Why don’t people like recruiters and why do we do what we do?

The new year is here and as ever, many people are feeling that little niggle in the back of their mind to start considering a career move. It’s also the busiest time of year for us recruiters and as such we’re pretty active on LinkedIn, so you’ll probably soon be receiving countless messages from a variety of recruitment agencies, promising you the best job opportunity you’ve ever seen.

As in any industry, there are recruiters who are ethical, thorough and transparent in the way they work (we like to think we’re one of those!) and those that are less so. Now, we really don’t want to talk negatively about our fellow recruiters, but there are a few things that us recruiters do (that can get on your nerves) that I thought might be worth explaining, and a few things that as a candidate you should keep an eye out for, to make sure you’re working with one of the good ones.

Just tell me who the agency are!

If I got a penny for every time I received a message from a potential candidate asking me to disclose the name of the agency ahead of a conversation, I would be rich. We know it’s annoying that we’re only able to give you hazy details initially, we really would love to give you more, but unfortunately we can’t just broadcast our clients names about. Some of our clients ask us to keep their names confidential before speaking to a candidate and otherwise, we need to protect ourselves in some manner, as candidates could very easily approach our clients directly. We know that the majority of people we work with wouldn’t do this, but understandably we do have to be careful.

Why do you need to speak to me on the phone?

Now PR isn’t too bad for this one – as you’re a chatty lot, but we know you’re super busy and sometimes just don’t have time for a call. The call is for your benefit as much as ours. There’s only so much one can garner from a LinkedIn profile and without a quick conversation to understand what you’re really looking for (rather than just a 50k AD role), we would just be throwing the proverbial at you and hoping it sticks. Honestly, we don’t want to waste your time and if you’re looking for something outside our remit, we will tell you immediately.

In my experience, the recruiters who don’t want to speak to you on the phone tend to be the most cowboy-ish. They’re not really concerned about who you are or what you want, you’re a number on a board and a £ sign in their eyes, not a person.

P.S. This is actually my fave part of the job – I genuinely enjoy getting to know what you like and dislike about your job and the more I know about you the more likely I’m going to be able to send you something decent!

Why do you need my media contacts?

I’m fairly sure that not every recruiter asks for your media contacts, but we do. We honestly find it helps us give our clients an overview of your media prowess and a picture of where you would thrive. We would never ask for the journalist’s names, it’s just to give a snapshot to our client – that’s it!

Why don’t you have job specs?

I know it must seem suspicious when we don’t share a job spec, but honestly our clients are usually way too busy to put them together and the one you’re receiving is likely to be generic and not dissimilar to the 20 other ones you’ve looked at.

The main difference between two jobs, in my opinion, is the client base, the culture and the attitude of the agency itself – e.g. is it entrepreneurial or corporate, quiet or buzzy, what’s the boss like? All of which you are more likely to glean from their website (or us – hence the phone call!) than a job spec that was written in 2015 and has had “influencer relations” added to it as an after thought.

That being said, some people write excellent job specs and of course we share them when we can, but it does tend to be the exception.

Sometimes we think it’s worth approaching a selection of our clients on a more speculative basis. This effectively means that they aren’t actively hiring for a role at your level, but we think your experience might wow them enough into wanting to meet for a coffee. In this situation, obviously there’s no job spec, but any good recruiter will be open and honest about whether it’s a live role or a spec approach.

Why do you need to speak to me on the phone AGAIN?

Another frustration with some of our candidates is the amount we want to speak to them on the phone. Before an interview, after an interview, when they receive an offer, then the day after, and the day after that etc.

Look – we know we’re a bit of a pain in the bum sometimes, but again, this is for your benefit & our clients, as much as it is for ours!

We want to keep you updated for one thing, and also our client on the other end, so it’s good to hear how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking throughout the process. I also think it’s pretty insensitive to give candidates bad news via email. It should be a discussion and an opportunity to take the feedback constructively. We’re also pretty good shoulders when it comes down to it.

A pet peeve of mine is when recruiters leave people hanging for days and then give the standard “I’m afraid they’re just looking for someone with a bit more experience” line. Generally I think you lot want to hear it straight, so that’s what we aim to do as much as we can.

General gripes

Understandably there are a few other things that really get on people’s nerves which require much less explanation, but perhaps an apology from myself on recruiters’ behalf.

1. Fastest finger first approach – ever had a recruiter email you telling you that you’ve got an interview at so and so agency, but you’ve never actually spoken to them about the job or told them it’s ok to send your CV? Yep it happens. My advice would be to work with a recruiter who listens to what you want and would never send your CV anywhere without your permission. If this does ever happen, you can easily tell a recruiter that you’re no longer working with them and legally they cannot represent you.

2. The hard sell – ok, so we’re all sales people right? Even you PRs are! But there’s no need to push someone into something they’re not interested in. It’ll only blow up in your face. Learn to say no, it works eventually!

3. Miss-selling opportunities – I remember working with a consumer AD once who was interviewing at a client of mine through another recruiter, for a B2B technology job. I was surprised when she told me she was interviewing there and asked if she knew what they did. She said she was surprised too but wanted to go to the interview to see what it was all about. The interview lasted 15 minutes because she obviously didn’t have the skills they were after. Again, it’s pointless – perhaps it’s a numbers thing, recruiters getting their interview numbers up in order to hit targets – but again, it’ll blow up in your face and affect relationships left, right and centre.

There’s probably loads more, but I hope that’s been slightly educational! We do our best to make the process as smooth and as easy as possible for all parties and avoid the general recruiter faux-pas. Generally I’d like to think we do a good job! After all we’re all human beings here, let’s act like it!