Good Recruiters Don't Need To Be Experts In Who They Recruit

When I first started recruiting, I worked on tech jobs. These were desktop, and hardware, and sys admin, and then some developer and designer roles. I knew next to nothing about the technology, but in 1999, neither did anyone else. Heck - we were hiring kids out of college with C++ course to be Java programmers for $45-60,000.

As I got better, and the tech did as well, the old argument that recruiters should know what they were working on led some of us to get CIS degrees (most of them got out of the industry). I thrived by asking questions, and my business really went wild once I started posting interview questions like what to ask a Java Swing candidate. In addition to traffic, hiring managers would call me and argue about what I posted (managers don't call recruiters unless they have to - in case you're wondering. 

In 2006, when I rolled out of recruiting to join my wife's marketing firm, I focused on social media. Blogging, copywriting, and SEO were my bread and butter, matched with her design prowess (just check out for a taste). As I got better, social media exploded, and I found myself consulting with firms large and small to do the work I once recruited for. That led me to work hard at learning digital, including email, PPC, and the full marketing stack from story to distribution. That made me a better recruiter, because I was recruiting for the roles I performed (and later managed). 

And what I found out was the old saw that candidates wanted recruiters to understand what they worked on was not universally true. Calling as a peer, candidates found that lying to me was more difficult than the recruiters they were used to working with. I burrowed down into details, and I joked with them about using the wrong jargon. And you know what - they hated it. I didn't realize in technology how much I was missing - in my early career blindness, I was practicing matching candidates by how well they pitched a story and how serious they were about the job. In today's world, I see massive flaws in candidates, but I also see massive flaws in the job descriptions, and had to learn that the perfect candidate was one who could survive the interview and then thrive at the job. That's not always clear on the resume. 

It's true that knowledge of an industry helps, but after a decade in digital, I'm finding the gaps in my own experience. I don't have millions of dollars running through my fingers, which means that I'm behind the curve in understanding social display for the Home Depot. I'm not testing a 5,000 page sites traffic using eyeball tracking and service virtualization (no one is doing that last one, yet). I'm not up-to-date on the size of pictures of the best phones for Facebook live, and I've never looked at my website on the Microsoft Surface Pro. 

In short - the experience I've relied on to sell and recruit as a digital expert is no longer accessible unless you're actively inside a team of people doing the work. That doesn't mean I can't still place someone with experience using Facebook Ads to drive webinar sign-ups that fit into the Hubspot funnel, but it does mean that if I were tasked to do the job - I'm no longer able to sit side by side with a candidate and compare notes. 

It's a career arc that is strange. I went from knowing nothing to knowing everything (that you needed to know to hire for social) to knowing some parts of everything. My biggest challenges now are making sure I stick to the script, listen to the candidate, don't jump ahead, and most important - that I don't mistake nostalgia for technical competence. 

I once firmly believed that a career recruiter should be able to effortlessly switch industries, as knowing how to recruit was more important to knowing who to recruit. That insight wasn't wisdom, but rather the experience of working on different technologies that moved faster than our ability to learn them. If that's still true (and it seems a constant), then no recruiter can ever be expert in their field unless their field is dying. 

That's too much thinking, and it's the nostalgia trap instead of real understanding. Do you know why managers and candidates think they need recruiters who understand them? It's because our industry hires entry level recruiters and burns them through them. The number of inexperienced or new recruiters is always several times greater than the number of experienced recruiters. A new recruiter at a tech firm in San Francisco is going to talk to hundreds of people in a week, while I talk to the top 20% in the industry. This means that most of the people talking sand emailing with recruiters are talking to inexperienced recruiters. Internally, recruiters have multiple requirements and a lot of process to manage. The niched recruiters internally tend to work themselves out of the job and move on.

It's very likely that managers and candidates are mistaking technical expertise for a recruiting model that brings them recruiting expertise. It would have been simpler to point this out in the beginning, but for those of you who've read to the end of this post, would you have believed me?

Inbound Marketing Specialist - Colony, TX

A client of mine up by Frisco is looking for someone with a HubSpot Certification to work inside with his team of marketers in the medical device industry. 

If you've been working at an agency with multiple clients, or if you've worked internally and had decent training, this might be for you. Also, if you're traveling too far, and if you live north of 121 between Frisco and Lewisville, you're going to be a happy camper. 

