Recruiting In 3D

Are You Rolling The Dice With College Recruiting?

This is probably the ideal location for me to go on some rant about how great “The Hangover” was this summer, but I’ll do my best to refrain – no guarantees. What I really want to touch on is how your college recruiting program can look a lot like the tables in Vegas. I’m inclined to write about this because: A. I just came back from a trip to Sin City in the last few weeks, where I surprisingly did a minute amount of gambling and B. College Recruiting has begun anew for the 09-10 school year. So, bonus points for me and my circular relevancy.

Vegas Baby! or Maybe State U!

Vegas Baby! or Maybe State U!

So here’s how a great deal of college recruiting goes: Company signs up for fair. Company goes to fair, yaks up company, collects resumes. Company holds PowerPoint slide show, branding extravaganza (Also known as Information Session).Company parses through resumes, and selects on-campus interviews. Company selects 2nd round (maybe 3rd round, as well) interviews. Company makes offer, student accepts (some decline). Company hires candidate.

What has the company gotten? Well, potentially a dud. Maybe someone who does not work out, who perhaps interviewed well. But potentially they get a rock star, a motivated, and successful hire. Hopefully more of the latter, but all of those people have a common trait. They came to the company – all of them. Not Vice Versa. So I liken this to gambling because you aren’t you really playing the odds every time you go through the process like this? Wouldn’t you be better served going after more students aggressively? Certainly, there is still going to be a cross-section of candidates who came to you, but why not reduce the need for relying on chance?

Equate this to another scenario: Plan and pay for Vegas trip. Get to Vegas, yak up dealers, friends, and anyone willing to listen. Spend money to play cards, dice or vice of choice. Spend more money if you lose. Potentially come home with a bit more cash or much less than you went with. Same Same.

There are many things that a company can do in order to make their brand better known, and to reach students before they even hit a job fair, and to be on the top of their mind.

  • Career Services gets a bad rap as a place where you don’t get much accomplished in trying to get connected to academia, or getting directly to students. And really, that’s not the primary function of their job at all universities. But if they are used correctly, as more of a conduit, than the end game. They can provide you with information about student groups, and groups, clubs or societies that are part of a major/school. They can provide information for you, and generally are happy to do so, if you are not walking in there and asking for a list of students that “are looking for jobs”.
  • You can contact many of the groups etc. and find out when they have events that you can sponsor. This might be a dinner, or awards event, or even guest speaker. These students are happy to help. The money they may or may not get donated helps. But hey, this is college recruiting, and it takes money to make money, right? They are also going to help you with finding out about small-scale fairs for students in their disciplines. These typically have fewer, but more targeted attendees.
  • You must kill the information session. In fact, it’s already dead, so you’ve saved time. Whatever is going to be provided in the “branding extravaganza” they can get in 15 minutes online, and…they like it that way. In this regard, faculty can be helpful. They want to get exposure for their students. Their students getting jobs is good business for them. But you’ve got to have something compelling to go in with that isn’t a “Rah-Rah” speech. If you can get candidates interested in your industry, you can get them interested in you. Remember that, and you’ll have some interesting stuff to deliver to them.
  • Finally, and most importantly, you have to stick to what you say you’ll do. There’s a big reason most students are mistrusting of the current process as it stands – many in our profession don’t keep their word. When we say that we want to stay in touch with them through the year (maybe they are a junior who already has an internship, or a sophomore we cannot use just yet) we need to do so. When we say that we’ll be contacting candidates back in 2-3 weeks, we need to do so. Or at the very least, let them know that you’ll be contacting back students who were selected, by “x” date. At least they know, that if “x” date comes and there is no word from you, then they have their answer.

Now, I will say that there are exceptions to these rules – we all know that there are certain……let’s call them Big Boys, who can just show up, and people will flock, they have all the connections they need at the school to get the best 5-10 candidates from each discipline (again, money helps A LOT with these issues). And they can just play the same old notes and get what they need, what with all their cool t-shirts and all (They actually are quite witty, to be frank). But let’s face it, we’re not all companies the size of a 3rd world country, and aren’t all afforded that luxury.

So, are you going to be the active hunter, trying to seek out the people you want at your company, or do you want to roll the dice, and see if your number eventually comes up?

PS – I couldn’t resist. The Hangover WAS a great movie. I’m sure many a bachelor party was scratched due to it’s release, and many a reminiscent moment was had around the country. Go see it, or get it on that Netflix queue.

