January 24, 2023

Why Working With A Recruiter Feels So Inconsistent


Episode Highlights

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Job seekers: ever wonder why some recruiters are blowing up your phone one minute? Then nowhere to be found the next?

Hiring managers: ever wonder why recruiters are right on the money with some candidates? Then not even close on others?

Yes, some recruiters are just better than others. But what is it that makes some recruiters consistently good and others consistently all over the place? And how do we fix that?

Jeff Smith and James Hornick explain what’s happening (or not happening) behind the scenes in Episode 58 of The 10 Minute Talent Rant, Why Working With A Recruiter Feels So Inconsistent

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick, joined by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in, all of our content can be found at talentinsights.hirewell.com.

This week’s topic, episode 58 “Why working with a recruiter feels so inconsistent.” We actually found something that was broken for episode 58. We come up with 57 concurrent different things, so this is a good one. Yeah. So I guess it’s an understanding thing. So laying this one up, I had a conversation with a woman I’ve known for a long time, great contact of mine.

She’s experienced working with the recruiters, both as a job seeker and as a hiring manager. So she’s happily employed, not looking to urgency, but just wanted to like, “Hey, here’s kind of what I’m seeing and why is this?” I’m like, this is what I love doing because I- I think today also might be a bit of

give context everyone, bit of an explanation kind of thing. But more specifically, so as a job seeker, her experience was recruiters are just inconsistent. Sometimes recruiters are just all over you. They’re constantly following up, they’re constantly hounding you, and then the next week they just kind of disappear.

So it’s either like you hear from them a ton or you hear from them very little. So yes, that could be construed as why ghosting happened, but we’ll get into that. Do you love me or do you hate me? Yeah. The second one was, she’s had worked with recruiters who send just like great resumes and then others who send like one or two great resumes and fill the pipeline with ones that I’m sure they’re great people,

they just don’t fit at all what she was kinda looking to hire for. And she also marked like sometimes it’s the same recruiter, so she just can’t understand why like the incon- like sometimes different firms, which you can get. But when it’s the same recruiter doesn’t always make sense. So the question is why is this? Are these phenomenon related?

And I guess kind of laying this up here, if you want to do some initial kind of backdrop, I think people need to realize. Yeah. So the main thing, and we’ll get back to this at the end, that everyone needs to remember is, it isn’t a recruiter’s job to help people find jobs- it’s to help companies hire either internally or externally.

So the entire reason for being in this is not intrinsically to help job seekers. Of course, that is the auxiliary benefit of the job. It is the altruism of what we do. But you have to look at it as a way of building pipeline for future hires and referrals and things of that nature versus it just being this recruiters being this conduit to finding you a job.

Moreover, just think about it as a pay it forward and good things are going to happen. Time is limited for us, and the hiring inevitably just becomes the priority for the customer. Yeah. I can’t understand enough like there is no- so we don’t kind of cut ourselves off the knees here, there is no better way to be better at your job than helping people.

If you’re an agency recruiter, there’s no better way to get new sales, new clients than just helping people out because they’ll remember you in the future. If you’re an internal recruiter, there’s no better way to build your pipeline, to get more referrals, do your job better than by helping people wherever way you can.

But it is an important distinction. The second thing about this that people don’t understand is like jobs are limited even in great markets. And when I say jobs, we mean job openings that one recruiter is working on. It’d be a recruiter’s dream to be able to place every single person they talk to.

They’d love it. It’d be their greatest job ever. Everyone would be a recruiter. Yeah. But for the majority of people that contact you when you’re a recruiter, you can’t help them. You do not have a job that actually fits them, at least at this exact moment. And that’s also a kind of important thing to understand too, is like agency recruiters have a finite look.

They get pulled in when their clients have really hard things that they can’t fill. They don’t get pulled in on everything. They don’t get pulled in on every single requirement that all their clients have. They get pulled in on the super hard stuff. Internal recruiters, they only work with their one company.

