Managing The “TMI” Syndrome

By Doug Munro
too many tools
As recruiters we are bombarded with information on tools, methodologies and tricks that purport to make us more effective at identifying and recruiting talent. A huge industry has evolved around vendors and thought leaders telling us that we need their products and insights to perfect our craft. Some of this information is certainly beneficial, but the sheer mass of it can be daunting. Before you get sucked into a morass that slows you down rather than makes you more efficient a little analysis is in order:

• Consider the source. Some industry thought leaders make their living analyzing the 20,000 foot view of recruiting and haven’t worked a desk in many years. Their insights may still have practical value, but often they are working from a perspective that doesn’t apply to someone who is recruiting in the trenches. Moreover, a great deal of what we see is designed to sell us something, whether we need it or not.

• Consider the success stories. It’s exciting to read about all the cool things Google does to attract and retain talent, but your company may not have the bandwidth (either in brand recognition or resources) to apply much of what Google does. What works in one organization does not necessarily work in others.

• Take a good luck in the mirror. Be honest with yourself when it comes to your own strengths, challenges, and ability to commit time to a new initiative. I don’t doubt that someone, somewhere is recruiting through Instagram but I doubt many of us are going all-in on that platform. Don’t spend valuable time on anything you don’t have the time and acumen to truly leverage to your advantage.

• It’s okay to give up. We all want to improve and stay abreast of new ideas in our profession, so by all means try new things that seem to make sense in your particular circumstances. If they don’t achieve tangible results or you can’t seem to make them fit into your process, however, there’s no shame in putting them aside – it’s better than wasting precious cycles on something that isn’t adding value to your work.

I’m not a thought leader. I’m no different than most recruiters. I am tasked with finding and recruiting technical talent for the specific needs of my company. I lead a small team of recruiters and am constantly trying to make us a better unit despite all the challenges we face: hard-to-find niche skillsets, budgetary constraints, federal personnel requirements, and internal process challenges. Sometimes I look at all the tools and methodologies being sold to us as recruiters and I think I must be recruiting in the Stone Age. I must be inadequate if I haven’t incorporated gamification into my own recruiting function! So to make myself feel better I will hesitatingly join the white noise and offer what I think is a simple recipe for success:

• Master the search. The first logical step for any recruiter is sourcing, so time spent improving search strings is always time well spent. Learn how Boolean logic operates and study the nuances of difference in how disparate search engines apply that logic. Perfect your searches in iterations so they produce more relevant results. Glen Cathey’s website Boolean Black Belt is a treasure trove of tutorials on how best to search a wide array of platforms. He is the definition of a thought leader, he is still an active recruiter, and his lessons are free!

• Pick up the phone. We operate in a landscape that now utilizes social media, compiled job boards, internet branding, and creative marketing strategies to encourage candidates to want to apply for our open positions. You might be able to scratch out a living without making any calls at all. To master the craft, however, you have to connect with your talent pool and emails aren’t going to build those connections. Talk to candidates. Sell not just the job and the company, but yourself. Build a real and sustainable relationship that can keep paying dividends (referrals) for years.

• Everything is a tool. Applicant Tracking Systems, social media platforms, marketing strategies – they are all tools. They are only going to be as effective as the work you put into mastering them. If you can only be a mediocre practitioner of something you’re better served focusing on something else. Put the time in to master your personal tools as well. Perfect your individual voice, your value pitch, your understanding of the technologies you’re recruiting for – those unique qualities that will set you apart.

• Follow wisely. Identify recruiting leaders who speak to your sensibilities as a recruiter. Follow their feeds and their blogs and try to engage them with questions and observations. Some of these leaders are not sales-driven and generous with their insights; following them can be an effective way to stay current on trending tools and methodologies.

• Join the community. Connecting with other recruiters pays off in multiple ways: information sharing, candidate referrals, job prospects, and of course recruiters tend to be good company in general. As much value as there is to connecting with national experts, we are fortunate to be in the DC Metro area with its diverse and thriving recruiting community. You don’t have to attend SourceCon or ERE events to stay abreast of trending best practices; RecruitDC offers all of the benefits of the larger national events without the cost factors that can be prohibitive. Connect with your peers and build relationships that will pay off indefinitely.

It’s easy to get sidetracked as a recruiter. We have so many moving pieces to track, so many conflicting priorities, and so many opportunities to get overtaken by events. Focus on the fundamentals, master your own unique skills, connect with real people in real ways, and be discerning in how you evaluate new products and practices – you will be the best recruiter you can be.

Doug Munro is the Director of Technical Recruiting at Optimos, Inc., a strategy and enterprise information technology provider to the federal government. Find Doug on Twitter at @DoDRecruiterDC