Breaking news, sometimes recruiters are the good guys!

By Adam Burton

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I have been working in recruitment now for almost 9 years and although I enjoy my chosen profession more often than not (this is subject to change) there are certain aspects that still have the ability to reduce me to tears. I am talking about those scenarios that make no sense at all, the ones you explain to all of your colleagues only to be met with blank expressions and general confusion (things experienced often in recruitment), the ones that keep you awake at night, the ones that make you question the very concept of your existence, you get the picture.

The frustrations I talk of can come from two sources and both can be equally as painful. Firstly we have our applicants. Now in my experience if you have a good relationship with an applicant they will, in most cases, not mess you around. This is why building trust with your candidates is imperative especially in the hope of avoiding the spectrum of pitfalls that can happen. This of course is not always possible due to time constraints and other factors and this is when the fun normally starts.

Working with candidates

When a candidate is actively looking for a new position he/she will potentially be working with a handful of agents and will have potentially a handful of interviews arranged. This means that you are in what I like to call the ‘danger zone’ (I am constantly trying inject some excitement into my life so please bear with me). Once you have entered the ‘danger zone’ there is an exciting variety of different scenarios that can occur and unfortunately only one of them is positive.

Candidates, being human (well most of them), will change their minds as often as they change their underwear when it comes to job hunting. They will tell you that your job is their favourite and they won’t accept another position until they speak with you. You finish the call by all parties stating that they will have everything crossed. If you work in the wonderful world of recruitment you will recognise what happens next. You furiously chase your client and beg them to speed up their decision and when you finally get the answer you are looking for, that elusive offer you take to the phone and call up the lucky candidate. Now as I mentioned right at the start I have been in the game for a while and I should know better but when I get an offer all I can see is the commission and the various ways by wife and children will spend it.

So I get the candidate on the phone, normally after calling them every 3 minutes for the past 4 hours and deliver the good news (a perk of a pretty much otherwise thankless job), only to be told that the candidate has accepted another offer but really wants to thank you for doing a great job and when they start to look again they will definitely call you. A lot of candidates don’t realise, or care, how much work you have put in and the fact that them not taking your offer will hurt you, yes I said hurt, obviously I don’t mean physically hurt but each time you get an offer turned down it sucks, I mean really sucks. At this stage, to make matters worse you have to go back to your client and explain that the candidate hasn’t taken the offer you had chased them so hard to get, awkward at best.

Working with clients

Although candidates don’t always play nicely most issues can be tracked back to our beloved clients. The best clients I have had the pleasure to work with over the years know how hard the job of a recruiter is and do their level best to uphold their end of the bargain. They will get back to you quickly with feedback on cv’s, interviews and offers because they know how quickly things change, especially in the digital market. But where there is good, bad, it seems, has to exist and unfortunately that is where most clients live. Now please don’t get me wrong most clients are not recruitment experts and the hiring of staff might make up 10% of their job so we shouldn’t expect miracles but when we pick up a new job most come with the tag ‘urgent fill’ and ‘we need someone to start yesterday’. When we are told this most recruiters will move heaven and earth to get cv’s across in the hope they can help the client keep things moving. Just for the record we are happy to do this, it’s our job, it’s what we get paid to do but if the client doesn’t feedback everything will grind to a halt and this is the time that good candidates disappear of the market, recruited by the clients that act fast.


Now it’s not just timing issues that clients suffer from, they, like candidates are only human and often do things that confuse others, namely lowly recruitment consultants (note the term consultant, more on this on other blogs). We have recently had a client tell us that they can’t take on anyone called Peter as they had 2 already and definitely not Dave as they were at an astonishing 3. Now in essence is this such a bad thing to ask, maybe not, unless of course out of the 3 cv’s that the consultant in question sent across one was called Peter and you guessed it one was called Dave (who knew there were that many Dave’s out there?). The Peter and Dave that had been sent matched the spec perfectly, a good blend of technical skills and industry background that would normally guarantee an interview and to make things worse the client said as much.

Obviously this example was a new one on all of us and although the consultant felt slightly dejected he had to laugh, we all did, a lot, for days but some of the reasons we get from clients for not taking on a candidate can verge of the ridiculous more often than you would expect.

We consistently have the classic, ‘we loved the candidate, they are exactly what we are looking for but feel we need to interview more candidates’, excuse me Mr client could you just run that past me again, for a second there I thought you said they were perfect. Obviously this is ‘earn your money’ stage and you do everything you can to get the client to listen to reason and not lose out the ‘perfect’ candidate. Clients will come to you with feedback like this when. Maybe, they are either not sure what they are looking for or they are not looking at all, both frustrating but just part of the job.

I have lots more stories as do my colleagues, most are funny, some are surprisingly sad and some just confuse the life out of you but I fear this blog is running on a bit already and I am still hoping for a second series. I will of course keep them coming if anyone wants that but for now I will leave you with this: Recruitment is a noble profession and most (well some) of us are trying our best to genuinely help candidates and clients navigate the pitfalls and save them time and energy. We are generally hated and distrusted and seen very much as a necessary evil but that doesn’t stop us being there day in day out and maybe, just maybe actually helping people find a little bit of career happiness.


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