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Lofty Ideas vs. Practical Reality in Recruiting

I’ve taken the other side on all of these topics and backed it with dozens of conversations. So at the very least, I’ve done my due diligence.

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There seems to be a lack of pragmatism with some of the ideas being touted in and around the recruiting space.

(FTR I’ve helped propagate some of these ideas in the past. I’m open about the fact that my thoughts evolve. And boy have they.)

Let’s ground some of these lofty ideas in practical reality:

1. Employer branding helps recruiters.

I’ve yet to see this be true at scale. I’ve talked with hundreds of in-house recruiters and the overwhelming consensus is: The vast majority of employer branding work does not serve recruiters, is not made for recruiters, and therefore does not make recruiting easier. It’s a half-assed attempt at marketing words that are created in an echo chamber of false reality. The result is surface-level fluff that helps companies feel good about themselves—and drives no meaningful results.

Yes, there are edge cases where a company, its leader(s), its employees, and its employer brand champion “get it”. These folks are a rare breed.

2. Personal brand drives talent.

In theory, yes. In practice, hardly.

Those with popular personal brands—even in the narrowest of niches—tend to be popular amongst groups of followers who are “hope-to-be’s”. Followers see this person (the brand) and aspire to be like them. This is great for popularity. But it’s far from building a community that’s made up of the highly qualified people you’d want to hire at your company.

3. Recruiting agencies are bad.

No, actually they’re your BFFs. (Thanks, James Hornick for enlightening me on why.)

Hiring fluctuates. As a result, internal recruiting teams get hired and fired with the ebbs and flows of the market. Agencies on the other hand can fill demand on-demand. They can turn the volume up or down depending on your needs.

Because agencies provide much-needed flexibility, this is a huge advantage for companies that are subject to market fluctuations. Not to mention, the best agencies and independent recruiters are better at recruiting than you are. If you want this done right and fast, pay for it.

4. Outbound sourcing is spam—and therefore bad.

I generally maintain this opinion when it comes to cold outbound sales. But I’ve changed my tune when it comes to recruiting.

Recruiting is not sales. The market behavior is completely different. Candidates—even those who are currently employed—are generally open to new opportunities. Even if their current role checks all the boxes. Why? Cuz the grass and the dollars are always greener. Especially for those with high-demand skills.

Couple this unique market behavior with the fact that most recruitment marketing and employer branding efforts are useless for generating qualified inbound candidates and highly-targeted recruiter outbound feels like the move here. At least for now.

There ya go. Lots of opinions.

I’ve taken the other side on all of these topics and backed it with dozens of conversations. So at the very least, I’ve done my due diligence.

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