March 3, 2011

Insulting Recruiters? It Just Might Work

You gotta love recruiting… No, I mean, you really have to love recruiting to be in it. You get it from all sides: candidates, internal and external clients and hiring managers, and even other recruiting firms.

I came across Hackruiter and just had to mention them. In hip-plain black text on a white background, they proudly proclaim, “Most recruiters are hacks. We’re hackers.” What do they do? Well, from the looks of it, they are… recruiters… who are… smarter and cooler than you?  Um, yeah….

It’s of course just clever marketing (look, I’m writing about them) but it also reveals a deep misunderstanding of the recruiting business. People think successful recruiting is about understanding the profession for which you recruit. If you’ve been in the business, you have probably seen what happens when ex-practitioners try to get in the game. It’s usually not too pretty.

The key skills of recruiting are distinct competencies entirely divorced from the skills of the jobs for which you recruit. Should we laugh at math teachers who don’t understand tensor calculus or stock brokers who don’t understand the quantitative underpinnings of the securities they trade? The reality is that each profession demands entirely different skills – great teachers practice nuances of communication and understanding, stock brokers develop their understanding of financial counseling and sales methods… The core skills of listening, communication, motivation, organization, etc… are the urgent requirements for a great recruiter.

The folks funding this venture, Y Combinator, couldn’t be more savvy. The now famed company turned venture capital on its head by seeding great ideas with small funding and heavy management and networking expertise. The portfolio companies are guaranteed a high level of visibility, if not an immediate level of success.

Trying to kick recruiters around is a popular sport – so you never know, it might just work. I know that the guys at Y Combinator don’t fool around. But let’s hope that most people inside the industry realize the profession for all that it is and can be. I’m very proud to be involved in recruiting and I hope you are too.

Read more in Job Boards

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.