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Friday, July 22, 2016

The Cure for the Summertime Recruitment Blues


It’s happened to all of us.  If you have spent any significant time in the world of Talent Acquisition then you have been there.  Candidates do crazy things.  Hiring Managers make baffling decisions.  You’re not getting the feedback that you need.  You watch as the various parties involved in hiring and onboarding a candidate seemingly do everything in their power to sabotage your efforts.  Your frustration grows.  You are in a slump and it appears to you that everything you touch falls apart.  Under these circumstances, it can be difficult not to complain.  It’s human nature.  The easiest thing to do is point fingers, apply blame, and complain to your colleagues at lunch.  You feel the pressure, the stress.  I have been in this situation more than once throughout my career.  Sometimes I handled it well, sometimes I didn’t.  I ultimately discovered that there are many things you can do, but what is of the utmost importance is that you take responsibility and have the ability to look at yourself first.  Positivity is a must as well. Here are some things to think about or do the next time you feel like you’re in a similar situation.  

Focus on the “R” factor

The “R” factor is simply relationships.  I could go on and on about the importance of relationships not only in business but in every facet of life.  This is a golden opportunity to look at yourself first.  Many times throughout the recruiting process the influence that you are able to have and the responsiveness of the various parties involved comes down to the relationship that you have cultivated with them.  It’s important to ask yourself “what have I done to nurture a mutually beneficial partnership?”  There are many ways to increase relationships and everyone has different styles.  I recently came across an article in psychology today that I thought provided some great food for thought when reflecting on this.  For me, some of the common themes have been effective are over-communicating, seeking to understand things from their perspective, being a partner, and being human.  Too often we forget that in the rough and tumble world of corporate America, we are all still just people.  Focus on building relationships with those that create challenges for you and you will see an increase in your ability to get the results that you desire.  

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Own your role as an educator

People don’t know what they don’t know.  It’s true.  Too many times I have made the mistake of assuming that a hiring manager or someone involved in the hiring process knows things that are basic to me when in reality, they are still learning their role as an evaluator of talent and hiring decision maker.  You will also run into quite a few scenarios where these people think they understand the labor market, the best ways to attract talent, and what makes a good interview, when in fact, they shooting themselves in the foot because of what they don’t know.  You as a true talent advisor are the subject matter expert and it’s important that you understand that and adopt that role. It’s no secret that the talent acquisition landscape has changed drastically over the last few years.  It’s highly unlikely that your hiring teams have kept up with all of the changes.  Every meeting should include a little education and level setting with your business partners.  Again, the better your relationship, the easier this is to do.  It’s also important that you bring facts and data to these conversations, not just opinions.  Quotes or statistics from trusted resources gives you credibility and exposes you as a true subject matter expert.  There is no doubt that everyone involved in the recruiting process is important.  If the people you are working with have misconceptions or don’t know things about the hiring process, that’s on you.  A true partner will ensure that everyone involved has what they need to be successful.  

Focus on solutions, not problems

This is important.  The absolute worst thing that you can do when things aren’t going your way is to focus on the negative and spend valuable energy complaining.  The reason is simple - it doesn’t solve anything.  It simply doesn’t accomplish anything at all.  This concept is easy to understand but it can be hard to execute when you are frustrated.  It’s imperative that you don’t fall into this trap.You need to spend your time and energy identifying the root cause of your frustrations.  It could be many things - a fractured relationship, a misunderstanding, lack of urgency, a broken process.  From there, it’s important to think about what you can do to solve these issues.  What part can you play?  What can be implemented that would help remedy the problem?  This is not only important in terms of keeping yourself from becoming too negative, it’s a huge part of the relationship building process.  If you are a chronic complainer, people are going to back away from you.  It’s going to hurt your personal brand in their eyes.  However, if you are solution orientated it shows that you have resiliency, mental maturity and that you are invested in the betterment of their team or the company as a whole.  When you bring up a problem, it’s important that right behind that, you have a suggestion for a solution.  

Be pro-active, identify roadblocks before they become problems

If you have been spending your time really honing your skills as a talent advisor, then you are well equipped to address issues before they become issues.  You have your experience, market data, competitive intel, and a number of resources at your disposal.  You probably understand the pitfalls associated with attractive and ultimately landing top talent.  From the moment that you take on a requirement, you should be evaluating every aspect of the process, educating your hiring teams, and addressing anything that may serve as a bottleneck.  Granted, you can’t always see what’s around the corner and there’s no doubt that people will surprise you with some of their actions.  Nevertheless, trying your best to get in front of issues before they become points of frustration can help you immensely in the long run.  

Talent Acquisition isn’t as easy as some people make it out to be.  It’s full of challenges, it takes a unique set of skills, and it’s a lot of work.  Be resilient.  While it isn’t always easy it can be a lot of fun as well.  Focus on the positive, take responsibility for every aspect of the process and focus on healthy relationships.  Doing this will result in a much happier and fulfilling career.  


Will Maurer is currently living his dream as a sourcing manager.  The thoughts and opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect that opinions of his employer.  For more thoughts from Will, please visit