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5 Recruiting Reality Checks with Tim Sackett

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2024 in Las Vegas.

Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, an industry veteran and author of The Talent Fix, Vol 2 (SHRM, 2024), picked apart several closely held and oft-repeated beliefs about recruiting in the closing Main Stage session of the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2024.

Questioning the following ideas about talent acquisition could open up new possibilities for recruiters, especially in the tough current jobs market.  

“You are the talent professionals,” Sackett said. “And even though you know that, you allow everyone else at the company to act like they know so much more about recruiting than you do. You know how to do it best and have to be able to advise on what you know.”

You Only Hire Top Talent

CEOs will say that “we only hire top talent,” but is that true? Sackett asked. Recruiters know that they don’t hire the best talent. Not all the time, every time.

“One hiring manager told me, ‘We really hire the tallest of the short people,’ ” Sackett said. “We post a job, wait for someone to apply, pick the best of who applied, and get them interviewed and hired. But just because they may be the best person who applied for your job, you may be hiring the best of the worst.”

The reason the best talent can’t always be hired is that most recruiters don’t have the time and resources to hunt for the best candidate every single time, Sackett said.

“You have 75 reqs [requisitions] to fill, and it’s impossible to find the top talent. Executives get frustrated because they don’t really understand the realities of recruiting,” he said.

Quality of Hire Is the Most Important Metric

Everyone in talent acquisition agrees that quality of hire is the Holy Grail of recruiting metrics. But who measures it, and how? Some say tenure, some say performance reviews, while still others say onboarding check-ins at 90 days.

“If it was so important, there would be a known formula that everyone would know and use,” Sackett said. “So, based on practice, it isn’t important. But I believe it is important, and we have to figure out how to measure it. It’s more difficult to figure out than the metrics companies tend to lean on, like time-to-fill.”

Hiring Managers Are the Biggest Obstacle

Turnover kills recruiting success more than the hiring managers that recruiters often complain about, Sackett said.

“The most productive recruiting teams work for companies with really low turnover,” he said. “They don’t have to hire as much, so they can focus on doing amazing stuff like employer branding and improving interviewing and assessments. If you work for a company that has 150 percent turnover and you’re on a treadmill, recruiting is hard.”

Sackett said that one solution to this problem would be moving ownership of retention to the talent acquisition team.

“We should own retention,” he said. “Think about when a manager fires a low-performer. They don’t think about the work that went into recruiting and hiring that person. Now, imagine if recruiters owned retention—we would try not to fire people. We know the hire is a good hire, and we know that the hire can be saved.”

The oft-repeated trope that people leave managers, not companies, also needs to be re-examined, he said.

“That finding was misleading. It turns out people will work for crappy bosses if they’re paid well or they love the people they work with or have great benefits. Recruiters already know this. So much of what is predicated on being successful in recruiting is compensation, benefits, flexibility and work location—not amazing managers.”

You Can’t Fill a Job Unless It’s Remote

You hear it everywhere: “ ‘If it’s not remote, no one wants this job,’ ” Sackett said. “We tend to think everybody wants to work remotely, but that’s not true. Most recent college grads want in-office experience. It makes sense. That’s how you build your social and professional networks. Fully remote employees can feel a lack of connection.”

He added that the argument should not be remote versus hybrid or onsite.

“It’s about finding the environment where people are going to be the most successful,” he said. “When people are engaged and happy, they are the most successful. I would say, ‘This is the job, and now let’s find out where you will be the most successful at it—whether remote or onsite or another flexible arrangement.’ ”

AI Will Disrupt Recruiting

This one is a “Yes, but.” Yes, generative AI will change how recruiting is done, Sackett said. “But technology has always changed how we work. This will be no different.”

Try to learn enough about the new technology to understand what the vendors are trying to sell you, he advised.

“I’m hopeful about AI,” he said. “It’s not perfect, but it can get us closer to bias-free hiring than ever before. I’m less afraid of my AI being biased than my sales guy. AI can be measured. I can audit my AI whenever I want. But I can’t prove that my sales guy hates women.”

On the flip side, Sackett reminded attendees that in an AI-prevalent world, human connection will become that much more of a luxury.


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.