Why Recruiters Have a Bad Rap — and What We can Do to Fix It

I was perusing my LinkedIn feed when a post caught my eye: “It’s time to stop using recruitment agencies.” was the title.

What ticks people off about recruiters? Here are some common complaints:

  • Ill-prepared about the details of the role
  • Mass-messaging & contacting the wrong candidates
  • Terrible follow-up
  • Poor organization
  • Impersonal relationships

How recruiters can change perception:

1. Educate yourself. Nothing makes you look more amateur than not being able to answer basic questions and concerns about the position you’re recruiting for. Spend some time (30-60 minutes) researching the role you are staffing for, and the company. If you have an account manager role at a digital marketing firm, for example, you can check out some account managers in the “digital marketing” industry on LinkedIn and see what their duties and responsibilities entail. As for the company, don’t just read a Wikipedia article and think you’re informed because you’re likely to get generalized information that might not apply to the client’s business.Doing your due diligence will not only benefit your sourcing efforts, but both your client and candidate will be impressed that you took the time to really understand the role.

2. Slow down and narrow your pool. Mass messaging can be a tremendous time saver but can also set you up for failure if you’re not careful. In this business, speed can sometimes work against you. I’ve experienced this myself. I’ve been so excited to get a new job and to find matches for it, that I prematurely sourced folks that weren’t the right fit just because I wanted to cast the widest net possible, hoping to get many qualified leads in return. This strategy can cause sticky situations as you get people involved in your search, spark their interest – only to let them down with “you’re skill set doesn’t measure up with the job requirements.”

People also recognize when they’re being “mass messaged,” which can a huge turnoff. Do your best to personalize emails with relevant information and their name. People want to feel special and expect you to know who they are and what their skills are. If you’re going to tempt them with a job opportunity, make sure they fit the bill. There’s nothing more dreadful than a professional telling you that you don’t know how to do your job.

3. Follow-Up! The number one suicide move by any recruiter is not following up. Many recruiters will simply disconnect if they find out that the candidate they were pursuing turns out to be an inadequate fit for the role or if the job closes. Instead of facing the music, they hope that the person will just forget the fact that they were ever contacted. It’s unfair to pull someone in and not let them know what the outcome is, even if it isn’t in their favor. Keeping it honest from the start will gain you more respect and commendation in the long the run.

4. Get organized. Having a functional database is a start but you need more than that. Make sure you document every conversation so you’re never behind the eight ball. Maintaining organized documentation of all your actions is one of the most critical parts of being an effective recruitment professional. And remember: nothing is too insignificant to document. I notate even the most random pieces of information that my candidates divulge so I can reference that next time we chat. This helps candidates feel important. They listen better and are more willing to try your suggestions.

5. Be personable! Act like you care, because if you don’t, why should they? Ultimately, candidates just want you to pay attention to them and listen. Many times I have found myself on the other end of a venting session, which is part of the job. Staffing is not an automated service. You can actually be more impactful by taking a little more time to go the extra mile and get to know your candidates. Evidently, there’s plenty of room to set yourself apart from other recruiters by providing superior customer service! If recruiters stick with these basics, people won’t be writing about stopping using your services.