Bad recruiters…..what about bad candidates?

lazy appRecently, we have been helping a client hire rookies, that is people without recruitment experience looking to break into the industry. Our client does not have too many hard and fast set criteria about someone’s background or education….but what they really want is for candidates to show the right behaviour. As such, our recruitment process has been designed to allow candidates to demonstrate their suitability…..or not ……

Generally, most of the candidates that come through our business don’t apply for a role. They come from being headhunted or a referral. As such, apart from the odd irrelevant CV that gets sent to me, I don’t see too many ‘applications’ these days.

So, help me out here recruiters…has the majority of the world just got completely lazy or clueless when it comes to applying for a job? I am not old enough to talk about ‘the old days’ when things were done properly…. and the problem is that ‘the kids just can’t be bothered these days’. But based on what I have seen coming through our business in the last few weeks I have been shocked, disappointed, amused and in one case absolutely astonished as to some people’s approach to applying for a job (see below).

Our process was very straightforward. There was no ten-page application form, no pre-application testing, and no X-factor style audience tape that needed to be submitted. We simply asked people to send a CV and answer one question. ”Why do you want to enter the recruitment industry?”. Then a telephone interview and if successful attend an assessment centre. Simple enough for anyone even half motivated.

How many applications answered the question do you think?  How many did not have a CV attached? How many had spelling errors and grammatical mistakes? How may addressed their application “Dear Scott” (surely getting my name right is the first step!).

If you are working in a market that relies heavily on applications, this is probably not news to you.  

I won’t make any damming over stereotyped comments about ‘Generation Y’, especially as a lot of these applications came from mature people. But at some point the art of applying for a job has disappeared. My theory is that it is simply far too easy for people to apply for a job these days. A click of a button on a job board and you have applied.  Takes little thinking about and no effort. In fact, many of the candidates that we spoke to were not even aware that they had applied for the job ( sound familiar?). I appreciate that in a candidate short market recruiters need to make it as easy as possible for people to apply….but is the awesome software available through job boards and websites really the right answer when it promotes lazy applications?

It wasn’t all bad. Some people took a lot of effort over their application. They called to introduce themselves. They answered the question as requested. Their CV was well presented. And when we called they knew who we were or had a voicemail and called back (how many people have ridiculous voicemails, or none at all).

There is of course, always the one application that is so ridiculous it is funny. Like this person for example, who had a different idea of how to apply for a job (name of the recruiter has been changed but everything is the same……honestly!!!)

To be completely frank with you Gertrude i already have two offers on the table from other recruitment firms, I’m just curious to see what else is out there for me, but i honestly don’t have time to attend a group screening filled with applicants who won’t make a difference nor add value to your company, some of which I’m sure you will hire just to realise were a waste of time due to your lack of ability to know when you have a wolf knocking on your door ready to go out and make money for you. so you weigh up what you would like to do, do you want to waste my time following protocol and make me attend a group session, just to have the loudest guy stand out who you will deem to be the fittest applicant when in reality the loudest guy in the room is usually the weakest link, then proving running group interviews doesn’t always allow the best applicants to shine due to the nature of the process, or are we going to skip the formalities, bring me in for an interview and allow me to explain to you exactly why and how ill bring value to your company. Because I’m ready to get down to work and don’t have a whole lot of time to sit in a room with people who can’t and won’t ever do what I do, I talk the talk but I also walk the walk. Your call

He called back two days later begging for an interview…..


Know someone looking for a recruitment job. Check out our Refer a Recruiter section on this blog and bag yourself a couple of movie tickets….

 Luke “my name is not Scott’  Collard


7 thoughts on “Bad recruiters…..what about bad candidates?

  1. trumpetpage on Reply

    Some people just don’t get it Luke. The idea is to stand out for all the ‘good reasons’. I think many applicants have just become lazy and it only takes plain old manners and efficiency to stand out these days. The bar is getting lower and lower.

