John, I have to disagree with you on your article: “Recruiting is Kaput”.  I respect you, and our interactions have been uniformly positive, but this seems off:

It is worth considering the fact that hiring failures make for recruiter job security. Under most circumstances, there is little incentive for a recruiter to care for or try to influence the success of a new hire. Just the opposite is true. Recruiters  depend on high attrition rates as a part of their role in the company. If recruiters were constantly generating great hires, you’d need far fewer of them.

I think it’s bigger than just “recruiters are trying to protect their jobs, by not filling reqs”.  (Btw – did you mean to paint us as a bunch of completely self-absorbed sleaze-bags? I don’t think you did, but that’s the impression. Ouch. Hard not to take that one personally).   You could carry that argument forward logically: if you’re correct, then recruiters try and get low quality hires through the door, thus ensuring high turnover. Heck, they could try and create a negative culture at the company, and drive people out.  Job security a go-go!

Wait.  Who hires the recruiter, supports them, and then measures their success?  Typically the CFO or head of HR. Which means they must be in on it, too. How else could someone get away with deliberately scuttling the key component of what they were hired to do, without an accomplice to help cover their tracks.  If that’s the case, who’s ignoring the failure of that department to do a key part of its job? Since the CFO and/ or head of HR report into the CEO, then it’s got to be the CEO’s fault.

Ah-hah!  I knew it. A fish always rots at the head, as the saying goes.

Of course, who appointed the CEO… right. The Board.  The evil, “I don’t want this company to succeed” Board.  Those monsters.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know a single professional – from Recruiter to Board Member – who would deliberately push through bad hires, or scuttle the process.  The recruiters I know care about the quality of our work, same as anyone. Not to mention, same as anyone, we’re measured on success. Speed and quality of hire are a big part of that mix.

So, what’s the deal? Why is everyone so unhappy with the process?  Speaking as someone who’s been on both sides of the fence, I’m pissed at the process.  I get it.  It’s messed up.  I just think it’s a lot harder than “recruiters need to do their jobs better”.

That’s the equivalent of blaming the troops for losing in Vietnam.  It’s shameful, frankly.  Most recruiters want to do a good job, get paid, maybe blog a bit, and then go home to their family for a warm cuppa and some time in the backyard with the kids.  Unfortunately, they’re in a profession that has the potential to become a poster-child for “What’s Wrong With the Job Market?”  It’s easy to point a finger and say “Them! It’s their fault! Hiring-process killers!!”  It’s a lot harder to look at hiring as a process that is impacted by the entire organization, and by society as a whole.

I think part of what we’re seeing is a fundamental shift in how people work.  The shift is painful. It wasn’t long ago that people who changed jobs every 3 or 4 years were considered job-hoppers.  Now, we suspect people who have been with the same company for longer than that as being “stale”.  This trend is moving forward, not backwards.  The nature of the employer/ employee relationship is getting more project based – more freelance/ consulting-style relationships.  We’ve seen a huge explosion of freelancers in the most recent recession.  Universal Health Care will likely keep this going: if you like freelance, it used to be you’d still be willing to give it up for health care for your family. Now, you’ve got an option.

Tenure and permanency as a metric needs to be re-examined in that light.  Is the tenure you’re measuring against real, or just an echo of a past way of working? Could the req be better filled by an outsider? If you’re a business-oriented recruiter – and most are – then you’re interested in the companies success and profitability.  You can have an immediate impact by looking at the reqs you are given in that light, and recommending freelancers where appropriate.  If you’re right, you’ll be saving your company time and money. Less time agonizing how to find “just the right hire” and then money and time spent recruiting, onboarding, training, etcing for a skill-set you’re only going to need for 6 months.  More time hiring for the roles you’ve identified as core to business success.  Higher success rates in other words.  Everyone wins there.

With the Core Roles, satisfaction of hiring authorities should be examined from this perspective: start measuring from the creation of the req. How many hiring authorities really, really know what they want to hire – what skills are going to be needed immediately, as well as 6 months down the line, to help their department achieve its goals? Are they realistic in their expectations, and do they know there they can (and can’t) flex? I know a number of managers who think saying “I need to hire X” in a hallway drive-by is enough for the recruiter to engage.  I guarantee you those managers are among the most dissatisfied with their hires.

That said: the recruiter needs to do a better job.  It’s up to you to educate those managers on why investing time with you on the upfront will pay them dividends, both quality of hire as well as speed-to-fill.  It’s part of what you’re paid to do – you’re essentially a hiring consultant, and the process is yours.  Get back to candidates.  You may have no answer for them – the process may be dragging out, maybe you can’t get feedback, or they’re back-burnered, but give them a status update.  It makes a huge difference in how you’re perceived as a professional, and as a human being.  If you’re so overwhelmed with work that you’re starting to fail, put together some metrics on what you could achieve with some help (from another department, new hire, tools, whatever), and make a case with your management.  If they ignore it, at least you’ve made the point that failure is an option, and that it’s one you’re working hard to avoid.  At best, you know what your management team’s priorities are, and that you might want to seek out a new place to practice your craft.