1) You're the button pusher. You can run the campaign and make sure it's optimized to drive leads to medical professionals

2) You may use the word strategy and campaign, but you're self-aware enough to know that a couple of years in PPC or email campaigns is not enough to understand the full marketing stack. 

3) When interviewing, you don't repeat the words A/B Testing or Success Factors because you think they're a magic totem.

What you'll learn.

1) B2B Marketing

2) How to navigate internal marketing structures in a rapidly growing company

3) The joy of not having an hour commute.

If you're interested, send a note to with some indication that you've read this blogpost, and I'll get you in touch with the hiring manager.  

Interview Answers I Don't Like To Hear From Email Marketers

Over at Digital Marketing Headhunter, I critiqued a couple of job descriptions for email marketers, and then offered up a list of interview questions for email marketers that I would ask. 

But all questions need answers. That part of the script I haven't published, but I will show the answers I don't like to hear:

Answers I don't like to hear from candidates. 

1) We sent out 10 million emails a month (and no explanation of what they were). 
2) We did extensive A/B Testing of the emails. (what does extensive mean? what did you test? Was that a test each week before the send?
3) I've worked with all of the email software programs and know them well
4) We were CAN-SPAM compliant. 
5) Our data team would pull the lists each week, and we'd work with the graphics department to get the right images, and then the IT department to code the email. I would test and send the email (nothing wrong with that, but it suggests someone who is only good in a large operation, and will need each one of those components to work. But at least they know it takes more than one person. Those who don't know this and assume they can do it all, are often lacking in experience). 


If you have your own job description, or questions you'd like to add, leave a comment or email me and I'll publish them. If you want it confidential, please mention it in the email.

List Of Director Of Social Media Interview Questions In a B2C Market

This is a list of interview questions you can use to interview director of social media. It's not comprehensive, but if you had all these answers, you should have a very good idea of that they do and if they're a fit for your position. If you find this useful, and need to hire - consider reaching out. If you use it, please leave the brand Social Media Headhunter and my name in your social sharing. 


What kind of social media do you do? What I mean is that everyone thinks they do social. So I need to know if you use it for inbound marketing, customer response, branding and advertising or research? 

Do you utilize social display ads? Do you work with a Facebook/Twitter client partner? Can you call them on your cell if you needed to? Would they answer? 

How much content creation do you do personally? 

How do you feel about deleting comments on Facebook that include curse words? 

Is it worth it to invest in Twitter? Why? What businesses work best? 

Give me an example of a good viral social media plan that isn't Fiberglass pools.

Give me an example of a good national social media plan that isn't mentioned at every single conference? 

Do you speak at conferences? Do you enjoy it? Why? 

Tell me what you did yesterday. 

What kind of software do you work with? Anything you're expert in? Anything you need to function?

How versed are you in mobile? Tell me why. 

What does it mean when I say social and digital should be integrated? What does that actually mean?



Who do you report to? What title would you like to report to?

Do you hire people in your department? How do you know if they're good?

How many people report to you? What's the most number of people you've had report to you? 

Did you have to fight for your budget bit by bit, or did you have it set in stone? 

How do you stop PPC/Digital from stealing your budget mid-year? 

Have you selected vendors before? How do you decide who to work with? 

What is your career path? 

Wow Factor:

IBM says they care more about Klout factor than SAT scores. Defend and then attack that position. 

Who is someone in social media you know that you're impressed with? Why?

How did Digg work? What is today's Digg? 

Talk to me about sponsored posts.

How good are your private profiles? How much, I guess we'll call it Dark Hat work do you do? 

Tell me how blogs impacted SEO in 2008. What's the change today? 

Pitch me shareability like you're talking to the CEO and trying to get $1MM in budget. 

Manager Of Digital Marketing: National Consumer Brand Launch In New Jersey

I'm cross-posting this because this site is the bomb - but I have a hot job to find a digital manager to launch a spirits brand in New Jersey. You need to be less than an hour's drive from Parsippany, and I'll be doing all the vetting, as I've hired 3 of the four current employees. 

This is a well-funded small business about to go national and then international. They've spent tens of millions so far, and it's not like a digital startup.  

