Everybody and their auntie Mary is hiring recruiters – Part II

Now that I’ve established what is important for me and what would drive me to change job, let’s look at something that has been bugging me for years: the lack of effort we put in when it comes to hiring someone as a recruiter.

In this episode:

Why do we bent over backward to hire an engineer or a German sales exec, but not a recruiter?


The lack of value put on the role.

See Part I of this article. More often than not, Recruitment is considered by the business as a cost-centre that should operate with as little money as possible. Recruiters are not directly generating money for the business, they do not build a product and they do not sell it, so they’re often seen as support function and headcount is usually opened last.

The math usually goes something like this: “If I need to make X amount of money, I need to have Y number of sales people. How many sales people can a recruiter possibly hire if we squeeze them to the maximum of their capacity? Oh, ok. Well, then let’s open Y number of sales roles and 1 recruiter role this quarter.”

That means that the current team is already at capacity, needs to hire for their own team on top of that, and then there’s the ramp up period, so basically, we’re at the end of the quarter and the new recruiter is already burnt out, the hiring targets have not been reached and everyone is pissed.


Recruiters are the worst hiring managers.

Believe me, I’ve hired recruiters for 4 years. When we hire recruiters, we want them to have the exact right experience for our company (sooooo, same background, same roles, same type of company, same level… goodbye diversity and career progression) and we want them to hit the ground running.

And then you see calls for help like this one in the community: “I can't seem to find a senior recruiter with rapid growth, start-up experience anywhere.” Boo-freaking-hoo! You mean you’re looking for someone who can hire 20+ people per quarter with no tools or budget and who has experienced (and survived) the chaos that is a start-up company to come and work for you to do the exact same thing, probably for less money. Oh, honey…

The biases are also real and enormous. While as recruiters we spend our days trying to keep our conscious and unconscious biases away from our decision-making, the moment a recruiter becomes a hiring manager, that philosophy goes out the window.
“Hmmm, they’re interviewing with a lot of other companies, they don’t really want to work for us, they just want a new job | more money | they’re hiding something”

While I’m fully aware that everybody lies (queue House M.D.), are we so bad at assessing people that if we have reservation, we automatically assume nefarious intentions? Could recruiters not be shopping around for their next job, just like everyone else who’s got skills and experience?

“They didn’t send me a thank you note after their interview” – Why should they? You get paid to interview them; they are giving away their free time to talk to you. They’ve probably had to take time off to talk to you, and probably spent a good bit of their weekend on the assessment you sent them. Why should candidates be grateful for you interviewing them? It’s your job and it’s in your own interest to hire someone for your team.

And conversely “Hmm, they sent me a thank you email after the interview, they really sound desperate”. I mean, you just can’t win there.


Job descriptions for recruiter jobs are lame.

I ran a quick search through Indeed for a few examples to add here and now I’m hovering between having a good cry and wanting to punch something.

So here is one:

crap adpng

No, I did not forget to copy the “Requirements” part of the ad.

Here is another... Props for straying away from the Responsibilities/Requirements format.
crap ad 2png

I couldn’t fit all the duties and responsibilities onto one screen to take a screenshot. And yet, I know nothing about what the job actually entails in that particular company.

And another one for the road.

crap ad 3png

Ok, in here we had an attempt at being a little bit more candidate-focused, but it’s still so generic I want to cry. “We hire according to our values!” Great! Wait, what are your values? 

Why is it so hard to write a half-decent job description (let alone an ad) for the role of a recruiter? Is it because we’re obsessed with describing the activities of ANY recruiting role? I mean, yeah, we’re going to troll the internet looking for suitable profiles, do phone screens, partner with stakeholders and hiring managers and take care of the candidates until they start in the company. That’s the basics of every single recruiting job and that’s a one-liner, it doesn’t deserve multiple bullet points.

Tell me about the teams I’ll be recruiting for; what they do, why they need to grow, how they impact the business so that in turn I can understand how I would help your business grow and prosper.

Tell me about the team I’ll be joining, what’s the team size, is it diverse (or will I be sticking out like a sore thumb), where are the people based.