Don't build relationships and networks, and it's all a gamble.

Don't build relationships and networks, and it's all a gamble.

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Summer’s End and the Communication Gap

It has been a bit since my last entry here, but I have all the right reasons…..Vacation, work, fantasy football and “Honey-Do” lists….. and vacation. Seeing as I need to use up some vacation time and day care was closed for a week, it was the perfect time to squeeze in some of those last minute, end of summer jaunts (Like a relaxing few days at the beach with the family and the Vegas trip with the boys). That, coinciding with the perpetually anticipated return of fantasy football, made for a few hectic weeks when you factor in work and the long awaited finishing of our basement. (My wife thanks for you bearing with my lack of updates while I finished this project) 🙂

But I digress, as its high time I got back to writing about what goes on in our industry. After a few conversations with colleagues the last two or three weeks, something kept coming up repeatedly: Why do hiring managers have such a hard time partnering with recruiting teams. Most of the people these conversations came up with are on the corporate recruiting side, so I’m going to focus there. (Sorry TPR’s, we can always come back to the topic of your end of the desk later, there’s no shortage of topic there). Based on those conversations, here’s what I can gather is seen out there, with also some of my own opinion and experience thrown in.

One of the main gripes that corporate recruiters have typically is that they are not seen as true hiring partners, but yet, more as “order takers” and administrative necessities. Recruiters see themselves as hunters, the seeker and finder of all skill sets hidden, providing an invaluable service in a specialized field, just as a statistician, or business development manager might. They feel like they have to pull teeth in order to get the information they need, and have to spend more time clarifying and re-clarifying information, and subsequently rejecting candidates they felt were on target. All this takes time away from sourcing and sending over “home run” candidates

On the other side of the coin, hiring managers tend to see them as a part of the machine that needs to be paid the minimal attention to, in order to get the job filled. They feel that their job is to find as many resumes as quickly as possible (which shouldn’t be hard, it’s a recession, right?), and to make sure each candidate has 110% of their wish list.

So where is the breakdown? As with all things, the truth resides somewhere in the middle. In this case, we’re going to name our friend truth, and call him “Communication”. Communication between the hiring managers and the recruiters really needs to be first and foremost, or neither side is going to get what they need/want. Here’s a couple of things each party should be asking themselves each time a new role is being opened.


• What is the position, how does it fit into the organization, and what is the project(s) that the candidate will be working on? If they can’t understand the work being done, they can’t sell the opportunity to the candidate
• What technology is most important, and do they understand what each of these “gotta have” technologies do, at least at a surface level? If not, then it’s just keyword recruiting, and that never ends well for anyone.
• What is the budget and career progression track for the candidate/employee? Again, you should be selling the opportunity, and the career opportunities, or it doesn’t ring as a truly GREAT opportunity for someone. Plus, you want to know how flexible the budget is – can you stretch 5k for the ‘perfect’ candidate, or is it a hard budget? Save yourself time by having the hard money discussions with the manager up front.
• Ask the manager to describe the role, and “sell” YOU on the role. You’ll get some good feedback into what the role is in their eyes, and how excited they can get when they talk to a candidate. Make sure to tap into their “Love to have’s” and the soft things that drive them crazy about a candidate, so you can make sure that it all matches up later – some managers like all candidates to wear a suit, they want a degree, they want people who have not been lifetime contractors, etc.
• Did I set parameters for feedback, timelines, and overall interview process? DO you know the next steps and the contingencies in the absence of the manager? Time kills all deals, know where to turn when the manager is out.

If you can take that information and walk away knowing what you need, you will likely be successful in your hiring ventures.


• Have you been open and honest with your recruiter and given them the information needed to succeed? Have you divulged what the projects are, both in the immediate and long term?
• Does the recruiter have a good idea of what success for this person looks like at 30,60,90 days and beyond? Have you discussed with the recruiter what career path this person could take?
• Did you discuss with the recruiter the skills that are needed for this role, and frame those around why they are important and what additional skills can be taught or built up.
• Do you have an approved salary for this role? Nothing can be more frustrating than a manager who “assumes” they will get the budget. Recruiting is a COD business, no IOU’s here.
• Did you set parameters with the recruiter for feedback, etc.? This is a two way street.

If you can find a way to bridge the gap with your manager or recruiter, you’ll both be more successful in the long term. The open, honest dialogue from both sides really is the key for making it work for you and ultimately your company. Process without communication with just guesswork.

How have you rectified the communication gap in your organization?