Details are here at Digital Marketing Headhunter, but that's not really the exciting part. This is branding, site development, creative team and vendor management, and an excellent eye for visual and copy. You need strategic experience, experience building a team for a national rollout, and you need to be okay with small teams and rapid growth. 

But this will be the big win of your career. If you fit in. Apply by emailing me or contacting me on a social channel. Here's the product. It's just the tip of the iceberg. 


Dallas Needs A B2B Content Manager For Medical Devices

I posted it first over at Digital Marketing Headhunter, which is the new site, but here's a taste of the job.

Backed by a seasoned management team in the dental industry, my client needs someone who understands what motivate medical professionals, with experience in the dental mindset a huge plus. The company fields a great product and their sales and marketing strategy is set.

They need someone to execute and drive the content for webinars, lead generation, and conversion. Primary needs are digital marketing savvy, experience with email and webinars, and the ability to manage remote teams. Our customers are dental practice owners, and we need to determine how to get them to sell our product within their practice.

This is a job for a fast growing company that has the results baked in. There's a playbook from a similar product for orthodontists that make this a compelling sale. So take a look, and send me a note. 

One note - this is a management role - but it's pretty hands on. You spend a lot of your time in meetings, but you're also working mostly alone and have direct access to the CEO. If you've sold a ton of product or services or knocked out leads from webinars, you're the person I'm looking for, but this isn't a director level position for cutting edge digital. It also isn't a role for first time managers or people who are used to a big structure holding them up or holding them back. 


Social Media Editor/Community Manager


Smh_logoA client of mine in the NYC suburbs (north and west of Manhattan/accessible by train) is a 16-year old online community focused on patient information and health care advocacy.  The community grew from blogs and forums into a broader social model that provides original content to patients and their families. 

The community manager would be responsible for content management and digital strategy for member recruitment and retention. You’re working with our volunteers and allies on getting the widest possible audience for good content. You’re managing and guiding our social/digital agency towards content and SEO strategies that hit our key metrics. 

Our current platforms include:

  • Monthly newsletter
  • Patient/advocate blogs
  • Facebook page
  • Twitter account
  • YouTube channel

What are we missing? What makes sense with our resources? What are our patients currently using and where do they want to find us? How do we leverage the tens of thousands of members and allies to stay relevant and fresh in the minds of our patients? What is the right digital strategy for us, and what resources and regular habits do we need to execute that strategy? 

This position isn’t managing comments or sending emails to bloggers. It takes someone with experience in creating and nurturing a community. You're really functioning as an editor/a conference reporter, and a strategist.  It requires a digital native that understands the fundamental nature of our community, but it's both a digital and social role. You’ll be expected to manage ongoing improvements to site functionality, feature customization, and user-experience. As mentioned, you’ll work with the social agency to help them understand what we need. 


  • Manage recruitment and retention of new membership leveraging content, SEO and new site features
  • Manage relationships with patient members and oversee content from patient bloggers.
  • Communicate organization mission and community benefits to new and existing membership
  • Oversee web posting, writing, managing, editorial direction, design, editorial calendar
  • Schedule and execute social media strategy with site content. 
  • Supervise related work conducted by consultants and agencies (web developer /administrator, graphic designer, publicist, digital agency, UI/UX designer), contract writers, patient bloggers, poets, artists, photographers, videographers
  • Integration and cross-posting between member sites


Background and Competencies:

  • Bachelors degree (minimum)
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills 
  • Experience cultivating and managing online communities 
  • Social media expertise
  • Understand SEO and SEM in relation to branding and conversion
  • Digital native
  • Interest in healthcare policy, politics, patients
  • Able to present to funders and board
  • Willingness to travel


The travel is conferences and other meetings roughly half a dozen times a year. The editing piece means you have know enough about writing to have different voices, and also coach others into how to write. Professional advocacy means you might need to comb through that old Strunk & White copy that's hidden behind the bookcase. 

So - writing, editing, digital strategy, and social planning (there's another community manager who handles the day to day posting on Facebook and Twitter). Where we basically stand is the community is good, the presence is adequate, and we need more. Someone who gets what we're trying to do. Some one who cares about healthcare and understands what we're trying to do. 

