Reverse Recruiting — How Does it Work?

Shelley Karpaty
3 min readMar 4, 2020

They packed this February at the Hiring Success conference held in San Francisco with rapid-fire sessions of information, networking, and round-table discussions. The high-quality community of thought leaders covered popular topics like how to engage leaders in hiring, to simplifying global hiring practices,s to “reverse recruiting” to name a few.

You may think, I’ve heard of reverse engineering. In loose terms, reverse engineering means understanding a product from the inside out but what is reverse recruiting? Reverse recruiting is putting the power in the candidate’s hand to be their own recruiter. Recruiters may not find the candidates, but the candidates can more easily find the recruiter at the company they desire to work for. These candidates want jobs but are disconnected from businesses and the workforce. Specifically, these are candidates who have solid skills and need to be their own advocates.

Candidates came in from distinct parts of the Bay Area to the SmartRecruiters conference to meet with recruiters for this break out session. The session of Reverse Recruiting allowed recruiters to work with these candidates in discussing with them how to be their own champion. These were candidates who ranged from experienced professionals in their own countries to people who were job changing.

As I spoke with the candidates, I realized no one had taught them that the skills they have are valuable and should be counted in their career changes. One person was a former ballet dancer and wanted to become a web developer. Connecting the comprehension from the dance community could allow him to be a web developer for this specific audience. A youthful man from Thailand had a background working in the hotel industry who also wanted to be a web developer. Not knowing where to look for work, I guided him back to the hotel industry to use that knowledge and incorporate his new skills.

Showing these candidates that they need to be their own recruiters and not seek jobs the old way by looking at roles and applying for multiple jobs. A recruiter will not call them based on their application and resume. Candidates need to become their own sales team and become a detective to connect to the recruiter or HR director directly by LinkedIn, in-person “drop-bys” to introduce themselves with a resume in hand. In addition, candidates developing their online presence is important through social media by participating in conversations where their interests lie in professional organizations or contributing to groups on social media.

It goes back to the old adage, it’s about quality, not quantity when seeking a role. Building a network and old-fashioned connection over coffee or lunch, going to Meet-ups where organized networking takes place over a common interest is how people get hired today. Through these relationships, a candidate can show their value to a prospective employer and are able to highlight their strongest assets through genuine connection. Similar to sales, it will take 7 to 20 “touches” before a person will respond and job hunting is the same way. Reverse recruiting definitely is more time consuming and labor-intensive yet it will yield a better result. These candidates are on their way to finding their dream job now armed with new information that will carry them forward.

Shelley Karpaty is a writer and recruiter in Silicon Valley who enjoys the intersection of these roles. If you need a resume re-write or article for your company contact her on Linkedin. Let’s chat!



Shelley Karpaty

Meditation and Musings - navigating life as a human BEing connecting the dots of the Universe.