Hire-Sense: Why LinkedIn has made the art of professional recruiting more challenging
By Dennis Troyanos, Founder
The Troyanos Group, Ltd.
Social business networks like LinkedIn, Jigsaw and Spoke are beginning to put traditional recruiters out of business … and it’s about time!
Last week I ran into a former competitor who was the founder of what was once a very successful boutique recruiting firm, with several offices sprinkled along the east coast. While I was happy to see this fellow, I suspected something had changed in his life when I realized that he was casually window shopping along Fifth Avenue at high noon on a weekday! Trust me when I tell you that there is no such thing as a “successful recruiter” with nothing to do in the middle of the most productive part of a work day. And, sure enough once we got past the initial niceties, he confessed to me that he was “in transition”… Translation: He was “out of business” (figuratively and literally!).
He was eager to tell me that “LinkedIn, Jigsaw and Spoke were the poison pills that killed my business.” Now he lamented, “anyone can find candidates, they don’t need to pay a fee to do it.” The professional recruiting business … (headhunting) is dead he declared! Why? Because HR departments can, and do hire armies of low wage, inexperienced “internal recruiters” to troll social networks and other similar business databases, to endlessly produce “candidates” to fill jobs by the bushel-full. These jobs of course were the very same jobs that that were once filled by external recruiters for a handsome, (some would say exorbitant) fee. But now, that game is over and the prospects of making a good living as a headhunter are quickly fading from view.
He actually warned me to think about “getting out of the business before it became unsustainable!” (I love that word “unsustainable”).
As fate would have it, our firm was just celebrating the biggest month we have had in 5 years, and thankfully we were finding no shortage of customers willing to engage us at the highest, most profitable levels.
The irony: My friend was at least half right … traditional recruiting / so called headhunting is dead. There is virtually no value in “finding people” when social media has created an environment where people are essentially wearing electronic sandwich billboards in the digital town square begging to be “found!”
To make matters exponentially worse, virtually all of the “data” that make up an individual’s “profile” on these social sites is “self reported” … no room for fudging there eh? And last but not least the conga line of glowing “endorsements” is largely meaningless fluff.
So what is a recruiter to do? As a Gilbert & Sullivan character once crooned; when everyone is SOMEBODY … then no one’s ANYBODY!
The question: How do you get paid for finding people when companies are virtually drowning in a tsunami wave of names, impressive titles and “amazing profiles?”
The answer: Real recruiters don’t and have never played this game. We don’t compete with LinkedIn, Ladders, Monster, Jigsaw, Spoke or any other electronic matchmakers. The fact is we use these tools to work our craft like a sculptor uses a hammer and a chisel to create a spectacularly complex work of art.
Recruiters who will survive and thrive in this new world order will be those who provide a measurable competitive edge for their clients by doing two things VERY well, namely;
- Helping the client develop a vision for the kind of talent that will effectively differentiate their brand (their corporate and their personal brand … more about this in a future article) in the marketplace. And,
- Effectively develop, and flawlessly execute a strategy for identifying (that’s where public databases come in) and EXTRACTING (that’s where a recruiter’s creative, powers of persuasion come into play) … the one best person from the competition, who has the mosaic of skills that achieves the aspirational goals of the hiring executive.
Simply put … yesterday, the name of the recruiting game was finding needles in haystacks. Today, the new game is extracting the one golden needle in a mountain of seductive but otherwise ineffective “look alike” needles.
Recruiters who cannot provide this kind of strategic insight and delivery service to a client will be wandering around the concrete version of Jurassic Park like my “transitioning” friend was when I saw him on the streets of New York a few weeks back.
Dennis Troyanos is the Founder of The Troyanos Group, Ltd., a retained executive search firm specializing in marketing and advertising services. He can be reached at 914-479-1801 or firstname.lastname@example.org