SmartRecruiters Hiring Success Journal

Teach a Recruiter to Fish

When you think of fishing you probably think of a small boat, cargo shorts, a rod, some worms and cold beer. Usually fishing is a leisure activity for most of us who simply use it as a time to relax and hangout with family and friends. But of course there are levels of fishing from novice to professional – big-game-fishing. But did you know there are similarities between fishing and recruiting?

Fish are a healthy food source – there is no doubt about it – but nevertheless some fish are better for you than others. I’ve always heard that catfish are the worst fish to consume. The reasons are simple, catfish are what they call bottom feeders, and they eat off the bottom of the ocean, lake, river or creek. Bad things tend to settle at the bottom of open water sources and this is where you’ll find catfish.  

Catfish aren’t the only ones eating from the sea floor, shrimp are also bottom feeders. Shrimp are crustaceans; they are delicious but high in cholesterol. In practice, both catfish and shrimp are often deep fat fried and served with tarter and cocktail sauce to bring up their flavor profiles. However salmon is one of the healthiest fish, that and albacore tuna. They have tons of flavor and nutritional benefits.

Recruitment Fishing
Recruitment Fishing

You may be asking yourself what the heck does this have to do with a recruiting? The answer is, a lot. Catching the right fish is analogy that we use for many things like finding the right mate or the right candidate to join our company. You have most definitely heard the term, “There are plenty fish in the sea”? Well the same goes for talent. There are over 3 million open positions in the U.S.A. right now and 75% of the U.S. Workforce are active job seekers. With recruiting, just like fishing, you have to provide bait at the right time in the right place to find the right fish.

What bait are you using? Where are you fishing? Seasoned fishermen/women understand that if they are trying to catch bottom feeder they will have more success by using a net at the bottom of the water source. But if you want a healthier fish, like salmon or tuna, they aren’t found at the bottom of the ocean and you must know where to look for them. Both are found in colder waters supplies, so you have to source differently if you want to catch them. You can’t simply drag the bottom of the ocean, salmon migrate up stream, so you have the anticipate the migration routes. It’s about knowing what the market expects to do; it’s about anticipating where you’ll get a catch. 

As an organization you have to plan an effective recruiting strategy much like fishing. Remember when you are creating your job descriptions and placing your job advertisements, if you want a better candidate pool. You can’t go scrapping the bottom of barrel and expect a healthy, well rounded and happy workforce. You must identify the type of employees you want (salmon, catfish, tuna, shrimp) as part of your company goals and then design the best plan (bait, location, technique) to reel them in.  

Chris Fields

Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.