Who’s Ahead of the Curve? A Year End Review of the Best (and Worst) in Recruiting

Best Thinkers in Recruiting for 2005

These are the individuals or firms whom I have encountered this year that clearly think differently and are definitely on the right track with their philosophy and strategy of where recruiting needs to be.

  • Chris Forman. The CEO of AIRS has a better grasp on where the world of recruiting needs to be going than anyone I have dealt with during this year. Perhaps his unique view is a result of the fact that his background is outside of recruiting. Watch what he does: AIRS is no dinosaur from the past.
  • Michael Homula. The head of talent acquisition at Quicken Loans is smart and bold. With a little more experience, Michael Homula will be the next Michael Jordan of hiring.
  • Dan Hilbert. Director of recruiting at Valero, Dan Hilbert is the first to bring real statistical tools and pipeline management techniques to recruiting. He is clearly the Edward Deming of recruiting.
  • Bernard Hodes Group. The company is responsible for the best recruiting research of the year. They sent well-crafted "perfect resumes" to a target firm to test their systems and found a dismal 12 percent response rate. In addition, the client fired them for sharing the bad news! Go figure.
  • John Sumser. There is no more honest and frank writer in our profession. He rips people in what can be only called a blunt fashion, but he also praises great work when it's warranted (I have not been excluded from his wrath or his praise). He writes a column every day and has for nearly a decade (an amazing feat). His Electronic Recruiting News is a must-read for me every day.
  • TopCoder. Working with clients like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, TopCoder has made attracting the very best "passive candidates" through contests a model that everyone should follow.
  • ZoomInfo. ZoomInfo's search tools are used by some of the very best recruiting firms, like Google. It remains the best source for finding employed top performers who are not actively seeking a new job by posting a resume (i.e. the difference-makers).
  • Kevin Wheeler. Nobody presents the big picture better than Kevin. He's been doing it for years.
  • Lou Adler. He offers the best advice in the critical area of "closing the deal" that I have ever seen.
  • Peter Weddle. His aggressive, almost military, approach to recruiting is refreshing and worth reading.
  • Libby Sartain. She's leading the way in the critical area of internal employment branding. Her new book will show many the need to "walk the talk" when it comes to company values.
  • Trudy Knoepke-Campbell. Trudy is one of the few recruiters/workforce planners to be featured in a Wall Street Journal article this year. She is a shining light for using metrics and business logic in a dismal field of healthcare recruiting.
  • Google. In a short period, Google has built the best-funded recruiting machine on the planet. Because it has changed "the work" of employees to make their jobs more exciting, it remains the benchmark firm for all others to follow.
  • MGM Grand. The vision of Gamal Aziz (president and COO) and the work of Corinne Clement and Miriam Hammond on employment branding is simply amazing in an industry where HR has done very little.
  • India. Yes, I know, it's a country. But you had better watch these fast-growing Indian firms because they have plans to open facilities and recruit all over the world. Using a kind of reverse engineering, firms are planning on opening R&D facilities where the talent currently resides (in North America, Asia, and Europe). They are incredibly aggressive because they don't have to unlearn all of the old-fashioned recruiting traditions that restrict most thinking.
  • Starbucks. Despite its massive growth, it has found a way to recruit and motivate workers around the world. I know it just can't last, but it's the only chain that makes it fun to spend time in its establishment. An amazing accomplishment!
  • Jim Dalton. After years of managing the ER Daily, he is moving on to other aspects of community development within ERE. His work in recruiting great authors and providing great content has simply been the best in the industry.
  • Workforce Management magazine. If you haven't seen the transition it has made, I suggest you check it out. Now there is actually a human resources magazine that's not full of social work ideas or vendor-influenced stories.
  • Master Burnett. Yes, he works with me, so I can be accused of a slight prejudice. But Master still knows more about HR technology than anyone that I have met anywhere.
  • Bob Stambaugh. The godfather of HRIS has passed, but his work will never be forgotten.

Unique Event of the Year

Michael Homula, while employed at FirstMerit Bank, presented the economic impact of recruiting on the stock price to shareholders at the annual shareholders meeting. This is the first time this has ever happened to my knowledge.

What and Who Needs "Rethinking"

These are the individuals, firms, or concepts I have encountered this year that clearly need to "rethink" their approach to recruiting.

  • Corporate careers websites. The entire lot of them are simply boring and atrocious. Despite Gerry Crispin and Mark's Mehler's hard work, 99 percent of corporate employment sites are no more than static and dull resume black holes. There's a missed opportunity here for companies to "wow" candidates with the best "selling tool" available after employment branding.
  • "Monster" job boards. Being big without demonstrating quality and the fact that people actually get hired and successfully perform on the job is no longer acceptable.
  • Recruitment advertising firms. Become end-to-end recruiting consultants and take responsibility for producing measurable results — or go the way of desktop publishers and VHS recorders.
  • Social networks. All boots and no cattle here. They will not prosper until they get faster and easier to use.
  • ATS vendors. With one or two exceptions, ATS vendors have overpromised and underdelivered to the point where they're losing what remaining credibility they have. Take responsibility for actually producing measurable business impacts for your clients or go the way of the Walkman and the cassette tape.
  • Europe. Yes, I know it's a continent, but when it comes to recruiting, Europe is a dinosaur still enclosed in amber. In a business world where speed, innovation, and first to market are critical, no one cares about your traditions or "the way you have always done things." Change the way you recruit, retain, and develop the most innovative workers in the world or risk becoming irrelevant.
  • Ford, GM, United, Coca-Cola, and McDonald's. These and other dinosaur companies haven't figured out that hiring challenging and retaining innovative people is more important than brand or advertising. Borrowing a phrase from the Clinton campaign, "It's the people, stupid!"
  • SHRM. There's no subtle way to put this; they just haven't supported recruiting like they should. SHRM doesn't tolerate criticism — but, of course, that's part of their problem.
  • Social workers on the ERE discussion boards. They are so afraid of their shadow that anything new scares them. Come up with better solutions yourself or stop whining.
  • Blogs in recruiting. It was fun when they were only a few of them, but if they don't differentiate and add real tools and solutions, they too will fade like other fads.

Nominate Your Own Winners and Losers

This list contains only people and companies that I've come across this year, so obviously I have missed some people who deserve recognition. To those individuals, please accept my apologies. But if you would like to add other people or firms that made a real difference to recruiting during the past year, nominate them by posting a review under this article's title. Let's celebrate the best that have changed our profession.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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