I remember a hiring manager calling me sometime ago, as he was attemping to use LinkedIn to find prospective candidates for a VP of Marketing position. He said he went through seemingless endless columns of names, looked at scores of profiles, and admitted to me that he was quite overwhelmed by it all. “How do I wrap my arms around this? How do I know who I’m really looking at? How do I know these profiles tell their real story? How do I know if they’re really interested?” Lots of great questions. I told him that if I were him I’d be asking the very same questions. “Somehow, I get the feeling that tryintg to do this on my own just won’t end well,” he concluded.
I told him I couldn’t agree more.
Last week I got a call from a Talent Acquisition Director at a company that is considering the use of a third party recruiter to help them hire a new VP of Ecommerce. I could tell from the tone of the discussion that she was not entirely sold on the idea of going “outside” to use a headhunter, and in fact, she flat out asked what I could bring to the table that LinkedIn doesn’t.
Glad she asked.
I told her that while LinkedIn is a great tool, recruiting done right is a full contact sport.
My participation as an experienced ecommerce recruiter could be one of the best investments they make.
Sure, you can reach out to people on LinkedIn, and you’ll get some responses. But you may not get all the responses you SHOULD be getting. Many are reluctant to respond because they don’t know anything about you or your business. Or, you’re the 6th recruiter to reach out to them that week, and your opportunity sounds no different than the others. Or, they’re not looking- actively or even passively- so they ignore your message. Or, your message does not describe a COMPELLING ENOUGH CAREER OPPORTUNITY that would get them to take notice. Or, they would prefer working with a third party to protect confidentiality. Or, you didn’t come to them recommended by someone they know and trust. The list goes on. How do I know this? Because I get calls and emails every day from VP’s and other senior marketing leaders who receive these messages, asking if I can help “get them in.” Unfortunately I can’t if I don’t have a contract with the employer. But the sheer number of these requests tells me that candidates are hungry for this kind of representation, particularly among the ones who are currently employed. No surprise there: Candidates face more hurdles and screening devices than ever before, while employers interview candidates who have more choices than ever before.
My clients tell me that their LinkedIn response rates are typically no greater than around 20-25%. Mine are DOUBLE that. That represents a lot of possible gold nuggets slipping through the cracks.
Navigating a Complex Recruiting Process
Even when you DO start engaging with prospective candidates, you enter a minefield that can easily blow up in your face when you least expect it.
How do you know they’re truly serious, or just looking to collect some quick intel on a competitor or salary trends?
What other searches are underway in your area that you’ll be competing against for the same talent?
Have you chosen the most passive solution, like job boards and postings, for one of the most mission critical hires you’ll make all year, maybe even in several years?
Do you REALLY know where the diamonds are buried? Even if you do, exactly how are you going to dig them up, particularly if they are not in an active search?
Do you know candidate reputations ahead of the search?
Do you know what would really motivate a particular individual to give notice and quit their job in this hyper-competitive job market?
How well can you speak to THEIR agenda?
How are you going to handle a counter offer, which I can tell you is now the rule rather than exception.. Handle it wrong and you WILL lose your candidate.
How will you respond if the candidate receives multiple offers? Many do, so you need to have a strategy.
How up to date are you on compensation for the position you’re looking to fill? If you’re depending on data from job posting sites or third party salary research, chances are you’re not getting the full and complete picture compared with a recruiter who is in the trenches every day recording source data.
A Cost Effective Option
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you drop your internal search efforts and hand it all over to third party headhunters, not by a stretch. Many lower level searches don’t always require this level of recruitment expertise. Remember- this article was prompted by a call for a Vice President. A Vice President of Ecommerce is going to have a VERY significant impact on the business, so much so that the investment you make in my services will easily be offset, if not dwarfed, by the very first key decisions they make.
As an experienced ecommerce recruiter, I am admittedly extremely biased when I say this, but knowing all of the complexities, all of the contingencies and all of the unknown twists and turns that companies face when hiring this kind of high-level mission critical talent, plus the enormous impact these individuals can have on the business and its future, and knowing that employers typically reach for the lowest hanging fruit leaving the top of the tree untouched, I simply couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.
I rest my case.
Your comments are welcome.