Coming next, the ever-popular sport of College Recruiting!

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Don’t sling it over the fence! Working with TPR’s…

Full Disclosure:
I’ve been on both sides of the desk in my career, TPR (3rd party Recruiter, agency, whatever you call it) and the corporate recruiting side. I have sympathy and affinity for both, though working on the corporate side, I LOVE not working 90 hours a week. 🙂

We don’t use alot of outside firms where I work, because, well we’re lucky to have 3 strong recruiters who all have agency experience and know a variety of sourcing techniques. That said, there comes a time where you have to use them, whether it is due to position overload, or just general need for more help on a hard search. I was reading an article today from Leah Ward and she really makes a great point on how to interact with your TPR’s.

If you are just farming out jobs to 10 agencies at a time, you’ll likely not only NOT fill the spot in a timely fashion or at all, but you will almost inevitably drive yourself crazy in the interim. Sifting through resumes from TPR’s takes alot of time, and unless you make the investment up front, you’ll likely not get what you are looking for.

When I take time to farm out a position, I have a short list of TPR’s that I trust, and know can get the job done. But, req’s don’t fill themselves. You need to disseminate down what you are looking for in the ideal candidate (and yes, GIVE THE WISH LIST TOO!). You can’t play the information-secret game. They want to fill your spot, and you do too. I’ve even found it helpful at times to have them come and meet with the hiring manager directly, getting it right from the source as well.

Set ground rules too, as Leah states. If you commit to responding to a resume in 24 hours, DO IT. Being a former TPR, nothing makes me work on something less than lack of response. And provide feedback – let them know why it wasn’t a fit, i.e., the candidate is a job hopper, they couldn’t answer basic technical questions, whatever. You wouldn’t take no for an answer about your resume or job interview without a reason, right?

So, what are you doing? Are you setting expectations, or are you slinging req’s over the fence in the hopes that the right candidate will be slung back? Not likely.

Share what you are doing to make sure you get the most bang for your 20+ %.

Time invested, saves time.

Time invested, saves time.

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Building Pipelines, and Paying It Forward

I read a tweet that someone sent out yesterday, linked to an article that talked about how recruiters are looking always for the exact match. They want people in almost identical roles, from competitors, etc. In essence they are looking for clones, as the article states.

While that may be true, and also a narrow minded way for a recruiter to work, it is the recruiters job to find candidates that have backgrounds that line up with the current skill set of the company, the openings you have now and the ones you will have in the future. All we hear is “build a pipeline” this and “have a bench” that. So IMO, in essence, recruiting for similar skill sets out of competitor companies makes sense in both filling your openings and building the ever-popular pipeline. However, as there is more than one way to skin a cat, there is more than one way to build a pipeline.

When we talk to a candidate, do we explore the entire spectrum of that candidate’s experience, desire, and future goals? Or are we looking at do they have “5 years of .NET programming skills, experience in a widget shop, and did they go to an Ivy League school”? If we only look at that and move on, we’ve only scratched the surface, and likely have wasted time on both ends of the phone.

If you truly take the time to peer through someone’s background and ask about the “why” behind the “how” of their projects, what motivates them, and what they want in the future, you may have just built that wonderful enigma that is a pipeline. While it may not be the exact match for now? How many among us can predict our req load or makeup of that load 3 months from now.

I just hired someone recently, that I had talked to for the 1st time about 9 months prior. At the time, his skill set was just a bit off on some of the experience (technically speaking) that we needed for that role at the time. Instead of just showing him the door, we explored a bit more and figured out what he was really strong at and where he could best showcase these skills. I told him that we didn’t have the fit now, but in time, I was sure that something would pop up, and I’d call him then. Skeptical as he was (and I could tell from the way he finished the conversation, he’d heard this a million times before), I called him back when we had the right fit. Long story short, he’s on board. I kept my word, and he took our job. Win-Win.

That said, there are going to be people you talk to that you just can’t help, no matter what the background. But if that person can demonstrate that they are a strong candidate, and assuming you as a strong recruiter have built up your network to have a small group that shares resumes amongst yourselves, you can get this person networked around. Philip Newman on ERE chats a bit more on this topic, earlier this week.

You’re a recruiter. That means you’re a digger, a hunter, a harvester, a conduit and a connector. You can’t be complete just being a paperboy. Say yes when you can, no when you have to, but always remember to keep it in mind, and pay it forward, because you need to.


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No LinkedIn profile? How will I find you??

