In 2005 when I started my career in recruitment there wasn’t much knowledge out there for recruiters or talent acquisition specialists, beyond a few classic sales books and a handful of bloggers. It was all about learning by doing, figuring it out for yourself, and stomaching a lot of rejection. Whilst these are still essential to becoming a successful talent acquisition specialist, there are some great books that can help shortcut some of the painful experiences most recruiters go through.
Learning to improve your craft becomes a habit and I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge; both as a recruiter and startup founder.
Here’s a compilation of the books I have found most valuable, organised by the different areas in which Talent Acquisition Managers spend their days.
Stage 1: Sourcing
Author: Jeb Blount
This book covers how to leverage the Law of Familiarity to reduce prospecting friction and avoid rejection, how to use social selling to build relationships with prospects, a more effective script for cold calling and how to get more replies with cold emails. All of which a recruiter needs in her arsenal.
Author: Ed Catmull
Today it’s harder than ever to get a candidate’s attention, so if you’re looking to inject some creative thinking into your recruiting efforts and take them to new heights in the process, then this book is for you. Like many books on this list it’s not a recruitment book, but one with principles which applied to your craft will make you stand out.
Author: Matt Watkinson
In the age of employee reviews delivering a great candidate experience is critical in sourcing the best and keeping a reputation as a top employer. Using the 10 principles in Matt Wilkinson’s book about customer experience and applying them to the candidate experience will leave you in the top 1% of companies when it comes to candidate experience.
Author: Andy Headworth
The landscape of recruiting is changing at a rapid pace. Different methods are needed to reach talent, and social media is a key channel. This book is great for anyone looking to overcome the fear and doubts they have regarding using social media for recruitment.
Stage 2: Selection
Author: Mark Murphy
A staggering 46% of new hires fail in the first 18 months and out of these 89% are down to attitude and culture fit. Whereas skills levels can be changed through training, attitude is hard to shift. Hiring for Attitude combines valuable insights with relatable examples on how to assess someone’s attitude alongside their skills and experience.
Authors: Geoff Smart and Randy Street
Although the phrase “A-Player” makes me cringe, if we run with it for a second then this best-seller does propose to help ask the right interview questions to dramatically improve your ability to quickly distinguish an A Player from a B or C candidate. If you follow the steps outlined in this book they propose a 90% hiring success rate vs an industry standard of just 50%.
Author: Lou Adler
Recruitment doesn’t really have any celebrities, but if it did, Lou would be the Brad Pitt or George Clooney of recruiting (if you know what I mean). In Hire with Your Head Lou introduces the concept of “Performance-based hiring” which is hiring based on what the candidate needs to do to be successful in the job, versus relying on what the candidate has in terms of their qualifications. He argues that this approach is likely to attract top candidates, provide better hires, and contribute to reduced turnover over in the long term.
Author: Michael Lewis
Made into a film starring Brad Pitt (not Lou Adler) and Jonah Hill, Moneyball follows the story of the Oakland A’s and their data driven approach to player selection. Sabermetrics, or moneyball, is the practice of crunching data in an effort to build a stronger and smarter team. This method holds that the skill of individuals aren’t what makes or breaks a team; in the long run, the goal is to make sure that each necessary skill is accounted for. The team will work like a clock, with each cog serving its own purpose (no matter how hopeless they may be at another area). Effective in recruitment? Possibly. Controversial? Definately.
Author: Robert I. Sutton
Written by Stanford professor Robert Sutton, the theme of this book is that bullying behaviour in the workplace worsens morale and productivity. A rule is suggested to screen out the toxic staff with the no asshole rule. To be honest, this isn’t one I’ve read but THAT title *clap clap clap emoji*
Author: Daniel Kahneman
With increasing awareness that recruitment is becoming more like marketing than ever and standing out to attract the best talent is becoming more difficult. In Thinking Fast And Slow, Kahneman gives a deeper understanding of what drives human decision-making, which employers can use to get a real advantage in attracting and delighting the best talent.
Stage 3: Closing
11- SPIN Selling
Author: Neil Rackham
By investing in this book, you’ll learn the stages of a sales call, a breakdown of classic closing techniques and their effectiveness, the right way to obtain commitment from buyers, how to uncover and develop needs, the SPIN framework (Situation, Problem, Implication and Needs-Payoff), and handling objections.
Author: Robert B. Cialdini
Influence explains the psychology of why people say “yes” and how to apply these understandings. Authored by Dr. Robert Cialdini, a seminal expert in the field of influence and persuasion, his thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book. Perfect for people in recruitment roles looking to persuade people to take job offers or attend interviews.
Author: Dale Carnegie
I first read How to Win Friends and Influence People around 10 years ago and it’s had a huge impact on me. A lot of what Carnegie proposes doesn’t seem all that profound, and can even seem like common sense. Simple things like “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.”, “Smile”, “Become genuinely interested in other people.” and “Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.” Applying these principles in our interactions with people yields a better result for all concerned. Highly recommended!
Author: Thaler & Sunstein
We are all susceptible to biases that can lead us to make bad decisions that make us poorer, less healthy and less happy. And, as Thaler and Sunstein show, no choice is ever presented to us in a neutral way. By knowing how people think, we can make it easier for them to choose what is best for them, their families and society. Using dozens of eye-opening examples the authors demonstrate how to nudge us in the right directions, without restricting our freedom of choice. As recruiters we often make it too difficult for candidates to behave in the ways we’d like them too. Applying the principles discussed in ‘Nudge’ to your recruitment process should make things a little easier.
Stage 4: Future of Work
Author: Laszlo Bock
From the visionary head of Google’s innovative People Operations comes a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work and a blueprint for attracting the best talent to your business and ensuring that they succeed.
Author: Salim Ismail
I loved this book. It correctly identifies the trends in emerging ‘exponential’ organisations (companies who can grow 10 times in an exponential way without the need to grow their assets in a linear way. Different from traditional companies growing X% per year) that can make companies and entire industries obsolete. It will prompt you to think about how to structure your organisation for rapid growth and hopefully inspire you to think of new ways to hire at scale.
Author: Frederick Laloux
A book that sings to your heart. Laloux’s take on organisational development was simply ground-breaking. His passionate beliefs in “soulful workplaces” full of authenticity, community, passion, and purpose are being prompted by “a new shift in consciousness” is infectious. Reading will provide you with plenty of hope that some day soon all businesses will become more than performance-optimised, mood-hoovering cubicle farms.
Author: Martin Ford
What are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? In Rise of the Robots, Ford details what machine intelligence and robotics can accomplish, and implores employers, scholars, and policymakers alike to face the implications. Are we facing a bleak dystopian future? After reading this, you’ll be smashing all your IOT devices and encouraging your friends to do the same…
Authors: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Super easy to read (you’ll rattle through it in a 2-hour flight) but hugely engaging Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Rework talks about building a product and running a business, from inception to hiring and release, with a writing style that is as terse and no-nonsense as you can get. Funny, too.