We all know recruiters get a bad rap. And sure, there's no denying that candidates will occasionally have a negative experience with a recruiter, but more often than not, the criticism we get is down to a simple lack of understanding about what it is we actually do.
Recruitment is a tough and incredibly demanding job, so hearing the same misconceptions being thrown around time and again gets me riled up to say the least!
Here are some of the most common misconceptions people have about recruiters, debunked:
Misconception #1: We only care about filling the role
Of course it’s true that filling the role is important to us (otherwise, we don’t get paid) but the idea that this all we care about is a total misconception. That’s like saying a restaurant owner doesn’t care about providing a good meal to customers, and only cares about the bill getting paid at the end of the night.
In the same way the restaurant owner needs to impress diners from the minute they walk through the door till when they leave, it’s in our interest to think more long-term about making a right-fit placement so candidates and clients will want to work with us again.
From the moment we take a job brief from a client, the hiring process takes on average 8 weeks: By the time we source, perform recruiter interviews, facilitate client interviews, manage an offer, wait out the candidate notice period and finally make the placement - all this work is done before we receive any fee.
And sometimes we won’t even get paid after all that! For example, if the candidate isn’t a right fit and leaves after the first week, or if we’re working on a retainer we won’t receive final payment unless the candidate is still there 3 months later.
As with any business, managing the hiring process effectively is what brings us future business, so we care about the bigger picture.
Misconception #2: We don’t care about building long-term relationships
Recruitment is all about building and nurturing strong relationships, so this is complete nonsense!
Candidates will move on to a new job on average every three years, and recruiters rely heavily on keeping up a good reputation to get recurring work (and make no mistake – candidates talk!). So why would we not care about building lasting relationships with our candidates?
The effect of placing a candidate in the wrong role for a quick fee can be recruitment suicide for a consultant. Contrary to popular belief, candidate experience - both before and after placement - is important to us. The first time a candidate says thank you for placing them in a dream job and changing their life is the most rewarding experience a recruiter goes through in this tough and demanding job.
Misconception #3: We only do half a job
Try saying that to someone with bags under their eyes, still sat behind their desk making calls at 9pm and handling admin over the weekends.
Most agency recruiters are expected to juggle business development to pull in new clients, sourcing, engaging and recruiting candidates, plus admin and a bit of marketing job ads thrown in too. Wouldn’t call that ‘half a job’!
Anyone who says this from experience of working with recruiters couldn’t have been speaking to a recruiter that does half a job because recruiters who do half a job don’t have a job past a few weeks. Simple as that.
Misconception #4: We’re terrible at giving feedback
It confuses me when I hear people say that recruiters only give back feedback when they’re gaining something from it – are we not always gaining something from it? Our success is entirely based on building professional rapport with candidates, so ghosting candidates is not something that will ever work in our favour.
We know the importance of providing feedback – whether it’s good news or bad – and any half-decent recruiter knows that if they don’t keep in touch with a candidate throughout the whole process (even when they don’t even have anything to report), the opportunity placing you in the future will be slim to none.
Misconception #5: We have no impact on hiring decisions
We may 'just' be the middle man, but if a recruiter has a trusting relationship with the hiring manager, their opinion will be valued and it will be taken on board.
So that initial phone conversation candidates have with recruiters, and that recruiter interview ‘that isn’t really an interview’ really do matter. Hiring managers sit on the fence regarding starting a new candidate a lot more than people think, and it’s our industry expertise that pushes them over the line, one way or the other.
To suggest we have no impact on whether a candidate gets hired is ridiculous!
Misconception #6: We don’t really understand the roles we’re recruiting for
Of all the misconceptions in this list, this is the one that gets my back up the most. Any good recruiter knows their niche inside out, and this includes things that the candidate or hiring managers don’t even know themselves!
Understanding the role is vital to finding the right talent for our clients – otherwise, we couldn’t deliver. We’re taught very early on that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, so listening to and understanding a client’s needs before we set out to fill a role is without a doubt the most important part of the recruitment process.
What’s the misconception about recruiters that annoys you the most? Feel free to share in the comments box below, and the next time you hear or see someone bad mouthing recruiters, you know where to send them!
Alan is the Associate Director of Growth at Firefish. An agency recruiter in a former life, he loves helping recruiters find ways to recruit smarter.