If you’ve served in a management position long enough, you might remember when executive recruiters functioned as gatekeepers of the talent pool. Top agencies acquired all the best job opportunities for the same reason that OPEC collects the best crude oil purchase contracts. There was no way around them.
Technology changed this dynamic with the arrival of Monster, Careerbuilder, LinkedIn and other recruiting service websites. Employers no longer needed an intermediary to connect them with jobseekers. They could search through affordable, publicly accessible databases for industry professionals who match their search criteria. And they could post job opportunities on websites visited by millions of users a day.
Now, do employers still need to bring their best job opportunities to executive recruiters? Indeed, they do, but for a different set of reasons than before software engulfed the industry.
In the solar and energy storage industries, where we work, anyone recruiting top talent must have a working knowledge of the business models and technologies driving market growth, as well as the leading organizations and the top executives in the field. Good luck getting someone’s attention if you don’t understand the market that he or she is operating in. It won’t be easy.
Employers continue to entrust experienced recruiters to support key hiring decisions for two reasons. First, when they find a recruiter who truly understands the employer’s needs. And second, when that recruiter has a strong professional network capable of producing qualified candidates on demand.
Understanding the employer’s needs
Traditional staffing agencies operate as if employers have immense control over hiring. As if the employer can post job opportunities and wait for qualified candidates to present themselves at the door. With roles that require specific, hard-to-find skill sets, or senior management positions, much more work goes into the recruiting process.
You need to develop a crystal-clear message that describes the job opportunity in compelling terms. When you get on the phone, you have only a few moments to grab someone’s attention.
There’s a big difference between using that time to tell someone something generic, like this:
‘We’re working with an energy storage company to fill a senior business development position,’
compared to something specific and highly relevant, like this:
‘We’re working with an independent power producer that owns and operates utility-scale storage assets. They are looking for someone to help them shape the entire energy storage strategy. You have experience in the market that might be valuable to them. Have you thought about working for an IPP?’
Anyone can make the first pitch. On the other hand, it’s practically impossible to fake the level of authenticity needed to make the second pitch. The type of pitch needed for successful job recruiting. You need to spend time building up industry knowledge, attending events, reading articles and reports, and engaging in conversations with industry professionals.
We talk to hundreds of people a week, not only to gauge interest in job opportunities but to continually learn about the companies we currently support through recruiting and the dynamic, growing companies that may soon be seeking help from a knowledgeable recruiter.
Strength of the recruiter’s network
There’s a right way and a wrong way to go through the recruiting process. Some companies post job opportunities for a month, then take a few weeks to evaluate the candidate pool, then a few more weeks to schedule interviews, then a few more weeks to make a hiring decision, then a few more weeks to negotiate an offer. The entire process can easily stretch three months or longer. You can’t expect the best candidates to still be available at the end of the road. They are likely to consider a handful of other job offers while you’re trying to make up your mind. This is the wrong way to handle recruiting.
The right way is to create target lists of companies where we are likely to find the individuals with the skill sets that our clients are searching for. To create an effective target list, you must understand the market.
You also need a network that’s tightly focused on the industries, job categories, and territories you serve. If your clients are looking for experienced energy industry leaders in California, it doesn’t help to have a lot of tech industry executives from the Northeast in your network.
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The inefficiencies in the hiring process are essentially where a good job recruiter can add value with a thorough understanding of an employer’s needs and a strong professional network that can deliver qualified candidates to the employer. If you’d like to learn more about working with a solar and energy storage recruiter, sign up for our weekly email with news and job opportunities and follow us on LinkedIn.