Talent Acquisition

Do You Expect Too Much from Recruitment Agencies?

Recruitment is a thriving, multi-billion pound industry, satisfying the needs of 1000’s job seekers and employers each year. Despite this, the general perception of recruiters by job seekers appears to be quite negative.

For example, the most ‘recommended’ comment (32 people) from a piece on using a recruitment consultant on the Guardian Careers page reads “…recruitment agents are one step ahead of estate agents on the scale of nastiness… the vast majority are scumbags who would sell their granny for an extra £1 an hour”.

And a recent, popular LinkedIn discussion titled “Why (Most) Recruiters Are Bad People”, with c.400 comments, explicitly describes recruiters as lazy, self-righteous people without a conscience.

Wait! Are all recruiters really bad people?

What do you think a recruiter’s family and friends would say about them? Honestly?

Let’s assume all recruiters are NOT the spawn of Satan for a second and look at what other possibilities there are.

What do people expect from a recruiter?

Maybe it boils down to the current ‘system’ and the varying expectations job seekers and employers have of recruiters?

Employers expect: “an employee or at least a quality shortlist of candidates, delivered in a timely manner with a high level of service” – at a varying cost depending on the agency, vacancy, etc.

Job Seekers expect: “a job, an interview or at least information regarding relevant job vacancies as well a high level of service” – usually for free!

Employer’s needs > Job Seeker’s needs

The employer pays a recruitment agency to source an employee and fill their vacancy.

Except in rare cases, actors, for example, job seekers never pay a recruitment agency.

The recruitment agency’s priority must be the employer, their client. If not, the recruitment agency wouldn’t get paid and would ultimately go out of business.

1 satisfied Employer = 10 dissatisfied Job Seekers

For every vacancy that is successfully filled by 1 person, 10 candidates (or more) may be rejected at CV, interview, and even offer stage, e.g. salary negotiation issues.

Perhaps meeting their client’s (an employer’s) expectations, a recruiter must offer less than immaculate service to job seekers?

In an ideal world, recruitment agents could spend time with every applicant, giving feedback, and discussing how unsuccessful job seekers could improve for next time.

Recruiters are often under too much pressure to fill their client’s vacancy, both externally from competitor firms and internally from their sales targets to spend time with every unsuccessful job seeker. Remember employers pay recruitment agencies, so their needs are usually a priority.

Expectations, expectations, expectations!

In time, perhaps the ‘system’, the employer <-> recruiter <-> job seeker relationship might change but is this really likely in the short term?

Perhaps clearer, more realistic expectations could be agreed upon at the beginning of the job seeker <-> recruiter relationship.

For example, what if it was agreed that no feedback = no job or interview offer? Or if the recruiter was upfront in saying they might only call once every 3 months but when they do, they will have a concrete job opportunity you’d be interested in?

Would a job seeker have any reason to begrudge any recruiter if clearer, more realistic expectations were set out at the beginning of their working relationship?

As a footnote, the author does acknowledge that a large number of recruiters and job seekers do agree on realistic expectations at the beginning of, and during their working relationships. However, it is realized, given the amount of “bad press” that exists currently about recruitment agencies that many do not and perhaps this is a key issue that should be at least considered by those affected.

Related: Beware of Recruitment Cowboys!

Liam Smith is the founder of CompareMyRecruiter, a brand new website where job seekers and employers can submit and read reviews of recruitment agencies, whilst the agencies are able to submit themselves for review, all for free.

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