The model that supports transactional recruiters is that the holder of the job has all the power and the seeker of the job had none. But those days are gone.
We’re left with a world where a thousand channels, people, formats, ideas, and stimuli are vying my attention at any given second (as I write this, I am listening to Spotify and jumped onto Clubhouse for a few minutes, skimmed Facebook, looked at LinkedIn, and looked for a live recording on YouTube of something I was listening to on Spotify). Someone offering me something I don’t immediately want gets filtered out. Someone offering me something more useful to them than me doesn’t register.
Here is the crux of the problem: transactional recruiters see someone like me (or someone like you, as I assume you’re some kind of employer brander if you’re reading this… or my mom, maybe) and they just don’t know what to do with what I’m offering. Why would they share a useful article with their network? Or a video? Why would they spend time putting anything out in the world which does not immediately return new applications?
In any given company, you will see a mix of transactional and generous recruiters. As the employer brander, that means that only some of the recruiters you support are ever going see your value. They will continue to post “We’re hiring” and push out incomplete job postings no matter how many times you offer them alternatives. After a while, you may start to feel like you’re not making any headway and get discouraged.
Employer branders can’t help transactional recruiters any more than landscapers or auto insurance companies can help me (I live in an apartment and I don’t own a car). This knowledge is powerful because it allows us to re-frame our role around those who want to work with us.
If you see your job as supporting all recruiters, you end up pushing everyone towards the middle: talking points to parrot and generic job postings. If you see your job as “supporting generous recruiters,” a world of opportunities is in front of you.
Building sharable stories. Getting help finding new stories. Hearing what works and what doesn’t. Offering better ways to present the content. Testing ideas about what kind of candidates want to hear what kinds of stories. That’s the kind of insight you can expect and value you can deliver when you focus on your generous recruiters.
But first, it means figuring out recruiters you’re working with are transactional and which are generous and offering them your help appropriately.