The Real Reasons Why Corporate Recruiters Hate You

Agency and corporate recruiters have always had this love/hate relationship. It’s a sibling rivalry of sorts – in some cases each thinks the other doesn’t know what they’re doing. After 10+ years on the agency side, I have a great deal of admiration and respect for those that do it well. I also have a newfound respect for my corporate brothers and sisters as I enter my 7th month on the dark side. I still maintain that recruiters shouldn't be allowed to go internal until they've cut their teeth as a third party. It's essential training and as @MattCharney said on Twitter yesterday, you learn to "hustle".


After 60 reqs filled in just over 6 months and mixed results with agency recruiters, I must admit I look back on some of my past behavior as a TPR and cringe just a little (ok, a lot). I know none of my beloved RBC friends make these mistakes but perhaps you can forward on to the real culprits…?


Reason #1 – you are too cocky. Hey I love a little swagger, I really do. What drives me nuts though is when your agency arrogance displays itself by looking down on the poor corporate recruiters who “can’t” do what you do because of some perceived lack of skill or ability. That’s not why I gave you the job order… I gave you the job order because my time is better spent working on the other 40 reqs I have open instead of devoting half of my working hours to ONE. It’s not that difficult a concept. We both perform a valuable service to our clients, and the best on both sides will always have a seat at the table. Don't mistake my decision to go in house for weakness.


Reason #2 – you view me as an obstacle between you and the “real" hiring manager. I know you want to talk to the hiring manager, and I want you to. I gave you this job order because I have other things to do. Unfortunately if the hiring manager doesn’t want to talk to you (and sometimes they just don’t) then you and I are going to have to play nice. It is in my best interest for you to fill this job. I will talk to you every day if you want, and be completely transparent. Why on earth would I not give you every last scrap of detail I can to make this a win for both of us?


Reason #3 – you over promise and under deliver. What more can really be said about this? Don’t make promises you can’t keep – period. Or, if you say you’ll have candidates in a week, but don’t – just let me know! I’ve been recruiting long enough to know things don’t always go according to plan. Just be straight with me like I am with you.


Reason #4 – you get the job order, then disappear. I know I am not your only client. I doubt I’m even your best or favorite client. My company has a very strong internal recruiting team, so you may do one or two placements a year with us. I get it - that probably doesn't put us at the top of your priority list. If you’re not willing to put in the effort, why take the job order? If I am not the kind of client you want, then just politely decline… I can handle it.


Reason #5 – you push back against my feedback. If a candidate you’ve submitted is rejected (before or after the interview), I will tell you why. If we have a strong relationship, you can count on me to be brutally honest. I’m not talking about reasonable discussion – I’m happy to listen to your side and would expect you to defend your candidate. When you start demanding to speak to the hiring manager about “why” he/she was rejected, and ignoring me because you don't like what I have to say, then we’re going to have issues (see Reason #2).


Reason #6 – you treat me like the competition. I realize not all corporate recruiters operate this way, but if I give you a job order I am no longer actively recruiting for it. You are. That doesn’t mean we won’t still have the role posted, and we may still receive active candidates applying, but I am not sourcing. Personally, I view you as an external extension of my team. Why compete with my own resources?


Reason #7 – you don’t know me. You’re too busy selling me on your awesomeness to even bother getting to know me or my company. I especially love the split desk agencies. If I somehow end up talking to the recruiter finding the candidates, I find out the Business Development dude told him very little about my company, and what he did learn was wrong. So when I have to set you straight, don’t tell me “that’s changed”. Nothing’s changed, you just didn’t know anything about us in the first place. Hint – don’t assume, ask questions.


Now let me have it. Someone out there is DYING to come back with a list of why agency recruiters hate the corporate side. I can’t wait to see it, because I know you won’t be talking about me. :)

Views: 9859

Comment by Peter Dube on January 13, 2012 at 2:40pm

spot on.  I was in the retained search world for 10 years and contingency for 6 before that.  I recently met with a colleague from my prior firm and was shocked at how arrogant he came off - and saw that I was that way too when I was on that side of the table. In my org today, there are people in Talent acquisition that want to be and are 'the brick wall' to our service providers to no one's benefit.  Switching chairs is great experience for anyone that wants to be successful in either role. One of the amazing things about being on the copr side is how manay agencies indeed do #3 or #4 - completely under deliver or disappear.  I added several 'must have' agencies to our vendo list before finally realizing no one get's on the list until they deliver - too much wasted time for disappearing acts. 

