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If Only You Could Recruit Grit

At a tactical level—within the context of top-of-funnel recruiting—things like “hunger” and “shit to prove” and “curiosity” and “grit” exist in the ether.

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How does a recruiter source hunger? What about grit? Or curiosity? Or someone who has something to prove who might go the extra mile?

They can’t. Not without unwavering intention anyway. And certainly not at scale.

Those are soft skills. They’re also extremely subjective.

At a tactical level—within the context of top-of-funnel recruiting—things like “hunger” and “shit to prove” and “curiosity” and “grit” exist in the ether. They’re virtuous candidate traits promoted in overly-agreeable LinkedIn posts by people who have no idea what recruiters are operating against.

A recruiter sources the highest likelihood of competency. They’re tracking down a skill set—like bloodhounds navigating a dense forest of online profiles.

The hard truth is that recruiting is a risk analysis. This means that recruiting the gritty underdog persona described in popular LinkedIn posts falls outside of the acceptable risk zone for most companies.

That said, the only way to know that a person actually has these soft skills is if they, as a candidate, go so far out of their way to display them. That translates to an undeniable amount of action and creativity for getting their foot in the door. Otherwise, if the resume doesn’t match the pre-determined risk tolerance for the role, there’s an extremely low to zero chance of matching.

Sorry folks, like it or not, outsiders have to submit an application the traditional way, face the flawed complex maze of application software, and work exponentially harder to even get a shot at a conversation with a recruiter. While candidates from [insert fancy school] who’ve worked at [insert well-known brand] have inboxes flooded with recruiter messages. No application needed.

Yes, the game is somewhat rigged and unfair. But if you look at it purely as risk analysis, the system doesn’t feel quite as fucked. From a company perspective, I get it.

This isn’t my opinion. It’s my observation of this space as it applies to recruiting skilled labor.


FTR, I’ve personally always fallen outside the accepted risk zone. I just now operate a business that supports the recruiting space. As a result, I’ve become quite privy to the realities of the industry and how they differ from what most of us wish could be true.

Now, an opinion:

Recruiting outsiders can be a transformative experience for both a company and a job seeker. Honestly, there are few greater impacts that a hiring manager or recruiter can have on society than giving an overlooked (but qualified, of course) candidate who truly needs employment a fulfilling job. That’s fucking impactful at a human level. Don't overlook this. And don’t forget the immense opportunity some of you have to change a life.

P.S. This isn’t a recruiter issue. Most recruiters want to impact peoples lives in this way. And just as many are swimming against their company tide.

– Nate

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