Did I mention you can work from home? Mostly.  There's an office, and you'll go in at least once a week (all five days if you want), but as this is an all hours kind of job, you're not required to be in the office all the time. You do need to be within driving distance, and this is a full-time, good-paying job that requires real experience in managing a community and significant talent as a writer/editor. And you have to know social/digital well enough to make me think you get it. 

Drop me a line at jim at social media talent. 




TalentNet Live Dallas Notes And News

Sitting here at Capital One in Plano, which truly is a magnificent campus. I'll keep this updated throughout the day, but you can also follow along at #talentnet on Twitter and on the Facebook feeds of Dallas folks. 

First up - you have event sponsor, this is eHarmony - yep, the dating site, which is using its technology to leap into the careers and job board market. They're going to try and match you to a company's culture based on the same kind of personality matching they use to find your your life mate. It's still in beta, but you can sign up to learn more. 

Next we have a panel on sourcing. Jeremy Roberts, Kyle Lagunas, and Shannon Pritchett are on stage talking about the change in sourcing from entry level recruiter to marketing/profile building. This is a tougher one - they talk about marketing and profile building, but in my experience, and as many of you will know who are marketers and not recruiters, profiles are easier to speak about when you think like a marketer. This would be a fascinating trend if true. I'm not sure that the marketing mindset fits into trench recruiting. 

I popped into a section led by Matt Charney in conjunction with Aspen Dental. They were talking about the difficulties of hiring dentists in remote locations (which isn't really that remote, but more small town versus urban). They have two marketers and an agency, and are looking to increase their funnel, which suffers from conversion programs (how do you get a dentist to leave/dissolve their practice and start over in a new city?). 

 Capital One's Kara Augone is talking about using big data within the organization. This is very much an enterprise level talk, as they have access to hundreds of hires and the ability to track candidates through their ATS, but one big takeaway was the recruiters identifying characteristics of people who would leave in under six months. Tracking their hires using cookie tags, they were able to alter who they hired, and the insight came from the individuals doing the work instead of a "data" consultant showing them. The other big push Kara made, leaning on a Horatio Nelson historical reference, was the importance of giving teams the freedom to make choices rather than top down management. A final note is that they continually improve, making it clear they have a long way to go (despite that insight being a pretty good one). 4-5 people on their data insights team, just for their hiring. 

By the Way - I'm speaking at 1:30 on Intake Meetings - how to prepare for meeting with managers. My basic take is that you have to get the manager on board before you start asking questions - and I try to show examples of how we make those mistakes. It's posted up at Slideshare under "Intake Meeting: Is it worth $30,000 of your time?"


Hirevue's Phil Rodriguez is talking through using video to hire. Hoping to pick up some tips. His first one is to prepare the candidate for the interview experience.



Talent Net Live In Plano, Monday, November 9 at Capital One

When I first moved back to Texas, I met a guy named Craig Fisher during an event at the Ghost Bar on top of the W hotel. 

Craig's background was similar to my own - a little more fancy, as he was a top notch staffing sales guy for a lot longer than I was, before moving into social marketing. Craig's conference, Talent Net Live, is routinely one of the best events I attend. It used to be - how did I describe it? As a "conference for conference speakers." What I mean by that is the people who speak often speak at other events, and at Talent Net Live, they tend to let the chains off. 

When I speak, I try to get as advanced and complex as I can, knowing that the audience is capable of taking everything I throw at them. This isn't to cast an aspersion on other conferences - but speaking at Talent Net is a different kind of conference. It's cool. It's fun. It's smart. It's full of people who treat each other as family and are keen on welcoming new people into that family. 

So yes, you should come. The event is held at Capital One in Plano this year, which is a top notch facility. To sign up, head to this registration link. If you need to convince your boss - have him or her call me. 

If you're coming in from out of town - the Nylo is close - great little hotel. You'll want to stay in West Plano or Frisco. Lots of choices - and right on the edge of the $5 billion mile. 


Four Hidden Reasons You Weren't Hired

Hiring is hard.  The manager is forced to make a decision based on shallow screening of how another person will perform, hoping that attitude, the ability to answer questions, or past experience will translate into an employee who can do what they need. It's an imperfect process - some more imperfect than others - but it's always a gamble. 

