The 5 Dirty Secrets About the Hunt for Talent

5 Dirty Secrets About the Hunt for Talent


The other day, I came across a newsletter that was titled “Hiring is Super Easy – Said No One Ever”. It was humorous because that phrase couldn’t be more accurate! Hiring is wrought with challenges and obstacles. The product is human, after all, and humans have emotions….and personal circumstances….and second thoughts…. need I say more?

Hunting for talent can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. There are many instances when a new job is part of a life-changing improvement in someone’s life. They are walking into a new environment with a fresh start and new challenges. More money doesn’t hurt, either!

But there are some not-so-well-known facts that don’t make it to the press release announcing a company’s new hire. A great deal of effort is put forth by both the company and the job seeker to make everything fall into place.

1. New jobs don’t just fall into your lap

This statement has been used many times before. The process is easy, right? People apply to jobs, engage in a 20-minute phone interview, arrange an interview or two, and they get hired. Not even close. Does a quick hire happen once in a while? Sure! But those people are more often individuals that have been on a company’s (or recruiting firm’s radar), and have had ongoing communication with someone involved in the process.

There is often someone that has kept them interested in the opportunity (or talked them out of removing themselves from a long and grueling process). Miraculously, several months later, the company is ready to move forward with him or her. Many of the candidates in this scenario are passive, and are scarce in today’s market. Sourcing a qualified passive candidate can take days – even weeks.

Active candidates often have multiple opportunities they are entertaining, so they may or may not be around by the time a client is ready to move forward.

Long interview processes can be frustrating for job seekers that are employed. They can be almost unbearable for the unemployed job seeker.

2.  Recruiters are not just glorified salespeople

This scenario can apply to both third-party and in-house recruiters. They 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 just 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. 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.

We have 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.


4. There is a long “sales cycle”

Make no mistake about it, the talent industry 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.

Third-party search 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 in the talent industry 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!

5. We work for our clients

Whether you are an in-house recruiter or work for a search firm, 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.


Trust me, there are many other items that could be included in this list, but you don’t have all day.

Please keep some of these items in perspective, regardless of where you fall in the hiring scenario. The talent acquisition process is rarely an easy one for anyone involved.

What additional advice do you have, either as a job seeker or hiring authority? We would love to hear from you! Please comment below, or email me at:


The 5 Dirty Secrets About the Hunt for Talent


by Natalie Lemons

Natalie Lemons is the Founder and President of Resilience Group, LLC, The Resilient Recruiter, and Co-Founder of Need a New Gig. She specializes in the area of Executive Search and services a diverse group of national and international companies, focusing on mid to upper-level management searches in a variety of industries. For more articles like this, follow her blog. Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.

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