I’ve always been a bit perplexed when I talk to a candidate and I look for them on LinkedIn for some additional info, like recommendations, what groups are they a part of, (especially important for technical candidates, IMO), and can’t seem to find them. I’ve actually gone so far as to ask some people if they have one, and never cease to be floored when the answer is “No, what is LinkedIn?”

LinkedIn, for several years now has slowly started to become the digital business card of professionals. It acts as a forum to network, to job hunt, to showcase your skills and abilities, and after all, it’s not Facebook, so you are representing your professional side.

The real kicker for most recruiters, is that how these candidates can send resumes with the buzz phrases “technically savvy”, “bleeding edge” and so on, yet not have one of most simple career management/professional networking tools out there, in their arsenal. I think the most frustrating of the “Un-Linked” are the recruiters. When an agency calls me, and the sales rep, etc. does not have a profile on LinkedIn, then there is truly something wrong, and I make no bones about letting them know that this is a hit to their “cred” with me.

In the end, the world has changed. The game has changed. People want to be able to search for and get a feel for you beyond your resume. And at the end of the day, your LinkedIn profile says alot about you. Not having one, now that speaks volumes, and not the kind you want it to speak.

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Career Services – Good thing they don’t serve coffee

I work alot with college recruiting for my current organization. Hence, I deal with the Career Services (CS) folks at each school I’m assigned to. Some schools certainly have a better handle on things than others, and the size of the school can also play into that. This is a department that is perpetually underfunded, short-staffed, and dealing with staff:student ratios that are somewhere equal to the number of digits in PI.

That said, most CS offices do the best they can in order to serve each of their students. But now that Pandora’s Box has been opened and someone has found the 2009 version of the McDonald’s CoffeeGate, what lies ahead? Haven’t heard? A student at Monroe College sued her school since CS did not get her a job for after school. What is to come of this case remains to be seen.

"Sorry coffee, we don't serve your kind here"

"Sorry coffee, we don't serve your kind here"

What it tells us though, is that we’re grossly misinterpreting the role of CS. NAILS it here. Their job is to serve as a conduit for the job search, and to provide advice where it is needed. Let’s face facts here – the class of 2008/2009 faced the worst job market/economic in 30+ years. That said, you’d imagine that a person who was resourceful enough to dream up a scheme to get a free tuition by suing would also have the wherewithal to use job engines such as Indeed, Simply Hired, LinkedIn or even TWITTER to search for their first job out of school.

This sends a terrible precedent, and unless the judge laughs heartily and throws this case out with yesterday’s trash (which he/she should!), we’re looking at the potential demise of the Career Services offices as we ‘knew’ them.

Besides, I’ve got a buck that says she visited said CS office less than 5 times in 4 years.

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Help Me….Help You!

I make it a rule to discuss salary, compensation and the like with virtually all my candidates in the first or second conversation that we have. Make no mistake, I’m not asking for “Name, SS# and how much was your W2 last year”, but I address it at some point in the conversations. You really have to have these conversations if you

Over the years, I’ve had some very colorful responses to my question about what a candidate’s current compensation is and what they are looking to make going forward. I thought having grown up in New York, and watching 20+ George Carlin specials gave me all the dirty words I’d ever hear. Oh how wrong I was. Some people get terribly upset when you ask this, as they feel like you will pigeon-hole them into that number/package, or that there is some ulterior motive. Kinda makes me feel like a really, really desperate Jerry Maguire sometimes.

The thing is, I ask this because I’m trying to work with the candidate, and build trust and rapport from Day 1. By having a frank and open dialogue, we’re able to establish that relationship that allows for good matches to be made. Recruiters need to act as agents for their candidates and that representation is about trust. Have it, and you’ll have higher success rates. Don’t have it and you’ll be closing the same position five times. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve never had a candidate reject an offer based on compensation, but it is an intricate part of your process. Jessica Lee, of Fistful of Talent notes that this is a launching point for being able to have frank discussion about the candidate expectations, and the industry standards that are out there.

Candidates naturally have to have a skepticism about whether to trust the recruiter, after all, there are shlocky recruiters out there, and how can you be sure. I try to address this up front and let them know that I’m asking because there is a budget (as much as we all want to work without one) and if I know what they are looking for from the beginning, I can be sure we can get them to the front lines. Besides, after a manager gets a resume, the first question is inevitably, “How much will this person cost me?” (Don’t believe it? Try sending a profile and resume to an account manager (for TPR’s) or to a hiring manager (Corporate).

