Recruiters Suck…at Communication

COMMUNICATION IS KEY!

I network. A LOT. I’m out there speaking in front of in-transition groups all the time. And the one thing I hear repeatedly is that “recruiters suck.” All of us. Job seekers have lumped us together, our direct_communication_marketingreputations forever tarnished by the few. Or, is it the many? I’m not sure how many recruiters suck. I don’t have the statistics. But, when I get replies like this, in response to a simple two-line “standard” e-mail explaining that my client has filled the job, it really makes me wonder.

Dear Jennifer,

I just want to thank you very much for taking the time to send me a response, regardless of the outcome.  It’s unfortunate that the position is filled; however your response is above and beyond and is much appreciated with so many candidates in the market.

I hope we can work together on future opportunities.

We expect, rather, we demand communication from our candidates. If they don’t follow up with us on the status of their interview, if they don’t send a thank-you note, if they don’t communicate in the exact way we think they should, we blast them, or worse, remove them from consideration for our positions. If they communicate poorly, we may even blacklist them. But, do we treat them the way we expect them to treat us and/or our clients?

I am a recruiter. I have been a recruiter since 1993. I’ve worked for non-profits, corporations, and agencies. I think I have a pretty strong background in this industry. On the flip side, I’ve also been a job seeker. You know what happened when I sent my resume to other recruiters for review and consideration? I’m sure you can guess. And I can tell you how many (and which) of those recruiters sucked.

If you throw e-mail into this poor communication/lack of communication mix, well, then you’re opening Pandora’s Box! People still write e-mails using all CAPS, don’t spell check, don’t consider tone or possible perception…the list of blunders is endless.

I recently encountered a woman who is building an entire business, and a successful one at that, around teaching executives how to communicate via e-mail. The written word has a lot of power, and that power is often abused. People, even very professional people, frequently forget to think before they speak, or more unforgiving, think before they write and hit Send. So, possibly, the only thing worse than no response, is an inappropriate one.

Just today I had a conversation with a colleague about the potential impact of a negative e-mail communication. Can you defend it in court? Do you want to? No? Then don’t put it in writing. We know this. We say it to our clients. And, yet, sometimes we still forget. But, much like Pandora discovered, there is hope at the bottom of that box.

The hope is in our remembering effective communication. We need to communicate constantly and consistently. And NOT just on Twitter and Facebook. We need to at least attempt to create shared understanding. Our candidates deserve to understand why they’re not a fit for the job. They deserve to understand what they might do to differentiate themselves in this job market. They deserve to be told if their resumes don’t do them justice, or if they’re reaching for the wrong opportunities. They deserve candor, honesty, and—most of all—communication.

As a group, we don’t suck. We know right from wrong. We know how to be ethical and practice integrity in our profession. We know how to treat our prospects, our candidates, and our clients. We know how to treat each other.

Our reputations are all we have in a market where ANYONE can be a recruiter. Cost of entry is low, job seekers are plentiful, and it seems that everyone is an expert. People who have never used a resume to initiate a hiring decision are writing resumes. People who have never used social media to find a candidate are teaching job seekers how to use social media to find a job. And, it seems that if you once had to LOOK for a job, it means you’re qualified to help others find jobs.

While it may be these people giving the rest of us this bad name, how could a job seeker know that up front? So we need to work even harder to be sure we’re doing the right thing. Those who follow me know me for offering quotes as advice to job seekers. So, my quote for this post, “DO UNTO OTHERS!”

And let’s get it done!

About Jennifer

profile20photo_1_2_1 Jennifer is a talent acquisition strategist and career coach with over 16 years of recruiting experience and a passion for networking and social media marketing. As a strategist she creates innovative recruitment processes which support the ever-evolving needs of her clients, and acts as a trusted consultant to help them achieve their recruitment and retention goals. She has proven success in sourcing across multiple functions at any level in an organization, developing a consistent candidate pipeline, creating a positive candidate experience, and increasing employee engagement through inspiring orientation and onboarding programs.


As a coach Jennifer offers tactical approaches to the job search process in all of her one-to-one sessions and workshops. With the ability to reverse-engineer the recruiting process for those in transition, she inspires people to take action in their career campaign.
As a dynamic and energetic speaker and new media marketing consultant, she can show you how to best position yourself and your business in this market using tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

In addition to continuously building her recruitment consulting practice, Jennifer is a Career Coach in partnership with Hire Aspirations, the Strategic Partnership Advisor and Networking Leader of Whine and Dine LLC, a social networking group for HR professionals, and a member of the Program Committee for the Southern Connecticut chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Jennifer is also the moderator for CT-Moms, the largest and most active networking group for mothers in Fairfield County, CT.

