Yesterday, there was an interesting guest on the The Recruiting Animal Show. For those not familiar, the The Recruiting Animal Show is an internet radio broadcast featuring recruiters, recruiting leaders, and HR professionals as guests and it focuses on topics related to recruiting and talent acquisition. At best, there’s usually something worth learning and each show has a golden nugget or two. But mostly it’s an entertaining distraction from work, filled with insults, attacks, a lot of yelling and raised voices, and a unique level of rudeness in an attempt to “keep it real” in the profession of recruiting.

Michael Heller (@michael_heller) found himself in the crosshairs of the host (@animal) and company (@jerry_albright) when he fumbled about trying to define the difference between strategic and tactical recruiting. I give Michael credit for trying to explain himself amidst the insults and negative comments. Not surprisingly, some recruiters get defensive when someone tries to define strategic recruiting. “Well, I do all that same stuff,” they say.  “There’s really no difference,” they also say.

But they all missed the real point in this discussion, including Michael.

Recruiters can’t (and shouldn’t try to) define themselves. Only their clients (or hiring managers) can. You are likely strategically significant in the search process if your client seeks out your expertise, values your input, highly regards your counsel, listens to your insight, acts on that guidance, and counts you as a trusted adviser. You are likely viewed as tactical if you sling resumes and try to fill “job orders” without that higher level of engagement and, most importantly, trust. Ultimately, your clients decide which you are based on the value and quality of your contributions, not you.

Arguably, those who enjoy “strategic” status have better relationships, enjoy more access and visibility into the organizations they support, perhaps command higher fees/salaries, and probably get more referral/repeat business. Tactical recruiters add no additional value to the recruiting process beyond working from a (likely poor) job description and finding resumes via matching key words. Both can work, depending on what the organization needs.

It’s unlikely that Michael would have been successful with this explanation even if he followed this path. After all, the show is successful largely because of its shock value (and volume) and you can’t have that without a little manufactured controversy. If you’ve not listened before, you should check it out.

So here’s the real question – how would your clients define you?

If you are interested in checking out the entire show, it’s linked below:

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