A Different Perspective On The "Broken" Talent Acquisition Industry

As a talent acquisition professional, I am told daily that my industry is broken, and constantly hear anecdotes from potential clients and candidates alike that illustrate their truly bad experiences with recruiters. This seems to have become part of general accepted knowledge, so much so that when you type “recruiters are…” in Google, it auto-completes the statement with any of the following words: “lazy”, “annoying”, “liars”, and even “evil”.

Obviously, there are recruiters (with whom I do not wish to be grouped), and recruiting practices, that are major contributors in giving the industry a bad name. But there is another issue adding to our industry’s negative reputation, which does not get as much airtime as recruiters’ short comings, and I place the blame for this on many of those who hire recruiters. They do not seem to take our industry or our skills set seriously.

A few examples and requests:

Don’t give us a generic job description and then tell us that we haven’t found you the perfect candidate, even though we based our search on the limited descriptives that you gave us. Don’t change the terms of your search mid-stream, when we have candidates lined up who are relying on us for their next role and who are perfect for the job, according to what you have told us so far. Please invest the time to think about this role and give us proper guidelines with which to work from the get-go. Take the time to speak with us to make sure that we are completely aligned with your needs and know you, your company and your culture. Without clear-cut hiring criteria for your candidates, how can you expect us to find purple squirrels for you, and how can you then hold it against us when we don’t?

Don’t work with six different contingency firms and then bring us in because they haven’t provided you with the caliber of candidate that you want. You have now saturated the market and any candidate that we will approach on your behalf already has a bad impression of your company because of how they have been treated by these recruiting firms - in your name. Good recruiters invest a lot of time in vetting candidates and preparing them to meet with you. We act as cheerleaders for your company as well as the opportunity for which you are hiring; we get potential employees excited about working for you. We can’t do that if you tarnish your reputation by working with recruiters who just want to fill the role as fast as they can so that they can move on to their next job order and meet their monthly client quota. Your candidates’ initial opinion of your company will be forged by the quality of experience they have with the recruiter you hire. Company on-boarding begins with your external recruiter, so choose wisely.

Please consider making proper recruiting investments in your company and potential employees. Retained searches are, quite simply, the way to go. Are they more expensive than contingency searches? They are, but the benefits are substantial. Some search firms place multiple ads for the role that you have hired them to fill and then send you the top 10% of the resumes that they receive. Others, like us, assure customer service and proper candidate vetting practices. We present candidates for whom we have actively searched on your behalf, with whom we have spoken and had several interviews before asking you to meet with them. Before you even see their CVs, we have put in the time to ensure that these people are a good fit for the position you are trying to fill and will integrate your team seamlessly. We get it right the first time, put our money where our mouth is with guarantees, and therefore a retained search will often prove a cost saver in the long-term when you are looking at your company's turnover statistics. Like everything in life, you get what you pay for.

When we set up an interview for you to meet with one of our candidates, please be courteous to them, don’t waste their time. We recently terminated a relationship with a client who allowed us to set up an interview with a candidate, confirmed the appointment the day before when we reached out, had no qualms about letting the candidate take a day off of work and drive 2-hours to the appointment, only to let them know that they should have completed an online assessment before coming and that the other person with whom they were scheduled to meet had taken the day off. We had done our due diligence and felt terrible for our candidate, but our reputation suffered by association to the client. Please offer the candidates that we present to you the same respect that we give you by organizing your interviews and follow ups. Everybody’s time is money.

Please get back to us and return our calls when we contact you to get feedback after you have met with someone we are presenting for a role. Don’t drag the recruiting process out. We know that you are incredibly busy with multiple responsibilities, but it is not alright for you to get upset with us when you can’t hire candidate A (who you have suddenly decided that you want and now need yesterday) after refusing to interact with us for 6 weeks while you worked on other things. Candidate A has since taken another offer and you have made both us and you look bad in the process. Worse yet, human nature being what it is, candidate B or C, who also fit your criteria, will never look as good to you as candidate A, who you could have hired, and will now blame us for losing. If you like a candidate hire them, don’t put the project on hold and assume that they will wait for you to make a decision in your own time.

To sum it all up more succinctly, talent acquisition can only work properly when clients and recruiters work together hand in hand as partners, rather than as client and vendor. When we are able to build a relationship of communication with a client and are proud ambassadors for their brand and culture, then the relationship is symbiotic and works. At that point, from a position of trust and understanding, we can efficiently provide our clients with the top-notch candidates that we already have in our sights and that they deserve.

Then, and only then, can we take steps to help fix our industry’s tarnished reputation - one positive client or candidate experience at a time.