Recruiters are sales people so many people don't like them for the same reason they don't like any sales people. Here are some of those reasons.
1. They're pesky.
They call you when you're not looking for a job.
This is a real problem for people in certain technical fields. People get called endlessly by recruiters and some take their profiles offline to avoid it.
But other people get quite huffy about it when they have no reason to. Yes, a recruiter will call you when you have no interest in moving but, someday, she might call you about a position that is really good and she won't charge you anything for moving you ahead in your career. Would you rather she didn't give you that opportunity?
2. They're self-centered.
There is always the potential for conflict between a sales person and his client. They each have their own interests and the two don't always meet.
The question is: will the sales person act as an unbiased consultant and help his clients do what is best for them -- or will he pose as an unbiased consultant and urge his clients to do what is best for him when it isn't best for them.
The recruiter has two temptations to err in his own interest on every search.
He can tell the hiring manager that this is the best candidate he can expect to find when that isn't necessarily true.
And he can tell the candidate that this is the best job offer he is likely to get right now even though that isn't necessarily true either.
But the recruiter has a strong reason not to sell either party a bill of goods. Quite simply, it can backfire.
If the company isn't happy with their new hire, they can let him go quickly and ask the recruiter to honour his guarantee to replace him.
That means another search (for no fee) and the risk that the client, already disappointed, will not use that recruiter again.
The same is true for the candidate. If she's not happy, she might not stay beyond the guarantee period. Then the recruiter is involved in another search for an unhappy client and the candidate won't be that crazy about him either if he ever calls her again.
So, most recruiters want to make a good fit and avoid a bad one.
That said, if you have two offers, one from Recruiter A and one from Recruiter B, it will probably be the rare recruiter who tells you to take the other offer.
You have to listen to what the recruiter has to say and make up your mind yourself because he has a conflict of interest. If you take the other job, it's a big loss for him.
Some recruiters will lose gracefully and others won't. When I was a fresh grad a recruiter I didn't know called me up out of the blue and asked me to go for an interview about an hour away from where I lived for a job I had no interest in.
When I said no he started screaming at me. He was a jerk and I was terribly offended but now it just seems kind of funny.
3. They claim that all of their offerings are great.
Some recruiters, as soon as they introduce themselves, say "I've got a great position to tell you about!". Then they tell you about the position and it isn't that great.
In fact, it doesn't suit you at all. It's surely not a step forward so you feel that this person is either an idiot or a hustler who doesn't care about you and just wants to get you into a new job for his own ends.
That might not be the case. The recruiter might just talk that way but it puts people off.
4. They come across as insincere.
Everyone tells sales people that they have to bond quickly with strangers and that leads some people to try to short-circuit the rapport-building process by acting as if they are already your friend.
In fact, you don't have to bond with everyone in business. My friend, Jerry, says, "I am not close friends with my doctor, I tolerate my accountant and have no interest in knowing anything about my lawyer and financial guy."
All he wants to know is that they can do their jobs.
5. They don't seem to be experts in your profession.
Some people practice a profession for a number of years and then move into recruiting people in that profession. So you might find an engineer recruiting engineers or an accountant recruiting accountants.
But that isn't usually so. Recruiters recruit outside their areas of professional expertise and that's because their real area of expertise is finding people for jobs. Nothing more. And you can do that without being a professional in the field.
I have a friend who is an automotive engineer. He moved into recruiting automotive engineers but when he started his own agency he switched to environmental engineers to avoid competing with his previous employer.
Another recruiter I know used to switch from one specialty to another depending on what was hot in the market at the time.
To me, these two guys prove that you don't have to be a member of a profession to do a good job recruiting in it.
I'll admit, however, that not everyone is as smart as they are but you don't have to be smart enough to get an engineering degree or a chartered accountant's designation to do a good job recruiting them.
The key, I think, is being more of bloodhound. Someone gives you a profile of the person you're after, explains it to you, gives you a few questions to ask to see if you've got the right person when you find him, and you go after him until you do.
I used to work with a friend of mine who was a terrific recruiter. There was no one he couldn't find (and that was before so many people were online).
We were working primarily on sales and marketing positions in computer hardware companies when he decided to take a job in the executive search arm of a big, global consulting firm.
