5 Truths of Being a Recruiter That They Don’t Talk About

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The other day, I received an email for a newsletter that was titled “Hiring is Super Easy – Said No One Ever”. I had to laugh out loud because that phrase couldn’t be more accurate! Hiring (and being a recruiter today, in general) is wrought with challenges and obstacles. Our product is human, after all, and humans have emotions….and personal circumstances….and second thoughts…. need I say more?

I’ll often tell people what I do for a living and their response will be “oh, that has to be so fun! You are finding new jobs for people.” Yes, it can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. There are many instances when we are part of a life-changing improvement in someone’s life. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It gives me the same satisfaction that I had when I was a teacher. I made a positive impact on someone’s life.

What recruiters often don’t talk about, however, are the regular challenges they face in their roles. Today I am going to outline just a few of the truths that about being a recruiter that you often won’t hear about.

1. Hires/placements don’t just fall into our laps

I have heard this statement many times before. Our job is easy. People apply to jobs, we speak to them for a few minutes, arrange an interview or two, and they get hired. Not even close. Does a quick placement happen once in a while? Sure! But those people are more often individuals we have presented in the past and have had ongoing communication with. We have had to keep them interested in the opportunity (or talk them out of removing themselves from a long and grueling process). Miraculously, several months later, the hiring authority is ready to move forward with him or her. Most of our hires are individuals we have sought out personally. Sourcing a qualified passive candidate can take days – even weeks. They usually don’t just show up in our inbox (though I wish they would).

2.  We are not just glorified salespeople

This scenario can apply to both third-party and in-house recruiters. We don’t just “sell”. As a third-party recruiter, you have to pay your dues and generate clients. This should be an ongoing process and part of your job. The greatest attribute a modern recruiter needs to possess is patience. Patience with the process. Patience with your clients. Patience with the candidates. This is an emotional journey for everyone, and knowing enough psychology to be dangerous will go a long way in managing the recruiting process. It wasn’t always this way. I started in this business with a telephone, a phone book, a legal pad, and index cards. I didn’t have the research tools and immediate responses that we have today. We had to make calls nonstop. Most clients did not have voicemails – they had assistants that took messages. The hiring process was much simpler (and much more ineffective, but we’ll talk about that later). One interview hires happened – a lot! The process is much more complex today and recruiters need to possess a different set of skills.


3. We work for our clients

Whether you are an in-house recruiter or work for an agency, most recruiters work for companies. Sure, we are finding the people new jobs, but our clients are hiring us to find them the people that fit their criteria (and it is often a VERY specific criteria). We want to help everyone we come in contact with, but at the end of the day, our client decides who they want to hire. We can offer suggestions, educate the clients to the best of our abilities, and utilize the art of persuasion if we do not agree with their choice. But they are in control. We meet with many candidates, whether it is in person, over the phone, or via Skype. We simply can’t find everyone his or her ideal job. You may be a fantastic candidate, but timing is everything when it comes to recruiting. We just may not have the appropriate opportunity for you at the time.

4. There is intense competition

Competition comes in all forms. For contingent recruiters, it is a mad dash to get the perfect candidate sent over to your client before another firm presents him or her. For in-house recruiters, it is a rush to get that candidate through the process before they are off the market. For retained recruiters, there is pressure to keep the candidate engaged and interested in your job so that they don’t accept another opportunity. And the process can kill a deal – and has. Our firm has lost several great candidates to other offers this year alone because another company moved that person through the process and extended an offer. It is difficult to watch that person slip away when you have no control, no matter what side of the table you are sitting on.

5. We have a long “sales cycle”

Make no mistake about it, recruiting is a lucrative profession. When you do your job effectively, you have a lot of irons in the fire. Some of the placements will work, many will not. But the cycle doesn’t stop there. Recruiting firms offer a guarantee, often 60-90 days, 6 months, sometimes 1 year. If the candidate does not stay at your client company, a guarantee is just that. Depending on when the new hire leaves, the firm may have to offer a refund, sometimes a prorated refund, or a complementary replacement. Retained firms bill clients throughout the process, but contingent firms do not send an invoice until after the candidate starts. They may not receive money for up to 90 days after the start date. Since many recruiters work on straight commission, that can be a long time without a paycheck! To hand it back is heartbreaking. To start from scratch and dedicate time to a new search (for money you have already been paid) is heartbreaking. The highs and lows associated with this professional are expected, but that doesn’t mean you want to experience them!

Trust me, there are many other items I could include in this list, but you are reading a blog post, not a book! Please keep some of these items in mind, regardless of where you fall in the hiring scenario. The recruiting process is rarely an easy one for anyone involved.

Natalie Lemons is the President of the Resilience Group, LLC, and the author of The Resilient Recruiter. Please follow her blog for more articles like this, plus helpful free downloads for recruiters or those starting a Recruiting business.

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