The recruiter bashing needs to stop

I was recently reading an article showing how a developer had created a full Github repository on how to block recruiters. Two things came to mind: gee, that person has way too much time on their hands, immediately followed by sadness. 

Seriously, why do people hate recruiters so much?  

I have gathered 6 reasons candidates hate recruiters, and I’ll try to give you a behind the curtain peek at the work of a recruiter, so hopefully you’ll change your mind.



1. Recruiters contact you… a lot.

I get it, if you’re a German sales person in Dublin or a Data Scientist, you’re going to get contacted a lot. Your skills are in high-demand; all companies need them, so obviously all recruiters will go after you. 

There are 2 possibilities here:

You’ve been contacted by a recruiter who’s not good at their job. They did a keyword search and blasted out mass mails. Realistically, that sort of behaviour should have reduced drastically in the past 5 years, and even more since the GDPR kicked in. Mind you, back in January, I was contacted for a role in procurement sourcing. What can I say, that recruiter didn’t know how to exclude keywords from their Boolean search. That sucks, but at the end of the day, what’s another spammy email in our lives?


You are bombarded by emails, inmails, calls, tweets, Facebook messages… for jobs that you’re actually qualified for.

I get that the volume is annoying, but could the grass be greener for you elsewhere? Is it such a bad thing for people to want to talk to you about your professional skills? I would think it’s quite gratifying to be recognised as a professional in your field. Obviously, not every job presented to you will be a great match, but as recruiters, we work with the information that is available to us. It’s a lot of detective work to find you, and to piece together the details of your experience without having your CV.

If you’re in a field where you get contacted a lot by recruiters, your dream job could be coming to you; not everyone is that lucky.



2. You “never” hear back from Recruiters.

In 2020 all the recruitment systems enable recruiters to email the candidates they reject automatically, at the push of a button. You’ll get a “Thanks, but no thanks” email. What you may not know is that because our emails come from a separate system, they quite often end up in your spam folder. I cannot count the times where I’ve been following up with candidates going: “Hi, I emailed you 3 days ago asking for a good time to talk about this job, I haven’t heard from you”. 99.9% of the time, my email had ended up in the candidate’s spam folder. So, if you’re actively applying for jobs, do check your spam folder. 

Recruiters are human beings. Yes, sometimes we forget. And that sucks. If we’ve talked to you on the phone, we’re probably talking to the hiring manager about you and your profile (and the profiles of a few other candidates). While we advocate on your behalf so the hiring manager will agree to interview you, we’re not the final decision-maker. A lot of our time is spend chasing our stakeholders and waiting for them to get back to us.

I personally colour-code all the phone interviews in my calendar and change the colour when I’ve given the candidate an update (positive or negative), but even with the best intentions, you’re never going to get 100% accuracy 100% of the time. 

If it’s been a few days since your interview and you feel that the recruiter has forgotten about you (they may be trying to corner the hiring manager by the coffee machine, but you don’t know that), get in touch with them and ask for an update: phone, email, LinkedIn, what have you.



3. It takes 45 minutes to apply for a job.

That is one of my major pet peeves. Last year, I was researching Applicant Tracking Systems (the beautiful piece of software where recruiters do 99% of their job) and the candidate experience that go with them. Needless to say, feedback ranged dramatically… 

When you apply for a job, your CV will go through an ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) and will be tagged to a job for the recruiter to review. Most ATS will parse the information on your CV to create a profile for you on the ATS. If the ATS is half-way decent, it will parse the information, ask you to double check that the correct information has gone into the correct field (it’s a machine and gets easily confused when there are images or fancy formatting on your CV) and you’ll be able to finalise your application. Done. 

Some ATS try to enable candidates to have more control over their personal data, and ask you to create logins for your profile. It’s not, per se, a bad thing… However it becomes really annoying when multiple companies use the same ATS portal and you have to create logins for each one of them. 

Some companies require LOADS of information for their application process. It is sometimes viewed as a way to discourage unsuitable candidates. To me it screams: I can’t be bothered jumping through 23 hoops to apply for this job.


