An era less personal
Recruiting for qualified candidates has taken on a whole new perspective since the advent of the Internet. In the "old days," a recruiter would call prospective companies and chat with hiring managers or human resource managers to see if there were an opening the recruiter could work on while further establishing his/her client relationships. At this time the telephone was the most essential tool to connect people. In some ways, this was a kinder era - one in which people talked, got to know each other, and set up official appointments to meet.
Today voice mail and e-mail have replaced person-to-person contact. In addition, many companies use in-house contract recruiters to find candidates and to deal with outside recruiters. Most contract recruiters are hired for a brief period of time and don't feel any connection with the company, its goals, or its objectives. When forced to deal with outside recruiters who call to get job specifications, they typically will tell them to "check the web." Outside recruiters have no choice but to accept this rather impersonal change in the industry. They must also accept the Internet as an increasingly pervasive vehicle for recruiting qualified candidates.
Changes in the industry
Today, competing recruiters are looking at the same openings - and so are the candidates! Via the Internet, candidates can search jobs, submit resumes, and schedule interviews with companies at all hours of the day or night. The competition between recruiter and recruiter and between recruiter and candidate has increased, but the interaction between the parties has decreased. The partnering process that used to take place has been diminished. While an exceptional resource, the Internet is also cold and impersonal. When surfing it for too long, recruiters (if they are not careful) may become the same way.
In the jobseeking quest, many candidates have started their own Web pages. These pages are often furnished with resumes, photographs, personal data, and answers to frequently asked interview questions. The first interview may take place without the candidate even knowing he or she has been screened. While the personal touch is missing, time is saved and the company has the advantage of rejecting the candidate without doing the dirty deed in person.~Another facet of the growth of the Internet is the increase of independent contractors replacing the permanent employee. In a recent article on High Tech Recruiting, it was pointed out that freelance candidates can list their qualifications online at various recruiting boards (such as Monster.com) and put themselves "up for auction." In turn, employers from the U.S. and foreign countries may bid for the candidates' services. The free agent reviews bids, and sends out electronic rejections and acceptances. For independent contractors, whose services can be bought for a short period of time, the future is bright. For employees it sends a message. Become Web savvy and have your resume updated and online!
Where does this leave outside recruiters? Not as badly off as one might think. For all the new innovative technology and widespread Internet access available to prospective candidates, recruiters still fill the needs of companies looking for the best talent at the most reasonable price. Newspaper ads, Internet advertising, job fairs, and employee referrals usually do not produce the candidate of choice. If it is management's responsibility to find the best talent for their company, then it is the recruiter who must understand what that best candidate is. Who better to understand the wants and needs of a sales manager of a software company working in the ERP space than a recruiter who specializes in this very field?
Contract recruiters and Human Resources departments don't have the time to look into the hiring manager's mind and try to imagine the ideal candidate. They know what the company's requirements are relative to numbers and positions, but not personality. The hiring manager doesn't have the time to "check the Web" for qualified candidates, and thus, must rely on outside recruiters. The outside recruiter's job - and his or her top priority - is to get inside the hiring manager's mind and to understand what it is that makes the ideal candidate. This understanding includes the corporate culture that exists in the company and the personality of the hiring manager.~The process
More often than not, HR and contract recruiters strive to meet the demanding requirements of the specs detailed by the hiring manager; they may become frustrated in the process. The position may seem impossible to fill. Once posted on the Web, the flood of candidates that submit their resumes can be overwhelming. Every candidate looking for a job will earnestly believe that they can do the job. The review process may turn out to be a monumental task for HR and contract recruiters. Large corporations with HR departments can support this lengthy and arduous process, but small, rapidly growing companies don't have the resources or the time. Thus the key to successful recruiting for outside recruiters in the era of Internet recruiting is to be responsive to the needs of client companies - without havingall the information required. Outside recruiters must understand that the personal touch may be diminishing, but that developing strong client relationships is still paramount. If the recruiter can deliver qualified candidates in a timely manner, then he or she will be considered a partner. In many cases, this partnership develops and becomes stronger as the years pass.
James Vozekas, the General Manager of The TouchStone Group, has 20 years experience in a variety of fields, including law, teaching, marketing, and management. In addition to having expertise in law and business, he has a tenured career in recruiting for high technology. James in an adjunct faculty member at Clark University Graduate School of Management, a guest lecturer at Metro West (an employment agency/outplacement firm run by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) and a frequent lecturer at Keystone Associates (a privateoutplacement firm in Boston and the North Shore).