The Problem With Recruiters


The problem with recruiters is that most of them are focused on “closing the deal” and all else is just details. They will do anything necessary to simply make a placement and invoice their customer. They don’t have their customer’s best interests at heart. His only concern is getting paid and getting past the guarantee period!

Sad, but true for many, if not most recruiters. Oh sure, they “care” about the outcome. But not more than they care about submitting an invoice. In most cases, they are not committed to the success of their clients. They are committed to doing whatever is necessary to obtain a fee for services. This is almost universally true of contingency recruiters and sadly even true for many in the retained camp. It’s a basic human flaw that people are “self” first and “others” second. It is rare to find a recruiter who will do the right thing when they must decide between telling the truth and remaining silent. There is a lot at stake for a recruiter in the short term, and it takes incredible character to do the right thing when there is a large sum of money at risk. There is a sacred trust in a relationship with a company and it’s recruiter. My belief is that very few of them make the right choices when facing this dilemma.

Here are some examples of What is Wrong with Recruiters:

A. Over-preparing candidates on how to appeal to all of the hiring managers’ “hot buttons”
B. Editing a resume to cover up “red flags”
C. Pressuring both candidates and hirers to make a decision that may not be in their best long-term interests
D. Not searching for the best candidates, but only skimming the “low hanging fruit” of the Internet
E. “Flinging” resumes of people they haven’t vetted nor received permission from
F. Presenting the same candidate to multiple companies in order to create greater urgency
G. Concealing obvious flaws of their candidates

These are some of the problems with recruiters and “just cause” for HR to suspect bad behavior from them. Considering these examples, is it any surprise the industry has a poor reputation?

There is much that can be done to positively impact this bad rap, but it must start with recruiters doing the right thing at every turn. It is simply the best way to build your practice and reputation. It requires seeing beyond the short term financial gain and believing that by doing what is right for your client, you are building a business with honor and integrity, and by doing it this way, you will get repeat business. As i said, it is the right way to build both your business and reputation. If you can’t stay in business doing it right, you really should get out. There are far easier ways to make a living. Besides, you’re bringing down an entire industry!

Bad behavior isn’t right no matter how many placements you make! Do us all a favor and go do something else!

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9 thoughts on “The Problem With Recruiters

  1. Good post buddy…that early morning coffee has you focused already…the internet has watered down the entire process of bringing talent into the company…HR and recruiters alike see this as a way of cutting out the good retained firms…it’s the one bad apple scenario…

  2. Crikey Drue. You’re off and running again….

    Agree with most of what you say, although I have to admit I love sending invoices – it means I’ve finished the task (bar keeping in touch with the candidate and client to make sure they stay aligned).

    As a point of interest, I never send a CV. I send a Candidate Profile for each member of my shortlist. This means that my client is looking at content in a consistent fashion, rather than getting distracted by layout, lack of space, spelling mistakes, poor font use (saw a Comic sans CV only last month from a prospective MD/CEO – what was he thinking!?!). This means I do edit the CV, but the content is relevant and I try to include a limitation because a) every candidate has them and b) it gives credibility to the strengths listed.

    I feel another blog coming on…………..

    • Martin, Everyone loves invoicing the client. The problem is when that is the key driver, the quality of the long term outcome is compromised. And the clients best interest become secondary. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  3. Chris,

    Nice post but have to respectfully disagree with “F”. If I have an “A” candidate I’m going to get them marketed and sent out to multiple companies which enhances both our chances for a successful conclusion. It’s been my experience that these candidates will find the ideal opportunity by themselves or through one of my competitors and I want to control as much as I can on the front end. I train my entire team to market quality candidates. It’s not a matter of creating competition between those companies as it is finding the ideal opportunity. Like it or not, these companies have to compete for talent like everyone else. I’m not doing my job if I don’t present the best of the best to as many people as I can. It not only enhances our reputation in the marketplace but enables us to protect the candidate. Frankly, if the company doesn’t have urgency, that’s their problem not ours. We can’t create urgency most of the time. I will keep training my team to get their top talent in front of as many opportunities as they possibly can.

    Having said all that, I agree with most of your article. Nice job!

    • Todd, Thank you for your comments. What you have described is a classic MPC campaign (“Most Place-able Candidate”) which is an outbound marketing effort taking a strong candidate to the market to place in hopes of making a quick placement. In this MPC campaign, a recruiter “blitzes” the market with many calls to many companies in an effort to create as much interest as possible from as many companies as possible. Ideally, there are multiple interviews with multiple companies and it is a race to the finish. This technique is one that Contingency Recruiters use and can lead to a quick placement. I can see where a new recruiter must do to get their business going, however, if you are still doing this after years in the business, I don’t think you will ever elevate your game enough to work retained at an executive level. If that isn’t what you’re after, then I guess there’s no harm in doing it that way. In our firm, we don’t work the “candidate” side that way. We are retained by clients to find “power players” who are tough to find. We seldom have issues with urgency because they have “skin in the game” and we are in solid alignment with regard to priorities. I still believe that Contingency Search is dying and it should die. I don’t like it for reasons that I have shared in other blog posts.

      • “…get them marketed and sent out to multiple companies which enhances both our chances for a successful conclusion”. Successful for the candidate and the recruiter? Todd has forgotten who pays his invoice!

        This is exactly what is wrong with how some recruiters run their practice. If your candidates are comfortable with you sending their resumes to every company – either verbally or actual paper – you’re not dealing with “A” candidates.

        A successful placement is one that is a great match for both the candidate and client. The recruiter is not part of that equation, just the facilitator. A recruiter doesn’t work for the candidate, they work for the client – who pays the invoice.

        Great article Drue – and as you can see a recruiter can call themselves anything – Todd’s LinkedIn profile says he’s a “consultant”!

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