2 Recruiting Leadership Challenges Lou Adler Taught Us to Master

In our first live recruiting challenge with Lou Adler, he dismantled common recruiting obstacles like how to source beyond LinkedIn and boost diversity recruiting. Known to some as “The Godfather of Passive Candidate Recruiting”, Lou is a widely respected recruiting consultant for good reason – he’s not easily stumped by talent acquisition puzzles.

A few days ago, he mastered yet another series of tests in our webinar – and this time around, they were the kind that recruiting leaders wrestle with every day. Faced with a list of questions like “Which metrics should I track?” and “How can I anticipate business needs?”, Lou asked the audience to vote on the ones they most wanted him to answer. 

Below, we’re sharing the two trickiest, most popular questions, along with Lou’s answers.

Challenge #1: How can we overcome a bad brand reputation or zero brand awareness?

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Lou’s answer:

First, figure out whether or not your bad reputation is deserved. If it is, uncover the specific root cause. Perhaps you hired a lot of people and treated them unfairly. Or, you hired people who you never should have in the first place. Regardless, you have to work hard to understand what’s fueling your bad reputation, and collaborate with your entire team to resolve it.

If you have no brand awareness at all, the underlying problem could be your job descriptions. Make them performance-based and creative, and candidates will be more inclined to look into your company. Lists of ideal skills, competencies, and responsibilities aren’t compelling.

In your kick-off meeting with your hiring manager, figure out how your candidates will be measured for success. Rather than settling for a response like, “They need to be results-oriented,” keep pressing for details until your hiring manager reveals that “They need to hit quota”. Or, if you know your candidate needs design skills, probe further until you learn that they’ll need to design specific circuits. Then, convey those key details in your job descriptions.

Challenge #2: How can we recruit the right talent when compensation is lower than competing firms?

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Lou’s answer:

Here, Lou took us back to his recruiting days in 1985. He was successful overall, but he remembers losing candidates due to compensation. “One day, I made a decision that I’d never compete on price again,” reflected Lou. “If I could give people a better job, I wouldn’t have to.”

According to Lou, you have to make your job a career move in order to make compensation negotiable. Focus on telling the person what they can do and become in their future role, and compensation will no longer be the filtering item. “This is where excellent recruiting skills come into play,” says Lou. “Compensation is always negotiable; it’s not necessarily a deal breaker.” When you effectively sell the job to your candidate, compensation is no longer the most pressing, make-or-break issue.


As a former recruiter, Lou knows it’s incredibly difficult to be a recruiting leader. Motivating interviewers to submit feedback forms more quickly or getting hiring managers to understand the value of candidate potential vs. experience is no walk in the park.

Lou also knows, however, that both those challenges are surmountable. To hear his proposed solutions, listen to our full webinar recording