Be a Consultant, Not a Recruiter

by Alicia Arenas on July 29, 2009

Guest Blogger – Alicia Arenas

42-15529727Over the last several months, I have developed relationships with executive search and recruiting professionals on Twitter. The conversations I have with these folks are always enlightening and inspiring. This may not reflect the industry as a whole, but the people I talk with represent the true spirit of entrepreneurialism. What they do involves sales, risk, research, an intense understanding of human behavior, negotiation, intuition, knowledge of employment law, compensation and the ability to influence. You have my greatest respect.

Why a post for recruiters?

I recently had the privilege of being a guest panelist at a recruiting association meeting. Their goal was to give their members an insider’s, HR perspective on the world of recruiting. Do you know what shocked me? I was surprised to learn how little the recruiters really understood about the inner workings of HR. Hopefully this post will shed some light on what is happening behind the scenes in HR.

Human Resources Professionals Know Little About Effective Recruiting

Don’t get me wrong, most all HR professionals have received some type of interview training, but we’re not taught how to recruit. And the quality of the interview training we do receive is lacking. Here is what it looks like: 1/2 day of employment law training, 1/2 day of behavioral interview training & maybe 1/2 day of practice interviewing. That’s it. I worked for four Fortune 500 companies and this was the extent of the training the HR team received. If you are working with someone in a Generalist or even a leadership position within HR, this is probably the extent of their formal training too.

To get you even deeper into what happens behind the scenes, I would invite you to think about how tough it is to do something important when you haven’t been taught how to do it well…  Now insert that responsibility and pressure into the real life scenario of an HR pro: the need to effectively recruit for multiple openings along with handling employee relations issues, benefits questions, drug testing, background check verifications, training, investigations, performance management, audits, budget reviews, special projects, etc. If there is an employee crisis somewhere, the mountain of work gains altitude each day that crisis needs attention.

What does this mean for you?  Opportunity.

Be a Consultant, Not a Recruiter

This is a true story. There was an IT recruiter who wanted to do business with me, but we did not have (nor did we anticipate having) any IT openings. I explained that to him and his answer was “That’s okay. Someday you will. In the meantime, do you want some pointers to help you with your other openings?” Pointers? Of course I wanted pointers! So over the course of a couple of months he took time from his business to show me how to be a better recruiter. He gave me search tips, taught me to read between the lines in a resume and how to get worthwhile information from references. Because of his help, I did a better job filling the positions I was responsible for. The result – he made me look good to my hiring managers. Folks, in the HR world that is priceless. We’re seen as a “drain on the budget” or “a necessary evil.” When something you do helps us deliver results to our internal client, that is golden. Three months later I had an IT opening – it was for an EVP. To whom do you think I gave the order?

What do you think? What can you do today to shift your focus from recruiting to consulting?

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