by Bill Radin
More Tips for Recruiters
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News, Training & Commentary by Bill Radin
In Defense of Creativity
every aspect of recruiting, it pays to work within a predictable, repeatable
But when you source for candidates, things don’t always go according to
plan. And when you get stuck, a little creativity can save the day.
My very first client was a defense contractor in Santa Monica, California,
and the job order required that I find radar engineers with highly developed
training in mathematics, physics and electrical engineering. I had virtually
no files to work from, and the only candidate I was able to find had already
interviewed for the job, and wasn’t interested.
After several days of frustration, I called up the employer and asked him a
simple question: If I could find college students in the local area who were
just graduating with PhDs in math, physics or electrical engineering, would
he interview them? In other words, if I could network with professors at USC
and Cal Tech and UCLA and get referred to their brightest students, wouldn’t
that be just as good as trying to pull someone out of Lockheed Martin or
To my surprise—and relief—the employer said yes. As long as the candidates
had the required skills, he’d be prepared to hire them. So I immediately got
on the phone, and started calling graduate advisors and department chairs.
Out of the Loop
Somewhere along the way, my manager asked what I was up to, and I told him
my plan. He let out a big belly laugh and said I was wasting my time. “PhD!”
he snorted. “Piled high and deep! Nobody’s going to pay a fee for
entry-level academics with no work experience!”
Boy, was he wrong.
After my first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth placements with the
radar company, the laughing stopped. In my first eight weeks on a desk, I
had out-billed all the other recruiters in the office. Were it not for being
creative, I’d have probably failed.
Does that mean that I built a career on the placement of entry-level PhDs?
Not at all. The “entry-level PhD” method eventually ran its course, and then
it was on to more traditional techniques of finding candidates. It’s just
that at that precise point in time, thinking outside the box worked. But it
could have just as easily failed.
I’ve found that in cases in which you’re doing original research—or you need
to modify or widen the parameters of your search—creativity can be a real
No matter how successful your standard sourcing methods are, sooner or later
you’ll be stumped. At which point, you'll need to engage your imagination to
bridge the gap between the open job and the talent needed to fill it.