on recruiting.

Until next time – good hunting and good luck!

Is the Answer to Talent Pool Engagement ‘Words With Friends’

An issue that many recruiters face (myself included) is getting caught up in a ‘just in time’ type recruitment model that does not allow much opportunity for real engagement. Short term it is not a big deal but for those of us who are passionate about what we do it will definitely be a long-term issue as the market for top talent gets tighter and tighter.

One of my goals over the next twelve months is to try different ways of keeping my target talent pool engaged and get to know them outside of just the recruiter / potential candidate relationship I have with many of them.

In thinking through different ways of doing this I came up with the things you would expect (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, user group meetings, etc), some things that are a little different (staying in touch with information about industry articles, webinars, etc) and then the lightbulb went off a few days ago as I was dropping a huge score on some poor sucker in Words With Friends (err more like getting my hat handed to me) that games were the way to go.

It seems like nearly everybody now a days plays some sort of online game via their phone and/or computer that can range from fantasy football to card games to board games and just about every other thing else in-between.

I have not figured it all out yet but have currently engaged a few from my ‘target’ audience in WWF games through mentioning recent plays on Twitter and integrating my Facebook account with my WWF account.

Nothing earth shattering has happened yet but I am counting on the fact that good old competition will help kick-start some conversations and enhance others.

So what do you think – am I off my rocker or is there something here? I want to hear your thoughts.

Until next time – good hunting and good luck!

The Guide to Exceptional Recruiting (Pompous Title; Great Content)

Over the past few weeks I have asked many people both inside and outside of recruiting what it takes, in their eyes, to be an exceptional recruiter. As the title suggests, it is very pompous but it did promise great content (WHICH I WROTE NONE OF) – so here you go:

Those inside of recruiting:

Olivier J. Van Dierdonck, Director of Recruitment, Southwind, a Division of the Advisory Board

  • Persistence
  • Ability to connect with candidates and clients
  • Credibility (industry knowledge and honesty)
  • Solid ability to assess skill sets
  • Trusted advisor
  • Attentive to details

Marty Lovgren, Talent Acquisition Manager, Gresham, Smith and Partners

  • Responsive; Must respond in a timely and professional manner to candidate and client alike
  • Provide true staffing/business consulting skills to the client, must understand the client’s needs and business intimately
  • On the third-party side, recruiters must immerse themselves into their client’s organization/culture to better understand their needs
  • Must possess excellent active listening skills
  • Must demonstrate tenacity in pursuit of the best talent
  • Exhibit salesmanship, people skills, and powers of persuasion in negotiations
  • Must always follow through with commitments

Robert Kane, Director, HR and Talent Acquisitions , Community Health Systems

When I first started at CHS, I asked all of my hiring my primary hiring managers (mostly Division VPs and Presidents) what they needed most from my position. The most common response was “communication”.

Ninety percent of my searches were hospital executives and the average fill time was sixty to ninety days. I instituted a weekly update process that has consistently received positive feedback. Most weeks it is simply an update on my efforts without a viable candidate to share but this keeps everyone on the same page.

I see communication as one of the building blocks for successfully managing the hiring manager side.

On the candidate/sourcing side, the ability to build relationships with potential candidates and knowing the details of the position in question are key. I always recommend focusing on a match. The right candidate has to fit with the right opportunity.

The worst case scenario for a recruiter is for the candidate to have false expectations and end up unhappy three months into the job. This means talking with a lot of potentials until a viable match is found. There have been a number of occurrences where we hire someone we’ve been speaking to for three years or more.

A truly great recruiter will know the intimate details of the position and culture. This will allow not only for deciding who has the skill set to be successful in the role but also for clear communication of a realistic job preview.

Tam Singer, Corporate Recruiter, OHL

Top four attributes of the best recruiters

  • Confidence: Recruiter listens and learns what the hiring manager needs and what they are really saying
  • Drive: Recruiter fills the position in the quickest time in the most direct way
  • Network: Recruiter has large network of candidates to go to in any given situation
  • Trust: Their reputation is that they will get the position filled because they have consistent proven results 

Lindsay Dycus, Recruiter, Shoemaker Financial

I think the main thing that puts a recruiter a cut above the rest is working knowledge of the position you are hiring for. I was fortunate enough to have gotten the licenses required to do the positions I recruit for and also work in a similar firm before I became a recruiter.

This knowledge allows me to give open and honest answers to candidates questions. Another thing that can separate the good from the great is the time you spend getting to know the candidate and being open and honest with them, not only about your firm, but opportunities available to them at other firms that might fit what they are looking for specifically better.