Comment by Bill Schultz on January 13, 2012 at 2:49pm

and no offense, but when they tell me they used to be "on your side" that's when I know I'm in trouble.  

I recently visited Google's campus and recruitment center.  A recruiter who used to work for me works for them now.    She recruits patent attorneys and is an attorney herself- as is most of the recruiters in her division.  Now that model is interesting to me.  

Comment by Doug Boswell on January 13, 2012 at 4:22pm

Very cleaver Miss Amy, to direct your comments to some generic recruiter, a composite of all the things we do to rub you wrong. I recognize most all of your grips, but had to try real hard to apply them to me, so I could be offended enough to write this. Well, truth be told, some were pretty easy, because, yes, I’m a pig. Anyway, I’m directing this to that generic corporate recruiter who is all the things that make us real-recruiters seem like such a$$holes.


Here’s my response to your 7 items as they refer to me:


#1, Of course I come across as cocky. I’m great, you’re not (as far as I can tell), but I’m not trying to be cocky. It’s my sales pitch. You need to know how good I am so you’ll give me your business. Sorry “cocky” came to mind as I recounted my numerous recruiting successes, and my claim that I can do the same for your company. And all this time I was sure you were impressed, only to finally learn that I’m cocky. Cocky. Did I say that right? Cocky. Funny word that cocky. Don’t get me started on swagger.


#2, I view you as an obstacle? Anyone between me and the decision maker is, by definition, an obstacle. But since your company’s process requires you to be there, I guess I’ll have to get all my info third-hand, which would be OK if you actually returned my calls to give me the feedback on the interview and kept me in the loop on the progress toward a hiring decision.


#3, I “seem” to over promise, and then under-deliver. All the time. Sorry, I couldn’t find a candidate with all 26 items of experience and qualification you asked for, so I presented the guy with all 5 of the crucial items and twenty of the “what does this have to do with the job?” items. The candidate freely admits that he can’t do #26, one-arm pushups, so do you really need all 26? You do? Damn, I’ve under-delivered again!


#4, I got the job order, then disappeared. Actually I got the job order you were too smart to waste you own time on and now when the hiring manager asks why there are no interviews set up, you get to say, “Sorry, that’s a tough one, not even the recruiters could come up with a candidate”. What’s really going on here is that the job is unrealistic in the qualifications it demands, or unrealistic in the amount of work it would require one person to handle, or under-paying, or a dead-end job, or all of those and perhaps more. I’m not going to work on a long-shot like that when I’ve got plenty of low-hanging fruit to pick first. And it’s not exactly accurate to say I “disappeared” on you. If you’d returned my voice mail message that said “I need to speak with you”, I could have explained why I was bowing out of this one. Or the message after that. I still waiting…


#5, You push back against my feedback. Maybe because your definition of feedback is different from mine. I don’t consider “he’s too light”, or “he’s not a good fit” feedback. I need details. How can the next candidate be better if I don’t understand why this one fell short? I realize that the hiring manager only told you “he’s too light”, and you don’t want to go back and sell him on why it’s in his best interest to cough up the details, so let me do it. Because I do great with hiring managers, they love me, it’s my super-power. So when I find out the real problem, I’ll let you know too. But you’ll need to return my voice mail message to get the full story.


#6, No, you treat ME like the competition. It’s really clear by the way you dole out little bits and pieces of information, and take days to return calls to give skimpy, un-satisfying feedback. No, I’m not feeling the love from so many in-house recruiters. Do I care if you are still recruiting for the position? No. Does it matter to me that you still get candidates from your job-board postings? No. I don’t begrudge you doing your job. I just want my candidates to get equal treatment. Let the hiring

Comment by Doug Boswell on January 13, 2012 at 4:36pm

I guess there a space limit on these posts to keep people like me from going on, and on, and on....


Here's the rest:


#6, No, you treat me like the competition. It’s really clear by the way you dole out little bits and pieces of information, and take days to return calls to give skimpy, un-satisfying feedback. No, I’m not feeling the love from so many in-house recruiters. Do I care if you are still recruiting for the position? No. Does it matter to me that you still get candidates from your job-board postings? No. I don’t begrudge you doing your job. I just want my candidates to get equal treatment. Let the hiring manager decide if my candidate should be interviewed without waiting for him to decide on the internal candidates first. Then let the best “man” win (even if it’s a woman).


#7, you don’t know me. You took the words right out of my mouth. The difference is I want to know you and your company. Frankly, I already know a lot about both of you. I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile as we speak (and I know that picture is 10 years old too). I’ve read your company’s entire website, including the press releases. There’s a lot of info on you out there. But you don’t seem to know anything about me. That’s OK, just sit back and I’ll tell you.


