Forget Candidate Experience. What About Recruiter Experience?

MSDFADO EC034I hear lots about candidate experience.  There are even fab awards to help us stay focussed on this often under-invested area. (Congrats to the recent winners of the UK awards, by the way.)

I have been recruiting recently for a project manager and a trainer.  And what a totally frustrating experience!  We often hear horror stories about recruiters doing a Falling Down Michael Douglas style, going “off reservation” and losing their minds via LinkedIn, Twitter, email, phone etc…

These little rants go viral and before we know it MDs of recruitment firms are having to put down their whiteboard pens and help mitigate PR disasters. Watching the progress of the CandEs coupled with doing my own recruitment has got me thinking about the recruiter experience.

What About Recruiter Experience?

I was speaking to a seasoned (mature) recruiter the other day.  One who has run a few firms and owned/sold a very successful one – he admitted that whenever he told people what he did, he would have to justify himself and almost market the role to those in the room.  The role of the recruiter is much maligned and often misunderstood – and often by recruiters themselves!

This blog is dedicated to the recruiters out there who have high pressure roles, smaller margins than ever before, candidates wasting recruiter time with poor or inappropriate applications, so much technology that they barely have time to make a call before another electronic alert or a blog claiming to show them the latest “cool tool” distracts them….

8 Things Candidates Do To Ruin the Recruiter Experience

Here are 8 things that I believe are totally ruining the recruiter experience, and things which I feel every recruiter needs to be cut a little slack for.

This has been my own experience with ONE advert – bless the recruiter who has to deal with this every day of their lives…

So here’s to the recruiter who has to deal with the following every minute of every day: 

  1. Candidates who have not read the advert but can now apply due to the “fabulous” mobile world we now live in (ie. candidates in their pyjamas watching TV and click “buy” on a job.)
  2. Candidates who claim that they are applying because they want to change direction.  When did the recruitment industry ever market itself as offering that kind of service??
  3. Candidates who do not respect the role.  (For example, I have been a soft skills and IT trainer for 20 years.  I have undergone huge amounts of training and work experience – this does not equate to sitting next to someone with a mouse and giving them a 5 minute tutorial on how to login to LinkedIn.  I am looking for qualified, experienced people – training your grandma is neither!)
  4. Candidates who don’t bother tailoring their CV and not even enclose a covering letter explaining their reasons for applying for the role. I’m a recruiter not a mind reader!
  5. Candidates who are not able to travel or relocate when the advert clearly states this as a requirement.
  6. The advert asks the applicant to be “into social media” (for example).  I check you out online and you claim to be an expert in social media and what do I see?  Nothing!!!
  7. “Dear sir” – try harder! Now I’m not a raving feminist, but I am a woman and getting Dear sir emails wind me up (especially when you have just completed steps 1 – 6 above!)
  8. When you get a rejection, one that’s been penned just for you, one that I have spent a little time trying to let you down gently as you have pretty much done all of the above…  don’t reply with a “f **k you” email – you are sure to go on my recruitment database as “do not interview”.

Candidates who do the above are causing a horrible situation for the average recruiter. Bottle necks of stupid applications, a proliferation of “cool tools “ and technology marketed as being the next passive talent identifier, demanding clients giving vacancies to more than one recruiter in order to (theoretically) get the best level of service, candidates taking counter offers… all of the above making a recruiter’s day pretty damn hard!

So as John Sumser put it recently when I appeared on his HR Examiner Radio Show (recording above): “You seem to be on a tear for improving the image of the recruiting industry. What’s motivating you?”
Read points 1 to 8 above.  I’m not saying that some of the bad press is deserved, but let’s get some perspective…

I have always been on their side, but right now, I am stood there like Michael Douglas in Falling Down getting angry.  (Although I promise not to do all of the bad things he did in the film… honest!)

Are you a recruiter?  What frustrates you about the current setup / reputation of your role?  Are you embarrassed by being a recruiter, or do you feel you work in a great industry?  Has technology turned you into Robocop?  Is the mobile world creating issues for you in terms of quality and expectation?

What’s your recruiter experience???

Lisa JonesAbout the Author: Lisa Jones is a Director of Barclay Jones, a consultancy working with agency recruiters on their recruitment technology and social media strategies. Prior to Barclay Jones. Lisa worked in a number of Recruitment, IT, Web and Operations director-level roles. She is a technology and strategy junkie with keen eyes on the recruitment and business process.

You’ll see Lisa speaking at many recruitment industry events and being a recruitment technology and social media evangelist online. She works with some of the large recruitment firms, as well as the smaller, agile boutique agencies.

You can follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaMariJones or connect with her on LinkedIn.



  • markgilligan2013

    All valid points, but I have to take issue with 4 and 8.

    If you want a covering letter say so, candidates aren't mind readers either. If you ask us to send a CV then we send you a CV. I've often seen gripes from recruiters because they got cover letters when they didn't ask for them. The other part about not tailoring CV's that can be the case but if the recruiter has put out just a blanket advert i.e H.R. Advisor for Manchester Based Company, then your going to get blanket CV's that try to cover every possibility. If recruiters want CV's that have been tailored to the role then they are going to have to give out more information, a job description and person spec. You give them that and they will not only tailor their CV's they will self select too saving the recruiter time by not having to take out candidates that don't match enough of the criteria.

