John Sumser reviews the latest book on recruiting from Tim Sackett, The Talent Fix: A Leaders Guide to Recruiting Great Talent. The plain-spoken quality of the writing barely provides a fig leaf of cover for Sackett’s savage assessment of current industry standards.

Perhaps you’ve seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” at some point during a winter holiday. The star, Jimmie Stewart was a Hollywood icon during the fifties, sixties, and seventies. He was known for cutting to the chase if a folksy way. Folksy, friendly, and honest.

As I read Tim Sackett’s book, “The Talent Fix: A Leaders Guide to Recruiting Great Talent,” I was struck by the similarities.

If you’re looking for a manual that makes integrated sense out of all of the various technologies, you’ll want to search elsewhere. Sackett believes that we’ve overcomplicated the discipline with gimmicks and gizmos that exist simply to asuage the egos of recruiting leaders. He thinks that getting great people to come to work at your company is simple. It’s not always easy. He has not written a guide for HR Operations managers who hope to integrate their tech tools into a workflow.

You will have no problem understanding what Tim thinks. The plain-spoken quality of the writing barely provides a fig leaf of cover for his savage assessment of current industry standards. You can almost hear his eyes rolling as he launches into the absurdity of using rich companies (like Google) as role models for regular companies. With all the money in the world, he says, you can afford to waste it.

He has even less patience for the industry’s conventional wisdom.

You may believe that it’s important to understand the nature of the jobs you are recruiting. Sackett assures that nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, according to Tim, recruiting is exactly the same in every industry for every position. Recruiting is not complicated; it’s simple.

Behind the folksy tone is the heart of a radical.

Tim’s basic thesis is that recruiting fails because recruiters overcomplicate the work. He believes that success boils down to forthrightness, executive commitment, slicing through BS, and knowing the labor market. The role of the recruiter is to broker introductions, not hunt unicorns.

The philosophy is at odds with the emerging notion that hiring managers are obsolete. Sackett, who is a second generation recruiter, sees recruiting as an introduction service. Rather than blaming hiring managers for the failure of unnecessarily complicated processes, he champions the hiring manager is the ultimate customer.

In the section about the future of recruiting, he echoes Yogi Berra. “Predictions are hard, especially when they are about the future.”

“The future of talent acquisition won’t be decided by talent acquisition technology and service vendors. The future of talent acquisition will be decided by those leaders who have the guts to try new things and discover something no one else has yet tried that has a great effect on their organization.”

If you’re looking for homespun advice about building a recruiting function in a small to medium-sized company, Sacket’s book may well suit you to a tee. If, on the other hand, you are operating an enterprise scale shop, skim the book. The complexities of enterprise Talent Acquisition are not the subject of the book. He does make an important point. Great recruiting technology can not fix a broken recruiting department. If you run a terrible TA shop before you introduce tech, you will have a faster and cheaper terrible shop afterwards.

While the book overlooks the tremendous attrition problem in recruiting. The description of an ideal recruiter is inspirational. I just wonder where you find them.

If you want to take in a seriously alternative point of view, pick up a copy of the book.


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