The Things Tim Sackett Would Change About Recruiting
Recruitment thought leader Tim Sackett, who will be keynoting this year's Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Conference, shares his thoughts on the challenges facing the profession -- and the things he finds the most irritating or annoying about it.
By Andrew R. McIlvaine
Anyone who's stumbled across his blog knows that Tim Sackett isn't shy about sharing his thoughts about how the talent acquisition profession—and HR, in general—can and should improve. Sackett, the president of HRU Technical Resources, a $40 million IT and engineering contract staffing firm and RPO based in Lansing, Mich., draws upon his 20-plus years of experience in HR and recruiting, not to mention his innumerable industry contacts, to craft succinct and often quite funny daily posts on The Tim Sackett Project. In addition to overseeing his company, Sackett is a regular fixture at industry conferences and is a sought-after consultant for companies that are looking to improve the way they find and recruit top talent. We're proud to announce that Sackett will be delivering the opening keynote at this year's Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Conference, (Nov. 28 through Nov. 30 in West Palm Beach, Fla.) where he'll be talking about "The DNA of Great Recruiting Pros: Transforming Yourself and Your TA Shop to World-Class Levels." In his presentation, Sackett -- who recently surveyed hundreds of top TA leaders -- will explain the eight traits that all great recruiting pros share in their DNA, and offer examples of how attendees can strengthen these traits within themselves and their teams. I recently caught up with Sackett to get his take on the challenges facing the profession.
What do you like most or find most interesting about the recruiting and talent acquisition space?
Recruiting and TA are different than most professions in that there are million different ways to be successful and the skills are completely transferrable to other industries and companies. I've recruited healthcare professionals and bartenders -- the process to find both is completely the same. The buzzwords change but finding people is finding people. The crazy part is one organization could be finding people using billboards and another is using Facebook, and both are doing it completely different, and both are successful. There is no one secret sauce that works everywhere.
You oversee a company in addition to writing your blog, The Tim Sackett Project, and conducting numerous speaking and consulting engagements. How do you find the time for all this while still making time for your family -- what's your secret?
I shop all of my work offshore to India! Okay, not really. I found out, by chance, that I'm a really fast writer. I didn't even know this was a skill, but apparently it is in the world of content development and blog writing. So, I can kick out a piece of content in a rather shorter period of time than the average person. This allows for the extra capacity.
Also, I work my butt off. No, really, I have two full-time jobs. People love to say they work "80 hours" per week, but 99.9 percent are lying. I don't even work that much, but I probably work a solid 60 hours per week, and I'm pretty good at sorting out what needs to get done versus what's a giant waste of time.
Oh, and I hire super-great people and let them do what I hired them to do! I hate being micromanaged, so I don't micromanage. I set high expectations, measure everything and let people go meet the goals and deliverables we agreed upon. If they need help, I help. If they want me to stay out of their way, and they're performing, I stay out of their way.
Name the top three challenges that you believe are facing the recruiting profession going forward.
One: TA Leaders believing technology will find and hire talent for them. People hire people, technology allows you to do that faster and more accurately. If you think technology alone will fix your problem, it won't. I find organizations continually trying to change their tech, when the tech isn't the issue -- lack of recruiter training, development and accountability is the real issue.
Two: Building a TA tech stack that works for your company, not one that IT and HR want because it's easy for them. Currently, enterprise-level HR systems are awful at TA and yet, those systems are getting shoved down the throats of TA leaders who are failing and not realizing one big part of that is because they're being forced to use inferior technology.
Three: Not enough humans with the skills we need. Demographics in the U.S. will have serious consequences for our ability to grow organizations in the future. Fertility rates are at all-time lows and trending lower. You can steal talent from other organizations, but eventually basic economic theory of supply and demand will hurt us all. I believe we (organizations) need to start building our own talent at all levels. Old-school apprentice programs, but with new-school ideas, technology and long-range workforce planning.
What do you find most irritating or annoying about the recruiting profession?
Oh, boy, this could be a book!
I hate TA tech companies that market their technology as 'industry' specific! "Use us, we are the only 'Healthcare-specific' recruiting tool." It's awful marketing that basically is saying, "Hey, TA Leader, we know you're an idiot and don't really understand TA, so we're doing to sell you something you think is critical to your industry," when in reality, it's the same for every industry.
I hate that corporate recruiters believe they don't need to pick up the phone to fill positions. "Post and pray" is dead, yet 90 percent of organizations still use this as their primary talent-acquisition strategy to fill positions.
I hate that you can't have both corporate and agency recruiters in the same room without cheeseball agency people pimping every corporate recruiter in the room for their business. Both have so much to teach each other, but the agency folks ruin the ability to make this happen.
I hate that corporate TA pros ask agencies to work for free, but then don't give them the common courtesy of giving them feedback on the free work they just provided for them. I hate that agency recruiters are dumb enough to work for free.
I hate that TA technology companies don't charge the same price for every company that uses them. One job posting is $150, but "if you buy 300 job posting we only charge you $25 per posting." This is pricing products based on 1950s logic of things cost less in bulk. In an Internet world, that no longer plays out the same way -- one posting doesn't cost any more than if you buy 300.
I hate that candidates no call, no-show for interviews and jobs. I believe we should have a national database that lists these people publicly and shames them for life. We somehow accept this and the people who do this can just go on living like they aren't a terrorist.
What's some important advice you'd give to someone just entering the recruiting profession?
Place a super-high value on your network and treat it that way. The best recruiters have networks that they will use for decades. A person you treat well your first year might become your most valuable network referrer 10 years down the road. Recruiting is a small world. The person you screw over today, will come back and bite you eventually.
Was there a "formative" experience or two in your career that you always find yourself referring back to when it comes to giving advice or offering perspective about the recruiting/TA profession?
You know nothing, don't act like you do. My first real recruiting job was working with design managers in General Motors. Old guys with white hair and 30-plus years of experience. I was fresh out of school. One of them sat me down one day and said "If you ask all these old guys to teach you, they'll take you under their wing and help you more than you can ever imagine. If you act like you already know everything, they'll let you fail and never say a word." In every recruiting job I’ve ever had, I spent the first six months just learning the business from those who I supported. Once that relationship was built, I found they would then listen to me when I wanted to try some things or had ideas, because they knew I understood the business.
What are you most looking forward to about speaking in the Palm Beach area in late November?
Not being in Michigan in late November! In Michigan we get six months of winter and gray skies. Any time I can get south in or around winter, I'm going!
Register to attend the Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Conference before Aug. 31 and save $650! Go to www.recruitingtrendsandtalenttech.com for details and to sign up.