What Most Recruiters Get Wrong

In my last blog post, I discussed some of the negative stereotypes in the recruiting industry about how recruiters fail to listen, understand, and empathize with candidates. This shortcoming is the foundation of what can give the industry a bad name. We can’t blame Google for confirming what so many believe to be true — that recruiters can be sketchy, useless and even worse; lazy. Just as with most problems, we need to look within for a solution.

When recruiters stop or shortcut the proper investment needed in each candidate, it can lead to more than just unfilled jobs. It can ruin any chance of long term relationships with top notch professionals. Just because a job isn’t right for someone at a given time doesn’t mean you should write that person off. Foster relationships with both available and unavailable candidates because you never know when someone will decide to pursue new opportunities. What we find at ICON is that when we truly understand what someone is motivated by, when we understand why they do what they do, it allows us to “match” them to a career opportunity, instead of recruiting them into a job.

Aim for Quality over Quantity

Creating these deeper bonds with candidates will also make you more valuable to your clients.

This may seem obvious to some, but unfortunately not in consistent practice within the recruiting industry, especially with internal corporate recruiters. When you gain insights that go beyond what’s on your candidate’s résumé/CV, you’re better able to match them to an organization that can truly use the person’s strengths, not just the skills that they possess.

Clients will notice your efforts to bring them candidates who will not only get the job done but also work to impact positive change for the company. The only way you can achieve that, however, is by getting to know your candidates in a way that most recruiters are unwilling to do.

Sometimes, the recruiting industry may feel like a numbers game where you’re trying to get a certain number of calls a day to score more connections and schedule more interviews and so on. It can feel like a scramble, but it’s important to never lose sight of the fact that there’s a thinking, feeling person on the other side of that call. A person that does not want to be “sold” too.

One of the sayings we have at ICON is, “Listen, Evaluate, Recommend.” We don’t just match CVs to job openings. We take the time to listen — really listen — to our candidates. Too often recruiters pretend they are listening, when really they are just waiting for you to stop talking so they can sell you on the job they are trying to fill. Ditch the pitch! You will make more matches.

After we listen to our candidates, we take a step back to evaluate the situation and understand better what we just heard. Do their wants and needs align with the job opening? Do I have another job opening that might be better for them? Is this someone I should check in with 6 months down the road or even tell them that I might not be the best recruiter for them? What value can I provide this person right now? If you listen and evaluate every conversation with a candidate, you’ll be able to provide them with a proper recommendation. Sometimes your recommendation might be for them to consider the job opening you have. Other times, it won’t. But either way, the candidate will appreciate your sincerity and will most likely keep you in mind for when they are looking for new opportunities. This take discipline and a willingness to invest deeply with the people that you work with as candidates and clients.

Play the Long Game

What most recruiters get wrong is valuing quantity over quality. Don’t get me wrong — this mentality does make the job harder. You have to seize every opportunity to make those deeper connections and sacrifice more time to help them grow. The extra time and effort will pay off though, as your service will become invaluable to candidates and clients alike. Be in this industry for the long haul. Don’t join the recruiting industry to be a sales person, join it to be a matchmaker, and impact the industry you serve for the long term.

Many recruiters think that sending their clients a huge list of potential candidates makes them look better. On the contrary, clients tend to appreciate it when recruiters rigorously select only the best candidates for the job, typically no more than two. If clients are asking for more than that, they don’t value or understand your service.

At ICON, we train our recruiters to value candidate relationships over placements because that’s the key to long term success. Don’t get us wrong, we want to make the matches that we set up and we find that success on a regular basis. It’s also one of the very things that sets us apart from our competitors, as one of our clients notes:

“Instead of an agency just dumping CVs on you, where you end up with 20–30 CVs you have to sort through just to pick the best couple, ICON doesn’t do that. Having the values that ICON has of making sure it’s the right provider, the right fit for the provider, and the right opportunity for the provider has really been integral in values that I have, and they are really wanting the best for my organization.”
-Kirk Nelson, Internal Recruiter Oregon Hospital

Those sacrifices in time and effort can make a huge impact for your client. They’ll know that they can rely on you to equip them with the best people to help them become an even better organization overall.