Jennifer welcomes the opportunity to become part of your network of professionals and is available for consulting engagements throughout the NY Metro area.

To follow me on Twitter, click here: http://twitter.com/HireEffect

To view my LinkedIn profile, click here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferscott

To view my Facebook profile, click here: http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.pashkin.scott

To view the Facebook Fan Page for HireEffect, click here: http://companies.to/hireeffect/

To visit the website for HireEffect LLC, click here: http://www.HireEffect.com



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  • Anonymous

    This is the first time I’ve read such an honest review of the candidate’s experience from a recruiter. Thank you.

    For the sake of your readers, I’d like to be clear that I don’t know you so my reply is not specific to you or your skills. You make this point… “We know right from wrong. We know how to be ethical and practice integrity in our profession. We know how to treat our prospects, our candidates, and our clients. We know how to treat each other.” Of course, recruiters are people like anyone else after all, with spouses, kids, lives. But somewhere along the way, they seem to have decided not to apply what they “know” with candidates and have almost universally won the loathing of the masses. Why this is I don’t know, yet the fact that you are compelled to defend the character of the recruiter suggests an ugly truth about how little respect they may actually have for candidates.

    I’ve had my fair share of experience with recruiters – I suppose as much as the next person with both great and bad outcomes and I’m not opposed to working with a recruiter in the future. However, I don’t understand what drivers compel their overall poor behavior towards candidates, and generally, I find them to be among the least ethical and among the most closed-minded of brokers (present company excepted, of course).

  • Thanks for the comment. As a recruiter, I certainly don’t think all recruiters suck. I do, however, feel for the many jobseekers I encounter regularly, myself included at one point, who have felt the “cold shoulder” of a very busy recruiter. The truth is, most of us do try to respond, and things do slip through the cracks, even for those of us with the best of intentions. I’m sorry for all of us that people feel some recruiters are “among the least ethical and among the most closed-minded of brokers”. And, I know you’re not the only one who feels that way. It is unfortunate, and actually makes me angry, as I know the valuable service we provide. So, if you have a responsive and caring recruiter, keep them close! They are worth their weight in gold!

    Jennifer Scott
    http://www.hireeffect.com

  • Great post. Too frequently recruiters focus on the placement and not the experience the other parties involved are having!

    Great Job!

  • Hi guys

    I’ll declare interest in this – I’ve been a recruiter since the 1980s, now I’m Neil Bolton, Recruitment Software / Recruitment Database vendor. (But I’m still a recruiter at heart – I’m passionate about it.)

    Once upon a time, way, way back (like ten years ago or so) a recruiter had the time to do a quality job. We would advertise, maybe get ten responses, go through each response in detail and find the very best, probably calling every candidate and chatting to each one about themselves, their prospects, giving advice on job-hunting or resume writing – whatever.

    Now we advertise, get three hundred responses, and simply CANNOT do a quality job. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, so let’s scale it back a little. If we’re now getting double the number of applications, and there’s still only 24 hours in the day, is there any way we can give the candidates the attention they deserve?

    There’s no-one to blame. It’s the way of the world. And guess what, guys: It’s going to get much, much worse. More people are getting on the net, worldwide. “The World Is Flat” – and getting flatter.

    Now a recruiter gets 200 applications and they no longer go through them all – they cannot. They read (skim) the first 20 or 30 or 50 until they find someone who will do – and the rest get an auto-response. Maybe.

    So the candidates realise that it’s not just about quality and suitability – it’s also a lottery. So they buy more tickets in the lottery – they submit many applications, as it’s the only way to survive.

    What’s the answer? (Here’s the advertisemment.) Eliminate as much of the process as you can, automate as much of the remaining process as possible, and that leaves you with the high-value, high-touch stuff that candidates deserve – and that recruiters love. That’s what we’ve built our system on. (End advertisement.)

    Recruiter job satisfaction is also a huge problem. Recruiters – particularly the really good ones – geniunely feel for their candidates, and the really really want to do a good job. Their job satisfaction is dropping because they can’t help but drop the ball – and they hate themselves for it.

    There’s another solution, and for anyone who has read The World Is Flat it’s obvious: Offshore the low-touch process. (If you haven’t read the book listen to the free podcast – just google “Tom Friedman The World Is Flat Podcast”.)

