Why Everyone Hates a Recruiter…

Let me start right off by addressing the elephant in the room. Yes there are bad recruiters… they are almost exclusively then ones trained by bad recruitment business owners.

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationI have heard fabled tales of fake recruitment ads… candidate bullying and outright dodgy behaviour. The facts are most recruiters are not like this, and this behaviour is not tolerated by the market… they will get found out and excised… like a week old pimple against the bathroom mirror…. What? Too graphic?

A word of advice to recruiters who work for these dodgy, bloodsucking leeches of bosses – get out! The vast majority of the industry is professional and respectful. It’s easy to recognise the bad ones… they generally sport a 10 gallon hat… are wearing a hip holster with a massive Smith & Wesson to compensate for their tiny… well… you know… and spit tobacco for sh*ts & giggles…. If you do work for one of them, call me… please.

hater2But you know what? People don’t hate recruiters because of the few bad ones… no… no… no. We have too easily jumped to that conclusion for far too long.

Do you want to know the real reason why everyone hates a recruiter? Really? Do you?

Well lean closer my friends, because here it comes… drumroll please…

The reason everyone hates a recruiter is because we are in the business of rejection. It’s as simple as that.

There is not one country in the world that is in full employment, so there is always a massive pool of active job seekers… over 92% of all vacancies are advertised on an online job board… over 95% of all roles worked on by recruitment companies are contingent (meaning you are competing on average against 3-5 other recruitment companies). So let’s break down the numbers.

For the purpose of this experiment I’m going to ask you to draw on your own experience… think about a current role you are working on… where you posted a job on an online job board…. How many responses/applications did you get? 10?… 50?… 100? Let’s just use a conservative figure of 20. If you were competing against two other agencies who advertised (and had the same rate of response) that means we are looking at 60 applicants… ok… ok… some will be double ups – so let’s say 40 unique applicants. Guess what? Only one of those applicants has a chance to get the role. That means you are rejecting at least 97% of the possible candidates who reach out to you.

Like I said. We are in the business of rejection and people don’t like that.

It doesn’t matter that many of those applying for roles are not qualified… live in the wrong location… don’t have the required educational background… it doesn’t matter. YOU REJECTED THEM.

Look below for a recent interaction I had. (read from the bottom).hateemail

I bet I’m not the only one who has been in this situation.

So… recruiters… one of the most important lessons you will learn is that people hate you, because you reject them. It is personal. it is blame-shaming. And it’s not pleasant. It is your role to give candidates the best possible experience during the process, but it is not your role to be a victim of hate.

Do your job well. Hold your head high. And delver a quality service…

Cue comments from disgruntled candidates reminding me of the time they applied for a role that they didn’t get… because of me… and … go.

Craig Watson


5 thoughts on “Why Everyone Hates a Recruiter…

  1. Rolf on Reply

    Undoubtedly, the fact that for every ‘Yes’, recruiters have to utter 20 (or more) ‘No’s, contributes to the perception people have of recruiters. I am grateful for this perspective which the article underlines.

    And, there are star performers and poor performers in every profession.

    But it appears that in recruiting, the mediocre performers seem to be able to hold themselves longer than anywhere else.

    While acknowledging that a recruiter gets paid by his or her clients and not by me, that still does not give him or her the right to be deceptive (suppressing a crucial requirement of the role from the ad and then use it for rejections); be misleading (overstating the closeness of their relationship with the End Client when it merely is that of Principal – lowly Agent with no stake or say); misrepresenting (alleging a ‘close match’ between my profile and a potential role when there are another 1000 contestants, the short list is still very distant or the role as actually non-existent, it is merely a ‘market recon’); be impatient and pressing until I supply an application package (CV et al) and then wind down communication to a trickle at best, more often than not hoping it withers away and dies a death of neglect; or generally waste my time without paying for it – not to mention the absolute and utter lack of useful feedback.

    Over my many years working I have dealt with dozens and dozens of recruiters. I remember perhaps 2-3 as good, 2-3 as acceptable and the remaining as bad. You do the math, but an estimate would be a ratio of 10% good to fair vs. 90% poor. No other profession tolerates such a ratio (well, I am not sure of the statistics of shylocks……).

    It is as much as anything the recruiter’s job to inform and educate their Customers (e.g. ‘Mr/Ms Client, for that budget you will not find the requisite level of expertise locally / regionally / nationally’ or ‘You really should state only the key overarching 3-4 traits that are crucial and will ensure the candidate who has them ‘nails it’, rather than a wish list of 45 requirement points which, let’s be honest, nobody truthfully has 100%’).

    As Ronin Chang’s contribution ‘Dear Recruiter – Don’t Take It Personal’ on LinkedIn (Chang 2016) reminds: ‘Time is money Mr/Mrs Recruiter. The fact that your peers have wasted so much time NOT reading my CV…..trickles downhill. The fact you are now receiving a demand versus a “….it’s family time for me, but it’s all good, I will kick the kids to the curb for you…..” message should not come as a shocker.’

    Let us remember that for many, looking for a job is amongst the most stressful experiences in life. Undoubtedly, a significant contributor to that unease is the way many candidates feel treated by recruiters. It should hardly surprise, then, that many prefer to tolerate a sub-optimal job than subject themselves to the frustrating – sometimes outright nauseating – dealings with inane recruiters.

    The furore that articles regarding recruiters – particularly those articles which ‘beat the drum’ for recruiters – tend to generate (much more than, say, articles about bus drivers, engineers or accountants) shows that there is a lot of nervousness in people’s minds regarding this profession in particular.

    See, for example, the hundreds of comments in: http://www.thenakedceo.com/job-seeking/how-to-annoy-a-recruiter.

    Some folks take nourishment from the following truth: circumstances change, tables turn and shoes are on the other foot sometimes. Today’s candidate may well be tomorrow’s recruiting manager or Customer, or access point to the large and lucrative needs of an employing organisation. Said candidate, who was unprofessionally treated today by some shoddy recruiter, more likely than not will take utter delight when the opportunity to return the favour comes: the 10% of good recruiters will get access to the ‘gravy train’, the 90% sloppy ones will suffer being given short shrift (at best).

    Some food for thought there.

        1. Mike on Reply

          Good post overall. But could that not have been avoided by telling the candidate the reasons in the first email?

          I liked Rolf’s insight too, which is why I am replying to his thread.

          The main factor in my opinion is that there is no substantive regulation regarding recruitment and so anyone can do the job, with little risk or investment required from the owner(s) of the agency (or at least, investment that ensures the basics are done right across the board – practically and ethically). Equally, a candidate owes no loyalty whatsoever to their recruiter and I’m sure every recruiter has had a candidate not appear for an interview or an offer rejected despite it ticking every box asked for by the candidate.

          If a recruiter feels that they can rely on their candidate, they will treat them like a king or a queen. If not, I’m afraid it’s the joker. Unfortunately, most recruiters will instead show themselves in the jester’s hat…bells and all.

  2. renuka on Reply

    Should we really hate recruiters? Many of us actually do. That includes me at times. However, after going through this blog, I understood the recruiter’s perspective as well. Thank you

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