5 Recruiting Strategies That Don’t Work Anymore for Staffing Agencies

April 1, 2014

When was the last time you read a “help wanted” section in the newspaper? If you were born after the year 1980, chances are it was never. As technology continues to revolutionize the way recruiters do business, more and more recruiting strategies that used to work in years past have fallen by the wayside.

Paula Todd, president of Innovations, a professional placement firm that specializes in the financial services sector and has been in business since 1985, has witnessed the evolution firsthand.

Here’s her list of best practice recruiting strategies from the past that just won’t close a candidate any longer.

1. Dangling the salary carrot

“You can’t just sell on salary anymore,” says Todd. “It used to be that you could call up a prospective candidate and say, ‘I’ve got this great job that pays $150,000,’ and just by mentioning a higher salary, that would be incentive enough for the person to be interested.”

That isn’t the case anymore, explains Todd. “Today people have a lot of other things going on in their current positions, such as quality of life, working from home, stock options, or they’re just already really comfortable being employed at a really stable company,” she’s says.

People don’t care that much if a job pays more, because it might not have those other perks they have worked hard to acquire. “So, if you mention a high salary,” she says, “their response could very well be, well ‘Whoopee?’”

2. Advertising on generic job boards

Although Todd used to use job boards, to advertise for job openings she was trying to fill, she no longer does it. “When Internet job boards first came out, I could place an ad on there for a position, and get great candidates knocking on my door,” Todd says. “That’s no longer the case.”

Now it’s a total waste of time, she says. “You’re going to get inundated with hundreds of responses, and you won’t wind up with anyone who is really qualified.”

3. Cold calling

Back in the days when companies used receptionists to field calls, Todd said she and her colleagues would do all kinds of tricks, like using fake names, to try to get past the receptionists to get a potential candidate on the phone. And once she got someone on the line, they would be happy to hear from her. As a matter of fact, that was often one of the most successful recruiting strategies.

But that game doesn’t cut it anymore, Todd says.

“Everyone has direct lines today,” she says, “and you just can’t pick up the phone anymore and boldly call someone you don’t know.” The world doesn’t work that way, she says. You have to network through people you know to get to people.”

4. Convincing the hiring manager to look beyond the resume

In the past, Todd says, if you had a really great candidate who perhaps was a couple years off in terms of experience or didn’t exactly match the list of qualifications needed, you could call up your client and talk the person up.

“I could call a client I’d never met,” explains Todd, “and say, ‘Listen, I know she has five years and you wanted eight, but she’s really terrific. You’ve got to just trust me on this, and see her for ten minutes. If I'm wrong you can yell at me later, I promise.’ And they’d say, ‘Sure Paula, send her over’.”

Although Todd says, fortunately, she still has that freedom with some of her long time clients, today most hiring managers are given a list of ‘must haves’ by their higher ups, and there is just a lot less flexibility to get a hiring manager to see beyond an imperfect fitting resume. Not to mention the fact that in some cases, she says, the resumes she’s submitting are auto-screened by robots on the other end.

5. Wining and dining your corporate clients

“We used to take our corporate clients to parties to restaurants, to wherever they wanted to go,” recalls Todd. “Today, nobody has time to go out.” If you want to reinforce your relationship, these days, you have to get creative about it.

The other day, Todd shares, she was trying to find a way to have a face-to-face meeting with a long-time client. He told her that because of his busy schedule, he could only meet at 9 pm at night. That didn’t work for Todd, who is also a mom, so she wound up offering to bring coffee to his office and chat with him across his desk. “Everybody is on fast forward today,” she says. “You have to do what you can to connect.”

What other recruiting strategies of old do you think are past their ‘sell by’ date? Let us know at @HireOnLinkedin

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