Mending the Recruiter-Candidate Relationship

Recruiters say they are tired of being constantly pestered by unqualified candidates. Candidates are fed up with the lack of feedback from recruiters. There exists a problem on both sides, but rather than place blame, it is important for each side to try to understand the other’s situation. This mutual recognition could help lessen frustrations in the relationship.

From the Recruiter’s Perspective

“We work for clients, not candidates.”

When recruiters are given job orders from clients, they are looking through their database specifically for candidates that fit the job description. They are focusing on finding the perfect employee for their client, not the perfect employer for a particular candidate. If a candidate is to be considered, he must have the entire required skill set, not just most of the skills. If he is not an ideal fit, he will be passed over.

“We are not career counselors.”

Candidates often want to know what the problem is—why aren’t they being considered for a job? Why hasn’t the recruiter contacted them? This is understandable; they want to feel involved in the process. They want to know if something needs to be fixed. However, most recruiters do not have extra time in their day to explain to candidates that their resume is unprofessional, they are missing some required skills, they need more experience, etc.

“Candidates call us all day and waste our time.”

One of the major complaints recruiters make about candidates is their persistence. There is nothing wrong with determination, but sometimes job seekers turn follow-ups into harassment.

“[I]n your attempt to follow up, it’s important to avoid pestering the employer [or recruiter]. In other words, send a follow-up e-mail, or place a phone call—and then allow the hiring manager to do his or her job.” -Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast

Any more than this single call and email can be seen as both desperate and annoying.

What Recruiters Can Do

  • Keep in mind: you don’t know what you don’t know.
  • Try to understand the situation. If a candidate is calling you, looking for advice, and pushing their resume, they are most likely unemployed and getting a little worried. Realize they are people, just trying to get their lives back in order.
  • Be clear about your preferred method of interaction. If you don’t want calls, but will read emails, perhaps you can send an auto-response through your recruiting software to every applicant saying so.
  • Be honest with candidates. If you know immediately a candidate does not meet your client’s needs, say so. Maybe you know another recruiter you can refer them to and in turn, they may refer you to a more qualified friend.
  • Don’t be afraid to help them out. If they keep coming to you for advice, then it must not be very good. If the problem is their resume, suggest a career counselor. If they need more skills, suggest training courses.
  • Remember: Recruiters need candidates. Candidates don’t need recruiters. The better experience you give your candidates, the easier your job will be.

From the Candidate’s Side

“Recruiters don’t care about us.”

When a candidate submits his resume to a recruiter and never hears back, it is easy for him to feel the recruiter does not care. This complaint, unfortunately, has some merit. This is not to say recruiters cannot build relationships with their candidates. Many do and when recruiters focus on the candidate experience, rather than metrics alone, the candidates are happier and the recruiter’s job is easier. When recruiters are too concerned with their numbers, they may treat a candidate as another metric, rather than a person.

“Recruiters cannot always help.”

This is completely true. According to Harry Urschel from the Wise Job Search, “recruiters as a whole only place 3%-5% of the positions that get filled!” As a job seeker, using a recruiter can be a great resource, but, Urschel says, not the only resource.

What Candidates Can Do

  • Keep in mind: you don’t know what you don’t know. Try not to judge the recruiter’s actions without knowing their situation.
  • Only apply to jobs you are completely qualified for.
  • Be honest on your resume. It is impossible for a recruiter to help if he does not truly know your capabilities.
  • Limit your follow ups.
  • Consider how you can help the recruiter. If you aren’t right for the job, refer someone who might be a better fit. This can build a relationship that may benefit you later.
  • Find a real career coach.
  • Perfect your resume. There are numerous resources to help in your goal (online resume builders, career coaches, how-to blogs, etc.).
  • Take training courses in your field. Perhaps you are missing a skill or two for a job you want. If you can learn those skills, do so. It could make your career.

These are just a few suggestions of what parties can do. Next time you are feeling frustrated with one another, try and relate. Think about what you might do in the other person’s shoes. It’s hard to stay mad once you do.

Originally posted at

Views: 746

Comment by David Wright on August 14, 2012 at 9:21am


Thank you for the great article.  Information that good recruiters need to be reminded about, and information that the average recruiter needs to know to get better.


David Wright

Comment by Joelle Schoenherr on August 14, 2012 at 10:02am


Thank you! It's so important for both parties to be respectful and appreciative throughout the process. Do you have any additional tips for recruiters that are trying to mend their relationships?




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