They don’t have access to the full view of the market. It’s just math. When you’re like expecting one recruiter, they don’t have a magic wand where they can actually help someone out all the time. Off of that, I’ve had multiple instances where I’ll be working with a client and a candidate who I speak to says, “Oh, I’ve got a friend.

I looked on the job board. That could be a perfect fit for that.” The customer didn’t come to me for that job. And I think it’s important that you remember that in the back of your mind. So think of it this way- and I get it, Amazon exists. You’re not going to the same sort of store to get a microscope mirror and a hacksaw and an antique toy,

so. Yeah. You know, I get it. Amazon exists. Most recruiters like you said, are working on two to three jobs and that’s a good firm. So the pool of candidates that are applicable to those jobs is incredibly narrow in the grand scheme of things. Yeah. Moving on to some other points, and this will all come together.

The technology recruiters use is an absolute pile. It’s terrible. And I can say this from the standpoint- we’ve talked about this before, but my perspective was even broadened more recently. We’re launching a new website soon. From a marketing stack perspective, we’re upgrading what we’re doing. We’re getting HubSpot and just learning about how it can segment and automate features, common CRM stuff that, and people have to realize that, like CRMs and ATS, that ultimately, like they’re the same thing. But ones for sales and marketing and ones for recruiting.

The ones really good and well, the one sucks and that’s inevitable. The granularity of what you can do in HubSpot for sales and marketing and create automations like, I don’t mean annoying drip campaigns when you get bombarded, but simple things in terms of just reminding your team that it’s been three days since they talked to someone or something’s stuck in a certain stage, or you’ve gone too long without following up with someone.

It can remind you that. That’s why salespeople are so much better and account managers and customer success leads are so much better than the stuff from the recruiters because they have technology they can like help them do these things at scale. On the other side of it, like we use Bullhorn which is like the biggest agency ATS system.

They have one, like a massive upcharge- like that stuff’s just included in like out of the box in HubSpot. Bullhorn it’s like a- Bullhorn, sorry. We’re not trying to slide you off. We’re just, you know. It’s a massive upcharge. Not to mention most of the ATS don’t even have that as an upcharge. Not to mention most ATS systems that might have these features,

you actually have to have someone with some level of expertise to actually configure it and create it for your team. Expecting a salesperson to set up their own HubSpot, it’s not going to work. Even if you have a good ATS system, expecting a recruiter to do it by themselves

it’s also just crazy. People don’t understand that you can’t just remember to follow up with a hundred people or a thousand people. Like it’s impossible. You have to have systems that enable that. Sales and marketing teams have this. Recruiters, no offense, not as tech savvy. They don’t. They don’t have the tech, they wouldn’t have the support to do it anyway.

When you’re a candidate, you see things as a one-to-one relationship. Like I’m talking to this recruiter, they’re the one person I know, they’re going to remember me. Recruiters, they’re dealing with one to a thousand. And they all wish they could remember to do all this stuff like on the back of their head.

It’s just physically not possible without having technology to remind them. And I’m telling you, recruitment technology is garbage. Yep. Yeah. The human brain can’t handle that amount of information. Yeah. It segways into, I mean, sometimes we’re just really shitty at setting expectations. Yeah. “Here’s the recruiter’s cell phone, here’s where we can take it on the chin.”

Yeah. Some, maybe most would argue, most of us are junior. Not us. Not us gray beards. But some hate giving bad news. It’s a bad news industry a lot of the time. There’s a lot of no’s. Frankly, some of us are just pressured by legacy agencies to hit absurdly ridiculous sales and call and metrics targets.

On the flip side, there’s candidates out there and job seekers who also have unrealistic expectations. Maybe not, out no fault of their own, but what they expect of what a recruiter will do for them. So I think there’s a lot of recruiters, namely the junior ones, who who aren’t able to reset those expectations.

And it’s just kind of another unfortunate situation of our industry not being able to develop talent. I mean, we just have absurdly high attrition. I think that- not to cut you off. This relates back to those first two pieces we talked about, but I also wanted to just interject real quick. A lot of junior recruiters are straight up intimidated by their candidates they’re recruiting. Yes. Because you might be two years out of school and you’re talking to someone who’s 15 years out of school and you just think they know more than you when really you’re on a level playing field and you feel pressured to try to impress them and not let them down, which is the opposite of what you should do.