Tell me stuff that matter – What’s in it for me? What’s the career path? What benefits do you offer (20 days annual leave & the tax saver travel scheme are the legal minimum, they don’t qualify as benefits)? Go crazy and tell me about the salary band! If I’m above it, then I won’t apply and it will have saved everybody’s time.

It’s really not that hard. Recruitment is really the only job that you will recruit for that you know inside out and can really write about – I mean, it’s your day-to-day job that you’re describing.


Direct approaches are bland and lazy.

Ouch. I know, and yet am I wrong?

When was the last time you received an email from a recruiter that made you want to reply to them? Not necessarily to go forward with the process, but just to reply (and not to tell them you’re a recruiting sourcer, not a procurement sourcer – dumbass). Yeah… It’s been a while for me too.

And there again, it’s not that hard to personalise the email approach. Introduce yourself, after all you’re hoping to be my future colleague or my manager.
We know that direct approaches are always going to be about stroking the person’s ego, but it can be done with a little bit of subtlety to ease off the creep factor. And that subtlety usually comes in the form of personalisation.

Let’s look at a couple - I'm not trying to shame anyone, just to illustrate my (unpopular) opinion.

This one started well enough, the recruiter had managed to find my email address to bypass LinkedIn (not that it’s hard to find my email address, but hey I’ll give them brownie points for it anyway).

However, that initial effort goes down the drain really fast. I’ve no idea who they are and they don’t introduce themselves. And the whole email is all about them “our client”, “we need”, blah blah blah, “hypergrowth”, “fast-paced”, “exciting opportunity” … Yeah, so exciting that I know absolutely nothing about it except that it’s not a tech recruiter role, why then would I go out of my way to book a chat with them?

They tell me absolutely nothing about what I’d be doing. I’ll be recruiting people? No shit Sherlock. Now, knowing the market in Ireland, it’s more likely that I’ll be doing 99% sales recruitment, multilingual and high volume, and on top of that, whatever functions the company needs to hire for. Maybe I’m wrong, but when you don’t give me any details, then you leave it to me to interpret your message based on my knowledge only.

Let’s look at this other message – I swear I’m not cherry-picking bad messages, if I received a half-decent one, I’d be shouting about it to everybody and their auntie Mary.

FR speaking recruiterpng

In this one, I’d be recruiting for sales, customer service and high-volume positions, probably for the French speaking markets as French is a requirement. Sounds like a hoot and a half. Ok, what’s in it for me? Wait, what? “The permanent element”???

Do we hate our jobs so much that we can’t muster a little bit of energy to approach recruiters the same way we would approach an engineer or a German sales exec? With personalisation, creativity and purpose. Recruitment is the job we know best. We never get a better opportunity to write about something we know that well and yet, we don't. Why???


Candidate experience is lousy.

Now this part is probably out of date since I haven’t been active in the market for ages and I got a great candidate experience for the job I’m currently in (also a big factor in me accepting the job), but ever since I’ve started in the recruitment industry (2009) I’ve had pretty bad candidate experiences.

Not interested in my profile? That’s fine, just hit the template rejection email button.
You made me do homework for you but you’re not interested anymore? That’s ok too, just let me know – that’s what templates are for.

You’ve filled the job but you still have to interview me? Tell me and cancel the interview, there’s no point wasting each other’s time by doing a courtesy interview – people can tell when it’s a “courtesy call” and not a real phone screen.

I’ve done 5 hours of interview for you but I didn’t get the job, that happens – don’t book an appointment to call me to tell me you can’t give me any feedback because of your policy, just send me an email.

I appreciate it’s a vicious circle. We treat people the way we would want to be treated, but if during all of our candidate experiences, we’ve been treated like shit then we keep on repeating that, I guess? And I know we’re only humans and there will always be that one person we forgot to follow up on, and that’s ok. But would we be acting so fast and lose with candidate experience for the roles that EVERYBODY needs to hire for and that are universally valued?


In the next episode - Are we demanding too much of the wrong things?