    Now for number 8

    Have to agree that bad manners from a candidate in response to a personally written rejection is out of order but let's be honest here, that sort of rejection happens once in a blue moon. The next type of rejection letter that candidates receive is, "The computer generated or standard rejection letter or as I call them a thanks but no thanks letter." But the one that gets recruiters the most bad press is no response what so ever, the "They didn't get the job so I don't need to be bothered with them."

    There are some great recruiters out there who do a great job both for their clients and companys but also for their candidates unfortunately they are getting fewer and far between.

  • Martin Shaw

    I have also posted this and referenced your article on my blog Lisa, like the debate, thanks… ;-)

    While I have strong sympathy for any recruiter, who might receive experiences Lisa mentions and in my past I have had some happen to me. I have seen the good the bad and the ugly of Recruitment Company, commercially driven, recruiter experiences and can’t deny a proportion of recruiters don’t get the understanding they might deserve.

    Looking at the commercial and corporate recruiter spaces, there are overlaps in function and experiences; equally there are differences in the scope of the job both recruiter types perform. As a result this (in the past) has (a may still) influence the characteristics of those who look at a corporate recruiter career option as an alternative to a commercial recruiter choice.

    As the changes in the way we all interact with each other, receive and disseminate information moves forward. The speed this can happen and the multiple channels that are available for us to identify, engage with and capture our target audiences is to some a difficulty and a fear, for others it’s a new era and a benefit. However you might feel it is in our hands to control what happens, not so much the candidates!

    Recruiters (meaning all talent professionals in this context) need to prospect, mine and develop sources of talent in order to fulfil their functional responsibilities, a simple but factual statement.

    The talent communities are there already and are moving and changing, growing or reducing as nurture dictates. Recruiters drive and implement the touch points the methodology, the content by which the ‘talent’ interacts with any recruitment company or organisation. We create the trails, the roads and the pathways. In effect, we manage the whole eco-system where all these experiences happen (for the candidate and the recruiter).

    So while I can agree as recruiters, we might have a few gripes and they all have my sympathy (I have been in those shoes), what remains are the same conclusions;

    Lisa, You /me the other recruiters (both types) the organisations we work for and all the innovators/thought leaders and drivers of change in the arena of HR & Talent Management own and control everyone’s experience. So let’s not feel too sorry for ourselves and start doing something that changes things for the better.

    This comment has reminded me of a saying, which I will paraphrase for effect.

    “If you continue to offer the same old ways of engaging and communicating with your target audience, do not be surprised if you continue to get the same result or reply”

    Based on phrase by Albert Einstein “if you do what you always did, you will always get what you always got” … so let’s get started.

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  • http://www.torinellis.com torin

    Solid post. In reading the quote from your friend, "he admitted that whenever he told people what he did, he would have to justify himself and almost market the role…" I thought the article was going to address the client (corporate) side of the equation.

    I don't want to take away from the article, so I'll keep my points brief. There is resonance in his statement as the frustration level for me is with the entity that signs the check. I tend to not focus on the non controllable, in other words, the candidate that (should not have) applied.

    Clients, if they really respect and understand the recruiting space as well as place value in the work being done, then they should always respond no matter how many vendors on their list. You're on the list for a reason with mutual interests being one of them.

    Clients should also understand that the recruiting process happens far beyond the signing of an offer letter. That the onboarding experience, the corporate culture, the resources and support, and so much more matter for at least the first six months. Matter as in stay or candidate begins looking again.

    Just a few aspects from the client side that are so very important and impact the work we do. Our reputation, our ability to secure referrals, our ability to leverage introductions, grow the business, and ultimately do quality customer centric people placing work.

    I love what I do and know the importance of such. So do my clients (for the most part).

  • Matt Jones

    Pile of tosh. A good recruiter can eliminate most of the above with good candidate management, clear and definitive job advert and honest and open communication from the outset. This is just a long moan about the day in a the life of a poor recruiter creating their own poor recruiter experience. .

    • http://www.barclayjones.com Lisa Jones

      Matt – I'm not a recruiter – I made that clear in the blog and my bio states this too. Perhaps you missed that whilst you were writing about me being a "pile of tosh" blogger and being a recruiter…)

      Plus my job advert was clear and concise and even pointed out that they needed to be either a recruiter or a trainer to get the role in the very first few sentences. Most of the applications were not of that calibre – but wanted to be.

      If you're keen to critique, feel free to drop your email in here and I'll fire the job advert at you – happy for all constructive feedback – not sure that "tosh" has ever entered into a feedback loop of mine.

      At least now I can tick off the "pile of tosh" from my "how to describe my blogs" list :-)

  • http://www.paxtoncove.com/ Daily Boutique Deals

    Good post !!An impressive share! I just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been conducting a little research on this.

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  • Jules

    The point about the covering letter made me giggle, I used to find most people went on and on and none of it ever told me What they were applying for and why which in turn wastes the recruiters time. Love the post though x


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