I think the first job they gave him was VP of Structured Finance for a bank and he had no trouble with it at all. Now, he is very smart but he is also bold; he's not afraid to speak to strangers about something he doesn't know much about. And I believe that this boldness is a primary key to success in recruiting.
So, you can have someone call you who doesn't know much about what you do and you might ask yourself, "How can this person who doesn't know anything help me?" But she can.
She knows how to find people, screen them and give a meaningful report to a hiring manager.
Recruiters can usually rank their candidates, as well, and even argue with the hiring manager (who is presumably a professional in the field) if they disagree about who should get the offer.
1. They don't take the time to give the recruiter a clear idea about what they're looking for.
Sometimes they get insulted if the recruiter can't figure out what they want from the job title alone. Then, when she brings someone in they tell her the candidate is missing x, y and z. But how was she supposed to know?
2. They give you a moving target. Even if the hiring manager takes the time to give the recruiter a decent job description by the time someone is submitted the description has changed.
If the recruiter is working on a retained basis she won't complain too much because she's going to get paid no matter what.
But a recruiter working on a contingent basis will not be paid until someone he submits actually gets hired.
And if you make it look like you're going to send him on a lot of wild goose chases because you're going to take a long time to make up your mind about what you want, he'll have good reason to put you on the backburner or forget about the search altogether in favour of something that holds more promise.
3. They want to see a lot of people. If you're using a recruiter, chances are that the kind of person you want is not falling out of the trees.
These people are employed and it's often hard to find someone with the right skills who is ready to make a move.
So when you do find someone who looks good, it's good to pull the trigger as soon as you can.
I'm not saying that you should hire someone who doesn't excite you. But I've had clients who said that the people I submitted were just what they were looking for but they wanted to see more before they made up their minds.
Is the money an issue? No. Experience? No, they say. They just want to see more people.
So, the recruiter starts asking himself, "Is this guy serious? Is he ever going to hire? Should I take a chance on him or cut my losses and leave."
4. They are hard to get into interviews. A hiring manager might say that he needs someone immediately and send you rushing out into the field to find him. But later, when you find him someone, he's too busy to interview.
I was once on a search for a trainer for a special kind of software in Toronto. I found what I believed to be the only person in the country who fit the bill. He was on the west coast but was coming to Toronto on personal business in the near future.
Great luck, right? What a find! But the company had a rule: the candidate had to be interviewed by three people and only two of them could make it to the interview on the day he was going to be in town. So they passed on this guy. They passed. I couldn't believe it.
They wouldn't pay to fly him in themselves but, luckily, he returned to Toronto a few months later and they managed to interview him then.
5. They don't sell the company to the candidate. I am not aware of ever having had this problem myself but I have seen other recruiters complain about it.
They work hard to bring in a candidate who is already employed and fairly happy. So she needs a good reason to make a move. But at the interview, the hiring manager makes no effort to provide one.
The hiring manager is the lynchpin in the hiring process. We assume that she is the one who understands the job best and can discuss all aspects of it with the candidate.
Once the recruiter realizes that the manager doesn't have the skills required to manage the interview properly, they are usually eager to provide coaching.
6. They don't want to pay a realistic amount of money to get the kind of person they want.
7. They want a combination of skills and experience that probably doesn't exist.
If the recruiter knows the field very well, she will tell the client before she starts the search that this isn't going to fly.
If she can't speak with certainty at the start of the search, she will have to go out into the field and find out what skills are available and at what price.
Then, if there is a discrepancy between the wish list and reality, she has to report back and hope that the client is reasonable.
When a manager needs someone with special skills she can place an ad on a job board. Job boards are great.
But if those skills are in high demand, most of the people she is after will not be checking job boards -- because they are already employed.
The job might pay well and offer a great potential for advancement but the right people won't hear about it unless someone calls and tells them. And that's what a third party, external, agency recruiter does.
The manager tells the recruiter what she needs; he researches the companies that would have people with those skills; he finds out who they are and he calls them.
When the recruiter finds someone who looks good and is interested, he interviews them. He finds out what they've done and what they can do and what they like and what they want. Then, he makes a report to his client.
If the hiring manager agrees that the candidate looks good, they set up an interview. Then, the recruiter manages the relationship between the candidate and company through to the offer.
