I speak to employers, business owners, HR managers, and heads of talent acquisition all the time. In fact I’ve been doing so for over 20 years.
A few weeks ago I was at a business networking event and was taken aback when I overheard a conversation between the group of people standing behind me.
“Why is it so damn hard working with recruiters?”
“Tell me about it. If I’d known it would take this long, I could have just done it myself”
“Talk about over promise and under deliver”
Now I’m not exactly the shy type so, on cue, I turned around to introduce myself.
“Have you had a problems with recruiters too?”, one of them asked me clearly before noticing the word ‘RecruitLoop’ printed on my name badge.
How to break up a party in one swift move.
I stood there for a second feeling agitated that after being in the game for over two decades, recruiters are still getting a bad rap. To be honest it’s probably because you think we’re working against you! Trust me we are not (all) trying to rip you off.
Believe it or not, many of us won’t manipulate you into taking someone on who isn’t right for you; or convincing you to pay someone more than they deserve just so we can charge a higher fee. We actually want to find you the best possible candidate. We’re on your side. We just want to let you get on with what you do best, while we get on with what we love to do … and do what we do best. But despite what you think, we’re not mind readers, wizards or magicians. We might be good … but we’re not that good.
If you want to engage a magician to help you find your needle in a haystack, diamond in the rough, purple unicorn, or [insert any other cliché here to define ‘the impossible’ candidate], I believe you’ll find David Copperfield performing in Vegas.
In the meantime here are few things you can continue doing as a hiring manager to quickly discover that your recruiter is not a wizard.
1. Don’t bother properly briefing your recruiter
We had a client tell us recently that he actually didn’t have time to even speak to a recruiter. He just wanted to email them his job description so the recruiter could “get on with it”.
When we say we need to speak with you (or perhaps even meet with you) to get a better understanding of what you’re looking for, there’s a reason for it. If we don’t get to know you and your business properly, what will end up happening is that you won’t like anyone we send you and that’s when all the complaining starts.
Nobody knows your business better than you do. And if you want us to help you grow your team, you’ll have to share some of the information in your head with us.
Every company is different. So even if we’ve recruited a hundred [insert position title] candidates for other organisations in the past, the person you’re looking for will be different.Spending some time with us up front will prevent a lot of time wasted later.
There really is no such thing as being able to pull a rabbit out of a hat!
2. Don’t provide us with a job description
I’m not a yes person. So if you asked me to find you a [insert position title] for your business and then said “Come on, Paul. Surely you know what I’m looking for”, you know what? I wouldn’t even think about your role for a second.
I need a job proper job description.
And you know what else? If you scribbled a few bullet points on to a Post-it Note and gave it to me, I still wouldn’t even consider working on your brief.
It’s not uncommon for an employer to know that they definitely need to bring somebody new into the business, but to not have carefully thought out exactly what it is that the new team member would be doing. This is a dangerous way to start.
There is no question that every candidate expects to see a job description if they are even going to consider a career move. If a recruiter can’t provide a potential candidate with a job description, what sort of impression will that create? Trust me the candidate will probably think the job doesn’t even exist – no matter how good a sell job the recruiter does.
We can’t create a potion to make a candidate believe that a position is real!
3. Have a completely unrealistic salary expectation
We had a client brief us on a role recently in a city with one of the highest costs of living in the United States. The base salary on offer was $30,000.
When the recruiter challenged the client on it, the recruiter was accused of already coming up with excuses as to why he wouldn’t be able to fill the role. Irrespective of an uncapped commission structure, it would be practically impossible for someone with a family (another one of this particular client’s expectations) to even consider a $30K base salary.
There’s no magic wand or spell for that one either.
4. Don’t provide us with any feedback
Working with a recruiter is a two-way street.
We send you profiles and résumes, we organise interviews, and you meet with our candidates.
All along the candidates are craving feedback … even just a quick update … eager to hear about potential next steps. If we don’t keep them updated, their only thought is that we have forgotten about them (or actually that we don’t even care about them). Never once do they think you haven’t been able to come back to us with feedback.
So please … if we send through a handful of résumes, please call us (or at least email us) with your initial thoughts. If you interview one of our candidates, please don’t just delete and ignore those voicemails that we leave you over the next 24 hours asking for your feedback. Please call us to discuss how the interviews went.
We just want to keep your candidates in the loop.
One of our clients recently decided to wait 17 days before returning the recruiter’s call soliciting feedback. When the recruiter explained that the candidate had chosen to pursue another opportunity because of the delay, the client bluntly accused the recruiter of “not even being able to keep a candidate warm”.
You might think we’re wizards, but we certainly don’t keep candidates simmering in a cauldron!
5. Deny the reality of a poor employer brand
A client briefed me personally on a role a few months ago. She admitted it was “a bit of a toughie”. When I asked her why, she told me that there had been five people in the role over the last 2 years.
She didn’t even flinch when I responded with “that means each person only lasted around five months”.
A quick search on Glassdoor revealed an absolutely horrendous rating. There were comments from candidates claiming to have been kept waiting in interview rooms for up to two hours; several references to a “toxic environment”; and reading between the lines, probably even a few harassment claims. When I explained that it probably wouldn’t be right for us to take the project on, she got quite defensive and desperate to the point of saying “but I’ll pay anything”.
Nope. We’re not into smoke and mirrors. We’re not illusionists. We’re not into making things appear not quite as they seem.
So let me re-iterate what I’ve been getting at.
We’re here to help you find the best possible talent for your organisation. But we won’t be casting any spells or using sleight of hand; we won’t be making candidates drink any secret potions; we don’t have magic wands or crystal balls; we’re not mind readers; we look at resumes not Tarot cards.
Recruiters aren’t wizards. That’s it in a nutshell.