But when you’re more junior in your career, like you don’t know the difference. But anyways. Yeah. And you’re like a 26 year old up and comer. You’re trying to talk, you’re trying to develop these relationships with directors, SVPs. Of course you’re going to try and keep them on the hook. The next point I was going to make is giving false sense of hope

and that happens. Like assuming a recruiter is always going to give you something that’s a great fit at the moment is not a good strategy. Just full stop. You’re going to know if there’s a good role from a recruiter, I promise you. And I think that part and parcel with what you just said is exactly the reason why expectations get rolling and the end result is a big kinda

deflating poo poo platter. Look, at the end of the day, we work on commissions. It is what it is. If you’re not a fit for something that’s immediate value, the nature of capitalism is going to push it aside. It sucks. I think if conversely, if you’re a passive candidate and you’re completely overwhelmed because of that capitalism, that also sucks.

We touched on why this is a problem in contingency. It’s the driver behind all of this. It’s what we touched on our last episode. And until recruiting becomes less about the transaction, we’re going to have these unfortunate results.

What’s the next one? Yeah. I wanted to- I’m going to circle back to what we talked on the last episode again, SLAs. And this is something we had never talked about previously, and we’re going to do it kind of two weeks in a row. It’s important to realize this too. They’re silly, oftentimes silly, and have no basis in reality.

Like on the hiring side, if you’re- the idea of setting metrics for submissions and time to fills and ratios and all this kind of stuff, it sounds amazing. Problem is, is that they vary immensely from one skillset to the next. Hiring requirements vary immensely from one skillset to the next.

The amount of candidates you need to fill a head of sales role versus 10 SDR roles, very different. Right. Amount of candidates it takes to require- even if you’re, we’ll take it to technology where things are harder. You might think it’s more parody, but what if you’re recruiting for .NET developers? Versus do you even know what a N4M3 developer is?

Probably not. No. No. If you’ve- it’s so niche. If you’ve never actually recruited in manufacturing in technology before, you probably have no idea what that is. And I’m telling you, the amount of candidates you need for one versus the other, extremely different. The problem is like, whether it’s client expectations or internal agency playbooks meaning like “Have to hit these numbers to succeed”

they all tend to be uniform. Everyone tends to use the same metrics no matter how vastly different these skillsets are. So it ends up like, SLAs they shouldn’t be one size fits all. Each industry, each level, each position, they should all have different ratios and whatnot. Without that, if you are doing one size fits all, that’s where “cover your ass behavior” comes in.

That’s where numbers get fudged. That’s when people start like slinging submissions to clients that don’t really fit the role because they feel the pressure to hit a certain, like your submission quota, fillers and stuff like that. That carries down to the candidate level, people talking to you about roles that don’t really fit what you do because they feel the same pressure. Anyways, quality of our quantity should be the focus, but the bogus SLAs that we get held to or we hold ourselves to, depending on what the setup is, drives a lot of this. Totally. One of the main causes of the inconsistency.

So, yeah. We’ll treat this as the too long, didn’t read of the entire episode. But what’s one of your takeaways, James? Candidates, we want to help you, but we work for companies. Again, any great recruiter will do whatever they can to assist you and I sincerely mean that because they know paying it forward’s going to help them mentally, one year, three years, five years, 10 years down the road.

But a lot of recruiters are short-term thinkers. So you’re going to run into that. Number two, I promise not every hiccup or bad experience that you have with us makes us an asshole. We really are trying to fight the good fight and there’s just a lot of things that we’ve already touched on in this episode that make it pretty difficult for us.

All right. We’re way over. I don’t care, it was fun today. Who cares? Yeah. Yeah. We’re short on clock. That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks for tuning in The 10 Minute Talent Rant, part of the Talent Insight series, which is always available for replay on talentinsights.hirewell.com as well as YouTube, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and Amazon.

Jeff, thanks again as always. Everyone out there, see you soon.

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