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Dirty Little Secrets About the Recruiting Industry

February 25, 2020 by Kurt Wilkin

I think we can all agree that talent is essential to the success (or lack thereof) of any enterprise. I know the experts agree. In Good to Great, bestselling author Jim Collins says, “Leaders of great companies start with who—get the right people in the right seats on the bus and get the wrong people off the bus.” Hall of Fame football coach Barry Switzer puts it more simply: “Great coaching is not about the Xs and the Os, it’s about the Jimmys and the Joes.” In business, of course, it’s also about the Jennys and the Janes!

I’ve personally worked with hundreds of CEOs and leaders of high-growth, middle-market companies, and the great ones all have one thing in common—great people! Not surprisingly. I actually believe that successful companies need two things to survive and thrive: capital and talent.

Capital is provided in a variety of ways and is a topic for another day. But talent—let’s talk about talent. If talent is such a differentiator for successful companies, why is it served by a recruiting industry that most people agree is borderline shady? In fact, many people think it is beyond shady. I believe it is fundamentally broken.

Yeah, that’s right: The recruiting industry is broken. I’ve been a CEO of high-growth companies for two decades and I’ve worked with hundreds of CEOs facing similar challenges to mine. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with and around a significant number of recruiters. It became painfully obvious to me that there’s a deep-seated problem with the recruiting industry. If you’ve ever had the feeling that a recruiter was trying desperately to “sell” you on a candidate or if you have ever compared a recruiter to a stereotypical used-car salesman, then you know what I mean.

Recruiting, and particularly contingent recruiting, is inherently flawed. I lay out many of the flaws in my new eBook, “The Recruiting Industry is Broken.” Among them are the fact that contingent recruiters only get paid if they successfully “sell” you one of their candidates. That means that contingent recruiters are actually competing against the very clients they serve. I’m sorry, but any business model that puts a service provider in direct competition with their clients is F-ed up!

Don’t get me wrong, recruiting can be an honorable profession. If done right, recruiters have the opportunity to make a significant positive impact on their clients and the future of their companies. A strategic and honest recruiting expert can help you add game-changing talent that enables you to achieve your goals faster. But navigating the world of recruiters—the good, the bad, and the ugly—can be insanely difficult!

So what do you do? Well, if you agree that talent is important to your success, I recommend that you build a world-class recruiting function. In the meantime, I suggest that you and your existing team begin thinking strategically about talent and value the quality of your new hires over the speed of your new hires. And identify a talent partner who not only understands the financial implication of your hiring decisions, but will also stay the course as your needs change and the position for which you are recruiting evolves.

Easier said than done, I know. That’s why I wrote the book on it—literally. Want to learn more about the flaws of the recruiting industry and how to overcome them? Download my new eBook, “The Recruiting Industry is Broken”, for free advice from someone who is both an industry veteran and a fellow entrepreneur who will shoot it to you straight.

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