The discussion about talent and skill shortage in areas such as IT and mainly Information or Cyber Security is getting significantly more intense. At the same time, the unemployment in EU ranges from 5% to 25% (1). And the usual time to fill a position is over 3 months, in cases can reach even to a year (2), with just the interview process to be close to one month in most countries (3, 4). These are alarming indicators about how effective the recruiting industry is - or is not.
At this time that the industry needs disruption and change, more and more recruiters are complaining on LinkedIn. Not about industry problems or inefficiencies, and how to fix them, but on a different but standard theme: we are bashed, under-appreciated, not respected... And even more recruiters agree by "liking", "sharing" and "commenting" with these complaints.
If you, dear recruiter, identify yourself in this and nod in agreement, thinking "we don't deserve it", I'm sorry but I have news for you. Do yourself and everybody else a favor, and go out of business because you deserve it.
All bad? Of course not!
Let me stop here and say it clearly: I have met and I know, and I keep being in touch with, excellent recruiters. Top-notch professionals, respectful and respectable. Not only having a deep knowledge in the industry they're recruiting for, but also skillful in analyzing people and situations. One would more easily call them psychologists than headhunters, trying to find a good match between companies and people.
If you find yourself being frequently bashed, you are not one of these.
Overall, you are a failed business partner, and a failed employee, working in a failed (because of people like you) industry.
A failed business partner?
As business partner of both the hiring manager and the applicant, you should provide value to both of them. It is not important if you are employed and work just for one company, or a freelancer, or working for a recruiting agency. Your business partners are the same, you have obligation to both of them to serve them right.
If either of these business partners is dissatisfied, it means that you did not provide value to them. Furthermore, if they post rants on social media, it means that you made them so angry, that they wish to be exposed, to go public and be vocal and loud about that terrible experience.
Let's reverse the situation for a moment: Imagine that you want to build a house; you're in the market looking for construction companies and engineers. You find negative reviews for some constructors. Do you think they don't deserve it? Do you see these constructors complaining about negative reviews?
The truth is, whoever is willing to publicly state that your services are sub par, probably has a good reason to think so!
A failed employee?
Every day I receive feedback from my "customers"; business partners, end users, my manager. As every other mature person on this planet, I evaluate this feedback. I may dismiss it, if it has to be dismissed, but this is rare. Most importantly, I develop improvement plans for myself based on that feedback. I do not remember to have ever responded to the feedback, complaining that it is undeserved.
Furthermore, if the same feedback is received many times, from many different sources, what other proof do you need to realize that the feedback is probably accurate and that you have to do something about it? Instead of fixing whatever you're doing that results in negative feedback, you go on complaining about the feedback. This is probably the definition of a failed employee:
Failed employee: One who consistently receives negative feedback, yet is not able to understand it, change him/herself, but keeps complaining about the feedback.
A failed industry?
As a hiring manager, I try to find a business partner who will not only give me the resources I need now, but will be able to provide me skillful and capable resources in the future. Do you think the way you operate ensures me of that?
I work in Information Security. Everybody I hear, talks about skill shortage; yet there are many information security engineers, managers, analysts and operators, complaining that they cannot get a job. That means that it's not necessarily a skill shortage we are talking about; it's rather a misalignment between the skills required, and the skills available (and maybe even the remuneration required to attract talent, and the remuneration offered).
Do you know what is the easiest, yet the most important way to fix that? Visibility and Feedback. When was the last time you gave honest feedback to your applicants, on how or why they don't match the job at hand, and how far away they are from the skill set required in the market today?
Overall, if people complain about you, they will not come back to you for another opportunity to be treated badly. And if they don't come to you, I as a hiring manager, will not trust you and will not build a business relationship with you.
Here is a suggestion:
I wouldn't provide any value to anybody, if I didn't give you an action plan, my dear recruiter. So, here it is:
- Accept all feedback and make good use of it, by identifying the sources of your customers' disappointment
- Develop for yourself a change plan that will help you grow and evolve as a professional; that way you won't receive negative feedback so often
- Provide value to your business partners; don't just be a CV-pusher and checkbox-ticker. Instead try to find a match and explain to both parties why this match is not there yet
- Respect people and treat them the way you want to be treated. Pick up the phone to answer, talk to them if they want to, be honest and straightforward. We know that some rejection reasons cannot be said; leave them in the "cultural fit" area. But if you identify employees who are overqualified or under-qualified, or lacking specific skills for the positions they're applying for, let them know.
- Keep working, keep learning, keep developing. Specialize. Know more about the industry you are recruiting for. Let the hiring managers know if you think that their position specs do not make sense. Try to consult them with your experience. You may learn something in the process, but the same goes for the hiring managers. Plus, that is an excellent way to be perceived as a trustworthy business partner.
- Don't be shady. Don't lie. Don't call random hiring managers "about that position we were talking about" if that never happened. Don't say to applicants "Let's discuss for an interesting position" if you don't have it. And don't send mass emails as they are a total waste for the applicants - but more on this in another article.
- Focus on how to improve your value proposition and how you can contribute into saving this industry from failing.