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What is the difference between a general recruiter and a specialist?

January 23, 2018 | Kumar Mangala

The 10X Rule Photo courtesy of Grant Cardone's book "The 10X Rule" cover.

Difference? ~ 10 X.

Let me start with similarities though. When handsomely compensated the quality put forward by "some" general recruiters could be surprisingly similar to those from specialized recruiters. But it is more the exception than the rule.

If you are like most Hiring Manager, the focus of this post, although it’s not always easy to keep on top of it all. You know the importance of recruiting and the impact of real talent on your project. How often have you not asked yourself to run the recruitment process yourself? You try not to drop the ball but often the first to feel the pressure is recruiting. When you’ve got fires to put-off, alligators to be fought-off, where's the time to write a job description? Especially where's the time to dig through the inbox full of applications to find that one diamond in the heap? How can you find the top candidate? What should you be looking for in a resumé? What questions should you ask during an interview? How can you really distinguish between a candidates’ skills and competencies? All the while knowing that the perfect candidate is out there somewhere and is not even looking or applying for your job. At this point, you can feel your heart racing and your blood pressure just a tiny bit off.

What if you fundamentally changed the way you hired - by hiring a specialized recruiter who knows exactly what is to be done to find that Perfect Fit? Simply put, a specialized recruiter is someone who knows off-the-top of his head at least ten potential candidates for your job even before Get, Set Go! A specialized recruiter knows exactly the questions to ask you - you can tell by the questions they ask you. Conversely, you can tell who a general recruiter is by the questions they don't ever ask. I was asked this very question recently - and although I had intuitively believed in specialized and focused approach - this question was sort of life-changing for me.

It was the morning of the Monday after Thanksgiving, (or Cyber Monday) in an email from Scott Hagedorn that I had first noticed the question "what is the difference between a general recruiter and a specialist?". Since then, I have become truly fascinated by this question. It's definitely got to be the best question of 2017. Probably the best professional question anyone has ever asked me.
Prior to Scott asking me this question I had never heard of him. He was a perfect stranger. And, I am, what you might call a professional when it comes to not falling prey to sales pitches - I am so immune to sales pitches that I can see them coming from a mile. So, for me to fall hook, line and sinker for Scott's pitch was/is really my love-at-first-sight with this truly awesome question - a truly transformative question. I was so impressed by this question that I had to understand the intellect/the person behind this question. It was only after a few short conversations, Scott and I decided to work together as colleagues. We were able to bond over this question at such an intrinsic level that we made a commitment to work with each other and explore the full potential and the power of this question - by asking this question to every client and every candidate that we run into and allow the power of this question to decide outcomes.

The difference between “generalist” and “specialist” could not possibly be larger when it comes to talent. Elite performers i.e. specialists or experts —the top 5-10% in any profession in any industry — usually can deliver an order of magnitude (10 times) or more the results of a generalist.

Put another way, let's say you go shopping for a life insurance policy and the insurance company conducts a medical exam and finds an abnormality. Let's say the abnormality was with your heart's electrical signals causing irregular heartbeats and therefore the Insurance company decides they aren't prepared to write the policy - I don't really hope this is a scenario you find yourself in - but all kidding aside this was, in fact, my reality recently. Hypothetically, if you too were in that situation what would be your very next move be? Would you go to another insurance company to shop for their policy? or would you go to your family doctor to discuss and fix the medical exam's findings ? or would you start the search for a top cardiologist? or search for a cardiologist who specializes in heart arrhythmias caused by faulty electrical wiring in the heart? No prizes for selecting the right answer.

It is not surprising when we are faced with a life-threatening diagnosis that we so intuitively choose to work with a specialized doctor. Perhaps, and conversely, it is also not very surprising when we choose to go with the best-priced proposal in choosing our services/products and end up picking a novice or generalist working on your projects.

If you believe that your project's destiny can be upgraded by your decision to hire a specialized recruiter. Go for it and let us know how it works out for you. If you already adopt this strategy would love to hear your story.

In my next post, I will articulate the differences a client should experience working with a specialized recruiter and what to look for in a specialized recruiter.


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