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Traveling back from Florida this past weekend after attending a conference, I read an article on Lifehacker.com titled “The Top 10 Difficult Decisions You’ll Make in Life (and how to make them).” To provide context, here’s the list:

1. Know when it’s time to quit (anything)
2. Have children or not
3. Get married or not
4. Who to go on a date with
5. Rent or buy a house
6. Figure out where to live
7. Go back to school or get an advanced degree
8. Make a career change
9. Decide on a career
10. Choose a college major

We have all seen lists like this before, but this one made caught my attention. The way I look at it, 6 out of the 10 biggest decisions in our lives can somehow be related to the recruiting and search industry (and I'm not just biased). Let me refine this idea a bit:

Know when it’s time to quit. This is a no-brainer. As an employee, knowing when it’s time to go is a big, often agonizing decision. This is when a recruiter serves as a great counselor. No, we can’t force anyone to make this decision, but we sure can influence the decision. We do so by the questions we ask, the emotions we spark, and the needs that we meet.

Figure out where to live. Many of the studies I have read support the fact that we make decisions on where to live based on the following criteria: family, friends, climate, and career opportunities. Again, if you are a recruiter involved in getting people to relocate for the right opportunities, you can influence this transition.

Go back to school or get an advanced degree. I will admit that this one is a bit of a stretch. As recruiters, we probably get less involved with this one. However, 2- and 4-year college degrees, advanced degrees, technical training, etc. can all affect an individual’s career path. I’ve recommended candidates go back, finish their degree, and return afterward for consideration.

Make a career change. As recruiters, we are directly involved in this one. We play a role in these decisions whether we believe it or not. If we provide the wrong counsel just to fill a role, we can really screw up a candidate’s life. Cutting corners in evaluating a candidate’s needs is bordering on unethical.

Choose a college major. This is another stretch, but it still potentially impacts career decisions. Although there is not always a correlation between someone’s major and someone’s actual job, it can show people what they like or don’t like.

Here’s my point in all of this. Fifty percent of the major decisions in someone’s life revolves around a career. That said, we need to take our responsibility seriously. Finding and hiring the wrong person may mess up your bonus, but placing someone in the wrong role has far more monumental consequences for the individual.

Most people that provide some type of coaching or counseling understand the impact and influence they have. Malpractice insurance and even general business insurance is expensive, but it’s because of the liability.

Recruiters get a bad reputation when they have no concept of the importance of the role they play in a candidate’s life. Many people think because they don’t make the final career change decision, they do not play a role in influencing the candidate. Look a little deeper and you will quickly realize that’s total crap.

Great recruiters are an invaluable resource to the client and the company they represent. Bad recruiters or those that simply look at recruiting as a transaction, give the rest of us a bad rap.

The role of a professional recruiter is way more than just finding candidates and filling roles. We’re missing the boat if we don’t realize the impact and influence we have on people and companies. Serious recruiters understand the gravity of their role and embrace.

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