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Walk a Mile in the Recruiter’s Shoes and Win the Job Search

“Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty.

I see a glass that's twice as big as it needs to be.” ― George Carlin

Perspective matters in life. It matters in sales. And perspective definitely matters in the job search process. The ability to see an issue from another individual’s point of view can expand your knowledge. This new learning can create different but equally compelling paths to your ultimate objective of a job offer in your hand.

It has been almost 45 years since Elvis Presley passed away, and yet his words still resonate. One of his lesser-known songs, Walk a Mile in My Shoes, written by Joe South, speaks to perspective.

If I could be you, if you could be me

For just one hour, if we could find a way

To get inside each others mind

If you could see you through my eyes

Instead your own ego I believe you'd be

I believe you'd be surprised to see

That you've been blind

When I speak with prospects and clients, I often hear a common refrain about recruiters, and it is not flattering. It is also typically not accurate.

  • Why won’t the recruiter take my calls or answer my emails?

  • Why won’t the recruiter help me find a job?

  • Why don’t I ever hear back from the recruiter?

The problem here is perspective. The job seeker does not have the correct perspective about the recruiter's role in the hiring process. They have not walked a mile in the recruiter’s shoes.

Remember that the job search is essentially a sales cycle. You are the sales rep, and the product is you. To win the order in sales, you need to move around to the other side of the desk and put yourself in the buyer's position. Look at the purchase decision from the perspective of your customer.

What does success look like for the buyer? How is that individual’s performance measured? Your solution must solve a problem for the organization and drive a positive return on investment. But equally important, the purchase decision should reflect positively on the buyer’s performance.

Consider how a recruiter’s performance is measured and compensated for a targeted position in the hiring process. The answer depends on the type of recruiter or screener you are meeting within the interview process.

  • Internal Recruiter: These positions used to be called Employment Specialists. Now the more common term is Talent Acquisition. As a member of the HR function, the internal recruiter’s primary role is to bring new talent (employees) into the organization for a set of assigned positions. Key recruiting performance measurements typically include Time to Hire or Fill; Offer Acceptance Rate; First Year Attrition; Time to Productivity; Quality of Hire (1st Year Performance Rating); and Hiring Manager Satisfaction.

  • External Recruiter: Fundamentally, the only difference between an internal and external recruiter is the source of compensation and organizational affiliation. Internal recruiters are paid a salary, and organizational loyalty is to their employer. External recruiters are vendors compensated by a commission or fixed fee for candidate sourcing and placement. External recruiters may support one or more organizations dependent on the number of available job openings to service. While the compensation structure may differ, external recruiter performance is still measured by many of the same metrics as an internal recruiter. The only additional factor to consider is Cost Per Hire, given that external recruitment requires an outlay of funds from the hiring organization to the external recruiter.

Now that you understand how the recruiter is measured and compensated, you have a new perspective on the role in the hiring process. You can develop an approach and a screening interview strategy to best align to those critical performance and compensation metrics.

Let’s look at a few of the factors and an interview strategy for each performance metric.

  • Time to Hire or Fill: Make it clear that you are extremely focused on the position, the organization, and if offered the job, you would accept and onboard in the shortest time possible.

  • Offer Acceptance Rate: Demonstrate your passion for the position and a high probability of accepting a competitive offer that meets your primary job search requirements. Keep the objections and barriers to a minimum at the screening stage. There will always be time for negotiation at the offer stage.

  • First Year Attrition: Talk about how the position and the organizational culture are aligned with your career goals. Emphasize your ability to commit to the mission of the job and the organization supported with stories and evidence from your career to date.

  • Time to Productivity: Share your intention to develop a working 90-day action plan that will have you performing at a 100% productivity level within your first three months in the new position.

  • Quality of Hire and Hiring Manager Satisfaction: Match your skills and experience to the top position requirements to illustrate how your value proposition will drive a positive return on investment for the hiring manager and your new organization.

Keep this perspective on the recruiter at the front and center of your job search process. They are not here to be your career coach. They also are not here to block your advancement. Recruiters have a job to complete and objectives to execute. You need to figure out how best to align to those objectives. Make the recruiter’s job easier, not harder, and you will increase the probability of advancing further in the hiring process.

If you like getting your job search advice served up with an authentic voice, a dose of humility, and some popular culture, please subscribe to my AdvantEdge blog.

Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.


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