Q. We are an engineering firm searching for rock stars to help us grow our company to the next level. Our recruiter is struggling with attracting exceptional talent to our company. Any recruiting advice?

A. Recruiting is critical to the success of any business even if not all executives buy into this idea. There is a critical shortage of talent available to companies today, baby boomers are leaving the workforce and our population is aging. The need for savvy, creative recruiters is greater than ever and will continue to grow.

Are recruiters working harder not smarter? Has internet recruiting become more of a distraction than an enhancement? What recruiters and their employers need to remember is that even though new tools come along there are strategies and skills that will continue to be required for recruiting success. Many companies today use recruiters in the wrong way and as a result many recruiters don't know their place or their value for companies. Companies should use recruiters as offense, not defense, because hiring the right talent is a competitive advantage regardless of the role they're in. Recruiters should be proactive in finding this competitive advantage rather than reactive in letting resumes come to them. At the end of the day, recruiting is all about having the right person in the right position.

What separates the truly successful recruiters from the average ones may be their willingness to be judged on the longevity and productivity of their hires. If quality-of-hire is truly more important than quantity-of-hire, why not compensate recruiters based on the long-term performance of an employee. This would ensure alignment with the strategic goals of the position and force the recruiter to think about the long-term viability of the candidate and how the candidate can be a benefit to the company not just after placement, but for years to come.

 As the talent shortage becomes a more of a daily reality, the recruiting industry will continue to need new and better tools but they also need to remember the basic skills and business models that have proven successful time after time.

Attracting rock stars to your company is a process not a transaction. Talented recruiters are drawn to companies who value and appreciate the relationship.

Experienced recruiters know how to attract the best talent and close the deal. Make an investment in the right recruiter.•••

Jennifer Laxton is the CEO , Executive Search Consultant, Coach and Strategic Workforce Planner with ESA in Santa Rosa www.esa.com. ESA is an executive search and consulting company. You can reach her at 707-217-4535 or jklaxton@esa.com.