Talent Acquisition

Why Bad Days Matter in Recruitment

It is a stigma in recruitment (especially with all the bragging and oversharing that goes on over social media channels about celebrating success, brilliant client wins, smashing targets and hot deals) that anyone ever has a bad day/week/month/quarter. Yet the reality is, we ALL have bad times in recruitment if you have been in it for more than a year.

I think we should be discussing our bad days too, as we can share tips and anecdotes of that you can do to ensure your bad days are restricted to a minimum and what you can to learn from those days.

Let’s go back a step

The psychology behind what we do in recruitment, regardless of our sector, discipline or market, is to seamlessly create opportunities for human beings – we engage with a person who has feelings, thoughts and influences we cannot possibly begin to think we can control. Whether that be a candidate or a client.

By adopting and implementing various Neuro Linguistic Programming-led techniques to persuade and challenge our customers, the most successful recruiters will often “turn around” a placement that someone less agile would not have placed.

This happened to me recently: I had met a senior recruitment manager, let’s call her Jane.

Jane had over a decade in her market specialism and after a number of years in one employer, had made a move a few months before to a company who had oversold her the dream and had quickly turned her job into a daily nightmare (including having to ask to go to the toilet? Fancy that as a 30-something mother of one and senior recruiter?).

Anyway… Jane met me through a third-party recommendation and we talked about the market and potential opportunities. In the discussions, I talked about one of my clients, someone I have known and trusted for over a decade, actually an ex-colleague. Jane was unsure as the brand was unknown to her. It was a greater “risk” as she didn’t know them but I did. On the day of the first interview, Jane called me to ask me to cancel the interview as she just wasn’t feeling it. By gently probing her concerns, I managed to persuade her to still meet my client given the short notice.

Fast forward to the present day

Jane took the job and not only that, messaged me last week to say that she was “so glad you told me to go for that interview instead of canceling it!”.

I digress because it is important to be able to have victories like this as an experienced and accomplished recruiter. But then I also have days where that doesn’t go to plan.

Let’s take Joe. He is a junior recruiter I met last month, a recommendation through his soon-to-be ex-manager as Joe was under threat of redundancy due to the internal relation of a recruitment team. I met Joe the same day and within 24 hours had lined up three interviews for him.

He was honest from the start that he had already spoken to an ex-director the same day as me but as we agreed he was at such an early stage in his career he wanted a few options on the table to establish which company would be the best one for his development.

My first two clients didn’t pursue Joe and I was candid with feedback, The third however totally got him and within 24 hours were ready to make an offer. But then Joe went “cold” on me – rather than the friendly phone calls, I got a long formal email asking me to withdraw him as he had accepted an offer from the ex-director, possibly something I would have understood but he didn’t have it in writing and I would always advise this before withdrawing from other processes.

This was a bad day as my client had re-worked his entire senior team’s calendars to fit my candidate in so they could make a decision promptly. Not only did the candidate make me feel bad, but my client also.

When a fee falls out, there is no worse feeling. Weeks, potentially months, of hard work down the drain for nothing. Even those who work in retained fees, you can’t charge your final third if the candidate doesn’t start. The feeling of disappointment, frustration and occasionally anger is hard to explain to a non-recruiter. I always want to say it’s the wrong way round and we should charge the candidate to look for a new job – only joking…. really.

Bad days happen

Of course, they do. We all have troughs, weeks or months where every process turns to cr*p and no matter what you do, you sense that you have no longer got the Midas touch. This is even harder for those who are doing everything right and are only starting out in their recruitment careers, but this is where a good recruitment manager is essential to feedback what they are doing well and keep going.

Do you think “Lady Luck” exists in recruitment? hell, yes, I do. Sometimes you have gifted that candidate who just so happens to come along when their perfect employer has called you with a brief befitting this candidates profile. And the process is seamless. And you even feel a little guilty sending your 20% invoice out.

But we take those rare gifts when in reality recruitment is filled with more bad days than good days – we are built of resilient stuff. We take rejection on a daily, nay hourly basis and those who succeed in recruitment are those who take it on the chin and then get back up off the floor for another go straight away.

Bad days make us better recruiters what did you learn from the process? what could you have done differently? what would you do if you could repeat the scenario? Ask yourself that and you will bounce back and remain positive.

What do you do to counter a bad day in the recruitment world?

By Lysha Holmes

Lysha Holmes is founding director of Qui Recruitment established in 2005 to completely challenge the traditionally poorly perceived service offered by other Rec 2 Rec providers. Lysha as Qui Recruitment is dedicated to representing the best talent to the best suited roles, focussing on placing recruiters of all levels in a candidate led service across the NW.