Recruiting isn’t about how hard you work, or how many late night interviews you conduct, or how many weekend networking meetings you attend.

Recruiting, like everything in business, isn’t about effort, it is about value.

I know some of you reading this have the mantra “I must work harder.” In fact, when judging someone to be a good person one of the first things we say is, “gosh, they were a hard worker.”

“I must work harder” is fine for horses on a farm, but it can be devastating advice for people. The phrase “work smarter not harder” tries but ultimately fails to convey this message. Working smarter is about increasing your efficiency, not about spending more time camped in front of a TV.

What conveys value for a recruiter?

To keep your job, to get promoted, or to be successful in anything, your work must convey value. So, how do you, as a recruiter or a recruiting manager know what is of value when it comes to your job?

In recruiting, we have tried to build a house around value by tracking activity. However, you will quickly learn that activity metrics only matter when production metrics have not been met.

Spoiler alert: Your production metrics are the measure of your value add to the company.

Activity metrics are only closely examined if production metrics are not met. The reason that your activity metrics are being challenged is because, in the eyes of the business, you are not creating more value than you are consuming. In the eyes of the business you might be a bad investment.

However, there IS a silver lining. Investors are willing to take a loss in the short term for a chance at a higher return long term. As a recruiter, it is your job to show them on what you bring to the table.

To many of us use our activity metrics to try to sell the business on our value. You need to share with them what you add so that when you have a bad month, or three, so they are willing to continue to invest in you.

Sometimes, it makes sense to invest in a money-losing project

Maybe you don’t believe me when I say that a business will invest money into a project that loses money in the short term. So as an example, I’d like to use Jeff Bezos, who just became the richest person in history with an estimated net worth of $100 billion.

For those of you not familiar with him, Jeff Bezos was the person who founded back in July 1994. The company did not turn a profit until Q4 of 2001. In fact, Amazon lost money every quarter for nearly seven (7) years, and the first time Amazon made a profit it was $5 million on $1.1 billion of revenue.

At the time that was about 1 cent — yes, 1 penny — per share. So why was the market willing to invest in Amazon for so long? It’s because the value of Amazon isn’t in the products, it is in the disruption it caused in retail and the value it added to its paying customers.

How much is a share of Amazon worth today?

When you understand this principle you will see why Tesla is worth $53.3 billion today, more than any other American car manufacturer. The name of the game isn’t effort, its value. In the case of Amazon, it was the value of disrupting the retail industry. For Tesla, it is the transportation industry.

Tesla hasn’t made that many cars. They have not produced $53.3 billion worth of effort. What they have done is added $53.3 billion worth of value. The value is in a self driving, electrically powered, disruption to the transportation industry.

For recruiters, it’s all about making the hire

Remember: It’s about value, not effort. If you were ever in sales you may have heard it put this way — once value is established, cost is no longer an issue. If you can establish your value as a recruiter you will be promoted more frequently, win more awards, and have more of your requests for support from the business answered.

So as a recruiter or a recruiting manager you have to understand that what you do — calling candidates, scheduling interviews, extending offers — is the effort you put forward, but not what you ultimately bring to the table. No, the value a recruiter brings is in a hire.

If you want to be the Amazon or Tesla of recruiting, you need to show the business how you will add value to their company. The term some people use to describe what they are looking for can be found on many a job description as “creative sourcing tactics,” or “innovative strategy.”

What they are trying to tell you is that they want you to disrupt recruiting.

Still not convinced? Let’s do a thought experiment: If recruiter A has 5 interviews and 5 offers, will they get a raise, promotion, award or recognition before or after recruiter B has had 50 interviews and 3 hires?

Yes, success in recruiting, and in any business, is about delivering value.

Mike Wolford

As the Talent Intelligence Titan with over 15 years of progressive experience, I've dedicated my career to revolutionizing the talent acquisition landscape. My journey, marked by leadership roles at esteemed organizations like Claro Analytics and Twitter, has equipped me with a deep understanding of recruiting, sourcing, and analytics. I've seamlessly integrated advanced AI technologies into talent acquisition, positioning myself at the vanguard of recruitment innovation.