About a year ago, one of my colleagues here wrote an article about the increased level of resentment against recruiters called “Why the hate toward recruiters?” It documented a rising tide of anti-recruiter sentiment as told by not only the haters, but recruiters themselves.

The piece most definitely struck a nerve, and in the last year, readers from all across the recruitment spectrum have written to weigh in on the matter. The largest percentage vented their own frustrations, but some wrote in defense of recruiters and one recruiter even laid out a detailed and impressive list of counterpoints.

Certainly, there were some extremely unflattering descriptions of recruiters, like Stephen Wallace’s “blood sucking commission-hungry harpies who have polluted what was once a respected profession.” He wrote:

"I earned my consultant job title by consulting, not selling souls and I sincerely hope that when the market completely declines (it has started already through the sheer greed) ALL recruitment ‘consultants’ will realise the damage they have done and hang their heads in shame. God help anyone who has that job title on their CV."

Another writer expressed frustration at how recruiters “flood the job sites” with postings. Yet another laid out these three basic complaints: "1) they never, ever, ever return calls or emails; 2) they don’t read your resume and send you some form to fill out; 3) they aren’t honest with you. Hey, tell me if you don’t want to submit me because I’m one of the 15 million unemployed in 2010!"

In the midst of this sea of anti-recruiter comments was one writer identified as Kevin, a recruiter who called all the hate “unenlightened” and set down the case for the defense in 10 points. It’s worth reading in its entirety, whether or not you agree with his arguments, because it’s not just a rebuttal, but actually quite a revealing insight into the mechanics of how a recruiter goes about doing his or her job from day to day. Some of the key points, in no particular order:

  • If you send in a resume and nobody reaches you, it’s because there’s nothing in your skill set that they can use. Recruiters do not owe every incoming resume a phone call.
  • If recruiters don’t call you back immediately, it’s because they have literally hundreds of calls to field in a given day, as well as fully-dedicated interview and job fair days.
  • Anyone who says that recruiters get “fat commissions” has no idea what they’re talking about. Recruiters don’t make much money… I made better commissions selling TV’s.
  • Your Recruiter wants to find you a job, period. They want to find you a good job, too, because their commissions are partially based on length of time you spend there.
  • We have no power to deviate from the criteria set forth by employers. If you don’t meet those criteria, we get in trouble for submitting you. If an employer says, for example, “Minimum 5 years automotive CAD,” and you only have 3 years, too bad. It’s still not 5 years.
  • Unemployment is at 10%...That means that recruiters are dealing with 2.5 times more applicants. It also means that employers are getting pickier and pickier about who they’ll hire.

The message, in a nutshell, is “you may not like how recruitment works, but it’s not the recruiter’s fault.”

Still, the hate toward recruiters has continued unabated since that original artice on this blog, maybe even gotten worse. One spot that provides a remarkable glimpse into just how extreme this negativity has gotten is the mammoth “Whirlpool” forums at whirlpool.net.au. One topic from earlier this month is “Do recruiters have a secret spy network?” (Not a joke, by the way, but a serious question). Other topics include “Are recruiters worthless?” and “Am I screwed dealing with recruiters?”

One interesting aspect of the ongoing recruitment controversy was addressed by one blogger who goes by “Recruitment Dad”: the animosity between HR and recruiters. In “The Real Reason HR Hate Recruiters…Finally,” he quotes what he says one HR director told him:

"The problem with recruitment consultants is they are too focused on placing their candidate and don’t do enough listening. As soon as they are given an instruction to recruit they are off talking directly to the line managers behind our backs and pushing them to interview their candidates, take their CVs, creating urgency to make decisions and pushing to ensure that “their candidate” gets the job."

The consequences of recruiters’ angling, Recruitment Dad was told, can be severe:

"Once a recruiter cuts H.R. out of that loop it causes us issues. When, god forbid, a new hire is made who turns out to be unsavoury, there is one place the directors turn to blame. H.R. “Who recruited this person? How did they get into our business?” Imagine what would happen if the H.R. team did not know the answers…It could cost them their job or at the very least their professional reputation. That is why we don’t trust you. That is why you are disliked."

In response, one HR staffer piled on after the article was posted, adding that “Many agency recruiters ignore specifications and try to slam a candidate into place to collect their fees, “Many agencies don’t do what they say they’ll do; for example, make good reference checks” and “agencies modify resumes to fit jobs.” He concluded:

"Face it, you guys do get in our way. Many times, you create more work and more stress for us. My efforts have the best interests of my company at heart. Everything you do is designed to increase your fee."

Whether or not it’s fair, it’s obvious that the hate toward recruiters isn’t going away anytime soon.

15 December 2010

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