Why I’m (Still) A Recruiter: My Take From the Talent Trenches

recruiter_loveSometimes I am asked: “So why are you a recruiter?”  It’s a great question really. I mean you don’t go to school for it. I don’t know of anyone who says “I want to be a be a recruiter when I grow up!” There are some good answers to this and they are all pretty different I assume.

However, I think the question really should be, “Why are you STILL a recruiter?”

Let’s face it, there are very few, if any, roles within HR that are as scrutinized as recruiting. I mean, we are the red-headed step child that gets it all thrown at us with little if any fanfare. Well, other than sales, I guess.

Recruiting is sales – no it’s not – yes it is!  Nope, not going there. That’s a different post for a different day. Instead of talking about what recruiting does, I want to talk about what recruiting has done for me as a profession – and as a passion.

Recruiting is that rare profession that has little to no downtime. We’re constantly tasked with building “pipelines” ( or “talent pools,” or “talent communities,” or blah blah blah insert buzzword of your choice here). Recruiters are always expected to be “ON” (jazz hands!)

We are hated by our clients and consultants, who look at us as a necessary evil and usually disregard everything we say as soon as our conversation ends. If we succeed, either HR or the manager is praised. If there is failure, it is ours to own as recruiters.  Many times, we’re brought on as “contractors,” so we’re easily replaceable if we can’t immediately do the impossible and immediately start finding people to fill some of the craziest roles ever imagined.

We are matrixed to death by people that were either not good enough to be real recruiters or by failures that saw an easier path in to HR.  I personally have been “dressed down” or “taken to task” and told that I don’t know what I am doing and this is what I should do to be successful.

No, really, this happened just last week after three-and-a-half years at my company.

Recruiter Empire3 Reasons Recruiting Rocks

I think that just about once a month throughout my career I have wondered  a simple question:

“Why the hell I am doing this?”  

It’s a question all of us in recruiting have probably faced at some point or another, and the answer is – and should – be different for all of us.  Here are my reasons, since you’ve read this far already.

I Make a Difference.

I bet you didn’t see that one coming huh? It is true though, at least for me. I make a difference when I help someone get a good job, move forward with their career, or just listen and pay it forward by handing them off to someone else that can help them succeed.  These are people. They pay bills like me, they are just trying to make it like me, and they are not the Kardashians (I could never help them).

The other is when the rare manager or “boss” gives you a pat on the back, takes you to lunch, or gives you a gift card for that really great find.  I make a difference by supporting the team and helping the company to continue to profit and pay the bills.

The Thrill of the Chase.

There are very few professions that give you the ability to not only change lives but let you be creative in the process. Recruiting involves multiple hats that range from being an influencer to a negotiator.  The really good talent out there is not always looking. They need to be sought after and then convinced that they should take your job.  Sometimes this is a monumental task at best. Yet that is what makes it exciting.

I rarely hear “I don’t want to talk to you.” when I call someone asking if they would like to discuss a new opportunity. Why would they? Even if they are happy there could be multiple reasons for making a move. I know people that are happy at their job but would move for an even better position to further their career. Which leads me to my third reason…

Closing the Deal.

There is nothing more satisfying to me than seeing fresh ink on an offer letter to a new hire. It is like the smell after a fresh rainstorm on a summer day. You do a happy dance, ring that bell, or just let out a rebel yell! This is the feeling that drives me to continue on. For me, it’s an adrenaline rush that comes only with knowing a job has been well done and done in such a way that everyone ends up satisfied.

I know you remember your very first hire, right? We all do.  Mine was in my third week at a staffing agency. Once the contractor signed the deal I went across the street for a coffee and said to myself, “that was the most satisfying thing I have ever done at job.” And I’ve been hooked ever since. No hiring manager, candidate, or HR person can ever take that away from me.

So that’s it, I guess – that’s why I’m still a recruiter. These are the things that get me through the day, the week, and the month, the factors that drive me through the long days and nights that inevitably come with my chosen line of work.While like most other people, I might have fallen into recruiting, but not a day goes by where I don’t feel lucky I found recruiting – or maybe, that recruiting found me.

Besides, what else am I supposed to do to make a living? Become a professional blogger? Yeah, right.  C’mon, man, who does that?


Derek ZellerAbout the Author: Derek Zeller draws from over 16 years in the recruiting industry. The last 11 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing within the cleared Intel space under OFCCP compliancy. Currently, he is the corporate manager for Advanced Resource Technology, Inc. He has experience with both third party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines and technologies. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, military and college recruiting strategies.

You can read his thoughts on RecruitingDaily.com or Recruitingblogs.com or his own site Derdiver.com.  Derek currently lives in the DC area.

Follow Derek on Twitter @Derdiver or connect with him on LinkedIn.

  • Awesome post Derek. It great at times to not feel alone in the trenches. So many think they can step in and become a recruiter, a select few really get it. Thanks for getting it.

  • maureensharib

    This was wonderful and I suspect there’s a story lurking inside your breast waiting to be told in the “you don’t know what you’re doing – here’s how you could do it better” experience you had last week. I’d love to hear it as, I’m sure would countless others. Out with it!

  • derdiver

    Thanks Tim. Maureen, I think that might make an interesting follow up post and since Michael and you are not the only ones that have asked about it that is a possibility for the next post…we shall see.

  • Abhishek Sharma

    Good Post liked it…..

  • Cheryl Yesinick Ward

    Derek -how refreshing to find a recruiter who actually loves their job and realizes they truly make a difference. The sense of accomplishment in filling a niche role (one that no one else had been able to do) and getting that “pat on the back” is what keeps a recruiter motivated, focused and successful (my opinion). Tim, I agree with your comment about anyone thinking they can be a recruiter….they are the ones that fail and complain about hiring managers, money, etc. Derek….how about starting a Facebook group called “Recruiters who Actually love what they do”. Thanks again for your post!!!!!

  • Pingback: Why I’m (Still) A Recruiter: My Take From the Talent Trenches - ATC Events()

  • It is really nice post!! Thanks for sharing it!!

Just add your e-mail!