Imagine a world with no files, no computers and no job boards -- just a
desk, a phone and a book of yellow pages. Think "Survivor" for
What would you do in such an environment? How would you get by? Would
you be willing to hunt for candidates and fight off your competitors
without the comforts of modern-day technology?
If the answer is yes, you're not alone. In a world of unprecedented
information, many recruiters are trending in a totally different
direction. They've chosen to work -- and prosper -- in the recruiter's
version of the Stone Age. They've found that the candidates they get
from job boards, databases, and subscription services are unsuitable.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. Insufficient supply. Many candidates with specialized, esoteric or
hybridized skill sets stay off the beaten path, and don't tend to
register with job boards or put their resumes in global circulation.
2. Overexposure. Highly active candidates often have lots of options
when it comes to job opportunities. The more you're in competition with
your candidates (and other recruiters who are calling), the less chance
you have in terms of realizing a return on your investment in time.
3. Candidate quality. Rightly or wrongly, "active" candidates are often
perceived by hiring managers as less desirable than passive candidates
who are minding their own business, buried in excellence. The rap on
job-board candidates is that they tend to be unemployed, disgruntled or
more interested in playing the field than in performing outstanding work
at their current jobs.
Frequently, managers who are frustrated with their recruiters'
dependency on job boards ask me if I can train their recruiters to go
"retro." Their objective is to develop their recruiters' research,
networking and cold-calling skills in order to find fresh passive
Active vs. Passive Recruiters
Have you ever noticed how passive recruiters tend to affiliate with
active candidates and active recruiters are always on the lookout for
passive candidates? Then it shouldn't surprise you that switching to a
totally different recruiting model involves a fundamental change in the
recruiter profile. Any time you try to change a mindset, a methodology
and a core constituency all at once, you've got your hands full.
That's not to say it can't be done. But before you make the investment
in time and effort, consider the differences between active, low-tech
recruiting and passive, job-board recruiting:
Commitment. Low-tech recruiters can't rely solely on their current
resume inventory or a job board subscription to fill a position. Once
you take on a search, you can't cut and run just because you ran out of
Resourcefulness. There's more to good detective work than simply
entering keywords. Sometimes, it takes unconventional methods such as
cold calling, back-door entry or creative cross-referencing to find
Courage. We're paid the big bucks to do things others can't stomach. If
cold calling, being rejected or dealing with disappointment were fun and
easy, we'd be out of a job.
I often wish that cold calling was as simple as looking up a phone
number and reading from a script. If this were the case, it could easily
be taught. The problem is that cold-call recruiting is only one piece of
a larger puzzle that involves finding where to look, who to talk to and
who to avoid as you navigate your way through various obstacles.
Even more importantly, the ability to recruit the old-fashioned way
almost always requires a change of attitude, culture and expectations.
Recruiters with an abundance of intestinal fortitude and a healthy dose
of street smarts are likely to thrive. In contrast, those looking for
low-hanging fruit are likely to end up like the penguins Morgan Freeman
describes in his narration of Antarctic survival: sadly, not all of them
will make it.