3 Lessons Learned from Attending RecruitDC's Spring Conference
I had the pleasure of attending RecruitDC, a recruiting conference in downtown DC last week. Attending this conference was essential in me getting to know my new industry of technical recruiting a little more. I had been struggling lately with being different in my field. I do not have a sales background and my education and work expereince is rooted in organizational development and, well, education.
I admit, I was expecting to meet a lot of polished, well-dressed individuals with very tall, clacky-sounding heels and I did meet a few of those folks. I was also pleasantly surprised to encounter some individuals who were very unique and themselves - not extremely polished, came to learn and not necessarily to sell themselves, and who truly enjoy helping clients and consultants find great workers who can help them reach their goals.
Within the first five minutes, I did not feel like an imposter in an occupation that I did not belong. In fact, as the day progressed, I felt more and more like an industry rebel who could help turn this industry and the perceptions of it on its ear. I loved meeting fellow recruiters, watching groups of them interact and soaked in as much of the seminars as I could.
During this ten-hour day, I walked away with some very interesting and important observations about the recruiting industry - here are my three take-a-ways from this conference concerning the industry of recruiting:
#1: Recruiting is a crazy mix of stalking, sales and psychology.
I have done recruiting/hiring/onboarding in a company setting hiring for our own internal staff. Technical recruiting for outside clients is a very different ballgame. Technical recruiters usually have 3-5 days to locate the perfect consultant and this is best done using the Intertrons, a la Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, using Google. It is common to create algorithms in Google to pull information on folks who don't even know they are looking for a new job. Following the search, recruiters must get their resume, references, negotiate salary and turn them over to the client in a pretty package complete with a bow. It's an aggressive, fast-paced industry where the recruiter needs to sell the consultant not only on the job with the client, but also with the organization that is representing them. All of this stalking/researching and sales spinning culminates to tapping into the psyche of the unsuspecting consultant as we convince them that this is THE BEST job they
will ever have, EVER. I knew this position was sales-y and I am VERY happy to get into the psychological aspects of the job, but the stalking/researching is off the chain. Some of it may border creepy and some of it may be more creative - there is certainly a balance that needs to be struck in terms of how consultants are located and contacted.
#2: Leaders in the recruiting industry are disenfranchised with the reputation recruiters have acquired over the past several years.
Nearly every speaker touted authenticity and the need for the industry to change the way it is perceived by talent. According to a couple sources, the job or recruiting has turned into a deceitful sales gig. Candidates are being "stolen" right and left from each other and recruiters are cozying up to clients in efforts to get a leg up on winning bids. The more they win, the more they get rewarded with heavy commissions (20-30% on average) and the cycle continues. Just hearing people talk about wanting change and sharing their attempts to change this industry was really, really encouraging for me to hear. I am really sick of seeing recruiters write on LInkedIn about how much this one placement allowed them to buy a car or how they would love to help me find someone for a position for $20K. Finally - I feel okay telling these commission-hungry recruiters to suck it so I can focus on helping my clients meet their goals without dollars signs marring my vision.
#3:Change will be HARD for this group.
As much as the leaders of this group talk the talk of change, in order to influence a full-change in the industry, they will need to walk the walk of change as well. This may require the creation of a standards of practice or even a certification board so recruiters can be held accountable for their actions and communications with consultants and clients. Another change that would send shockwaves through the industry is to remove the commission-based incentive and pay them hourly and then give recruiters more responsibilities than just recruiting. By letting recruiters take part in educating consultants on how they can improve their skills to make them more valuable to clients, they would be able to establish trusted relationships with those consultants. Recruiters can also have monthly meet ups or follow ups with clients to explore how well their placements are doing in helping the client reach their goals. I truly believe that in order for recruiters be successful in their position, they need to do more than just seek and place. Allowing them to participate in full-cycle recruiting, on boarding, coaching, mentoring, educating, performance analysis, and off boarding would blow the roof off the industry and how they are currently perceived. Recruiters of the past would now be organizational strategic partners of the future. These are pretty big steps towards creating a more trustworthy, accountable, credible industry, but taking these steps may help recruiters to focus on what is important in our occupation: helping our clients meet and exceed their goals by locating awesome consultants who will help them.
As the day came to a close, I knew that I did not just belong in this group, but they NEED someone like me. Someone who is not afraid to challenge the status quo and someone that could be a voice of change. Please know that I care about this industry greatly and my observations, thoughts and ideas are shared so that we can instigate true, authentic, inside-out change.
Let's not just talk it, but let's walk it. It's time to step it up and do what's right for our clients.