Why I Recruit

Image by Stuart Miles

Image by Stuart Miles

While I might not be searching for a job right now I am going through something very similar: Trying to find an agent for my manuscript. You attend career fairs, I attend conferences. You pitch to a recruiter, I pitch to editors and agents. You put together a cover letter, resume and application. I put together a synopsis, one sheet and proposal. This process has made me a better recruiter, because talking to an agent can be daunting, but just about everyone on this journey has been kind to me which makes it so much easier.

I have been recruiting for 13 years and counting.  Just the other day the speaker at the networking event said to me, “I used to be a recruiter. It is the best job in the world!” And she meant it.

Wow. I love what I do but something about the way she said it made me take a step back to see what made her pump her fist in the air when she said those words. So here are my top 14 reasons why it’s so cool to be a recruiter. Yes, I know it’s an odd number but it’s my blog. J And they aren’t in any particular order either. (You Type A’s are going to have a fit!)

1)    Making someone’s day. And not in the Dirty Harry way. (Yes, I know, I’m dating myself, but Clint is actually more my parents’ generation.) Making that phone call to offer a job to someone who is perfect for the job is exciting! I have heard people nearly burst with excitement when I offered the job.

2)    Representing a great organization and sharing great opportunities. I didn’t come into my company as a recruiter, and I wasn’t dreaming of becoming one either. I wanted to learn how to run a business and was able to do that during my first five years. Then the recruiting opportunity opened up. I’d never thought about it before but what an opportunity! I knew I worked for an incredible company. The problem was, not enough people outside of our organization knew. The recruiting role would open the door to share that information with potential candidates.

3)    No two interviews are alike. I’ve had many people say to me, “There’s no way I could interview people all day, every day.” Neither could I! Recruiting is much more varied than that. It’s working with upper management to create postings, building relationships with referral sources, networking and managing a process, just to name a few responsibilities. But even though I might have the same questions for candidates no two answers are ever the same.

One candidate I’ll call Bob had a difficult customer that refused to sign a safety waiver at the community center where he worked. For half an hour Bob tried to explain to the customer why it was important but the guy eventually stalked off into the locker room determined that no one was going to make him do something he didn’t want to do. Since this wasn’t the first time the customer had refused, Bob had no choice but to call the police. And Mr. Customer was taken from the whirlpool, escorted off the premises and banned from the community center.

Trust me, I’ve never heard anything like that before or since.

4)    Impacting the company on a critical level. No matter the product, without people to design, implement and sell there is no company. All the success of the organization starts with its people and I get to play a part in that.

5)    Training others to be great recruiters. Being the expert in my craft is a tall order, but absolutely necessary, and it’s part of my job to make sure all the hiring managers are experts in interviewing as well.

6)    Closing the deal. Make no mistake about it, recruiters are sales people and we get that same ‘high’ from winning a new hire as an account representative gets from landing a new account. Once I know someone is a fit for our company I don’t want to let him get away. Just the other day I spoke with a candidate who told me, “I’m sorry ma’am. I don’t want to waste your time but I’m about to accept an offer with another company.”

I found out this guy hadn’t even interviewed anywhere else; he was just going with the first offer that came his way. I noticed he’d gotten a football scholarship to college. “Let me ask you something,” I said. “When you got your football scholarship, did you just go with the first college that came your way?” He laughed. “I went with the most money!” I laughed. “Then let me tell you a little bit about our program…”

I proceeded to tell him everything that made us the exact opposite of the other company.

He interviewed the next day.

(And we recruiters get to chat with this guy.)

7) Watching the folks I brought on board climb the ladder. I feel like a mama bear as new hires take those first tentative steps, then they slowly learn the ropes and begin to advance into higher roles in the company. Total affirmation that we made the right choice.

8)    Spotting the potential in a candidate and watching him bloom. So we take a risk and hire someone who’s a little light in sales but with a crazy competitive streak and strong leadership. Mere months later she’s breaking sales records!

9)    Creativity. Coming up with new ways to attract quality candidates can be challenging, yet rewarding when new ideas pan out. Should I utilize social media, the internet, college visits or employee referrals?

Along those same creative lines, earlier this week my colleague and I conducted  a Career Prep seminar at a university. When I present I don’t want to talk ‘at’ the audience, I want them to stay alert and participate. So I ask questions and make them think. And, big surprise, I call on people. At the end of the day forty students were scribbling notes, sitting on the edge of their chairs and asking how they can get on board with our company.

10) Mock interviews and resume critiques. I can’t lean across the desk in an interview as say, “You’re doing this all wrong!!”, although some days it’s tempting. Thank goodness for local universities and career centers like the Urban League who offer opportunities for recruiters to come and teach students and job-seekers how to improve their interviewing skills and resumes.

11) The opportunity to learn new things. I’ve learned about investments, how to build a deck and, yes, even the operations behind the scenes at a circus. Apparently, and contrary to popular belief, clowns are some of the saddest people on earth.

Who knew?

12) Building relationships with referral sources. There is a great satisfaction in knowing that a university is sending people my way because our working relationship over the years has become more of a friendship. When they greet me with a hug instead of a handshake, I know I’m doing something right.

13) Spotting candidates’ talents and skills and guiding them in the right direction. A candidate who has started several businesses in college and has entrepreneur written all over him but is considering a career in accounting? Not on my watch.

Nothing wrong with accounting, it just obviously isn’t the best fit for him.

14) Three words: Best. Stories. Ever. My all-time favorite came from a candidate years ago who was telling me how he coped with stress. He explained that he lived in a small town and there was a girl there who had accused him of getting her pregnant.

Oh boy… I was too new of a recruiter to know how to stop this runaway train. So I just sat there with my frozen smile as he continued.

He knew it couldn’t have been him because they’d only been together the one time.

Yikes!! Please do not keep talking.

“So I talked with my friends to ease my stress.” He shrugged, looking a little helpless. “And after that, all I could do was wait for the DNA test.”

And that, my friends, was priceless.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t at all about gearing everyone—or anyone—toward recruiting. What I’m saying is this: when you can compose a Top 5, 10 or, ahem, 14 reasons why you love your career, then you know you’ve made the right choice.