November 10, 2017
In Recruiting, Personalization Beats "Blasting" Any Day

From where I sit, having an inside view of what's going on in the recruiting space, traditional contingency recruiters have expressed how they’re having a hard time in their line of work in recent years.

Between online tools such as LinkedIn and internal referrals, the competition for placing people in "regular jobs" is more challenging than ever. Why? For one, since it's so easy to apply, certain jobs will get a very large number of applications. Modern systems will then automatically shoot out a polite message that sounds something like, “Thank you, we received your message. If we're interested, we'll get back to you." In the vast majority of the cases, only a very small percentage of these inquiries will actually get a response.

Consequently, more recruiters are being pushed toward finding some really hard-to-find people in a tight window of time. However, where they could afford to rely on more of a templated approach to candidate communication with that audience, they can’t do the same among more sophisticated roles that demand a more personalized approach. If the message from the recruiter feels impersonal, the candidate for a highly specialized position will know it and move on.

Many Tools Out There To “Make It Easy” Aren’t Helping

Recruiting also continues to go down a path that’s quite impersonal in part due to the tools in the marketplace that make it easy to do so. Take ZipRecruiter, for example, with a pitch that they’ll get your job seen on a large number of websites. Or do a search on Google for Java-based jobs in Chicago and you’ll not only see there are over 2,000 of those jobs that aren’t listed separately but you can go to and see an ocean of them.

This begs the question: With that kind of saturation, why do we need to create 200 versions of an ad to describe the same or similar job posting? Does it really add much value?

With tools that favor “blasting” out job postings, companies become spammers and candidates quite often either don’t read the job or don’t find there's enough information in each job. None of these outcomes are desirable.

Now, a hiring manager could write a five-page job description that spells out in excruciating detail everything the person will be doing, might be doing, should have done, could be able to do, the essential skills required and more. But there are some downsides to this:

  • Who's going to read all that?
  • The description of the role may change five minutes after the posting is sent
  • It’s all negotiable anyway

Here’s an example of what we mean by that third point: One of our clients told us about the type of candidate they were looking for – all core Java developers of a certain type.

Well, wouldn't you know it? The person they wound up hiring doesn't really do Java! He does C Sharp. As it turns out, he's a superb software developer and there are enough similarities between C Sharp and Java that the client discovered it was going to take this hire a fairly short time to go through the learning curve to learn what he does now.

From this point of view, insisting that you need to have so many years of experience with this or that particular technology quite often turns out to be less critical than you originally thought. Whenever we try to describe what we need and want, what we’re really doing is envisioning an idealized future of what the job probably will have and the probable skills the person needs to have.

Seeing – Not Imagining – The Candidate Is Believing

Two of the most successful people in the last 100 years express it well:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them." – Steve Jobs

This is to say that in the real world, a hiring authority will know they want to hire the person after they meet the person. But the person they actually end up hiring isn’t exactly the same person they envisioned they would hire for the role.

With this in mind, what does it mean if the person ultimately hired is going to wind up being so different from the candidate “on paper”?

For one, let’s recognize a fatal flaw in trying to identify a fit based purely on a job description. Many job descriptions are recycled because they’re easy to dash off quickly with a lot of HR “boilerplate” language inserted in like “progressive organization,” “team-oriented environment,” and “self-starter.” Or you could see the reverse in which every possible responsibility is stuffed into the description because the person writing the job description assumes the person looking at the job only reads the job title. Everything else underneath that title is too much information.

Companies may not absolutely know who’s really in the market for a job, but that doesn’t mean “blasting” a job out there across the online spectrum is a great approach. Yes, you still need to reach out to a certain number of people – the key phrase being “certain” number of people. Not all of them.

If you’re going to hire a person based on the actual interaction you have versus the image of that candidate in your mind, it demands a more personalized approach from the beginning with a specialized recruiter like Roy Talman & Associates.

From the candidate’s perspective, you want somebody to sit down and understand your story. Your recruiter is going to be, essentially, your marketer. So they need to be able to figure out what's marketable about your skills, how to present it and who to present it to. If you're a job seeker, it's nice to have a really competent, knowledgeable person putting out a one-of-a-kind, unique infomercial about you to some of the more selective companies around.

In that moment, it’s our job to be the first phone call the candidate makes. That’s the advantage of going to Roy Talman & Associates as opposed to distributing their information far and wide. It’s a more intelligent, focused approach to recruitment that both candidates and the companies considering them deserve.