"Inside the Mind of a Hiring Manager" is a fun topic to explore, but it too quickly devolves into strategies on how to influence the interviewer. Candidates just want to know how to get the job - they're not concerned with the why. Well they're not concerned until they get that email, or call, or the dreaded silence. Everyone can relate to the interview you thought you aced that went nowhere. You're left wondering how did I screw that up? 

It might not be you at all. Here are four reasons that people don't get hired. 

Reason The First: You're Too Awesome
That's not a typo. Do you know the old saying that A players hire A players and B players hire C players? It can be true. When interviewing, some managers are afraid of you. You either possess skills in abundance of theirs, or your ambition was clear and they're afraid for their jobs. This fear is not always baseless. You might be better then they are. You might be better than their current staff. Hiring you would bring enormous discord to their team - because it would shake them up - and here's the kicker. It might not be best for the team. Chemistry is a tough thing. Superstars disrupt chemistry and take resources away from marginal players. That's great when you're looking for earth shattering sales records. It's not so great when you're trying to maintain a legacy accounting system with 20 year old code. 

Reason Number 2: The Process Is The Punishment
Some managers want a difficult hiring process because they want to feel that you as a candidate earned that position. These can be great managers, but they often have hidden interview tricks that filter candidates arbitrarily. It's not fair, or smart, but it is very common. When a manager has "one great question," it usually is backed up with "that no one has ever answered correctly." 

Reason The Third: They Don't Need To Hire
When preparing candidates, I try to break down the interview into its basic elements. The most basic is that the manager has a problem they want to solve, and it's your job as the candidate to 1) Identify the problem, and 2) Create a mental picture of you working with the manager to solve it. If a manager can picture you making that problem go away, you tend to get hired. This frame of reference helps you understand that interviews aren't about answering questions correctly. They're about connecting with a manager and suggesting that work will be easier if they bring you on board. 

This works very well to ease pre-interview anxiety, but it fails when the manager doesn't have a problem that really hurts. 

Look, when you're on fire, you want someone with a fire hose. When you're slightly thirsty, you could use a glass of water, but you don't have to have a glass of water. You can get one later. This is the dreaded, "Perfection Interview." If a manager is willing to hire, but only if the person walks on water, the feedback is that it's not your interview style. The manager just has different priorities. 

Reason Number 4: Fear Of Success Is Real
Candidates don't realize that when a manager makes an offer, there is a moment of fear that it will be accepted. An employee taking a job brings change, and sometimes that change is terrifying. Let's say you're a VP of Sales for a software firm and your CEO has made it clear that you're responsible for $10MM in revenue in the next year. You have 8 salespeople each bringing in $1MM, and you have two open positions. If you hire both of those positions, you have no excuse if you don't hit $10MM. If you don't hire, you still have the chance to hit your mark, because your current people may perform above expectations. If you hire - you lose the excuse "HR couldn't provide me with quality candidates." Yes, that happens. Many of us were trained to say that. It's an easy deflection that buys you time. 

Fear of success goes much further than simply hitting your numbers. We know that rapid growth is exciting, but it can be terrifying as well. If you've a competent manager, but you know that you're slated for a Director position, you may not want it. A substantial pay raise may come with more pressure than you can handle. You may already be at your limits of work/life balance. Or you may not want the pay raise because you already make more than your neighbors, and even more money will necessitate a move to a new neighborhood and a break with your friends. Hiring great people is how you move up. But what if you don't want to move up?

That sounds crazy to people starting their careers, and to super-achievers. Talk to a couple hundred managers and you'll see its more prevalent than you think. Hiring poorly puts your job at risk. But hiring well brings its own set of problems.

These Managers Should Be Fired!
The title of this piece is Hidden Reasons. Some people are going to tear into these reasons as examples of bad management. They may be right. But jobseekers can't afford to traffic in "should." There's a lot of things that should happen, but as my grandmother used to say, "Should always means someone didn't get their way." 

If someone isn't going to hire, you need to know before you take that vacation day to interview. And you have to understand that managers are still people. They may not know their motivations. They may have different priorities. And the funniest part, is that sometimes the filters in place, as dumb as they are, work. Or at least, they work well enough. 

To end on a positive note: If you didn't get the job after a great interview, don't sweat it. The answer as to why might actually be, "It's not you, it's me."