Recruiters: You are in the People Business – Remember That.

An interesting and lively discussion on LinkedIn has prompted a look at what seems to be a fundamental misalignment of recruitment industry policy. Yet, strangely enough, this misalignment covers probably the most vital element of the whole recruitment process, and if stories related during the discussion are any indication to the wider opinion – there is a lot to consider why this vital element is so continually mismanaged.

I, of course, refer to candidates and it is these people who are the most vital element to the recruitment process. It is also the most ready to vent frustration and exasperation about any element of the recruitment process to any who would listen – and with the increased uptake of social media, a quick search for ‘Recruitment Industry complaints’ on Google would return many examples of where the industry has let them down. I will list some of the grievances leveled at recruiters, however I think there is an overall commonality to the numerous complaints  – communication, and specifically the lack thereof.

Whether it be acknowledgment of applications received, keeping them ‘in the loop’ on application progress, or the simple act of returning calls, it seems there is a problem in the way recruiters meet the basic obligations when interacting with candidates.

Before continuing, let’s step back a bit and look at what a candidate is to a recruiter or a recruitment agency – for surely they need to be defined and assessed to measure importance. I was given some salient and vital advice at an early juncture of my recruitment career. Simply put, I was told ‘Today’s candidate is tomorrow’s client’. Now I know I didn’t come up with that axiom, nor was I the first to hear it, so it has been handed around the recruitment industry, seemingly through hundreds or indeed thousands of consultants, yet it still has remained ignored at best and brushed aside at worst. It is by no fluke that phrase has gone around the traps, for it is a vital piece of advice that any recruitment consultant worth their salt will take to heart and make it part of the way they work from day one.

Candidates are one of three crucial elements to a recruitment process, yet they are the most overlooked. At a conference a couple of weeks ago, I was speaking to an agency recruiter – holding a position of some influence – and the conversation turned to candidates and the role they play in the overall recruitment process. ‘Oh, they are really just the bum on the seat we need to get the fee’ was the reaction I got. Gobsmacked, I looked at him with a silent ‘What the?’, before composing myself and replying with ‘That is not a good attitude to candidates’. Response? ‘Well, if they don’t fit, they can be replaced and we can get a double fee. Haw! Haw! Haw!’ Walking away shaking my head, it hit me that this isn’t an isolated view and there are far more than this one person who believes in the ‘bum-on-seat’ mentality that leads to candidate dissatisfaction.

Continue reading