Sustainable Software Recruiting

Our family recently spent a wonderful, relaxing week on a small family dairy farm in Maine (Toddy Pond Farm, if you’re curious. Highly recommended!www.toddypondfarm.com). For me, it was a great chance to “unplug” and experience life not coming at me from a screen.
Rather obviously, farm work is quite different on many levels from what I do as a software recruiter. But the more I experienced and thought about it, I started to draw parallels between what makes a farm flourish, and what makes a software recruiter successful over the long run.
On a farm, everything has a purpose. There’s no room for fluff, for minutiae, for anything that doesn’t contribute. There are no shortcuts, no letups. You have to do the work consistently every day. You can’t do it only when you feel like it. You also can’t rush things faster than they’re naturally able to happen. You can’t be rigid in your thinking. Successful problem-solving requires constant flexibility and improvisation. Sustainability is, or at least should be, a big deal in farming. The processes you develop have to be able to be done ad infinitum without damaging the environment, the economy, the people and creatures involved. If they can’t be, you’re essentially living on borrowed time, and will eventually have to settle accounts.
I think the best recruiters, the ones who are able to stay at the top of their game for a decade or more, work in similar ways to create a “sustainable” recruiting practice. You’ve got to focus on the stuff that matters. You can’t rush things, or try to force-fit people together by artificial techniques. You can inform, you can suggest, you can guide, you can counsel, but in the end, the best matches have to come together somewhat organically, of their own nature. Furthermore, recruiters need to gradually build trusted relationships by treating people well consistently over time. These actions sow the seeds, if you will, of future opportunities and relationships.

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