Top 5 Frustrations In Corporate Recruiting

Recruiting is difficult. Hiring an awesome employee is a very personal experience for both the candidate and the hiring team. Candidates have aspirations, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Recruiters have the same, with the added pressure of big hiring goals to hit. We’ve been curious to know more about the things corporate recruiters perceive to being in their in their way to hitting those hiring goals. In essence, what are your roadblocks that cause you frustration and result in you missing your goals?

We talked with 20 top corporate recruiters over the last two weeks about these frustrations.We took avid notes, and boiled the feedback down to 5 key themes that continually came up. While some of these 5 themes may surprise you, odds are they won’t.

Which of these top challenges are you facing?

1. Hiring managers aren’t involved

A room full of recruiters is no match for a hiring manager and recruiter working together.

We’re consistently hearing that recruiters and hiring managers aren’t on the same page. Yes, there are the small percentage of hiring managers who are savvy about hiring and deeply involved in the process. However, the large majority of hiring managers could do a better job of “participating in their own rescue”.

Corporate recruiters are well familiar with the “where’s my candidates?” response from hiring managers, yet they can’t get fast and accurate feedback on the candidates they’ve already submitted.

Corporate recruiters want a better way to get their hiring managers engaged, and bring both sides together in attracting top talent.

The expectation is not that the hiring managers need to do all of the work. It’s that they’ll provide fast and accurate feedback, as well as participate in events and social media.

Hiring managers and corporate recruiters working together can lower the cost of hiring, improve the quality of the team, and do so while reducing the time to fill.

2. Our online systems suck

Seriously? You want A-players to create a login?

No matter how nice the careers page looks, most recruiters think the application process still stinks.

Corporate recruiters often bypass the online application process altogether. They’ll actually enter a top candidate’s information for them as they don’t want to turn them off. This relegates the online application process to being more of a formality than an inbound talent lead generator.

While generating inbound leads for candidates is important, there’s another alarming frustration with online recruiting systems. Recruiters can’t easily see the right data to make smart decisions.

Simple analytics that are hard to track include: traffic sources to the careers page, sources for clicks on apply, source of hire, cost per hire, and time to fill. These are super basic data points in the world of online recruiting, and most corporate recruiters we talk to attempt to track these items manually.

Tying these systems together in an easy-to-use fashion is on the wish list for almost every recruiter we talk to. We continuously hear: “I want a system that works more like a CRM”.

3. Each recruiter is managing too many reqs

The low end of what we’ve heard is a recruiter managing 15 reqs at once. On the high-end it is up to 50. There’s no way even the best of the best in recruiting can manage that number effectively. Good recruiters know how to prioritize their open positions, but inevitably every hiring manager thinks that their open position(s) is top priority. This creates an environment in which recruiters lose efficiency.

The end result of this volume is a “cookie-cutter” approach. The bad news about a “cookie-cutter” approach is that top candidates can smell it, and hate it. The response rate to general InMails on  LinkedIn is between 15%-20% on a good day. Returning phone calls is even lower than that.

Corporate recruiters in this situation need to help transform their company into one with a recruiting culture. The bottom line is that your employees are your best recruiters. That is why referrals consistently rank #1 as the source of hire. Recruiters see the technology increasingly available to get hiring managers (and other employees) involved in hiring. But the biggest challenge is really the ability to change the culture to that of a “recruiting organization”.

That’s the only way the pressure of 50 open reqs at once can be lifted.

4. The bar is too high

A high bar can leave high-potential candidates on the outside looking in.

Primarily in the Engineering world we hear that the bar is too high. It’s common to hear that it takes 10-15 onsite interviews to get a hire. We’ve even heard as high as 25-30 onsite interviews to get to a hire.

This seems amazing, and incredibly inefficient. Considering those candidates may have had 3 hours each dedicated to them to this point, that could be up to 90 hours of recruiting time without an actual hire. The best companies we hear of, by the way, have been able to get this number down to 5 onsite interviews per hire.

We heard of several common factors leading to this high ratio. They included: a lack of knockout questions during the application process, an unorganized feedback loop during the pre-screening phase, and simply too high of expectations for the talent that is “hirable” for your company in the market you’re in.

The last one may be the biggest reason in the minds of recruiters. If that is the case, more market data and coaching to the hiring managers may be in order.

5. Our brand isn’t sexy

Not all recruiters feel their company has the “rockstar” brand.

