Recruiting is Broken

I am dumbfounded when people tell me “The market seems to be picking up.” Um, where have you been the last 5 years? At least in the world of LA tech, we have been in the midst of a hiring frenzy for at least that long. Demand is ever-increasing and supply is seemingly non-existent. At a certain point, I had to stop using my go-to explanation, which went kind of like this: Typically, once the supply/chain equation starts to level off, the market takes about 6 months to catch up with it. Given that it’s been more like 6 years, I’m ready to admit that the theory which used to apply to the ebbs and flows of market conditions just doesn’t do the trick anymore. Demand remains extremely high and supply remains extremely low, and the normal balancers (hiring companies becoming more lax in their requirements, candidates realizing the market is hopping and throwing their hat into the job search mix) simply are not kicking in. So here is my new theory: This is just the way it is now. And Recruiting, which is still tailored around a market where supply/demand level off, is broken. It simply does not work in the new (incredibly hectic) economy. And here’s why, in my ever-humble opinion:

On the candidate side:

  • Recruiters’ emails and calls have become white noise to candidates. They are simply tuning us out as a result of bombardment. This applies to internal and agency recruiters, and even in some cases, to direct hiring managers who might try to tap into their networks to recruit. The more hands-on the person, the more our communication is sequestered into their white noise section.
  • Things have gotten too antiseptic. One of the biggest complaints I hear from candidates is that recruiters reach out to them about jobs that have nothing to do with them, or with information that makes it painfully obvious the recruiter has no clue what they are about. If you can’t bother to actually read a person’s profile, don’t bother them with your boilerplate notes. It just exacerbates the white noise issue for the rest of us. (I actually got a note from a recruiter at an agency-that-shall-remain-unnamed asking if I was interested in a Front End Engineering role.) (Twice.) (Not lying).

On the client side:

  • Hiring managers have gotten lazy. I used to be a hiring manager in tech, so I’m allowed to say that, right? Yes, if someone graduated from Stanford with a BS, CS and a GPA of 3.95, chances are they are smart and probably a decent coder. But seriously, that is the only type of candidate you will consider? Howz about you actually use your own experience to assess if the person is qualified instead of relying on Google and Stanford to do the qualifying for you? That’s what managers do. Instead of excluding potential candidates due to lack of these credentials, focus on including them until proven guilty, so to speak. Cherry picking does not exist anymore.
  • Every search has become a retained search. For every resume a client sees, we have probably weeded through 99 others that don’t make it past us. Which means we have probably reached out to about 100,000 people to yield the 99 we review. The more information a company provides a recruiter, the better that odds of us escaping the white noise section. I’ve gotten to the point of treating all my searches like a retained search. I’m going to start writing those fancy dossiers for Network Engineering roles soon. It’s in your best interest in arm us with the ammunition to set us apart.

I’m brainstorming with myself on the solution to the broken recruiting problem. If I figure it out, I’ll let you all know. But in the meantime, add a personal touch if you are trying to woo a candidate, and figure out a way to broaden the candidate pool by using your own assessments, instead of just saying no if a person is not out of the right University.

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