Recruiters and candidates need to be more respectful of one another.

As I have written before, candidates and recruiters actually have one important element in common. 

Job seeking executives spend every day networking and looking for work. So do hire merecruiters. But all too often, these two groups don’t have the respect for one another that they should.

Candidates see recruiters — search firms or internal recruiters — as a hurdle to get over, the keepers/”perpetuators” of a burdensome process that takes too long and is loaded with poor or inconsistent communication.

Recruiters, in defense point to clients, arguing they are now more selective than ever given that there is an abundance of good candidates looking for work.  They say that candidates seem unaware that the job search market has changed.  Recruiters want to look at candidates who can demonstrate that they have depth and breadth of experience that is relevant to the needs of their clients.  Candidates say that their experience is important, but without targeted examples of relevant experience and evidence of that success , their chances for being hired fall precipitously.

Poor communication is another recurring criticism of recruiters by candidates; they say they are rarely told about the schedule of the project, or where they stand — how they rate — in the selection process.

Search partners counter that they are very busy managing multiple search assignments and fielding dozens upon dozens of telephone calls throughout the day looking for new business.  Finding new business is how the partners are held accountable by management, not necessarily how much time they spend executing the assignment or the quality of their work product.  They argue that they cannot possibly take every call they receive, including those from active or prospective candidates.  Applicants say they talk more frequently with the junior associate than the partner and that may not be very often.

In the interest of transparency, as a recruiter, I confess that I know that I have stubbed my toe; there are obviously searches where we could have, should have, done better.  Our corporate value on the communication issue is that anything less than regular communication with the candidates is an example of disrespect. 

Here are four ideas I want candidates to consider:

  1. Adapt to the needs of the client; stop sending the same generic resume to every job you pursue.  Do not be like every other candidate.  Understand and focus on the needs of the client.  Speak in terms of what you have accomplished, not this is where I have worked, this is all the stuff for which I have been responsible
  2. Be more realistic.  Understand the search process, whether it is being run by a small firm or internal recruiters, more than likely will never move as fast as you would like it to. Do not get frustrated because that will impact your communications and performance.  Have multiple searches moving simultaneously, but be transparent with the recruiter. Do NOT embarrass the recruiter.  It is a small world.  Recruiters have a tough job and the memories of elephants. They remember when a candidate embarrasses them with their client.  They also have a database with notes about how the candidate performed.  Do not let your ego shoot yourself in the foot
  3. Dual submission is not allowed.   Simply put, this means they will not submit you on more than one search at a time.  This is a hard-wired ethical standard that most retained search firms follow. Why?  Because they have a responsibility to the client to find the best person for a position.  If YOU are that person, and suddenly another client of the firm wants to hire you, that creates a conflict of interest that is not acceptable.  Instead of getting frustrated with search firms when they will not submit you on multiple assignments, be thankful you are working with people who have standards and follow the rules. 
  4. Respect the process and the people and insist that you receive the same in return. If you are not happy with how you are treated, you might quietly and constructively,  share that information with your boss after the hire.  Or you can avoid working with that firm again.  Remember, most executive recruiting assignments are NOT handled by search firms.


Join John on Tuesday for the SelfPerspective Podcast when he discusses strategies to avoid employee turnover among the Millennials.