Today, I spoke with Nick Corcodilos, who is the host of Ask The Headhunter and author of Ask The Headhunter: Reinventing The Interview to Win The Job. As a headhunter with years of experience, Nick reveals a lot of very interesting information to us in this interview. He talks about what he uses to source candidates, how he selects talent for companies (his clients), if recruiters should start a blog or not and some interesting information about how recruitment is changing in 2009 and beyond.
What is your favorite website for sourcing candidates and why?
To understand the best websites for sourcing candidates, you have to understand the worst ones. I love the job boards because they keep all the flaky recruiters and job hunters out of our hair — so we can source good people in peace, where they hang out. Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, TheLadders — they are cattle calls. (By the way, TheLadders’ claim to exclusivity — “ONLY $100K+ JOBS. ONLY $100K+ CANDIDATES” — is hogwash.
I’ve published transcripts of phone calls with Ladders representatives who admit to customers that sub-$100K jobs are indeed posted there. Ladders gets more attention because higher-paid job hunters are easier to scam. They really want to believe there’s a magic place where the sorting is all done for you. Ka-chink.) My favorite place to source good candidates is as far away from ANY of the job boards as possible. I go to web sites where the sharpest tacks in the box gather to participate in their industries. Where they talk shop. What are those sites? Ask anyone who is really good at his or her job where they go to talk shop. There are many sites like that in every industry. But this isn’t easy: There is no one place.
What do you look for in a potential hire and what turns you off from them?
“I look for one thing: The ability to show me how you will produce profit for my client.“
Companies pay headhunters a lot of money to find people like that, mainly because there simply are not many of them around. What impresses me is a candidate who can — off the top of her head, after asking me a few simple questions about my client — can give me a simple outline of how she would make my client more successful. If someone can’t do that, why would I take them to my client?
What turns me off is people who, when I ask them a specific question, launch a 15-minute recitation of their career history. They don’t realize that the issue isn’t their background or even who they are. It’s my client’s requirements. If they can figure out what my client needs, they may be able to help — and get a great job out of it. Stop talking. Listen. Think. Show me you can carefully focus and apply your skills and experience to make a difference to my client. Without dumping your entire career in my lap and hoping I’ll figure it out for you. THEN we can talk about how I’m going to get you a comp package that will make you jump with glee.
Should recruiters blog? How might a blog help a recruiter?
There are so many ways to use the Internet and communication technology to meet people and develop sound relationships based on your interests and mine. Recruiters should use technologies that help them meet people. Most technologies are used by recruiters to avoid meeting people. They try to do their work without having to bother with real relationships. That said, a blog can be used effectively if the recruiter is doing it for the right reasons. Another headhunter might use a web site.
There is no one-size-fits-all tool. Many recruiters waste too much time trying to “use” all the newest tools available. 20 years ago you had a phone and a pencil. I’m not a troglodyte, but the point has not changed. It’s about relationships. Carefully pick what helps you make good relationships, and then become better at it than anyone else.
What is the relationship (now in 2009) between recruiters, companies and applicants?
Skimpy at best. The relationship is a database. A friend of mine is an internationally-known HR exec at a Fortune 50 company. He complains he has no budget to actually go find and recruit good people, because his top management dumps almost all the recruiting budget into the big job boards. For the most part, recruiters, companies and applicants all live in databases, waiting for algorithms to make matches between jobs and workers. It gets pretty stupid in there!
Everyone is sitting on their duffs in front of computers going blind, deciding which database record to interview. They think they’re recruiting, or job hunting.
“According to the most recent CareerXroad survey, CareerBuilder delivered about 3% of all hires made by companies surveyed”
Where do the rest come from? People talking, having dinner, having lunch, attending workshops and drinking beers together. What are your relationships like in 2009?
Are you more interested in passive or active candidates (passive being one’s that aren’t actively looking)?
As a headhunter, I’m not interested in candidates. I’m interested in sources. I’ll jump over 50 possible candidates, whether they’re looking or not, to get to know one shining light in the industry I hunt in. Because that’s what I get paid for: Knowing people who make the industry tick. I place candidates, but I look for sources. That’s who I spend my time with. My sources fill the positions I work on. It’s irrelevant whether someone is active or passive, employed or out of work.
What matters is what the shining light thinks of them — and I’ve placed some phenomenal unemployed people that most recruiters wouldn’t even talk to. Recruiting isn’t about filling jobs. That’s not what companies pay you for. They pay you because you are a hub of sources — the person others in the industry come to for advice, information and introductions. So what matters is not whether the candidate is active or passive. It’s whether the headhunter is active — as a respected hub.
Nick Corcodilos is the host of Ask The Headhunter and author of Ask The Headhunter: Reinventing The Interview to Win The Job, the #1-selling interview guide on Amazon for 26 consecutive months. The book is available in these foreign editions: People’s Republic of China, Brazil, Taiwan, United Kingdom. Nick started headhunting in 1979 in one of America’s most competitive job markets: California’s Silicon Valley. Using the methods described in his book and on the ATH forum, he has helped people win management and staff jobs in companies including IBM, GE, Hewlett-Packard and Merrill Lynch. Featured in The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, USA Today, The New York Times, Fast Company, Working Woman, on CNN, CNBC and MSNBC,