Old School Technique Teaches Technology a Lesson 49 Comments

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Ning, Plaxo, the list goes on. Tech-heavy tools that are being used as sourcing and recruiting aids are becoming more popular by the day and it is truly a cultural phenomenon. There was a time not so long ago when people didn’t have work email addresses. Now if you don’t have the latest BlackBerry phone and 24/7 email access you seem to be behind the times. The proof is truly in our everyday lives, though. Chances are if you’re unaware that Facebook can be used as a noun and a verb, you’d better hope you don’t have children in high school or college.

So if these networking tools are meant to enhance the way we do our jobs, recruiters should be collectively getting better at what we do, right? I’m not so convinced.

Take a look at the average weight of teen and pre-teen kids in America these days. You don’t have to look far or do much research to discover that as a country we’re getting fatter. Computers, video games, thousands of TV channels, and other portable electronic entertainment devices have made us a lazier society. We get less exercise, we don’t work as hard, and we have the waistlines to prove it. But what does this have to do with recruiting? I’m glad you asked.

Having all these instant sourcing tools at our disposal is invaluable. More candidates are available in less time than ever before. With a few keystrokes you can pull up list after list of candidates, get the contact info, and send out an email blast reaching hundreds of people in the time it takes to toast your morning pop-tarts. The reach is astounding, the speed is like greased lightning, and many of the people using this technology can’t recruit their way out of a wet paper bag for one simple reason. They haven’t bothered to master the basics.

Because it is so much easier to draft an email, hit ‘send,’ and instantly reach out to a few hundred people, the art of the phone call is slowly getting lost, and with it, the ability to develop a strong candidate/recruiter relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and use many of the tools listed above on a daily basis. However, technology does not make a good recruiter, technique does. Anybody can learn how to use a search tool, find a bunch of people, and send an email; but what do you do once the person calls or emails you back? How do you sell them the opportunity? What happens if your search results don’t turn up enough quality candidates? An old-school recruiter wouldn’t even have to think twice. He or she would just pick the phone up and dial.

The problem starts on an organizational level. It is expensive to train people, and since time is limited choices must be made. Do we teach him how to use the database he is required to use or spend time doing mock phone calls? Unfortunately the database will get the nod 99% of the time because they have to assume you know how to talk. The problem is, talking doesn’t teach you how to cold call, develop a rapport on the spot, or establish a long-term relationship with a candidate. After spending a few years in my first recruiting role I saw many peers come and go. It was very obvious why certain people were able to weather the economic storm and continue to have success. They knew how to make phone calls and were not afraid to do it. They could cold call, find a name and a title on LinkedIn and start dialing, or network until blue in the face. The fact is, these people stuck to their proven relationship-based techniques, and used new technology as a supplement. It was amazing to watch, and inspiring to witness.

You can say what you want about teaching an old dog new tricks; I think it is time for some of the pups out there to learn a thing or two from their elders. Now, before you dismiss this as another rant from a crotchety old miser, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m a 26 year-old who, before losing all my baby teeth, had his first computer and hasn’t been without one ever since.

About Jason Buss

Talent HQ’s creator and editor is Recruiting & Diversity Leader, Jason Buss. Talent HQ is a premier online news and information channel for the Recruiting and Human Resources community.

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  • Posted on: Sunday, March 1st, 2009