a rant about corporate recruiters..............by a corporate recruiter

Last week I read an old but amusing article about how horrible external recruitment agencies actually were and why on earth did we work with them again? You know; they have no knowledge, are slow or too aggressive, they throw resumes without really interviewing the candidates, send resumes of people that actually aren't interested, send unsollicited resumes, they lie about the qualities of the candidates and on and on. As corporate recruiter myself last week I got another call from a desperate recruiter who just needed to get a visit or a job to work on. Despite the crisis they still need to make their 50 calls or 10 visits a week even though nobody is even hiring a receptionist. Their job isn't easy and there we are, corporate recruiters putting salt on the wounds. But....let's have a look at us corporate recruiters through the eyes of a external recruiter.................

1) you call the them to try and visit them and they never seem to have time, claim to have a preferred supplier list or simply very few open positions. Looking at their job site you actually do see that they have 35 open jobs with an average open days of 65?

2) They claim that all agencies always shout the same thing; that we're the best, leading agency, very specialized but yet able to fill all your positions. They claim we never come up with creative solutions but ....have you ever seen an innovative corporate recruiter?

3) So in the end they do let you come over because they have a job open. You spend 2 hours of your time talking about the job, process and fees and go home thinking you got in the bag. Then when you try to follow up you simply can't reach them and they are not returning your emails/calls. Three weeks later you hear they are working with another agency and apparently didn't bother to inform you. Relationship building anyone?

4) Great, they finally give you the assignment but of course only on a contingency basis. The seem to forget that we as well have our cost to cover, recruiters to pay for etc. They feel insulted if you then try and work quickly and send them resumes on the fly. What do you want, that I invest loads of time and money while you give the same job to 3 other agencies? You get what you pay for right? If you want pure dedication and high quality services you pay for it.

5) Before you can start you do of course first need to be set up as a vendor which requires you to fill out 4 different forms, take calls their Indian call center trying to make sense of what this person is talking about. The contract itself is of course a corporate contract and is so complicated and utterly one-sided that you need to get external help to try and understand it and to make sure your not being tricked into something. But you need the work so you sign with the exception of the payment terms that you set at 14 days.

6) You try and get a complete picture of the positions (beyond the badly written shopping list they call a job description) but the recruiter is not very interested in helping you and doesn't seem to be very knowledgeable about the position. Your request to talk to the hiring manager is denied because "they don't want to bother the hiring manager too much". So we are left (again) with an incomplete picture and later they complain that the candidate isn't that perfect or tell you that you've oversold the job?

7) You are able to present 3 candidates (that you feel are really good) and never hear from you again? The recruiter apparently went to Disneyland for 2 weeks because it is impossible to reach him/her. Due to the terrific backup plan other recruiters have no clue what so ever about that position and tell you to wait until the recruiter is back. After getting close to being sued for harassment you get a short email that they have an internal candidate, a hiring freeze or simply have closed the position.

8) It takes approx 3 weeks before they are able to arrange an interview with your presented candidates and then they complain that your candidate has taken another offer? Oh and yeah, can you send 3 more candidates because they feel they can't take a decision without having seen at least 5 candidates?

9) After a gazillion emails and calls you then finally get some feedback on your candidates. They really needed 3 weeks to get all the managers together and get feedback. It turns out that the manager doesn't actually know whether he has the budget for the hire and it first needs to be approved by the VP. The VP however is again busy with a reorganization and it might very well be that the job no longer exists.

10) After a process of 4 months, 3 phone screens, 8 interviews spread out over 3 days, an assessment center they need you to check references because they are still not quite sure about this candidate. As if references are going to give the best insight?

11) OMG, by now you are taking medication against your anxiety attacks but they are ready to make an offer. The thing is that they only have a budget of 80K instead of the 100K they talked about before. But you know, there is a crisis going on so the candidate will just have to accept it. RSU's and a sign on bonus are out of the order of course so you really need to pull all the plugs and again sell the job and company to convince the candidate.

12) And yes, you did it! The candidate accepts their horrible offer and you are ready to send your eagerly awaited invoice. The candidate later tells you about the absolutely horrendous onboarding where it took 5 days to get an email address, 8 days to get a laptop and most likely 2 months to get that company car he order (while driving around in some battered Ford from the guy they fired last week). Training seems to be non-existent and his manager doesn't seem to have time to get you settled in.

13) While your contract clearly states that you have a payment term of 14 days their Indian service center now tells you that they always have 45 days in any contract and that the recruiter doesn't have the authority to change that. And they didn't get a PO number so it's going to take a bit longer as it's against company policy to open a PO after the service has already been delivered. So it's just gonna take a bit longer than those 45 days because they closed the books already for this month.

14) While you are busy trying to find new clients they all of a sudden remember you because they decided to let go of the candidate and although the contract says you don't refund the money they would highly appreciate it as they will not replace. When you try to find out why they let go of the candidate they somehow are not able to articulate the reason. The candidate you placed tells you that he still doesn't really know either but does know that he is the 5th in a row in the last year that has been let go off.

So, corporate recruiters; let's not always bash so hard on external recruiters! We are not always making things very easy and don't always create conditions for success. Perhaps next time I'll try to come up with some ground rules to work together. In the end we both have the same objective?

oh and yes, this piece is for a bit of fun................

