Expectations, Meet Reality

By Doug Munro I came across a job posting recently that highlighted the chasm between expectations and reality in many small and mid-sized companies when it comes to recruiting. I’ve edited a bit for space, omitted some of the usual requirements – excellent communications skills, etc. – and added a few observations. I will not share the company name to protect the innocent (?), but it is a common issue. The role is billed as Recruiting Manager/Recruiter hybrid for a federal contractor and the opening lines paint a nice enough picture, but the duties, hours, and potential heartbreaks keep building up. 

This role will involve supporting Executive Management on Recruiting alignment and future direction, working with the Director of Business Operations on the qualification of needs and driving execution of delivery (nice start for a strategic role).

  • Work closely with the Director of Operations to ensure Recruiting process compliance (compliance is getting increasingly complex and time-consuming; is there an HR component helping?).
  • Assist Executive Management on the company vision around talent acquisition strategies and branding (meetings, potentially lots of them).
  • Provide weekly and monthly reporting to all necessary Management (what are the parameters of this reporting?)
  • Stay abreast on industry Recruiting Best Practices, regulations, and trends (is the company investing in facilitating this?).
  • Build strong relationships through continuous networking with potential clients and critical personnel (fair enough – it’s the core of what we do).
  • Work closely with Director of Operations to determine upcoming gaps and needs for current and future requirements (meetings, potentially lots of them).

As a Recruiting Manager, the above duties aren’t unreasonable on their face, but depending on the depth of the involvement they certainly appear to represent a full plate and myriad potential time-drains. No mention of leading and mentoring a team, perhaps because there isn’t one?

Skills & Requirements

  • 3 - 5 years of experience in a Recruiting capacity, with a minimum of 1+ years of experience in a recruiting leadership role (given the strategic nature of the duties above, doesn’t this seem light for experience? Might it mean they are looking for a below-market salary?).
  • Full lifecycle recruiting experience including sourcing, screening, interviewing, offer negotiation, and closing of candidates (one would expect this experience in a manager, but somehow in this situation it seems ominous).
  • Ability to submit 8 to 15 qualified candidates a week (there it is – in addition to the management functions you’ll be asked to recruit full-time as well).
  • Experience with an ATS to include tracking and reporting (again, what are the parameters?).

I’ve worked in recruiting management within this space for many years. When I see something like this I wonder if it’s an innocent mistake or a more insidious lack of understanding of the rigors of comprehensive recruiting. If the expectation for a role like this is that the selected candidate will drive best practices, champion encompassing recruitment branding, actively network in both candidate and customer circles, proactively drive workplace planning, assume full compliance responsibility, and provide comprehensive reporting across a broad gamut within the organization, you’ve already got a robust and challenging position on your hands. Now throw in full lifecycle recruiting to provide 8-15 qualified candidates a week and you’ve jumped the shark. I have actively recruited and closed candidates in all of my management positions; beyond the fundamental necessity in some smaller firms, I think it is vital that any recruiting leader stay in the game to keep sharp and know what their team is up against. However, the time required to effectively source and recruit that number of viable candidates every week is a job unto itself.

I suspect that someone will be hired for this role soon enough…and they will be gone in a year or less, perhaps much less. Either they will burn out quickly and brightly or the company will be disappointed in the results and let them go. Management likely sees the success large, innovative organizations have with their creative recruiting efforts and wants to see their firm on that cutting edge. They don’t, however, realize the level of investment and resources that these efforts require. The company has jobs to fill, so they want a strong recruiter, but don’t grasp what good recruiters do to be successful, so they underestimate the level of effort it requires. They roll it all together and want to buy it on the cheap. Champagne tastes on a Budweiser budget.

What can we do? If you’re looking for a new role, be very careful in the analysis of the scope of work expected and be honest in your appraisal of those expectations. Set the tone early so no one is unpleasantly surprised later. If you’re a company looking to boost your recruiting function, do your homework. Understand that successful recruiting takes investment – time, money, communication – and a commitment to making recruiting a business priority. If we can foster enough real conversation between recruiters and business stakeholders, perhaps we can reduce the chasm between expectations and reality to a tiny crack. Better yet, maybe we can eliminate it and drive the kind of change that benefits all of us.

Doug Munro is the Director of Technical Recruiting at Optimos, Inc., a strategy and enterprise information technology provider to the federal government. Find Doug on Twitter at @DoDRecruiterDC