But where does the recruiter stand in that situation?

Most likely, they’re as annoyed as you. On one of the Recruitment Groups, I saw recently someone wondering about all the stuff “Legal” made them add into the application process.

We’re recruiters, not developers. We work with the tools that our company has chosen for us. It’s extremely rare when a recruiter gets to chose their ATS, and even when they do, they have to work with the technical constraints of the product and their career website.

We wish we could, but we can’t pop in a few lines of code to make the experience more friendly for candidates.



4. Recruiters never give any feedback.

Let’s put it simply, if we don’t give you feedback, it’s probably because we don’t have any to give you.


“I applied and I want feedback” – realistically, if the recruiter has rejected your application without talking to you, your profile doesn’t fit the requirements of the job. While we might get some leeway with the number of years of experience, if it’s a manager’s position and you only have a graduate role as experience, there are more qualified candidates.

Last year, I was recruiting for a trainee recruiter. As you can imagine, for this type of role, I received loads of applications. A disgruntled candidate replied to me that since this was a trainee role, surely previous experience didn’t matter. Yes, surely, it wouldn’t. However, if I get 125 candidates, I’m going to pick the ones that have relevant qualifications or experience. A 6 weeks internship in recruitment gives you an edge compared to the candidates that have no relevant experience.


“I’ve had an interview and I want feedback” – Fair enough; I will give you the feedback that I have. That being said, I may not have any feedback for you. See point 2, I may have cornered the hiring manager by the coffee machine, and all the feedback I got was a “no”. Sometimes the feedback can be soul crushing. Seven years ago, the hiring manager’s feedback was that in a 45 minutes interview, they had only been able to ask 1 question to the candidate who had talked the rest of the time non-stop. How do I, as a recruiter give the candidate that message? We know that job searching is one of the most stressful times in life, and none of us want to crush your hopes and dreams.

Throughout my career, I’ve been abused many times, over the phone by candidates who didn’t agree with the feedback I was giving them. And I’m not even talking about the emails with F-bombs in them… Remember that the recruiter is your advocate within the company, they’re not making the final hiring decision, but if you abuse them or are rude to them, they will remember.



5. Recruiters don’t care about candidates.

I get how people can feel this way. No one likes to be rejected and ultimately, recruiters are paid by the company they work for, not by the candidates, so it is logical that the interests of the company come first. The role of the recruiter is to help their company grow by hiring the right people.

To be a recruiter, you have to be thick-skinned. Candidates are not gentle when they reject you; hiring managers are not necessarily, either.

The most rewarding part of the job is obviously when we offer someone a job and they go and do really well in it; however, to reach that point, we have disappointed dozens of other candidates.

When we interview you over the phone, we invest our time and effort into your applications; we then advocate your skills and experience to the hiring manager. None of us want to turn back to you and crush your hopes and dreams. It’s a reality of the job of a recruiter that we will say no to people way more often than we will say yes, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care. Our job is to recruit people, we can’t afford to be your shrink or your career counselor. Regardless of how long you’ve been a recruiter, you will always feel bad when rejecting candidates, but recruiters need to find a middle ground and remember that it’s part of the job.



6. Recruiters have no ethics.

Come on, that’s unfair! You will find people with lousy work ethics in every profession, and I know that a tiny number of recruiters are really bad ones and give the job a bad name. However, by far and large the recruitment industry has a strong work ethics.

Every day, we work against discrimination and biases, we educate hiring managers for a greater diversity in their teams; we try to improve the candidate experience throughout our recruitment process (with the means that we have, see point 3).

We are but one link in the hiring process and yet, we take the blame for everything.

If you feel that the recruiter you’re working with is not being honest with you or is taking advantage of you for some reason, it’s your absolute prerogative to cut ties and never speak to them again.

One thing to remember though is that if a recruiter is behaving badly, their personal brand will be more affected than the brand of their employer, so it’s in the recruiter’s best interests to have a strong and ethical behaviour (if they want to remain in the recruitment industry).



Did I convince you to give us, recruiters, a chance to make a good impression on you and to help you find your dream job?