    One of our Canadian clients created and offshore candidate care group about five years ago in India. Because he did it himself it took quite a bit of effort. Now you can find organisations who are set up to do it and are doing it for many, many companies right now. Try http://www.imsempresaria.com – and no, we don’t get commission on this.

    Is it a good thing to get called by an offshore person? Maybe not as good as getting called by the recruiter, but a hell of a lot better than getting nothing.

    If we as an industry want to regain some of our reputation we have to fix this.

    Re the problem getting worse: Read http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2007/02/25/a_glimpse_and_a_hook.html

    Rands tells how he skims resumes. Almost universally the comments were negative, but one stuck out for me – one girl’s way of fixing the problem was to send 571 job applications, for which she only got one interview. Getting the picture?

    Ideas on fixing this will be welcomed!

    And guys, you only have to do two things, really:

    Take A Complete Job Order, Every Time, and

    Keep The Candidates Informed.

    Do that and everything else will fall into place.

    Neil

  • MaureenBWest

    Hello Jennifer,

    I've been doing recruiting and sourcing for a very long time and I love
    working with people and I am very technology savvy.

    That being said, far too many of my recruiting associates
    and HR managers simply hate the “people” part of the job, don't care about applicants,
    insult and mistreat job seekers constantly, and can be downright bullies.

    So, the “recruiters suck” comment is really very valid. Many HR folks are not suited to
    be recruiters and shouldn't be in the HR field at all no matter how much training, education,
    or smarts they have.

    I think some recruiters get a certain joy out of hurting job seekers. I've never been able to
    understand that. It must come from a sadistic streak that attracts them to HR and recruiting.

    I really feel for job seekers and when I don't have a job for them, I at least try to advise them
    and give them additional support, tools and sources to look for work.

  • MaureenBWest

    Hello Jennifer,

    I've been doing recruiting and sourcing for a very long time and I love
    working with people and I am very technology savvy.

    That being said, far too many of my recruiting associates
    and HR managers simply hate the “people” part of the job, don't care about applicants,
    insult and mistreat job seekers constantly, and can be downright bullies.

    So, the “recruiters suck” comment is really very valid. Many HR folks are not suited to
    be recruiters and shouldn't be in the HR field at all no matter how much training, education,
    or smarts they have.

    I think some recruiters get a certain joy out of hurting job seekers. I've never been able to
    understand that. It must come from a sadistic streak that attracts them to HR and recruiting.

    I really feel for job seekers and when I don't have a job for them, I at least try to advise them
    and give them additional support, tools and sources to look for work.

  • scidev

    I join the crowd that is VERY cynical about recruiters. Unfortunately i have had the worst of the lot of them and i am done playing the game so i approach the client company directly and cut out the middle man. Listen what needs to be understood by recruiters is that a persons career is important to them and that should be considered when communicating with a candidate. it is more than just a rate to them and recruiters dont understand this. In many of my dealings with them the recruiting agency was the pimp and the candidate was just a pawn to be used. in my town where i live all the recruiters network together and they can blacklist or prop up candidates who did and did not want to play their game and many of the client companies were dysfunctional consultant revolving doors that people would not want to work at anyways. So after dealing with these types you feel that yes most recruiters are like this and eventually become sour to them, My solution is this candidates should be more than just a rate. Console them, counself them about their career, treat them like people and not a commodity you will garner alot more respect that way.

  • Justanothergirl83

    I detest recruiters, and will never work with a recruiter or agency again! I know not ALL recruiters are unprofessional, it’s just been my personal experience. I’ve had to deal with being ignored once the company I interviewed with decided to close the position (and that’s just ONE example of many). I guess since I wasn’t going to make them any money, they didn’t have time for me anymore. I’ve given it a fair try and I’d say and each time I’ve been let down. NEVER AGAIN. Total waste of my time, I’m better off on my own.

  • It’s very important that those who want to become a recruitment office they mus become efficient in communication skills. It’s so awful if the interviewee is so good in English while the recruiter is so bad in it.

  • Vinod Raj

    Most sensible topics to discuss… Great!

    As a Recruiter, I feel it is important to respect and understand the candidates concerns too. If you treat them friendly and know their skills keep them in touch or support if you can. They will start to feel like they know you as a friend and keep referring. It happens to me very often… That’s my Productivity.

    ” Referral is better than funeral”

    Vinod Raj
    Symbioun

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