Of course you don’t behave this way Amy, because you remember your roots in the TPR world. But many others do. By the way, how’s the Kool-Aid on the other side?


Comment by Barry Frydman on January 13, 2012 at 4:50pm


I take it you don't like internal recruiters as much as they like themselves?

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 13, 2012 at 4:59pm

Holy cow I love all the responses! I wish I could respond to each and every comment, maybe I'll try to do that later. :) Couple of key points I want to make though - 

#1 - if this post was directed to any individual, it was my 20 something self! I listed these specific reasons because they are the mistakes that I personally made as a TPR. Every single one of them. Especially once I had a placement or two under my belt. You wanna talk swagger? I'm hanging my head in shame just thinking about it.

#2 - I get an email or linkedin message pretty regularly from junior recruiters who ask my advice. Maybe they're just sucking up to me to get a hiring manager name so they can recruit around me, or maybe they really want to know what I think, I don't know. Perhaps they'll read this and get something positive out of it.

#3 - all companies/decision makers are not created equal. So that hiring manager that I'm keeping you from talking to? Yeah, that guy is on a performance review, has no say in his budget (meaning he can't authorize paying a fee), and we've got a retained firm confidentially looking for his replacement because he drove away the last 3 people we hired for his team (you know those job orders he gave you because the internal recruiters are incompetent?). So... good luck with that. :)

We could go back and forth, round and round all day. I too was rejected by a large employer for a corporate gig because I was all agency - no in-house. Luckily I found an amazing company and was hired (just like my fellow recruiters) in part because of my agency experience. I recognize that my situation may not be the norm, and certainly most TPRs wouldn't behave like this (even I learned my lesson as a youngster). And if you find yourself dealing with the issues Doug laid out above? Well, why are you working with those clients...?

Comment by Doug Boswell on January 13, 2012 at 5:31pm

Exactly. Why are you working with those client$? Not becau$e they're $o plea$ent to $peak with, but rather becau$e you know where to find the people they aren't finding. The $ize of the fee makes it all worth while (although $ometime$ you have to walk away becau$e no fee i$ ever going to come from that me$$.). That'$ not to $ay that I $till wouldn't prefer an in-house recruiter work with me as if we're on the $ame team, focu$ed on filling the open po$ition$ with the be$t candidate$ available.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 13, 2012 at 5:39pm

I don't know... I'd take five $10K, relatively pleasant to work with type placements over a pain in the ass $50K placement... but that's just me. :) 

I think before laying specific blame at anyone's feet, we need to take a good hard look at our part in the process and where we (yes me) might have screwed up.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 13, 2012 at 6:42pm
Here's some Texas Talkin'

1. Dance with the one that brung ya. If they brung ya they'll probably be sure ya got a ride home if ya don't piss em off too bad tryin to talk to everybody else at the dance.

2. If they don't tell ya the life history of the band, it might just be they don't know either or it's a new band so it might be kind of fun ta try and figger it out together. Neither one a ya may like em but yer stuck at the dance.. Or not.

3. If somebody brung ya cause they thought ya might like the dance, don't spend all night bitchin' about the people there or the band or the guy what brung ya. Either fake a headache and go home early or think about if ya had anything better to do that night.

4. Don't tell the guy who brung ya that ya do a mean Samba if a shuffling two step in a circle half drunk is the closest ya ever got to a symphony ball. It's a wagon load better to say this is yer first party, ya don't really know much about dancin, but you'll be on time, wear a pretty dress and smile a lot while yer followin' his lead and tryin' ta make him look good while yer learnin. Ya just might learn something and he might brung ya next time if ya act right.

5. If ya don't like who brung ya, ya don't have ta go next time. Prolly both ya know it but it's just one dance so act right, try and at least you will be remembered as a good sport.

6. If the only reason ya come ta the dance with the guy who brung ya is because he paid ya and ya think ya might be able ta go home with the gitar player, yer either jest trashy or yer what folks call one o them hooker kind o ladies.

7. If ya git the picher that the guy who brung ya jest brung ya cause somebody else told him to. Find out who told him ta brung ya and go home with him. He might not only be the gitar player, he might also own the dance hall.

8. Quit yer bitchin. It ain't helpin anybody. There's other ways ta spend a Saturday night if dancin ain't yer thang.
Comment by Bill Schultz on January 13, 2012 at 7:40pm

Good advice, Sandra.  this is from my last meeting with an internal recruiter.


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