It’s true that we’re often talking to companies in New York City and the Bay Area who are competing with the Googles and Facebooks of the world for talent. However, you can zoom out and see that the issue of branding hurts companies of all sizes and verticals.

Let’s look at the Financial Services vertical. We’ve had many conversations in this vertical over the last two weeks. We’ve often heard about companies in this space not feeling like they have a brand top candidates want to with anymore. And if they do want Financial Services, they are looking for companies like Square and Stripe who have sexy new products and designs.

These companies have a culture which is hidden away behind archaic online systems, and “regulatory compliance”. Look, I totally get that Financial Services companies have to be smart about compliance. However, once today’s generation of top candidates gets a whiff of “compliance”, they’re moving on to the next opportunity.

The key to taking the pressure off, and building your brand, is to focus on your employees. We wrote about this recently with 3 Tips To Start With Employer Branding.

Provide employees with venues to tell their story. Whether it is at a meetup, social media, an online chat, or a Google Hangout putting your people up-front will reel top candidates in. You’ve got to start somewhere, and that’s the best and easiest place to start.

You’re not alone

As we talked with corporate recruiters it became obvious that these 5 themes are common in many companies. Sure, different companies have different issues but the same themes around involvement, technology, and expectations kept coming up.

There’s a litany of processes, tools, and educational material to help get your team up to speed. However, at the end of the day it comes down to execution. It’s easy to get stuck with “paralysis by analysis”. You’ve got to chunk your problems down, and find people in the company who are willing to help. The recruiting team alone cannot attract and lock-up the sheer volume of folks needed to get most companies to their hiring goals.

Above all else, it’s a team effort. That makes hiring manager involvement a logical first step.


Views: 2344

Comment by Sherry Junker on July 19, 2013 at 4:18pm

Nice article, Jason.  You hit the nail on the head.

Comment by Recruiting Animal on July 21, 2013 at 5:26pm

If you want to come on The Recruiting Animal Show and discuss this article and other things let me know - See

Comment by Tiffany Branch on July 22, 2013 at 11:50am

All add a sixth and seventh frustration...

#6.....Applicants who apply for everything under the sun and aren't qualified for any of the positions. Those are the same applicants who will call and email multiple times wondering why they haven't been contacted.


#7.....more than qualified candidates who are turned down by a picky hiring manager for no concrete reason. Then the same hiring manager will turn around and make an offer to someone, who came thru a referral and doesn't meet 50% of the qualifications we targeted. Then they say, "well, I know so and so and they're a great guy/gal, so I'll take a chance on this person." Hey, great for the referred applicant, but it sucks for those who were qualified.

Comment by Jason Webster on July 22, 2013 at 11:59am

Thanks for all of the awesome input from everyone. Appreciate you reading!

Comment by JP Sutton on July 23, 2013 at 10:07pm

Interesting article. I do however disagree that Recruiters are managing that many reqs effectively, even on the low end. I also disagree that the bar is too high. Being former HR, most recruiters just suck at recruiting and understanding the positions that are being recruited for. Otherwise I agree.

Comment by Derdiver on July 24, 2013 at 8:56am

I agree with JIm,  Most corporate recruiters just want to get in to HR and do paperwork.  They don't like or want to do recruiting.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on July 24, 2013 at 10:12am
Wow. I must be VERY lucky since the recruiters I've worked with at both corporate gigs love recruiting and hate paperwork. :) I don't know any that want to move to the HR side of things.
Comment by Derdiver on July 24, 2013 at 10:22am

Sadly the larger the company the more I have seen it. I have worked for some great companies but the recruiting was usually subpar, undereducated, overwhelmed. and more interested in on line shopping then picking up the phone. Maybe its a coastal thing. 

Comment by Jason Webster on July 24, 2013 at 11:44am

@Jim & @Derdiver: I have to agree with Amy. I've hired, trained, and lead hundreds of recruiters in my career. I also sat face-to-face with 25+ recruiters as research for this article. I would put these folks closer to salespeople than HR from a skill perspective. We all know how much salespeople like paperwork (me included)...not much. That said, I do know some who transitioned to HR, but most moving out of recruiting head toward sales. I've got multiple first-hand examples of this. I do agree with you guys though that not all recruiters are good at what they do, but you can say that with all professions.

Comment by Will Thomson on July 25, 2013 at 9:48am

I really enjoyed this post Jason.  Thanks!


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