Selling The Job and The Candidate
Of course, sometimes, people express no interest in a job even if it would be a good move for them. That's where sales skills come in. Some recruiters are very good at making a case for taking a look at something that is really worthwhile.
Sometimes, a hiring manager needs a little prodding, too. Perhaps, she doesn't want to see someone the recruiter thinks is good until the recruiter persuades her that it's worthwhile.
I once had to beg a project manager to look at someone for a senior position whom he thought was too young. Once they met, however, he was completely sold. Unfortunately, the candidate decided to stay where he was even though the company offered him more than they had initially wanted to spend but my point is that he was worth talking to.
Now, some recruiters would say that I didn't do my job well because I brought in a candidate who wasn't pre-sold on the position but I disagree.
When you call someone who is already employed, out of the blue, and give her a sketch of a job, how can she make up her mind about it before she even speaks to the people she is going to work with and report to? No, the goal of the recruiter is to find the right people and get them to take a look at the position.
Mind you, some recruiters will say that handling the salary negotiations is also an essential part of their role and they will insist on doing so whenever possible.
They believe that, in this, they are the ones with the most expertise and they want to prevent the candidate and hiring manager from making unreasonable demands or walking away in a huff when they don't get what they want immediately.
Still, some companies and candidates want to handle compensation negotiations on their own and that's their right.
Feedback From The Field
There are other ways, as well, in which the recruiter can guide the client to do the right thing. Some companies don't want to pay enough to get the people they want. And, sometimes, they want someone with a combination of skills that is almost impossible to find.
The recruiter has to go out into the field and report back that the client's goals are wrong and have to be reset.
Advising Against Delay
Sometimes, the recruiter will struggle to find a good person who is willing to move but the client says "I want to see more people before I make a decision".
The recruiter has to warn the client, then, that while he's out looking for a needle a haystack, someone else might grab the candidate who has already been primed to make a change.
Many clients have habit of saying that they need to fill the job immediately or even yesterday but when it comes to setting up interviews or making a hiring decision they go AWOL and drag their feet while the candidate who, again, has been primed to make a move, is easy pickings for a recruiter working for another firm. So, of course, we warn them against that, too.
Many recruiters will insist that they screen candidates for culture. The candidate has to be a good fit for the company, they say, and they are adamant about that.
It might be true to some extent. The recruiter gets a feel for the candidate's personality and that can be important but, really, it is up to the hiring manager and her team to make decisions about a candidate's personality and work habits.
A recruiter focuses mainly on whether or not the candidate has the skills to do the job. Even then, the recruiter is really doing an initial screen. He rarely knows the job as well as the hiring manager or the other people on the team so it's their job to drill down and see what the candidate has to offer in terms of skills and technical ability.
That said, I suspect that the recruiter can usually pick a winner on his own but, ultimately, it's not up to him or her to make that call.
This is one of the funniest videos I've ever seen and certainly one of the funniest business videos.
To my surprise, it was done by a big company. I usually expect their attempts at humour to be so cautious and inoffensive that they are actually anti-funny. But this isn't.
Here is a Human Resources Manager and two recruiters discussing fee agreements.
Scott: I've engaged recruiters in the past couple of years who didn't require a signed agreement.
I've paid on time of course, but each time it has reminded me of the times I've been on the other side of the desk and required signed fee agreements.
Those agreements were gold when clients tried to stiff me and I used them as backstops to my threats to take legal action to collect.
My point is that for whatever reason, even in 2015, there are recruiters who don't require signed fee agreements and I want to reach out to them and tell them to avoid the heartbreak and require one.
If a client won't sign it, you don't need them as a client.
Tonya: If you're a recruiter who is recruiting without an agreement in place, you're pretty naive and probably haven't had it burn you yet. Just wait. It will happen.
I never even post a job posting or start talking to candidates about a new job order I've received until the client sends me the signed contract.
It shows a degree of commitment on their part that they're actually ready to hire someone you send them.
I've also gone in the past year from just taking a candidate at their word that I can submit them to only submitting them with a right-to-represent in place for the position we have discussed with a date on it.
This is partially due to candidates thinking they can double their odds by submitting their own resume straight to the client's website immediately after we've discussed the job as well as having other recruiters try to submit them to the same job.