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I recently wrapped up a search for a Talent Acquisition Specialist for one of our clients. I do not often have the opportunity to recruit recruiters, so this was a fascinating experience for me. Of course, I focused my search on LinkedIn, using it as my primary tool to identify potential candidates and reach out to begin conversations. I also reviewed and followed up with applicants that had applied directly through all of our postings. I was excited to get to speak with individuals in my field – maybe I would learn something new, maybe I would find some real rock stars to connect with, maybe we could exchange pointers or laugh about horror stories in the ever-challenging world of recruiting.

What I discovered, instead, was the bleakest of landscapes; fraught with flaky candidates, totally uninspired responses and nearly no results or best practices to share. Can this honestly be, recruiters? We do this every day. As the group of professionals most intimately familiar with what it takes to stand out amongst the crowd and present ourselves well, why wouldn’t we practice everything that we seek in our candidates?

Are we, collectively, this lame? The reality is painful to face, but I fear that it’s true.

Terrible LinkedIn Profiles

So many recruiters are using LinkedIn to source talent for their open positions. I’d venture to say that, at this point, LinkedIn is the primary tool for MOST recruiters and HR professionals for connecting with potential candidates. But you certainly wouldn’t know it by the looks of their profiles! It’s as if the thought never occurred to them that candidates would check them out on LinkedIn. …which is exactly what happens next after someone receives an InMail message from you.

So, with no consideration for sharing their own background and expertise with the people they’re reaching out to, it seems as if many (I’m estimating 50% of recruiters on LinkedIn) have slapped a few of their job titles up in their Experience section, cropped a photo of themselves from a wedding they attended in 2012 and called it a day.

Employment conversations are just like everything else in life – you get out of it what you put into it. If you, as a recruiter, reach out to a candidate because she shared compelling information in your LinkedIn profile about her achievements, her education, the kinds of work that inspires her and the kinds of causes that she focuses on her free time, and she is then met with your sad, sorry profile in return, she is not going to take you seriously. And she probably will not respond.

So, do yourself a favor and make a list, right now, of all of the things that you look for in a candidate’s LinkedIn profile. Then cross reference that list with your profile. If even you wouldn’t consider you as a candidate, then what makes you think that your candidates will want to talk to you?

And then go ahead and get to work. You have some updating to do!

Loooong Response Times

Every recruiters biggest bummer – you reach out to a candidate that you are really excited about, and they don’t get back to you. Or maybe, in an even crueler twist, they reply weeks after you sent the message …right after you’ve wrapped up your search.

But here’s a little secret for all of the busy candidates out there: recruiters take FOREVER to reply to InMail messages. It’s actually the silliest thing ever. When I am recruiting for a sales role, I typically receive a response within 24 hours after sending a message. With other positions such as creative, engineering, administrative or executive roles, that response time is sometimes 2-3 days. But with this Talent Acquisition search, I experienced responses 4-6 days after my message was sent.

I know you are on LinkedIn every day. I know you saw my message. I know you visited my profile. What could have possibly caused you to wait a full work week before getting back to me?

No Desire to Connect

Somewhat related to the long response times, and in some cases no response at all, is the issue that I was most struck by during this search – recruiters don’t really seem to want to connect. I had so many conversations with people who didn’t ask any thoughtful questions, interrupted me when I spoke and definitely didn’t want to work in an office with *gasp* OTHER PEOPLE. I had 5 or 6 conversations with recruiters that ended within the first 3 minutes. They’d ask, “Is this job remote?” And I’d say, “Actually this role is focused on guiding the culture within the organization and establishing strong relationships with the hiring managers and team, so the expectation is that this person would be in the office,” to which they would then reply, “Okay, that’s not really a great fit for me. I work from home.”

Now before I step away from my computer to scream into a pillow at having to relive those totally absurd conversations, let’s just consider the core responsibilities of a recruiter. You may be listing things like “fill open positions” and “negotiate job offers” and you’re not wrong, but aside from the day-to-day, recruiters are really responsible for developing an in-depth understanding of an organization in order to establish connections with talented individuals and facilitate all of the growth and possibility that an organization holds.

What better way to keep your finger on the pulse than by working amongst your team each day? An on-site recruiting job is an incredible opportunity to really dig in, learn and make a lasting contribution to an organization. When I began my search, I assumed that recruiters would jump at this opportunity. What I discovered instead was disheartening and confusing.

I thought I understood my field and what it took to be successful in the role. What I came to understand after this process is that recruiting professionals have a lot of work to do. On an up note, I did actually end up connecting with a handful of excellent people during this search. And those standout recruiters will be the first people I call the next time I’m faced with a recruiting challenge, or the next time I need to hire a recruiter.

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