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You Are More Than a Recruiter

You are more than a recruiter. You’re a partner in the hiring process, a support system for your candidates, a colleague ready to lend a hand, and, most importantly, a person living through a difficult time.

Smiling person working on a laptop and sitting on a leather couch with a plant on the right side of the frame

We recently sat down with Laura Mazzullo of East Side Staffing to talk about boundaries at work. It got us thinking about how recruiters feel about themselves and their work and what they’re doing to handle it.

Unfortunately, 98% of HR pros have reported burnout at work in the past six months. According to that same study, 78% are open to leaving their jobs. 

Where is this coming from, and how do we change it?

The State of HR, Recruiting, and Staffing

Every week, it seems like a new batch of recruiting and hiring news; massive layoffs, unmanageable hiring, the Great Resignation, the Great Rebound…and that’s just a few from this past week alone.

While, individually, Human Resources, Recruiting, and Staffing teams face their roadblocks, there are some that everyone in the people business share.

Massive Burnout and Retention Roadblocks

Hiring teams have been facing the brunt of the past two years. From the layoffs to the massive hiring, they’re naturally exhausted. Some are just in need of a simple break, whereas others face total burnout and leave the industry altogether. There just isn’t enough support or time out there to avoid the burnout that teams are facing.

Negative Self-Talk

One of the things Laura mentioned in the webinar was the negative self-talk that she has seen in the industry. Once you start thinking about it, you see it everywhere.

“Recruiting isn’t even that hard, I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time.”

“It’s not like I’m a rocket scientist.”

“We’re just a cost center.”

“Candidate experience and hiring manager satisfaction is all I should care about.”

It may seem harmless, or like you’re just venting, but negative self-talk can feed the anxiety and depression that often accompanies burnout.

Generational Shifts

There are five generations in the workforce for the first time in history. This is an incredible opportunity to welcome diversity in your organization. Still, it also presents a challenge: How can one workforce honor and support people who have been faced with so many different challenges? 

Not to mention that the shift from Generation X to Millennials and Generation Z is probably one of the most significant shifts in the role of work in our lifetime. Millennials and Gen Z work to live, rather than the other way around. So we’re not only seeing that continual shift in the generation of the workers themselves, but also the shift in what employees want.

And it falls to hiring teams to lead the effort to handle this shift.

Massive Competition in a Job Seeker Market

As of March, there were 5 million more open positions than unemployed people. That means it’s not just a job seeker market. It’s one of the most intense job seeker markets we’ve seen. Going hand-in-hand with the generational shifts, people want more from their work, and they want things that are personalized to their needs and wants. 

This brings a major change in how jobs and companies need to be set up, and it’s often a slow change to get hiring managers on board if they’re not open to it. It becomes the responsibility of the hiring team to educate the hiring manager and help them take the first step towards being a desirable company to work for.

Moving Forward in an Unstable World

Barring you being independently wealthy and wanting to leave the workforce forever, you can’t just up and quit. So how can you handle these continual changes while still being able to take care of yourself and get your work done?

Reframe How You Talk About Your Work

Seriously. It’s one of the easiest things you can do daily for yourself and even your colleagues.

The next time you hear yourself say or someone else says, “Recruiting is so easy!” or any other slew of ridiculously infantilizing phrases, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “Why am I saying this?” or if someone else is saying it to you, ask them, “What makes you say that?”

Taking a second to just think about the “why” behind a statement gives you the chance to reframe and find out what you’re actually trying to say. It can also allow you to educate someone who’s not in the hiring industry about what you actually do.

Set Healthy and Personal Boundaries

Everyone’s boundary needs are unique, so what works for you may not work for your colleague. We certainly won’t tell you what to do, but you should consider if there are new boundaries that you could set or enforce that will allow you to love your work when you’re there and give you the rest you need.

Recruiters are often inherently people-pleasing people. There’s nothing wrong with being there for your friends, colleagues, and candidates, but too much of a good thing can become less-than-ideal.

Consider sitting down and asking yourself what sort of boundaries you need to support your passion for your work AND love your life outside of your job. Remember: You are more than a recruiter – you’re a person living in a difficult time. Mainly people rely on vacation time to keep burnout at bay, but strong boundary setting will allow you to do the same on a more consistent basis rather than burning out, going on vacation, feeling better, and falling into the same harmful habits.

Career Contessa has some excellent tips for acknowledging and setting your boundaries here.

Understand What You Can Control…And What You Can’t

A lot of burnout and stress come from trying to control the uncontrollable. 

You can’t control whether a candidate gets through the process. But you can control how information is shared with the hiring manager. 

You can’t control how people accept your boundaries. But you can control how you set them and what they are.

When facing a problem, ask yourself, “Can I control this?” If the answer is no, take a deep breath and reassess how the situation should affect you. If the answer is yes, build a plan and get to work!

Ask for Help

Here’s a secret: No one will know if you need help unless you ask for it. 

The fact is that everyone is more focused on their own situations than on keeping an eye out for the often silent and under-the-skin symptoms of burnout in their team. But when you approach someone and tell them, “Hey, I’m struggling. These are the things that I need to do better,” you’re giving them the space to acknowledge what you’re facing and provide the support you need.

During the Being Everything to Everyone webinar, many of the attendees were concerned about how to tell their manager they were struggling, either because they were nervous about having the conversation at all or because they had tried and been shut down by a manager whose work style doesn’t align with theirs.

If you’re nervous, take time to practice. Write a script if that’s easier for you! Walk into that conversation knowing that you are not the only one struggling. You can feel confident that your asking for help will have lasting effects on your team’s mental health as a whole. Avoid phrases like, “I think I need…,” and speak with conviction. You don’t think you need something; you know you do. Bring data to point out where you and the team are struggling and come up with possible solutions.

If your manager is still uninterested in helping, maybe it’s time to begin looking for a new role that better matches the company culture and leadership you’re looking for.

Whether building a support group or sitting down with your manager to get the extra headcount or tech tools you need, asking for help is hard, but a problem shared is a problem halved.

A Little Pep Talk

In a recent tweet, Adam Karpiak wrote, “My coaching calls are like 40% strategy and 60% telling people to be more confident. It’s so hard for people to see the excellence in themselves. When I discuss their experience and show them the impact they’ve made at work, it’s like they’re seeing it for the first time.”

Whether it comes from the danger of constantly striving for more or simply being too selfless to embrace their achievements, many people don’t realize how incredible they are. In the past years, recruiting, HR, and staffing teams like yours have handled every curveball that came your way. When you’ve been tired and overwhelmed, and stressed, you’ve shown up to support your candidates and your hiring manager. That alone is worth celebrating.

You are more than a recruiter, and now it’s time to take care of you.