Rick Ross, Partner, NGP

I’ve hired many recruiters through the years and have found that there is a key characteristic that differentiates a good recruiter from a great recruiter.

It’s simple – I always want to understand the motivation to be a recruiter. There’s a few answers to this question but the one that best predicts ‘greatness’ in my experience is an answer that reflects service. “My goal is to help companies by finding the best possible candidates for their roles” or “I just enjoy the reward of someone getting a job that enhances their career”.Even better: “It’s almost community service . . . companies get great employees and my candidates get great jobs – that’s reward in itself”

Any other motivation (money, personal career advancement, or just to do something different) are key indicators that their real passion is outside of recruiting. Great recruiters are interested in the long-term job satisfaction of their candidates and not just making a placement.

Those outside of recruiting:

Linda Teske, a Senior HR Generalist/Consultant

In general, based on my experience, a good recruiter is one that returns the call and follows up with a candidate one way or another. They also know what job best fits the candidate and will not suggest a position that may not necessarily be the best fit. They are considering a ‘long term’ placement, not a ‘short term’ placement.

Jane Smith Stage, Training Professional

Truthful — tell me what I need to know & do in order to present myself in the very best light.  If I’m not coming across as professional or not a good match for your client — give me specifics.   

Responsive, even if it’s a subject-line only e-mail or voice message. 

Collaborative — yes, you represent your corporate client — AND — how can we work together as well?  How can I stay ‘top-of-mind’ with you (recruiter)?

John Bliven, Training Professional

As you’ve said before, job seekers need to understand how recruiters work and
establish realistic expectations when working with them.
That said, here are my thoughts about what makes a recruiter great:

  • professional in all aspects of a working relationship
  • don’t make promises you can’t keep (if it’s doubtful that you can schedule an interview for a candidate, say so, don’t sugarcoat anything)
  • be realistic in describing the types of positions you conduct searches for (if you don’t recruit mechanical engineers) don’t say that you do
  • follow through and follow-up – if you say you’re going to provide feedback on a candidate’s qualifications, do it!

 Carol Oot, Client Services Professional

I’d say that a great recruiter would be someone who can evaluate my background honestly, and offer their own ideas on options that I might not have considered. 

Kathryn Lewis, Non-Profit Professional

The first thing that occurs to me is a recruiter’s questions.  There are plenty of “tests” out there that will tell a recruiter who you are.  I believe that a recruiters ability to ask the right questions to find out who you are, your passions, your work and management styles, and be able to match you up to a career (not just a job) using their instincts is vital to the success of a career path.   They change lives by guiding their clients towards that perfect match.

Their passion for their job is critical as well.  The passion to make that right connection is tremendous motivation for their clients. 

Anna Visnic, Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing Professional

A great recruiter knows not only what the candidate’s past experiences are, but what the candidate CAN do and is CAPABLE of doing.

Great recruiters are “personal”…up to the point where it gets really personal, because great recruiters know that successful relationship with any candidate does begin with the resume, but certainly doesn’t end with the job placement.

Tony Dye, Technology Consultant

Several quick thoughts here:

  1. It might be worth clarifying what type of recruiter you’re talking about. A corporate recruiter (like you) vs. a “head hunter” like Jason Childs or Mark Newsom or others. Retained vs. Contingency might also be an influence…but I’m not sure I necessarily expect a different response.
  2. The key thing I expect, just as a general courtesy, is a response. Even a simple acknowledgement. A “received your resume/app, you don’t fit” is so much better than never hearing anything
  3. Doing what you say you’ll do. Again, simple courtesy and ethics. It is absolutely 100% OK for you to not be able to do anything for me – that’s just life. But if you can’t do anything for me (or even if you won’t do anything for me), don’t say or imply that you will. Specific example: there’s a pretty well-known, high-level, guy in town who has on multiple occasions suggested we get together. Bu then he goes silent and disappears. In a manner of speaking, you have also avoided me, but you were clear about it – you didn’t just go silent. “No,” or even “not now,” is so much better a response than just disappearing
  4. Don’t mass distribute my resume. Actually, don’t even send it out to just one organization without letting me know first
  5. A really great recruiter stays in touch. That doesn’t necessarily mean a personal call or visit. A simple email once a month or so, that could even be a promotional item, but gives the “I remember you and thought about you” impression

 Tammie Lang, Marketing & Advertising Professional

Someone who sends me job posts that actually MATCH my qualifications AND desired location. Not random jobs that are totally NOT a match at all for me!

I hope you have gained a few nuggets of information from those inside and outside of the recruiting world that you can implement into your daily recruiting life to rise to the top of the profession.

Until next time – good hunting and good luck!