If I know the difference between the desired salary and the budget is say, 10k, I can work with that and talk with the manager. Plus, smart candidates are looking at the whole package. But if the candidate is looking for a 130k salary and the budget is 85k, why bother to take them down a path you can’t finish out for them? It’s a waste of your time, the manager’s time and ultimately the candidates time. The key here is explaining this to the candidate. And if you tell them you’ll keep them in mind for the future, do it. Call at another time down the line, check in, etc. If you tell them it’s not a fit, and you’ll refer them elsewhere, follow up and do so. Your word is your calling card.

In the end, the smart candidates will respect you for the candor. The great candidates will even know of peers or other friends that they can refer to you, either for that job or just based on the fact that you’ve proven your mettle as a viable and trustworthy recruiter. This is all just another tool in your box for building that all important positive reputation. And for recruiters, your reputation is your brand. The question is how’s your brand?

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“I’m Qualified! For EVERY job you have!”

One thing that really gets me going is when someone applies for 12 jobs on your site. And it’s not as though they are the software architect applying for all software jobs. It’s when they apply for the sales job, the accounting job, the medical examiner job, and so on.

REALLY? Are you qualified for all of those? Because if so, I have a car-sales business with bad numbers, and employees having heartattacks everywhere. HELP ME!  NASA could probably use a former Doogie Howser with some skills like that.

I think that it is a poor judgement on the part of the job seeker to just splatter a resume all over a career site. The intent is clear – the more I apply the more chance they will see my qualifications. When reality is when we see you apply for 15 jobs, we are much more likely to go on to the targeted candidate who has clearly targeted the one role they are most qualified for.

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No Twitter, What now? Goin’ Old School…

Twitter had a massive outage today for a good portion of the day. Luckily for me, it was when I was trying to use it this morning, and couldn’t access TweetDeck or Twitter directly. Apparently it was a Denial of Service issues that had to do with hacker activity. I wonder how many people became paralyzed for just a few minutes while it set in that the mighty “Twit” was down.

It took me a minute, admittedly. I thought,  “Nah, must just be my computer, Twitter can’t be down.” Oh sure enough, it was.  After coming to grips there, I was utterly amazed how much work I got done in the following 2 hours. I sat down and got some cold calls done. I miss that on days I can’t get to it.  I’d have gotten it done eventually, but not by getting sucked into perusing the Twitter site for over an hour. You can get lost in that site!

It’s good to see that good old fashioned Non-Twitter work still lives on….

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Took me long enough…..

I’ve been recruiting since 2000.For a while now, I’ve wanted to start a blog, since I’m a frequent reader of other HR and Recruiting industry blogs. I have alot of opinions on things, and what better a forum. I’m looking forward to sharing and having some great discussions. Here’s a little about my background, and philosophy.

I actually came into the recruiting industry by accident. I had been working for the Commonwealth of Virginia doing PR and Volunteer Recruiting, when an opportunity to do full time “real” recruiting presented itself.  Naturally, being an extrovert, I jumped on the opportunity. It was an instant match.

I began working for a temp agency, (as you’ll see, I won’t be using any employer names here past, present or otherwise), and started out in recruiting for a myriad of positions, including Light Industrial, Administrative, Legal and Technical. It’s where I got my start, and I then moved on to a contingency staffing firm, focusing on technical placements. I think back now about the way we had to work to get done what we did. It was crazy. Some great people I worked with.

Job 2 was really where I cut my teeth. It’s where I learned how to really source. To go and find people, to target specific candidates and match them up with a client’s needs. It’s where I learned the art of the deal, and how to engage candidates as though you were their agent, and to be looking for their best interests as well. THIS is where it was at. Not just for the money, but for building a network and trusted adviser for ones career search…their livelihood. The money was good too, can’t lie there.

Job 3 led me to the corporate side, where I still am now, and have an appreciation for both sides of the fence. Being on the corporate side lends itself to being an internal consultant to your “clients” or co-workers. It has allowed me to pursue endeavors and harness skill sets that just aren’t always possible on the staffing side. There’s a little more process and structure, but its manageable.

I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors and some excellent co-workers and bosses. A lot of people who have looked out for me, and my career. For that I’m grateful. I believe in paying it forward, to borrow a phrase. That’s why I’m passionate about recruiting and networking going hand-in-hand. Being able to ingrain yourself in a community, and to assist and be assisted, is a valuable skill and a resourceful tool in recruiting.

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