Recruiters… why aren’t you listening?

I had an ear infection last week… quite a funny story really… I went swimming and managed to get water in both ears, and they became instantly blocked… then infected. Basically I walked around (albeit with the balance of an hour old lamb), for a whole 5 days unable to hear anything… except a dull ringing of a distant Dentist’s drill.

deaf1I’m not looking for sympathy… and I am definitely not looking for your kooky wives’ tales remedies… I had plenty of them… spear roll a tissue and absorb the water with a gentle sweep of the ear canal… fashion a paper clip in such a way that you tickle the ear drum and release the blockage, set a gerbil loose and allow it to gnaw a clear passage (doesn’t work – I tried)… Anyway, if you’re still reading – and I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t – there is a message behind my personal tale of woe…

You see every recruiter in the whole wide world has heard about what we do wrong… We all hear that we don’t communicate properly with our candidates… We all hear that clients are looking for better value in our service… we hear that if you don’t specialise in your market (inch wide and mile deep and all that) you will be consigned to the great recruitment scrap heap… Hell… we even hear that recruiters are scum, sucking thieves… only in the game to make a buck to the detriment of candidates, clients and society… (not my words – I heard that from a mate).

Point is we hear these things all of the time… but… do… we… actually… listen and act?

In my experience we don’t.

Seriously, your success as a recruiter will not be down to the number of dodgy deals you put through based on a massive number of intrusive, weekly telemarketing calls. If you think that’s the case… not only are you in the wrong game… but you are also making it harder to professionalise the industry for others…

Think about it. Do you actually listen to your clients… your candidates… your friends?

What I would like you to do… yes you… even those of you who think you are the perfect recruiter (they will be the ones who comment at the end of the blog – telling me how they do everything right… how easy it is… how strong their client and candidate relationships are… how ethical and values based they are… blah… blah… blah).

deaf2Anyway, as a little experiment what I would like you to do is turn the mirror on yourself… just for a moment… and ask yourself 3 very simple questions:

  1. Do you get back to every candidate… every time? And I don’t mean after 2 weeks…
  2. Are you providing a service to your clients – that adds real value to their business, and what are you doing to be better than your competitors?
  3. Are you ethical in every interaction you undertake in your recruitment life?

Only you know if you are telling the truth… right?

So, I guess what I am saying is… in our industry we are pretty lucky. Our candidates, clients and… basically everyone we meet provides daily feedback as to what we are doing well, what we could do better, and – most importantly – what they want to see. I know you can hear them… the noise is deafening… but are you actually listening and acting?

But getting back to my ear problem… so I was at the Doctors… he’s a funny little guy with a bit of a lisp… and I said…

‘Doc… I think I am going deaf.’

‘Really?’ he replied. ‘WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?’

I looked at him a little oddly and said. ‘It’s a TV show about a yellow family with a son called Bart… but what does that have to do with my problem?’

Craig Watson


7 thoughts on “Recruiters… why aren’t you listening?

    1. MelbRecruiter on Reply

      In a candidate rich market if I spoke to every candidate that rings in every day I would never have any time to do my job.

  1. jacobstenmadsen on Reply

    As abundantly clear from the constant (lack of) responses and indeed interest in subjects written about here, to listen require a will and an interest and n o t being indifferent.

    As shown distinctly by MelbRecruiter, there is an indifference towards having any real interest and any real understanding into listening and acknowledging and reacting to what is heard.
    Evidence of this would be if asking randomly 100 people that are dealing with agencies what their thoughts might be on that, – I guarantee that majority would say that they think there is distinct room for improvement.
    Reputation of 3/4 of agents worldwide has over the years become so that they rank alongside dodgy 2nd hand car sales people and estate agents that at best know little what they are talking about and play numbers games rather than try to run highly professional and highly regarded businesses.
    Coming from the in-house recruitment community I can assure you that 90% of of my fellow colleagues detest agents for the very reason that they do not listen and they do not apply anywhere near anything approaching a professional attitude.
    I am know I am sweeping widely here, but the good eggs are truly few and far between and get rarer by the day, in fact we are seeing a regression of services and interest and care from agents sides.
    Show me the agent/agency that have a ‘candidate charter’ (Ohh never heard about one such! perhaps time you did and acted upon it) and surveys that show you a high level of candidate satisfaction (across the board, not only testimonials from placed candidates) and I will start to have a little bit of respect.
    Indifference and n o t listening is what has made our world what it is today, that we have a more broken world and more ineffciencies than word can describe.

    ‘Coming up to near 100 agents/agencies that I will never ever go near again, as their service and actions totally unprofessional’

      1. jacobstenmadsen on Reply

        Craig. No one is perfect and with many in-house folks coming originally from agency side, they take with them or continue down a route that is far from perfect. I agree that a substantial part of the in-house community leaves a lot to be desired, – I shall by no means defend them or pit them against agency folks, only say that on basis of the agency model and the structures therein (sales being the main factor above anything else) that this erode and damage so much why the ‘not listening’ is in my personal view down to the structures and models under which people work. Change that (as it is in many respects for in-house people) and you have a better chance of making a change. I remain firm though that the good ones in agency world are very few and very far between.

        ‘still waiting for response/follow up/answer from 10 agents spoken to recently promising me feed-back. – I shall likely never get it, and with no one returning calls/emails, lost cause’

      2. bennie on Reply

        Craig – I am an ex agency recruiter who found myself looking for a new role a while back. I would have to say that my experience with agency and in house was equally bad – the in house guys were probably worse at returning calls, and I applied for roles that I was interviewed for a year ago that I still haven’t had feedback on. As a candidate for agency, in house and rec to rec – my experience was very, very ordinary. Why? I was working at a reasonably senior level and was looking to do something not exaclty as per my job spec. I ended up finding my own job, which is why so many recruiters are failing now, people with decent networks just find their own role.
        The inhouse guys are definitely no better at listening, or being reponsive to candidates. In house in my view are the new arrogant agency recruiters who think they’re better than everyone else.

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