This has been an interesting summer for me as a headhunter.  I discovered two things dedicated to recruiting (in general):  The Recruiting Animal Show (hosted by Michael Kelemen supposedly somewhere in Canada) and  I’ve learned so much!  In addition to that, I've gotten to read and hear all about how so many out there hate recruiters/headhunters and think we suck (in general). 

Hah!  I love it!

Therefore, today, I've decided to take it upon myself to ALLOW largely populated swathes of the professional world to go ahead and keep on hating on recruiters, but more specifically, headhunters.

Here YE, Here YE!  Will the following people please listen up?

  • Former Recruiters
  • People who try selling stuff to recruiters (services, web stuff, computer tools, etc.)
  • People who aren’t recruiters who think they can coach recruiters
  • Everyone with less than two years experience as a recruiter
  • Any recruiter that hasn’t made a placement in the last 120 days
  • Human Resource professionals forced to hire recruiters
  • Recruiter’s in-laws
  • Facebook “friends” from High School and College who hate the recruiter’s politics and/or occupation and now despise us

We are your friends, but not the kind you may like all the time.  It’s because the vast majority of us are, indeed, money motivated and that’s just not politically correct.  Most of us don’t get a regular paycheck but you already know that. 

Without getting windy, let me outline the dichotomy.   We go out there and find the candidate the company wants to hire but have to keep our traps shut when it comes to (truly) closing the candidate.  And for that, we charge a fee and the company pays us.   The better the recruiter, there is some level of influence we can offer the candidate and client but at the end of the day, both of the parties have to meet in the center and the recruiter crosses his fingers.  Then, in the future, a payment arrives.

Reason number 1 to hate recruiters:  You’re not going to change their process.

What we do is somewhat akin to making a hole-in-one on a Par 3 and we all know that’s just luck.  But there’s the other problem, we don’t believe it’s luck.   We trust the process.  But there’s the other problem.  Our client’s don’t want us to “sell” our process so we have to keep it to ourselves and somehow make the hole-in-one. 

And then (sigh) there’s the “process”.  (See.  Just about every successful recruiter I’ve met has their own process.)  So many of you want to add or take away from our processes.  But you don’t know what the process is and we’re not allowed to outline it.  So what happens is that we agree with you and keep doing our process.  (The agreement part is Dale Carnegie Rule of Selling No. 64.)

I have a client that I’ve placed 12 people at from 2005 until now.  It’s about a 100 person operation so 12 isn’t too bad.  Well, the HR Manager now wants us to keep a running spreadsheet involving charting phone calls and other fairly boring information that really lends nothing to the hiring process.  Nah.  I didn’t fire this client.  I’ve just decided to let them simmer for a while. 

Her new requirement doesn’t fit my process.  Therefore, I’ve elected not to do it.  Will I miss out on some activity.  Probably.  But I’ll work on other things.

Just an example.

Think of us like pirates.  Pirates that are really good at what they do.   I’ve never really known a pirate but I’ve seen the movies.  Pirates tend to get along with each other somewhat and there’s a kind of kindred spirit but deep down there’s some competitive itch that keeps them cautious.  They’ll get along and play together for a while but then there needs to be some distance.  They’re NOT going to follow your rules and will resort to doing what works for them.  You can’t change a pirate.

Reason number 2 to hate recruiters:  We won’t go away.  We’ll always be necessary.  You won’t terminate the occupation.

I read that two Russian astronauts had to string cables around the space station and set a record for a lengthy spacewalk.  Seems to me with all the robots and computers that we’d have the technology to run cable around a bulky spaceship using technology, not humans. 

Yea. Yea.  It’s not the best example but that doesn’t matter any more than the continued effort to use fuzzy software technology to find a candidate who can put together complete sentences.  WHAT?  Companies and corporations everywhere are spending ba-zillions on high-fangled ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) that can be very useful for parsing job requisitions, housing applicants, onboarding new hires, and monitoring metrics.

Super-slick salespeople peddling their ATS systems take the promise to a whole new degree when they confidently demonstrate how their system will deep-six the need for outside agency recruiters.   It won’t. 

Reason number 3 to hate recruiters:  Rotten recruiters.  (“Anyone can do it.”)

Rotten recruiters make good recruiters more valuable.  However, the recruiting industry takes damaging hits from the idiots out there. 

I have a client that I make an occasional placement with that utilizes six approved outside agencies.  At least for the other five, that means the HR contact works with solo recruiters from each of the agencies.  Well, well, well.  I have identified candidates, told them about the company and the positions, only to find out the candidate was sent to my client 18 minutes earlier by my competition. 

Imagine that!  Recruiters firing off resumes that include the candidate’s personal information on it WITHOUT having spoke to the candidate.  This, indeed, is a horrible practice.  In fact, in my office, that’ll get you fired. 

Hating on recruiters is good.

Only unsuccessful recruiters would be miffed by the sillier criticism and insults hurled at the outside agency recruiting agencies.  The way I see it, many will press forward to create something that will replace recruiters and headhunters but I’m quite confident it won’t happen in my lifetime.  Therefore, the haters will keep on hating. 

The olive branch….

So, to wrap up, that’s NOT arrogance you’re sensing.  It’s actually excitement.  Maybe it’s an excitement that you aren’t quite getting.  Maybe sort of a shallow and opaque level of excitement that gets that recruiter you’re working with talking at 10,000 miles per hour. 

We know, for the record, that we’re serving you.  That’s never forgotten.  Don’t hate that part.



Views: 876

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on August 19, 2013 at 1:22pm

I cannot express how much I LOVE THIS Nehez.... :)

Comment by Malia Jorgensen on August 19, 2013 at 1:40pm

GREAT article!

Comment by Jerry Albright on August 19, 2013 at 1:53pm


Comment by Barbara Goldman on August 19, 2013 at 6:23pm

Good post. I honestly don't understand the anger out there. This is a weird time to be a recruiter.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 19, 2013 at 11:30pm

Great Post.  left me with nothing to add which is a first. 

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on August 20, 2013 at 2:14am


Comment by Jerry Albright on August 20, 2013 at 7:19am

Dear Mitch - what's the deal?  We all liked this one. 

Comment by Recruiting Animal on August 20, 2013 at 7:20am

Here's the funny thing. I don't send in resumes wihout speaking to the candidate either but the recruiter who sent in the resume 18 minutes before you beat you, didn't she?

Comment by Chadd Balbi on August 20, 2013 at 8:48am

Great article. A very honest and frank look at the recruiting profession. 

Comment by Derek Hopper on August 20, 2013 at 8:24pm

Stephen, I love it. I'm an engineer at heart and we typically bad mouth recruiters. I like that you seem like a good one, and thanks for being persistent :)


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