Why the modern recruiter is all farmer

The idea that a recruiter acts like a farmer is nothing new, only in the past the saying went that an effective recruiter needed to be half farmer, half hunter. This has all changed.

The recruiter who succeeds today will be pure farmer, with those placing high emphasis on hunting falling by the wayside. For those of you visiting the analogy for the first time, we don’t mean you should put on a waxed jacket and lie awake worrying about the drainage in the lower field.

What we mean is this…

The problem with being a hunter

Hunters are transactional. They hunt, eat, move on and hunt again. Farmers nurture their crops, harvest and eat sustainably. The recruitment market no longer supports the hunter; the forest is dwindling and those ‘prey’ that remain are far too wise to the tactics. Cold calling is dying. No one likes taking them. No one likes making them. The same is true for traditional head hunt methods. However, this doesn’t mean that you can avoid the phone. It is still an essential tool but it is used as a much more subtle and effective part of the farming process.

The hunting instinct still applies.

Only now it applies to sourcing. The farmer who succeeds knows where to source the best grain or find new sources when required. They hunt out the right conditions to plant in. Today’s recruiter does the same. They now hunt socially for the right candidate potential, and hunt for the right conditions to plant the seed of engagement.

Grow the hard stuff

The farmer who returns from market with full pockets and a smiling face is the farmer who has persisted with the hardest crops. They reap the rewards of persisting to grow the most in demand produce. Why is it in demand? Precisely because it is hard to grow.

As Greg Savage explains here, the most successful recruiters in today’s market will go niche and deep, providing the hardest to find candidates. After all, why engage a recruiter to find the candidates you can find yourself?

It all comes down to the harvest in the end

For a hunter the critical moment comes with the kill. For the farmer, this same skill of timing and judgement is manifested in the harvest. Too early, and the crop is lost. Too late and you reap what is already rotting in the ground. As a recruiter, timing is also everything to reap the rewards of your hard work. Knowing the moment is right for your candidate to make that right move is the judgement skill on which ultimately your reputation is built.

Going to market

Like a good farmer, when you have judged the timing correctly, you then need to know exactly where to go next. The right places to approach to sell your candidate’s talent on their behalf. You don’t want to be a farmer arriving at a cattle market trying to sell a truck load of grain.

Expect the unexpected

If we have learned nothing else in the last 7 years it is that nothing stays the same. Markets shift and change, either subtly or, as in 2008 – dramatically. Hopefully it will be some time before we see a change as dramatic as that, but complacency is not your friend. A good farmer appreciates that each crop cycle is different. They cannot plough the same soil indefinitely. They have to adapt to fluctuations in the weather and no single season is predictable.

You must also be in tune with the fluctuations in your market. You must be able to spot changes no matter how subtle. You cannot ignore them and you must be able to adapt and change accordingly. At some point the advice written here will no longer stack up. That is just the way of things.

The balance of work

The farmer knows the importance of each stage of their work cycle, but they also know the importance of keeping these balanced. You too must understand what the correct balance of your activity needs to be.

After all, where will a fertile crop get you without a strong harvest?

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