Day Two Cloud 088: Not Recruiters, Career Advocates

Recruiters… In my experience recruiters rank just slightly above sales people. That is not meant to be complimentary. I think we’ve all had the experience of a pushy sales person who won’t take no for an answer, or who makes grand promises they can’t possibly deliver on. We’ve all had to deal with the avaricious sales jerk who is only interested in a quick commission and not the actual relationship with a client. Recruiters can operate in the same way, only instead of selling software or hardware, they are selling a person’s services. And just like any other sales person, they can promise the moon and deliver a dud. Whether they promise a job seeker the opportunity of a lifetime, or promise a company an astounding candidate; in either case, the worst type of recruiter doesn’t truly care about the relationship, only the commission. If you’ve experienced such a recruiter, you might be soured on the industry as a whole. But there can be value in working with a recruiter, and the most recent episode of Day Two Cloud gets into that very topic with Taylor Desseyn.

I’ve worked with a lot of sales people, both on the selling and buying side. While many of them fit the mold of a used car salesman in a slightly better suit, there have been a few that broke the mold. What differentiated them from the flock? Empathy and investment. The best sales people I have ever worked with care deeply about the clients they service. They are invested in the success of their customers, and want to build a real relationship with them that goes beyond the mere transactional. The interest and care is genuine, and it helps them better understand their customers. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in making money or selling goods and services. But they won’t force a sale that won’t benefit their customer just to hit a sales goal.

In our conversation with Taylor, it quickly became apparent that the same approach is true for recruiting. Taylor started by acknowledging a simple truth:

I will tell you, technical recruiting as a whole is defined as a mess.

He was speaking partially in the context of what happened to technical recruiting with the pandemic and everyone moving to remote work. That was certainly disruptive, but it is more than that. He went on to say:

At the end of the day, the reason why the recruiting industry is broken is because you try to put metrics on people and that doesn’t work.

Just like sales people, recruiters have numbers they are supposed to hit. And focusing on the numbers dehumanizes the job seekers and employers. The upshot is you get frantic DMs on LinkedIn from recruiters based on a job skill you haven’t practiced in the last 10 years. They are simply doing a keyword search and blasting req’s out into the wild, hoping that the law of large numbers will net them a minimally viable candidate.

As we spoke to Taylor, Ethan and I began to uncover that his approach was vastly different. He’s interested in cultivating relationships with individuals and assisting them throughout their career. That might be helping them find a job at first, but later he could be helping the same individual – now a manager – find suitable candidates for their team.

I’ll tell you this in ten years, if Ned or Ethan are wanting to spin up something on their own and need resources, I want you to call me. And that’s what recruiters don’t understand, is that this thing that we do is a lifetime long game.

Not only is a good recruiter invested in your career, they are also there to help with more than just finding a job. They can help with interview prep, salary negotiation, and just figuring out what you actually want to do. Empathy is key in all of this.

At this point in my career, I don’t have a big need for a recruiter. I’m not looking for a job or looking to hire new people. If I do need a job or an employee, I have a solid network I can rely on. But you know who is now part of my network? Taylor Desseyn. Maybe that’s the biggest takeaway. Building a solid professional network is the best thing you can do for your career, and having a recruiter who functions as your career advocate has a place in that network. I think I’ll end it with one more quote from the episode:

I think we need to be your advocate, I think recruiters need to do better. I think we need to be people’s advocate now and in the future.

I think Taylor’s right.

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