This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

August 22, 2000

Ruthless Recruiting

129 Days until January 1, 2001

As the labor market continues to tighten, recruiting is becoming more aggressive. This trend will continue-and intensify-over the next 5-10 years. Some few recruiters, often not people from the human resources profession, are giving the whole recruiting process a bad name by their overt, often-unethical tactics. Unfortunately, these troublesome folks will be with us for a while, providing some frustrating challenges to true professionals in the field.

Recruiters used to be nice people who visited college campuses to interview prospective, entry-level white collar employees. Some of the sheep have become wolves, perhaps even vultures. If you're an employer who's been targeted by these single-minded, over-aggressive recruiters, the image is clearly that of a predator.

The increased competitiveness of the employment market has driven more and more employers to hire-or engage-recruiters who will stop at nothing to bring home their prizes. Operating much like bounty hunters, these recruiters apply a battery of incredible tactics to find prospective employees and reel them in.

Here are some techniques being practiced today: Recruiters for computer companies position themselves in their competitor's parking deck, approaching employees as they leave work. Hospital recruiters call extensions on the floor of competing hospitals, offering to pay whoever answers 20 percent more than their pay stub shows. Retailers shop the competition--for people. When they observe someone doing a good job, they offer them a position on the spot. Employees quit impulsively and follow recruiters right out the door. We call this the "Pied Piper syndrome."

Hospitality recruiters visit other hotels and restaurants, handing out business cards to prospective employees. Information technology recruiters go to college campuses to find undergrads, not even waiting until students get their degrees. They're not working through the placement offices, you can be sure. Stories are circulating about recruiters getting hired by target companies so they can get inside to contact prospects.

Aggressive recruiting will continue, with a certain percentage of workers-- and employers--falling prey to the hard-chargers. The more ethical recruiters will differentiate themselves through standards established and enforced by the emerging association of professional recruiters.

Comments from our readers:

I really enjoy Trend Alert!

This weeks topic reminded me of a situation here in Fort Wayne recently. Owners of a new upscale restaurant, visited other "upscales" before they opened. They hired away their best waiters and waitress. From what I heard they only hired 3 staff people the traditional way, by taking out an ad. So I know it happens.

I wonder though if in some industries such as food and retail, this trend might be a positive. Those industries tend to overwork employees frequently. Just a thought!

This trend reaffirms my belief that you never know who might be watching you from afar that could offer you something that could greatly impact your life. It's much like actors and dancers, who sometimes say they are always auditioning, no matter where they are. They never know when they will be discovered.

After reading your latest Trend Alert I was reminded of an article I read recently that talked about recruiters going to high schools to recruit the "geeks", kids with exceptional computer skills. Seems companies have realized that they can pay these kids substantially less money and get some original and hard work from them.

So what's the issue? I wonder about the morality of taking a kid either out of school or before he/she goes to college. These companies are certainly not acting in the best interests of the young adult. Is this a trend, given the increasing demand for computer workers to the point of legislation that

will allow more immigration? And if it is, what will happen to these less educated workers as they pass into their late 20s and 30s and have no broader perspective on life?

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