Magic or Science? How Talent Acquisition is Misunderstood

July 1st, 2015

Outside-In® Chronicles: Originally published with the title Talent Acquisition is a Science in July, 2011, this article still rings true today. Today the market may be different and there are new recruiting methodologies, but there is still a science behind recruiting that is misunderstood.

Talent Acquisition professionals are misunderstood. Generally, recruiters are rebellious. We color outside the lines and come and go when we please. Often times, this freedom is misinterpreted. Our work can be considered soft, simple, easy. But frankly, we never stop recruiting. We work at night and on weekends and there is science behind the mysterious, magical quality of our work.

Crazy scientist in glasses with a bulb or test-tube We often hear things like, “I don’t know how you do it, but can you get me another one just like Mary (or John or whomever).” It is this mystery and ambiguity that makes our work seem more like art than true science.

I have managed more than 1,000 recruiters in my career and I can share from experience that only a few are born to recruit. Those that are born with it have some common traits. They are naturally curious, they care about people and they have the energy of the “Energizer Bunny”. They go, go, go 24/7 and they move mountains for their customers. They make it look easy, when it is not. This work ethic, curiosity and personality can get you started but it takes great science to be a good recruiter.

The trouble with the science of recruiting is that there is not one standard formula. When it comes to hiring, our clients respect education and certifications. There are CPA’s, MBA’s, RN’s, EE’s… you name it, these certifications and degrees are a symbol of excellence in a particular field. But how do you know when a recruiter has reached a certain level? That they know, understand and excel in their field? For recruiters, it is not as cut and dry. We learn by doing and sometimes we are lucky to have a good mentor show us the way. We can take some course work or get an Internet certification, but we do not have certifications that translate. Have you heard of CPC or CTS? Probably not. I have had both, but now they mean nothing.

All we do is run Internet searches or review our databases. Right? This misunderstanding of our profession means we aren’t typically viewed with strategic importance. We are rock stars for a year. We are homeless the next. Our expertise is necessary during certain times of a business cycle like growth, acquisition, new product or business unit launches. But we have to be creative with our skills to show our value in down times of the business cycle.

Our customers see outcomes (the people we hire, the requisitions that aren’t filled) not process. They don’t care about things like sourcing or behavioral based interviews because they need what they need when they need it. But take a minute to think about the people on your team. Would you hire them if it were up to you? How would you find the right people to build the best team? With enough thought I think you’d agree that people are really the science behind the strategy — and good recruiters are the science behind it all.

Download our recent white paper to learn some of the science behind creating a sourcing strategy, and why you shouldn’t start recruiting without one.

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2 Responses to “Magic or Science? How Talent Acquisition is Misunderstood”

  1. What is the purpose of a recruitment strategy? | The CBI Group Says:

    […] of purpose in your process of attracting and selecting talent for your business and aligns talent acquisition goals to the business […]

  2. What is the Job of a Talent Sourcer? | The CBI Group Says:

    […] it’s most standard definition, a Sourcer’s function in Talent Acquisition is the proactive identification of candidates that match a desired skill set for a current or […]

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