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How to Buy Friends and Influence People

By August 2, 2012One Comment

Recruiting recruiters can be a tricky assignment at the best of times.  Like many sales people, recruiters are usually very good at presenting themselves in a positive light, finding smart ways to accentuate their virtues whilst glossing over their shortcomings.  This can make assessing the skills and abilities of a recruiter very hard to do.

Naturally, a recruiter’s CV is usually stuffed full of the things they know you want to see.  The CV screening stage is a doddle for them too, being perfectly used to phone handling, thinking on their feet and developing convincing sales pitches on the fly.  In person interviews can usually reveal the most about a recruiter’s abilities, if you are a skilled interviewer and good judge of character (absolutely essential traits for a rec-to-rec consultant, let me assure you).  But still, some of the more compelling Walter Mitty recruiters prevail and it isn’t until you start getting excited that you have genuinely unearthed some rare recruiting talent that the reference checks or psychometric testing reveal otherwise.

In the current economic climate there are very few places left for sub-standard recruiters left to hide.  Employers have far less patience to carry an under-performing consultant than they once did.  Sloppy recruiting practices very rarely land the odd unexpected placement fee that they perhaps once did.  The “Recruitment Gods” haven’t been smiling for quite some time and you either have to excel on your desk, or you need to do something else.

The explosive growth of technology and social media has created new opportunities for recruiters, sales people and marketers to create an aura of ability that isn’t necessarily the truth.  Greg Savage once blogged about Linked In liars saying that:

LinkedIn has great application. But it is riddled with flaws too. For a start it is packed with fraudulent, exaggerated and inflated profiles.

Facebook is even worse, admitting today that they have 83 million illegitimate accounts on the network.  When marketers are tasked by their employers to boost the number of “likes” on their company Facebook page, how much investigation is done into the quality, relevance and, most importantly, buying power of those “likes”?  Is there really any point in feeling satisfied with an increasing number of “likes” to your new company Facebook page when all you’re doing is inviting your friends from your personal page, rather than new or existing customers to engage with?  The BBC conducted a recent experiment by creating a fake company on Facebook called VirtualBagel and, by paying for the right kind of Facebook Ads, quickly received 1,300 “likes” which were nearly all from seemingly fake profiles.

And then this week Chris Keall from the National Business Review here in New Zealand revealed that Facebook Australia-New Zealand Account Manager Adnan Khan had to “reset” his Twitter account after it became clear that 94% of his 28,000 Twitter followers were in fact fake.  It appears that there are ways and means to procure yourself more followers on Twitter for a cost of $12.50 per 1,000 followers.

The best recruiters have always been the ones able to access the most talent, identify the best match, and influence the candidate and client decision-making processes to generate a mutually positive outcome.  Social media has given recruiters extra reach and influence.  But, and this is the important part, only when that “reach” is to genuinely engaged followers, fans, connections and candidates.  The temptation to create an illusion of reach of influence that is in fact fake is a real danger for recruiters, who have already become accustomed to “talking up” their numbers in recent years.

Learn the lesson from the fakers above because there really is nowhere to hide in recruitment these days.  There is no substitute for the feel good factor of authenticity and, in the long run, if you’re a good quality recruiter then in time you can let your (true) results speak for themselves.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

One Comment

  • Dan Gallen says:

    Nice article Jon, poignant and full of useful advice. However what happens though when these recruiters that have inflated resumes fail during your interview process and then through desperation manage to sell themselves into an internal role with a “client” and manage to pull the wool over their eyes so to speak. 

    Is there not a risk to the industry of failed recruiters taking up whatever they can get their hands on and then of course there is the possibility that if you don’t have a solid relationship with someone other than ‘HR’ you have to deal with said person(s)?