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That was spot on! I have been on both sides of the fence and that is so, so true.
Wow! As an external recruiter I've seen real life examples of these scenarios for years. There seems to be a lot of negative opinions between corporate recruiters & external recruiters; and frankly I haven't worked with, or met many external recruiters that have had a lot of success trying to fill jobs through corporate recruiters. If you don't have a relationship with the hiring manager and are in 'the know' you have a tough road ahead of you.
Very good. More than a grain of truth and very amusing. I have worked both sides too. Looks like the makings of a training session on what not to do for a new shiny corporate recruiter.
And the point is what?
I've been a corporate and agency recruiter too and I think we are all the product of the environment we find ourselves in. Corporate recruiters (with some exceptions) work for fairly large, cut throat, impersonal and unfeeling organizations who consider most candidates as a bonded servant class who are just so damn lucky to get an interview with the company. The corporate recruiter simply passes along the culture she works in to everyone she works with. Keep in mind that corporate HR is a cost center that usually has very, very little real power and clout in the organization. And after all, it's despicable but common human nature to treat others but a select few people of your own choosing (significant other, best friend, maybe mother, hopefully children) poorly in an effort to make ourselves feel less miserable about our own environment; in which we have little input or decision making power, no opportunity for creativity and no one to tell who gives a crap that the company is shooting itself in the foot by treating candidates and most others quite terribly.

Agency recruiters work for and are taught by (for the most part) rigid, unscrupulous, capricious, unfeeling, small sole proprietors who resent every penny they pay their recruiters, since they could really do it all alone and much better if they weren't so very important and busy being CEO's of their little fiefdom. They teach us that the candidate is a piece of meat to sell to the highest bidder; that quantity and not quality is what makes a successful recruiter; that we should never leave our desks to meet with clients to assess the culture to make a smart fit for both parties; that candidates must come to our office for interviews to give us the upper hand in the eternal power struggle; that we must manipulate and at times lie (it's all about the spin, Virginia, and oh yeah, there is no Santa Claus) to the candidate/client to advance our agenda. Then they dick us around on our commission, job title, non-compete agreements and desk placement in an effort to keep us off balance and from getting too big for our britches since Top Producers are really just ticking time bombs who are planning to steal the clients from the business like the owner did when they started their own shop.

In the midst of all this negative energy there is the rare recruiter (I've met a few, would love to hear from any self identified "anti-recruiters") who thinks for themself and does not blindly follow, who is creative about doing the job compassionately and well within the restrictive environment of corporate and agency recruiting. This is the recruiter who seeks to help both hiring managers and candidates from place of giving service; who is mindful of the uncomfortable place of hope and fear (especially in this market) that candidates find themselves in; who seeks to make sure hiring managers look good and are able to advance their goals by hiring the right candidate, who meets every candidate and client they work with (because really, you cannot make an accurate assessment/match without looking people in the eye, shaking their hand and reading their body language as they answer your questions); and who knows that the art of bringing people together with the goal of advancing each party's agenda is an honorable one deserving of respect, creativity, much thought, great care and sensitivity.
There are two sides to a story..but the challenge is that for every corporate recruiter, there are 50-100 external agency recruiters asking for their time. It could be a full time job just meeting with them and managing the relationships. Every one of them says they can do the job, but in my experience there are very few that actually deliver on the tough searches. They are out there, and when I find them I don't let go!!

Good luck to both 'sides'. We all have a job to do.
Great post.. so true. All it takes is one or two experiences like this and you will refuse to work this way ever again. If the client isn't willing to have some skin the game, they're not serious. Think of this way, if you take the order and put up with their crap, they won't take you seriously either.
Great Blog post! Haven't most of us been in this situation before? This is what jades us as recruiters, I too have seen both sides and there really is no excuse for any of it. As Bill put it, all it takes is one or two experiences like this and you will refuse to work this way ever again....Thanks for the humorous insight to what we all think about at one time or another!
Great Post! Very Funny! Some Elements of truth in that, I think both sides can learn from each other.

I just wrote a rant about corporate recruiters. Seems this model has taken hold of the market and I have been there with most of what you are saying. I don't really have much good to say about the experiences but would love to know how to positively work in that model. It has commodotized our business.


And @ Lisa Williams.... I have worked for a small family owned company for 11 years, pretty large by that definition as it is a 60 mm year company doing contract and direct placement. I could not disagree with you more. I have the most honest, forthright, above board on integrity owner and co workers. I would put them ahead of any corporate recruiter that does nothing more than belittle what we do and waste our time.


How do we make this model work in the external recruiting world? do we stay away from large organizations that hold this model tight? They are the ones hiring but, throwing resumes into an eternal black hole is doing nothing for our P&L.

I'd love a corp recruiter to chime in on why do they harball gatekeep us from managers so we can do the right job? If they are afraid that the agency recruiter will "go around them", scrutinize your vendors more before you sign contracts. I have no qaulms on keeping HR/Recruiting in the loop and getting them involved but this process is not working. Like asking an engineering firm to build something with 2 lines drawn as a go by. Doesn't work.

How did I miss this great post from 2009?  It's fantastic. 


The sad thing is - I think I've inherited this particular client...........oh my..........



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