  2. Darren Ledger on Reply

    Great post Luke and on a subject that is very dear to my heart. I seem to spend a lot of time in client meetings and when meeting fellow recruiting associates discussing just how bloody awful the whole job application process is and to what extent it has deteriorated.

    I wrote recently about the fact that in the ‘good old days’ and they were very good, a recruiter or a direct employer would advertise in the appropriate media. Be it broad sheet, industry magazine or professional journal you paid through the nose. As a recruiter of course providing you had the right skills you and knew what you were doing (many didn’t) you sold you client advertising space and copy writing services on top of the retained assignment fee. So for a finance role in the FT for example you would walk out the door with a commitment for £7,000 – £12,000 for an advertisement and a 3rd of the fee as a retainer. A good days business indeed. The very best bit though was the thought, planning and preparation that everyone then put into the process.

    As a recruiter you would have a media / advertising firm or similar. I always recall McCann Erikson or someone being particularly good at this. Within hours they would adapt your amateur copy, frame the advert and the opportunity, set it nicely with some graphics in the background and then stick your corporate logo and your clients logo on it. The best bit was if they had any nounce (something many Gen Y people appear to lack in their genetic make-up) your ad firm would also be able to influence the price of the advert and its position.

    Your ad firm would get a discount which means you get a rider. Your client is paying the card rate yet your firm gets a discount, it all adds to the balance sheet, but even better your advert in the Top Right Hand corner of the right hand page. Which means as your prospective candidate opens his newspaper the first ad (proven stats by the way) he sees is yours.

    But it is the application process which sets all of this apart and often makes me wonder if we have got it all wrong. First of all your prospective candidates have to get off of their backside and actually buy a paper, or steal their colleagues. They have to actually read the adverts and consider the role, the company, the location and salary and make an educated considered guess as to whether this job vacancy is worth committing time to writing a cover letter, updating their CV and actually posting the thing?

    You never got thousands of crap responses from people who were not even remotely suitable, you got some of the most amazing covering letters which told you so much about the communication style of a candidate, their language, their attention to detail and their professionalism and similar.

    Then you felt their CV, remember feeling a CV? The texture, the weight of the paper and even the colour of the paper. Within moments of opening that envelope, seconds after scrutinising the hand writing on the front.

    The point of my comment, which is a blog in its own right is simply this. In the ‘good old days’ the recruiter had to work hard to secure the actual vacancy and then work hard to make sure that the advertising was powerful, appealing and would deliver. The candidates had to work hard to stand out, to actually apply for the job.

    Today, its just all shit. Poorly written, poorly presented job adverts which are duplicated endlessly by job boards. Poor advertising generates poor responses. There is a guy in a group on LinkedIn who is currently advertising for ‘Retail Sore Managers – You will have experience working in a retail sore enviroment and great communciation sklls’ I’m sorry but what a wanker. This guy works in recruitment. Who is to blame, bad recruiters or bad applicants? We hardly set the bar very high do we…..

    1. MelbRecruiter on Reply

      The life of a Recruiter now. Advertise any job, with a short list of “must have” requirements, and the result is hundreds of applicants that are not even remotely close. Then spend hours going through them all to find the one or two that might be right. Also spend hours talking to candidates who ring in, and aren’t even in the ball park. SEEK and the other job boards make it too easy to press a button.

  3. Katharine Higginson on Reply

    I’m hiring for internal staff at a rec company at the moment, and there have been so many applications from people who think they are applying for an IT job, do not even bother to capitalise their own names, don’t have the legal right to work in this country etc. It’s so lazy! Just read the ad properly!

    My number 1 advice to jobseekers would be: don’t apply for hundreds of jobs; apply for 5-10 that you genuinely want and are suited to, and take the time over the application.

  4. p2pJordan on Reply

    I can’t agree with you more. I’m astounded on a daily basis by some of the applications I receive. Talk about making a first impression!

    Fresh in today:

    I do have my resume but it’s on the computer, if you require my resume please
    contact me and I will send you a copy of my resume. I’m applying for this job through my phone.

Leave a Reply to Darren Ledger Cancel reply