Recruiter Goat’s Gruff: Recessions Bring Out Our True Recruiting-Self…

Josh Letourneau Candidate Pool, Joshua Letourneau, Recruiting, Sourcing, Working With Recruiters

Recessions tell us a good deal about ourselves as Recruiting Animals, don’t they?  If you want me to be honest, I really wish we didn’t have any, but the fact is that we do . . . and the cycle is fairly predictable.  One thing I’ve come to learn is that down economic periods shape our view of what is truly important in life.  For example, my grandparents often told me stories I will never forget about living through the Great Depression as young children. And as the number of unemployed grow, I find myself having more and more conversations in which the downsized candidate needs, above all things, a flicker of positivity; many simply pick up on the hope in your voice and it can change their outlook, giving them some momentum to continue pushing forward.  “These are tough times, but we will come out of this.”

Yet, as I say this, I am dismayed at the number of candidate-bludgeoning articles (and today, blog posts) that come out during recessionary times such as those we find ourselves in today.  It’s as if many Recruiters (internal and external) are now sporting “a gun and a badge.”  At a time when we can do the most good (see David Pritchard’s efforts to assist the candidate market), there are entire series coming out that do nothing but perpetuate this majority-versus-minority mentality.  The latest installment in the Egregiously Bad Candidate series, “7 Great Ways to Ensure No Recruiter Ever Reads Your Resume” was the breaking point for me.  Seriously, with 50% of the entire Recruiting population gone over the last 12 months, those of us still standing are better than this.  Let me ask: At what point did we transition from a highly skilled and passionate group of people continuously seeking to find and secure the best talent, to behaving as if we’re trolls guarding the bridge?  “Thou Shall Not Pass!”


Watching more and more of these negativity-focused articles come out, I can’t help but believe they’re exactly what we don’t need . . . and as far as the unemployed population goes, it’s no wonder many are scared of (and turned off by) Recruiters.  And in that sense, I’ve come to some conclusions I’d like to share today.  As always, I welcome your thoughts and ask you to add to the list:

1. We, as a Recruiting Industry, have taught the candidate market many of their bad habits.  That’s a fact, Jack.  For example, is it ok for us to blind mass email out job descriptions . . . but then flex on the candidate population when they blind mass email their resume?  Until we elevate our own behavior, we’re nothing more than sitting in glass houses.

2. For all you External Recruiters out there, let me shoot straight with you: If you can afford to screen out on the basis of petty issues (i.e. “I didn’t like their signature line”), you’re in the wrong niche.  For Internal Recruiters, I’ll say this: Just because the average tenure in your position is 8 – 12 months, you still hold responsibility for your organization’s employment brand.

3. Just because we temporarily hold a position of power (i.e. Recruiters can screen in or screen out on the basis of personal discretion), doesn’t mean that we should abuse our power.  Acton was right when he stated that, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Look, if you want to be a gun-and-badge toting monster, I understand there isn’t a whole lot I can do to change your mind.  But, If I can leave you with one thing today, it’s this: Don’t forget what happened to the Troll in Billy Goat’s Gruff.  He’s no longer recruiting.  Nope, he now works at a used-car dealership and moonlights as an real estate consultant.

Josh Letourneau is the owner of Knight & Bishop, an Executive Search and Human Capital Intelligence firm, with an emerging focus on Social Network Analysis (SNA). Nope, not like MySpace, but more like who is connected to whom in organizations and how does that impact their influence on decision making and P.O.V.s. And you can learn more about all of this on his new blog .