Recruiting Brainfood founder on what recruiters should look for when seeking out job candidates

Ladders recently spoke with Hung Lee, Founder/Curator of popular industry resource Recruiting Brainfood, Co-Founder/CEO of and one of HR’s top influencers. Read on as Lee discusses why the HR/recruiting industry inspires him, what recruiters should look for when seeking out job candidates, tech’s role in shaping the HR field and where it’s headed. 

What initially attracted you to the field of HR/talent acquisition/recruiting?

Unlike most folks, I think I’ve always been ‘into it’. I read Anthropology at University and I’ve always been interested in how people organise. Toward the end of my studies I was increasingly interested in urban and digital anthropology, which pretty much led me directly to drop into the field, initially as a recruiter for companies building up tech in the web 1.0 era.

What was the inspiration to create Recruiting Brainfood? What has been your goal with the newsletter?

The Internet got too big! We were being overwhelmed by content and I whilst I knew that there was some great stuff being created, picking out signal from noise was becoming an impossible task. Recruiting Brainfood is my attempt to ‘make the internet smaller’ – I wanted to curate the best, most inspirational and most useful recruiting content I find and share it with an audience who wanted some ‘brainfood’ for the working week ahead. There was no real goal beyond this and I’m still amazed that it’s got to 13,000+ subscribers who read it every week.


Follow Ladders on Flipboard!

Follow Ladders’ magazines on Flipboard covering Happiness, Productivity, Job Satisfaction, Neuroscience, and more!

What technology/innovation/platform has had the most profound effect on the field of recruiting in the past year or two, and why?

Chatbots have changed the way employers think about candidate experience. The 24/7, always on, always available responder means that the ‘resume blackhole’ experience might soon disappear. You were early if you deployed a chatbot in 2018. You’re behind if you’re not doing it in 2019.

What are the biggest challenges that those in recruiting and talent acquisition face nowadays?

Flipping to a permission based communication model. If you aren’t aware that we’re about to enter a new phase of the internet – one that may be as profound as the social network / web 2.0 era – then you really haven’t been paying attention. Recruiters have always depended on outbound activity – phone call and email. We need to get a lot better at getting candidates (and clients) to come to us through inbound activity.

What are the key steps that recruiters should take to develop and strengthen relationships with job candidates?

Work fewer jobs. Most recruiters are decent people, but they are decent overworked people who often did not have the time to properly build respectful relationships with job candidates. This was ok when there were plenty of candidates for the jobs – but with record levels of labour market participation in most advanced economies, you can no longer get away with treating candidates as commodities. This ultimately means rebalancing the amount of time-per-candidate vs no-of-jobs-worked.

What should recruiters/talent acquisition execs look for when recruiting job candidates?

Attitude. Skills can be taught but attitude and basic modus operandi are much more difficult to change or upgrade. We need to elevate hiring for attitude to much higher degree of priority than we currently do

What should they avoid?

I’m a believer that there is a suitable job for almost any job candidate, so I wouldn’t say you should avoid any particular person! That said, if I were recruiting for a role in a team, I would make sure that the compatibility with the team is paramount. You can fall for the highly skilled, in-demand candidate, but if he or she is a maverick who doesn’t fit the team ethic, it’s going to cause more problems than it’s worth.

Where do you see the field of HR/recruiting/talent acquisition headed? Crystal ball view?

We’re going to move away from ‘Talent Acquisition’ to ‘Talent Access’. Our processes, our goals, our objectives, our measurements are all predicated on an outdated model of work – full time, permanent, onsite. The challenges we have in ‘talent acquisition’ are based entirely on the tension between what we want vs what the labour market wants. Smart HR / TA functions will be moving aggressively toward a future where their responsibilities will be to suppling reliable access to talent, rather than acquiring it for the business