Recruiting… Or Data Mining?


There’s no surprise that recruiting has undergone massive change in the past decade.  The most dramatic change that I have witnessed is that the Art of Recruiting is dying fast. In fact, for many “Recruiters” who work in the Contingency world, they have actuality become little more than “Data Miners.”  You won’t hear them admit this fact, but it is none the less true. No sooner do they secure a Job Order or a signed agreement than they run to the internet to try to beat their competition to the latest arrivals to the job boards. Most of these “Data Miners” must rush to get the freshest resumes into the “in-boxes” of the hiring authorities before someone else does. Repeat cycle, over and over again and that my friends is what recruiting has come to for many. Don’t let them kid you though, this isn’t recruiting.  This is something anyone can do and, and companies are getting weary of paying even low flat fees for this marginal service.

I’ve spoken to recruiters who have been in the business for decades and they are at a loss. They used to do it the “good o’l fashioned way,” but when they try to diligently execute a real search, they get beaten to the finish by the least professional recruiters who don’t do any real recruiting or vetting. The old-school recruiters are no match for the swift, techno-savvy “drive-by” resume shooters. Sadly, many of these old professionals are struggling to survive in recruiting because their methods are archaic. It reminds me of the Travel Agency business model that has all but vanished with the advent of the Internet. Now that hoards of active candidates’ resumes are readily available to anyone with a computer, companies searching for active candidates can do this on their own. They merely need a tech-savvy person who can search online and pay a small fee to the job boards and click away.  I am convinced that a major part of recruiting is forever changed. As a recruiter, you can ride whatever is left of the wave until it reaches shore, or you can fundamentally change the way you work with your clients.

If your business strategy is to be the “Quick-Draw Resume Blaster” and skim the active candidates’ resumes online and blitz your “clients,” you should expect further pricing pressures because you really aren’t a Recruiter.  You need to come to terms with a more appropriate title of “Data Miner” or “Active Candidate Sourcer.” If you are not content to be this kind of person, I would encourage you to elevate your game and leave the Active Candidates to others.  Build your practice on finding the most talented, gainfully employed Prospects which require actual “Recruiting” to secure interest.  You can expect to provide greater value to your clients and have a far greater impact upon their businesses as a result. All you have to give up is the frenzy of competing over scraps with other recruiters and companies in the race to the finish line.

You can do it!  You just have to decide that you want to endure in this business and elevate your game. Leave the feeding trough and go hunting again.  You’ll be glad that you did!

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2 thoughts on “Recruiting… Or Data Mining?

  1. I almost didn’t bother to respond to your blog because it is so senseless but…

    “Build your practice on finding the most talented, gainfully employed Prospects which require actual “Recruiting” to secure interest.” Isn’t this the “good o’l fashioned way”?
    “…many of these old professionals are struggling to survive in recruiting because their methods are archaic.” You state that recruiting passive prospects is best but then ridicule the recruiters that do it…. thus ridiculing yourself and making you – dare I say it – ‘marginalized’.
    Drew, if you’re going to make a derogatory statement about the so-called old way of recruiting – which I have done very successfully for over 22 years and don’t consider it old but very prosperous – you need to site why it’s not working against the ‘resume shooters’. Leaving a statement just hanging shows your inexperience in recruiting as an executive search consultant (and is just plain stupid) because it shows you have nothing to support your statement. I know why my practice works over the resume shooters…. but I don’t think you do. Oh, and it has nothing to do with working only retained search – that can sometimes translate to ‘chained search’.
    This is maybe why you have so much time to blog nonsense. Do you have extra time on your hands so you can spend time writing trash about perceived competitors? Paranoid much? YOU are your biggest competitor. How you interact with others is your reputation and it gets around, especially in the digital age.
    My practice includes mostly retained but also some contingency search. I turn down more work than many recruiters get in a year (regardless of how they do their job). I don’t care or worry about other recruiters in my niche – I worry about my performance on every engagement. My searches are always exclusive and many of my clients have been working with me since the early 1990s. My practice consists of referrals to other companies/firms from my clients and/or contacts I have made over the years. My time is precious and costly. I have never lowered my fees from 1/3 of total annual compensation. I have tried to retire twice but my clients enticed me back into the game because they wanted my skills in finding the right person for the right position and company. I love this business and you are trying to give it a bad name – but you are only making yourself ‘marginalized’.

  2. Cora, I appreciate your comment. However, you clearly misunderstood me. The “old way” is the RIGHT way! Real recruiting is how you bring value to your clients. I don’t think you GET my point.

    I’ll attempt to explain it again. Before the internet, everyone did real recruiting. Since the internet, very few do real recruiting. Because it is very easy to find people on the web, people take shortcuts in the process of vetting. In most cases, when working on contingency, the award goes to the person who took the most shortcuts and sends the resume in first. Thus “dumbing down” recruiting and relegating it to little more than “Data Mining.” I am advocating returning to real recruiting, the old fashioned way.

    I did a webinar last week with 85 attendees and the consensus was that contingency recruiters feel marginalized and are tired of working for free. Many are very discouraged by being kept in the margins by their “clients.” My point is that we have to deliver higher quality than merely running to the job boards if you want to be taken seriously by companies and not be replaced by technology and internal recruiters. I also have recruiters who I consult with to help them convert their business from contingency to retained. I’ve not met anyone who would rather work for free which is what contingency amounts to for most people. Nor do they relish being in the position of “submitting candidates” rather than consulting with their clients on how to hire the best. I stand by my statements. I’ve worked both ways, and I’ll stick with retained.

    I’m not sure why you have taken my post so personally, but since you do retained work, you must get it. I am sure that you prefer working on Retainer rather than contingency and admit to there being a difference in your approach and results. I just believe that it is better for all parties when we get out of the Race to the Bottom on Job Boards. The scores of recruiters who I speak to ALL would love to go retained if they haven’t already. And why not? It is better for everyone.

    If that makes me “Stupid,” then so be it.

    Cheers!

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