SmartRecruiters Blog

Old Legends Impart Traditional Wisdom for New Recruiters

Recruitment has transformed rapidly, but some insights remain timeless. We mined the slush pile at the quote farm, unearthing some untarnished gems from which the most cynical can’t help but draw wisdom.

The hiring process is a different beast whether you’re a recruiter, a hiring manager, or a candidate. While the ultimate goal is to match the right candidate to the right job, sometimes the procedural challenges offer the most valuable insights for the future. TA professionals lean on past leadership to improve recruitment today. That’s why we’ve gathered quotes from accomplished entrepreneurs and business leaders that will challenge your perceptions of recruiting, and give you that much-needed kick in the ass.

On Candidate Experience

“Understand your candidates and why they’re making job changes. People leave people, not companies, Make sure you’re giving them something they’re excited to come to.” — Robin Mee, President and Founder of Mee Derby

If we truly believe that people are the core of HR, then creating the best possible candidate experience should be a no-brainer. In an era where company reviews on sites like Glassdoor are widely accessible to prospective applicants, organizations cannot afford to ignore the importance of a positive first impression. Today’s companies are increasingly aware of how candidates view them, not just as potential employers, but on their social initiatives, and even how they write open job descriptions.

On Employer Branding

“Engagement has to be human, because people trust people more than brands. Our employees are the ones who personify Shell.” — Ana Alonso, Global Marketing Head at Shell

A company’s reputation as an employer is hugely important to candidates. Today’s job seekers have greater access to company information than ever before, with 75 percent considering an employer’s brand before even applying for a job. Company fit and culture are moving into the top considerations for candidates who value connections with people more than with a brand. Employers wanting to attract the right candidates should focus on building an internal culture that supports these relationships.

On Hiring the Right Person (or People)

“When you’re in a startup, the first ten people will determine whether the company succeeds or not. Each is ten percent of the company. So why wouldn’t you take as much time as necessary to find all the A players? If three were not so great, why would you want a company where 30 percent of your people are not so great? A small company depends on great people much more than a big company does.” — Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple

“If we weren’t still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become some mediocre company.” — Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft

Steve Jobs may be right about one thing. True, individuals have more impact at startups, but that doesn’t mean they are less influential at larger companies. While we would be hard-pressed to argue with the man who built a successful multinational tech firm, Microsoft’s equally savvy tech mogul makes a strong counterpoint – that maintaining great hires is crucial to an organization’s growth. The takeaway: hiring top-quality talent starts in a company’s infancy, and if done correctly, will carry things into maturity.

On Training

“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” — Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company

Onboarding rarely goes beyond the typical welcome packets, employee handbooks, and payroll forms for many recent hires. And while no organization wants to suffer the financial cost of losing a freshly trained worker, this quote from Henry Ford argues that companies who don’t invest in employee training risk greater loss. The future workforce will need a balance of technological, social and emotional, and higher cognitive skills, and many of these will require occasional honing. To that end, it behooves companies to initiate skill workshops, training seminars, and other exercises to maintain a high level of employee performance.

On Team Building

“The best teamwork comes from men [and women] who are working independently toward one goal in unison.” — James Cash Penney, Founder of JC Penney

The founder of JC Penney opened his first store in 1902, and over the course of his life grew it into a $12B organization with 850 stores across the US. Feats like this are only possible with a united team working towards a common goal, where every person understands how his or her role is instrumental in achieving success. Expectations on an individual level demonstrate to employees how every team function aligns with the greater company mission. This not only establishes a value-add for all tasks, but instills a sense of purpose among the entire team.

On Management

“Many think of management as cutting deals and laying people off and hiring people and buying and selling companies. That’s not management, that’s deal making. Management is the opportunity to help people become better people. Practiced that way, it’s a magnificent profession” – Clayton M. Christensen, HBS Professor & Disruptive Innovation Expert

It can be difficult to know exactly what happens behind the closed doors of corner offices as recruiters fight in the trenches for the next great hire, but as this quote from Clayton Christensen suggests, the function of management is to provide support and mentorship to employees. Great managers identify potential, maintain a pulse on company health, and empower employees to reach their goals. Companies can only grow as fast as the people who run them, from managers to executives.

Scott Wardell