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The Specialized Training Gap for Recruiters

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

Most professional industries prize certifications as evidence of rigorous training. The regulated industries of finance, medicine, law, energy and others require certain certifications to work in specific disciplines. Each major software and hardware vendor has certifications they offer. Even human resources and recruiting has SHRM, AIRS, and various other tool-based certifications one can obtain to hold as evidence for anyone who questions their worthiness. But what separates the good lawyers from the great ones, the best doctors from the decent ones, and the best recruiters from all the others in their market? It is the application of that training through real-world experience.

The Training Gap that exists in Internal Recruiting occurs when a company invests in what we call ‘Farmer’ recruiters. Farmer recruiters are not bad recruiters! They simply spend most of their time posting positions, sending out and processing applications, performing light phone screens of candidates, setting up interviews and onboarding hires – tending to the ‘farm’. Typically, a company does not realize they are setting up a recruiter to be a Farmer, they just assume that is what recruiters do…until they need them to do something else – be a Hunter.

The Training Gap occurs when a company realizes they need recruiters who are Hunters, and their recruiters have not been trained for how to be that. A Hunter recruiter is trained to internalize and effectively sell the company and its positions to the market, against stiff competition that all demand similar skill set professionals. A Hunter reads the market, knows how and where to source candidates, and attracts them with a powerful value proposition to get them into the process of consideration. But let me be very clear – Hunters are not born, they are made. They are trained in highly effective techniques and processes that not only source and attract valuable candidates, but also move them smoothly through the hiring process with as few ‘issues’ as can be managed.

Some companies - like Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc – need very few Hunters, as their marketing spend toward internal recruiting is similar to the GDP of small nations. Thus, Farmer recruiters are exactly what they need to process the flow of incoming candidates. For most other companies, however - despite large budgets for digital recruiting, brand awareness, and career fairs – the need for upskill training for existing teams (The Gap) is there. In my opinion, the Gap is more complex than simply demanding internal recruiters do more creative sourcing, hiring different ones, or even hiring ‘sourcers’ as a position. Certifications are nice, as mentioned, but even staffing industry-specific certifications themselves are at times far more focused on HR, rather than on the art and science of recruiting talent.

Specialized Training is never viewed with a negative connotation for cloud architects, systems engineers, project managers, accountants, doctors, lawyers, or even skilled tradesmen. In fact, most potential technical candidates in IT ask about the training offering the company offers, expect to receive it quickly, and consider it when making acceptance decisions. It is very seldom however, that a recruiter candidate will ever ask about training opportunities for their role, outside of new grads. Why would they? All they need to know, they already know. Right?

In my opinion, even experienced recruiters can learn new tricks. The department, group, team or single person responsible for bringing in a company’s most valuable assets is where companies should consider more investment in specialized Recruiter-specific Training – especially if they want those recruiters to go hunt.

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