Yes, There Are No Shortcuts in Learning How to Recruit

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I learned how to recruit the old fashioned way: someone handed me a pile of applications at the candy company and said, “Find someone for third shift.”

That’s how I learned almost everything in my life, by the way. I figured it out.

So back in 1995, I sorted through stacks of paper applications and couldn’t believe what I was reading. I saw applications from doctors, lawyers and engineers who had immigrated from Yugoslavia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to St. Louis. These men and women wanted to work from 11 pm — 7 am making Chuckles and Good and Plenty.

I remember asking the translator, “Why are they here?”

From doctor to factory worker

The translator explained to me that there was a war going on in Yugoslavia. These immigrants were in the United States on a variety of humanitarian visas. They were never going back and needed to start over. And even though they were professional citizens in their own countries, they didn’t qualify to work as doctors and lawyers in America because they couldn’t speak English and there was no way to verify their skills.

That’s right — doctor to humanitarian immigrant to candy factory worker. Just think about that when you are depressed about your life.

So that’s how I learned how to recruit. I just assumed that everyone could do the job. Then we made our candidates pee in a cup to verify that they were drug-free. If they passed the drug test, the job was theirs.

And that philosophy worked well when I hired throughout the rest of my career.

No training like experience

What’s the point? A reader of mine just asked…

I work for a company that is all about getting additional training to better my skills. They are willing to pay for it if it is something that pertains to my job and will help me become a better HR professional. I’ve been looking at additional training courses but have not really found many related to recruitment and/or HR. Of course there’s the PHR/SPHR certifications; but would you be able to recommend any additional training courses out there? Maybe you open this up to your readers so they can list their suggestions too?”

There is no training like experience. SHRM has seminars and certificates available for HR professionals. You could learn to be a better Generalist. Check with your local community college and see what kind of HR classes they offer. And you could always take an AIRS class.

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The best way to learn how to be a better HR professional? Be one.

The best way to learn how to recruit? Recruit.

Yes, there are no shortcuts

Adults learn by doing. This was made apparent to me, very early on, when I had to gently and kindly offer factory jobs to educated men and women who saw their loved ones killed by snipers on the streets of Sarajevo.

There is no shortcut — and no MBA program — that will help you navigate the complexities of the labor market and the human heart.

You know what I would do? I would use your training dollars and take a class in finance. There you go.

This was originally published on Laurie Ruettimann’s The Cynical Girl blog.


Laurie Ruettimann (LFR) is a former Human Resources leader turned influential speaker, writer and strategist. She owns a human resources consultancy that offers a wide array of HR services to human resources leaders and executives. Check out her LinkedIn profile here. You may know Ruettimann as the creator of The Cynical Girl and Punk Rock HR (retired), which Forbes named as a top 100 website for women. You may have also read her book, I AM HR: 5 Strategic Ways to Break Stereotypes and Reclaim HR. (RepCap Press, 2014.) 


3 Comments on “Yes, There Are No Shortcuts in Learning How to Recruit

  1. Laurie:  I applaud your efforts here, but the “old fashioned” way of recruiting is NOT handing someone a pile of applications and telling them to find someone.  I learned the “old fashioned” way.  My firm had me sit across from a talented and experienced recruiter who taught me everything; how to speak to candidates, how to speak to clients, how to handle objections, how to source (something that 90% of recruiters DO NOT know how to do), how to read resumes, how to ask questions, etc, etc, etc…

    Please don’t lead people to believe that the way you “learned” is the right way or even appropriate.  It’s that attitude that makes it hard for the real pros and consultants like me.


  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly.  There is no certificate or course that will help you become a better “whatever” in HR.

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