A Recruiter To-Do List for 2013

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Messy To Do ListIt’s almost here. That’s right. 2013. A brand new year to be all that we can be. Or be what our parents hoped we would not be. Or to be something in the middle.

Last year, we published a to-do list for recruiters that was really popular. Most of the items on the list are still relevant… and I bet you did all of them religiously, right? Perhaps this is your chance to take another crack at them. And of course, we’ve added some more to make it even harder… we mean more useful.

2012 was an eventful year in online recruiting. Social recruiting got so mainstream that it’s almost banal to talk about. There were a few big tech acquisitions that showed the world how important recruiting software and staffing technology will continue to be. Phones got even cooler and Congress and the president stayed the same. The economy tossed about in its slumber, but never really woke up. Unfortunately, exactly 50% of recruiters suffered below average performance for 2012. But luckily, half of recruiters excelled above their peers. That’s a joke, guys.

And so again, when robots should be refueling our airborne cars, it’s instead just another year to put our nose to the grindstone and get to work. Here is that quick to-do list that is oh so not quick to actually get done for next year.

A Recruiter To-Do List for 2013

  • Always get back to candidates. Just do it. Don’t make it a big deal. Send a quick email. Don’t worry about being rude. Or being short. Or shattering someone’s dreams. Just do it. It’s the right thing to do. If they are treated right, candidates multiply. So do clients for that matter.
  • Use the tech you have. No matter if your company just invested in a fancy new ATS or if you have a 1999 Palm Pilot that you are entering contacts into, make sure to use the technology that you have. Everyone always says that with CRMs, you only get out what you put in. This year, don’t even let the thought cross your mind that technology is management looking over your shoulder or “big brother.” Document everything you do religiously, and enter in every bit of candidate information that you can. Information, more than ever, is your arsenal. You need all that deep data to put you above and beyond your competition, who is more than likely just zipping though social profiles and forgetting they even have an ATS. Over time, your database of clients and candidates grows in value into something much more than any public source of data. It’s your own success that you are building by actually using recruiting systems systematically.
  • Have a smart template system. If you’re a corporate recruiter responsible for processing hundreds of applicants a day, the first to-do doesn’t apply to you well. Instead, review your template system generated upon candidate actions, such as for application and interview. However, for any candidate that you have a personal interaction with, make sure you do follow up. Just because you’re behind a big corporation, it doesn’t make you exempt.
  • Don’t get stepped on. Recruiters are forever on the outside looking in, and it’s easy to fancy candidates, clients, and hiring managers as being somehow higher up on the totem. They are in the industry and they know the profession after all, and recruiters are just bottom feeders sucking off the side of the tank (kidding). Don’t let hiring managers push you around and don’t get entranced with high end candidates that make more or know more than you do. You owe it to yourself to act like a professional and not waste your time. Demand feedback. Demand respect. Demand common courtesy.
  • Fix mobile. Your candidates are definitely using smartphones, as you most likely do. But chances are that you aren’t doing anything to help them work with you through their phones. Make sure that you have a job application process that actually works for people with mobile devices. But an even more important step is to make sure that you are reaching candidates in the way that they want to be reached. Ensure that this year, you finally use your ATS and flesh out every bit of contact information. Get their cellphones. Ask them if they want text job alerts. Ask your candidates about how they use mobile. Then engage them in the way that they want to be contacted and do an even better job of staying in touch.
  • Be one of them. Whatever it is you recruit for, you need to get inside their heads. If you’re not reading every trade journal for the industry or profession for which you recruit, you’re missing an opportunity. If you aren’t constantly advancing your understanding, you probably won’t be in this business very long. Go the extra mile and become your prey – you should understand everything you can about what your candidates do and how they do it.
  • Go beyond. Besides learning about what they do, do something different yourself. Knowledge only goes so far – demonstrate it! Write a blog, write a book, start a club, speak at an event, start a website, contribute to a publication (maybe this one?), or do some non profit work. Read a book on HR even if you don’t work in HR. Read 10 books about esoteric talent management practices. Read about interviewing tactics and jot down some notes. Just try to do a couple of things that are solidly above and beyond your job description. It’s not to get clout, it’s to develop your skills, job security, and to network beyond your usual circles.
  • Don’t Lie. We all lie. Admit it. White lies can be an important aspect of communication. We tell sick people they look like they’re getting better. We tell our spouses they look thin. However, recruiters are particularly vulnerable to white lies because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. We’re dealing with important, if not life-altering events in someone’s life. When jobs and salaries are on the line, it’s easy to want to massage the message a bit. The problem is, this often creates more work for you. Instead of thinking of what you owe everyone else, think about yourself. You don’t have the time for a constantly blurred reality. Just say it like it is and give yourself a break. Your clients and candidates will appreciate it and I guarantee that you’ll be more productive yourself.
  • Stop wasting time on the web. When employers started putting computers on everyone’s desks, computers were a lot less fun. They were green screened calculators and fancy Rolodexes. Now we have the web, which often makes prime time television look like War and Peace. Recruiters have it harder than most, as some legit activities are very close to wasting time… like checking out social media profiles and learning about different professions and skills on the web. If you’re not careful, wasted minutes can slip into wasted days and weeks. So figure out a system to ensure you’re not wasting your time by accident. RescueTime is a cool little tool for the analytical among us. But it doesn’t have to be fancy – use an egg timer if you have to. Seriously, it’s important.
  • Get the right job for yourself. So you get jobs for everyone else, but are you in the right job yourself? Do you long to work a corporate gig, get into recruitment sales, or source candidates using Boolean all day? Whatever it is you want to do in recruiting, you owe it to yourself to make it happen. If you can alter your job with your current employer, do that instead of jumping – now isn’t the time to be the new guy. But if the job you want doesn’t exist or is impossible to get, it’s time to move on. Get motivated to make your move and just do it already.
  • Stop worrying. How many people in your office feel great about being recruiters? I would bet that you hear people every single day saying “How did I get here?” and repeating some of the same things candidates say, like “Low life recruiter” or “bottom-feeding.” This is the year to give up that negativity. This is also the year to not spend even one more second debating about whether your profession is going away, or if the recruiting industry is being transformed, or if machines and big data will supplant relationship oriented recruiting. The staffing industry is bigger than ever, executive search isn’t going away, and the recruiting function is even more valued than it was 10 years ago. Vow to not waste any more time and just succeed at the career you have. Because it’s a great one and can take you anywhere you want to go.
  • Have more fun. Since when was having lunch with friends and getting people jobs work? Don’t forget why you love this profession. Be sure to schedule plenty of fun networking events for yourself- whatever it is this means to you. Have lunch with old high school friends and figure out what everyone else in your class is doing. Go to a C++ class and talk to some developers. Go to a college and teach a class on getting a job. Whatever you do, just get out of your head once in a while and be sure to have fun.

So now is the time to make up those new resolutions. This is a fun time, because we still have a few days in which to not do them – the resolution equivalent of limbo. Hope this list gets you off to a good start – good luck out there and best wishes from us at Recruiter.com for a very happy and safe new year and tremendous success in 2013.

By Miles Jennings