I like hearing from recruiters, and can say that not only because they are salespeople and I am a salesperson at heart. They can be a critical source of difficult to find information, such as their ‘people network’ as well as which employer is looking for which type of talent.
I’m not sure if it is the business cycle turning up, a few months of elapsed time since a round of layoffs and reorganizations have affected the tool vendors, or just something in the air, but in the past two weeks I’ve received several inquiries. (Who knows, it could be my recent flurry of social media activity, I can’t count that out in this interconnected world of Twitter, Facebook and blog RSS.
And at a tradeshow, such as the recent ABRF in Orlando, word floats around easily enough. I visited with an ex-LifeTech person who I also knew from my Illumina days, and then we were joined by a third ex-Illumina person. Good friends all, and although all involved with different companies facing different situations in different roles, when the question arises ‘how are you doing at…’ then the conversation quickly pivots to who is looking for whom. And as I previously wrote about the highly competitive nature of the business, there is a high level of competition for talent and experience.
To amplify the network, recruiters fulfill a needed role. One very good one I know in the Midwest has not placed me anywhere – yet – but a few years ago when I was looking they set me up with an interview of a startup whose VP was well known within a certain circle, but not known to me. The coaching I received was extensive, the follow-up impeccable, and every year or so we talk about careers and positions and market needs. What makes this person so good is the third-party perspective of career guidance, and with such a sensitive topic you need to be very careful who you talk to. We spoke at length about things like from what I’ve done already, what would I want to do in the future, and how do I get the experiences to move in that direction? Who would be on my ‘short list’ should I want some external career input? Of course I would love to work with this person for a new position. The fact that recruiters are paid a hefty percentage of the first year’s salary (in the 10’s of thousands of $ per placement) means that they have an incentive to come up with a match that works well for everyone, the employee and the prospective employer. (A classic ‘win-win’.)
In the world of sales, like in so many other worlds, knowledge is power. And many times the sure way to get information to spread is to say it is a secret. (It sure must be difficult for our government to keep secrets, from what I’ve observed firsthand about this aspect of human nature.) But confidentiality is the recruiter’s stock-in-trade; without it they have no incoming business at all. And with such a sensitive topic as a person who is doing needed and valued work, thinking about picking up your things and taking your ‘game’ somewhere else, one cannot afford the mistake of indiscretion, or just one person too many who shares that knowledge to gain some kind of leverage.
Thus there are two sides for the recruiting business – one is the need for discretion and careful information safeguarding, and the other is career guidance and coaching to help crystallize the things you can offer a future employer, as well as identify what areas you could develop in your current role. And as the third-party ‘middle man’, they have also the ability to assist with negotiations, like any broker. Having been through the experience of buying and selling several houses now, the real estate brokerage business comes immediately to mind, and there are many useful parallels here in how the best real estate brokers are invaluable when it comes time to negotiate the myriad of details around a house purchase. The best recruiters will also assist with critical negotiation tactics and alternatives when the time comes to consider an offer.