Where do you find the best recruiters?

Where do you find the best recruiters?

Logical Argument (that I had with someone recently):

Best Recruiters = Best Companies to Work For

Rationale: The best recruiters bring in the best talent, the best talent makes the best companies.

Illogical Argument (but frequently factual):

Worst Companies to Work For = Best Recruiters

Rationale: If your company is the worst company to work for, meaning you have a bad environment, and a bunch of other negative stuff, it’s going to be very hard to recruit top talent to your organization.

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I was having this conversation with an HR executive that I highly respect but he can be a major idiot (i.e., he use to be my boss which in itself doesn’t make him an idiot, that he does on his own).   Here’s my point.  Working at a bad company makes it extremely hard to recruit.  This type of environment breeds recruiters who either fail (and usually very quickly) or through tremendous odds succeed in finding talent to little by little make their organizations better.

His point is easy: Great company, everybody wants to work for you, recruiter cherry picks the best talent and then calls them to tell them they’ve won the Job Lottery (my explanation, not his!).

I’m not sure this is the chicken and egg scenario. Does the company make the recruiter great, or does the recruiter make the company great?  I really believe great recruiting can turn around a company that isn’t so great. But, average or even sub-average recruiters many times won’t pull down a great company.  At the same token, I do believe the Best Companies to Work For have more average recruiters than great recruiters (oh boy, I said it), why?

Because working in recruiting for a Best Company, makes you lazy. You know longer are the hunter, you become the farmer.

Before you blow a gasket I’ve worked in both environments, crappy going out of the business company where nobody wanted the job you were offering, to industry leading the best company to work for everyone wanted your job, even the crappy jobs.  It was easier working for the latter.

Did the best company still have challenges, you bet, but it was still easier.  We had high-class problems at the best companies (oh no! how do we properly select from all these great candidates) compared to the bad company (oh no! how do we keep the doors open next week if we can’t hire enough people).

So, what’s my point?  

If you are looking to hire a great, top performing recruiter don’t believe the hype that they need to come from a “Top” company.  Where they need to come from is a company that has faced major recruiting challenges, and they’ve found ways to be successful in-spite of those challenges. If you find a recruiter who has always live in fairy’s world their entire career you throwing them into your nightmare might cause their halo to fall off.