June 18, 2018

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Realization Check

If you are recruiting the same way you did two years ago, you will find a shocking realization. It does not work. The market changed, the hot skills changed, the process duration changed, the fee structure changed, have you? It seems that I cannot go a day without digressing into a conversation about 'when the market turns around'. Well as of today we are still in a recession and in order to survive today with a chance to seeing tomorrow, you must be focused on a couple of aspects. Specifically you must provide your clients with something they lack.

Candidate classification

OK you get your choice here, passive vs. active or specialized vs. general. There will be a common theme here - to provide something that your client cannot procure themselves. Active candidates want to be recognized, found, identified by companies and they do everything they can to facilitate that. That would be something your clients can find on their own and thus have no reason to pay you. This is typically the reason feedback is not provided for your submittals. There is no debate on this point; you should be in a position to challenge your clients to match the quality of your submittal through the typical resume banks. Since you are an expert in recruitment, your ability to identify candidates with skills not readily accessible in the market positions you with the ability to put more people to work and thus grow in a retracting economy. There are some enticing cravats to this style. First and foremost clients must pay a premium to candidates who are passive. Remember the days when the offer was 20% more than what the candidate was making on their last position? It is still out there. Clients must sell their company to lure a prospect out of stable employment in this economy. This is when knowledge and a consultative approach to recruiting will enable (or at least position) you to get an above average fee.

Primary candidate source

You don't get a choice here. There is one thing you can count on; if you spend your day talking to people who are unemployed, then you yourself will be unemployed. It is not your responsibility to lift up the economy but to provide a service to your clients. That means you must provide them with candidates that they cannot find on their own. Networking has never been more important as it is now. The ability to find the passive candidates is fundamental to recruiters and the primary reason companies would be willing to pay fees.


It is baffling how many times the phone rings with potential candidates calling, looking for something. Unheard of over the past decade was the incoming call and it's easy to tell people what the want to hear. It is also unprofessional. Consultants are not consulted to provide yeses but to give honest insight. Your approach should reflect this. Never is the time appropriate to give out a white lie, impractical promises, or misleading information. The hardest thing a recruiter must do is to tell someone that you can't help them, but you must tell them. If the client does not want to pursue them, tell them. If you tell someone you will call them back, do it. Respond to every email and voice mail. Just by tracking metrics, you can see how many negatives we must deliver in order to call someone with an offer. Make those calls honestly.

The basics

There are evolutions in the recruiting career. Starting out you used every tool and form known to recruiting-kind. After a couple of successful years those call sheets and production forms became too tedious for a professional recruiter. However, the seasoned recruiter understands the purpose for those call sheets. Use them, everyday. A Jeff Skrentny training class revealed this to me years ago that it's more sophomoric to think that you are above such things than to use them to track your personal effort, especially when more effort is required to produce less revenue. When we entered this recession, everyone understood that more work, hours, calls, and dedication would be required to perform, in a best-case scenario, at the same level. Nevertheless, and here is the big question, are you actually putting in that extra effort, are you making those extra calls? Use your call sheets, set daily goals for completed calls, and see the rewards of extra effort.

Focus, dedication, and fundamentals will show up in your extra revenue. The effects will be lasting and when the turn around does come you will be in a position of leadership.

-Jeff Williams, CPC/CTS
Mr. Williams is a professional headhunter specializing in the Analog and Digital design realm of Electrical Engineering. He runs an active recruiting desk providing top engineering talent to his clients and uses the articles as a channel to the industry concerning personal philosophy and daily issues arising from recruiting. Jeff has been in the industry for 8 years and has been fortunate to experience the many different facets of recruiting; from independent headhunting though corporate recruiting departments. Additionally, he has served many functions, not only as a headhunter but a regional and branch manager. Although Jeff is originally from Texas, he currently resides in the Chicagoland area with his wife and three children. Feel free to comment or provide feedback concerning his musings or recruiting issues in general at Or 847.340.5459.