Agency Recruiter, You Will Hate to Read This, Activity Always Wins, Always - Recruiter Interviews Tim Sackett

November 22, 2019

Welcome to this week's recruiter interview series, where Talentwolf speaks to the Top 10 Global HR Influencer, Recruiting Executive, Author of 'The Talent Fix', Keynote and HR Tech Advisor - Tim Sackett.

With recruitment in his blood and decades of experience hiring internally, Tim provides agency recruiters with perspective from the other side of the coin. He is President of HRU Technical Resources, Board of Advisors at Loxo and iCruits, Board Member at ATAP, Advisor at Total Rewards Software and Berkshire Associates, previously the Director of Employment at Sparrow Health System, Regional HR Manager with Applebee’s Intl., Regional HR Manager and Recruiting Manager with ShopKo Stores and Pamida respectively.

Tim explains at what part of the hiring process he is compelled to engage recruiters and how the role of the agency consultant has evolved in his mind. He provides some tangible recruitment and personal branding tips while delving into the ‘employee experience’. As a notable side project, Tim is an advocate of workplace hugging!


We will start off with how you fell or actively got into recruitment! What’s your story of getting into the industry?

I was raised by a single mom who started her own recruitment agency in 1979. As a kid, I would sit on her bed and listen to her make recruitment calls at night. I got really great at watching TV without the sound and stuffing envelopes for her! So, unlike most who fall into recruiting, I was kind of born into recruiting!


As someone who has worked in internal recruitment for many years, when do you decide to go out and engage agency recruiters?

For me, it was always a capacity issue. We have to deliver talent by a certain date, and I knew with the current workload that was impossible with my current team, so we would bring in some external expertise. The expertise of a certain skill set was never a consideration, that’s mostly bullshit. If you can recruit, you can recruit. An agency that comes to me and tries to act like they have some special skill at finding some sort of certain skill is blowing hot air.


How has your philosophy on engaging third party recruitment agencies changed from your early days in HR?

100% It used to be third party agencies had a network of candidates that no one else could find, usually through networking in the space for a long period of time. Today, virtually any candidate is discoverable with the right sourcing tech and know-how. So, for me, it’s less about vertical knowledge and network, and all about the power of adding additional capacity when I need it.


What do you recommend recruitment consultants focus on to be better in their service?


Be very honest with the end client. Have the courage to turn down work that you know you can’t fill. Too often we have clients who are unrealistic of what it will take to fill their jobs, but they want us to work on them and waste our resources on a wild goose chase. Clients need our honesty so they have ammunition to go back to executives and say, “look, this isn’t going to happen” or at the very least because of the difficulty it might take two or three times longer to find someone dumb enough to accept our below-average pay and benefits.


What does putting the ‘employee experience’ first mean to you?

It means that company is 1. Really good at marketing; or 2. They might actually care about retention. But, just saying it doesn’t really mean anything until they can prove to me that they actually put the employee experience first. I often find they say this because it sounds great, but they haven’t made in actual changes to demonstrate it’s legit.


What tips do you have for recruitment consultants starting off their careers?


You will feel like the quality of the candidate will always win, but it’s super subjective. In recruiting, activity always wins. Always. And you will hate that this is the truth, but there it is.

Put your head down. Fill the top of the funnel with candidates. Screen more candidates than everyone one else. Pass on more screened candidates to hiring managers than everyone else. And something amazing will happen! You’ll be ‘better’ than everyone else.

We aren’t trying to launch the space shuttle! Don’t overthink it! Find talent, be really good at establishing relationships quickly, and have influence to push managers to interview more.


What’s your proudest achievement over your career?

I’ve been successful enough to spend quality time helping to raise my three sons to be outstanding young men. There’s nothing else.


Personal branding is so significant for recruiters to generate and maintain clients, in a saturated market. Is there any branding that appeals to you when engaging a recruiter?

Their personal brand + how they believe in whatever company they are supporting = a brand I’ll probably be interested in. I want to work with
recruiters who are passionate about what they do, but equally passionate about those they support. We should all work for companies that we believe in, and if you don’t, do yourself a favor and find that for your career.


Everyone has a recruitment story. What is the unexpected thing that happened to you in an interview or client meeting?


I showed up at a client to be present for an interview with one of my clients. Young engineer candidate who had an impressive resume and I screened personally. I felt really good about it.

Turned out, when nervous, the kid had a bad stutter and I had no idea. I was awful and kept trying to apologize and end the interview quickly. The hiring manager was an older gentleman who took his time, let the candidate take his time, and we spent almost two hours getting through it.

I was embarrassed because I didn’t know about the stutter. All I could think about was myself. The client hiring manager was awesome in seeing past the disability and really working to understand if this kid was going to be a great fit or not for the position.

They didn’t end up selecting him, but it was huge learning on my part in terms of working with individuals who weren’t just like me and also having empathy and compassion that the hiring manager showed this person. Also, for me to dig deeper and ask questions like, “during the interview is there anything I should be aware of, so we can prep the client and put you in the best possible light?”


Connect with Tim Sackett