Go to Menu 7 Mistakes
Internal Recruiters Make

By Nick Corcodilos

In an increasingly competitive business climate, companies are scrutinizing their HR departments like never before. Internal recruiters need to take a hard look at how effective they are at filling key positions, and they need to get past the conventional recruiting methods that are holding them back. From a headhunter's perspective, here are seven mistakes internal recruiters make.

1. They don't recruit. Because of the sheer volume of "resume flow", internal recruiters don't identify and pursue the people they want. Instead, they take what comes along. That is, they limit their hires to the those people who "come to them". Corporate recruiting has become a paper-shuffling, passive process. Recruiters need to act more like headhunters. A company should have two tiers of recruiters: those who handle applicants, and those who actively pursue the top people in the field.

2. They rely too much on ads. The best candidates are lost to headhunters and to employers who leverage personal connections to attract them. Internal recruiters need to spend less time on advertising so they can devote more time to active, personal contact with people who can lead them to top performers.

3. They know too much about HR and too little about their industry. The typical recruiter spends more time reading HR journals than trade and professional publications that are read by the people they want to recruit. Recruiters can develop a real edge by learning more about their industry than about HR. It's important to remember that HR is not an end in itself -- it's an interface to a company's professional community. By developing expertise in their industry, recruiters create a more effective interface.

4. They spend too much time sorting resumes. The typical explanation for why HR recruiters have no time to recruit actively is that they have too many resumes to sort. This very real problem is solved easily: stop soliciting and accepting resumes. Instead, solicit the right people through good contacts, starting with people in the department you recruit for. A recruiter who spends more than 20% of her time in the HR office isn't recruiting. Get out there and get active in the community you recruit from.

5. They let managers get away with murder. Managers hate to recruit. But a manager's first job is to find and hire great people. One of HR's missions should be to "put the recruiting back in the manager's job". Move your desk out of the HR office and into the department you recruit for. That's how you can daily influence the hiring manager's recruiting activities.

6. They waste candidates' time. Good candidates don't have time for applications, tests and screening interviews before they talk with the hiring manager. All these preliminary hurdles have become necessary because recruiters are processing unknown candidates rather than recruiting people they know can do the job. It's an insult to extend an invitation then to make the candidate jump through hoops before he meets the manager. How to avoid this? Do your homework about the candidate before you contact him. Yep: this involves an entirely different recruiting approach. (See 2, 3 and 4 above, and see Respecting The Candidate.)

7. They let the Internet waste their time. Every day, thousands of people submit resumes in response to job postings on the Net -- for jobs they know nothing about. In essence, they're sending you junk mail, and you're forced to sort through all the garbage. Don't let the Net use you. Use it as a research tool to help you learn about (and participate in) the community you want to recruit from. Instead of running ads, spend time on the sites and in the newsgroups where your recruiting targets go -- and get to know them. Then you can start recruiting the people you want, rather than processing the people who come to you.

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