Talent Acquisition

What All Recruiters Really Want to Say to Their Rubbish Clients

For agency recruiters, it often feels like clients are toying with them these days.

It feels for all the world that some* Line Managers, Internal Recruiters, and HR types have conspired to make a life for recruiters as hellish as possible. Job briefs given out to 6 agents, ‘urgent’ orders postponed after weeks of work, interviews canceled at a moment’s notice, and – worst of all – sudden silence and no status updates at all.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I am no blind defender of 3rd party recruiters. I criticize our industry regularly and loudly, and I am appalled by the incompetence of many on the agency side. What is more, it’s also true that many of these internal folk are at the whim of ‘higher–ups,’ who move the goalposts frequently, but I have no doubt whatsoever that some on the client side are reveling in their petty ‘power’, and derive ghoulish satisfaction at seeing those ‘smug recruiters’ suffer. I get told this in Australia and New Zealand. I got told it in South Africa earlier this year, and I was told this same thing by a group of UK recruiters in London. It’s universal. Inexplicably, the worst amongst those seem to be ex-agency recruiters, now preening on the client side. But that is another blog.

And we might feel compelled to criticize slow-moving or vindictive clients for their actions, and the impact it has on us as recruiters, individually and corporately.

But, in fact, all that is a sideshow to the main game.

Corporates, who jerk recruiters around, appear to be oblivious to the reality of who they are hurting and the actual damage they are doing.

Here is the thing:

The people who are really suffering are candidates, and the real damage being done is to their own brands and reputations.

Oh yes, make no mistake. It stuns me that employers can be so blind. When you cancel a job with a recruiter at the last minute, who do you think suffers? It’s the candidate, who has already been on three interviews with your company, has been led to believe an offer is imminent and is now tossed aside, usually without any explanation.

And when you brief a recruiter on your ‘urgent’ job, demand a rapidly assembled shortlist, and then sit on it for 8 weeks, do you realize it’s not just the recruiter you have sent on a costly and frustrating wild-goose chase? There are six candidates who have been briefed on that job, told it’s you hiring and advised their resume is on your desk. And if foolishly, you have given that order out to 6 recruiters, that could be 25 candidates waiting to hear back from you. Getting increasingly angry. At you.

And don’t for a moment think the recruiter, stuck in the middle, is going to take the rap for your behavior. Why should they? The candidate will know it’s your actions that have caused the disappointment and frustration.

And trust me, candidates resent your actions. They vent their fury at your unprofessional, disrespectful behavior, and blog about it, and they spit your name out across social media.

They tell their friends and colleagues what a bunch of cowboys you are, and they refuse to be considered for future jobs at your company, and for all, I know they stop using your products and services.

And you deserve it.

So, wake up, you line managers, HR dudes, and internal recruitment teams.

Your personal and employer brands are being irreparably harmed by your bureaucratic inefficiency (at best), and arrogant disregard, at worst.

And when the market turns and hiring heats up, as it will, your chickens will flock home to roost. The best talent, and the recruiters who represent them, will avoid you like the plague, leaving you to hire from the dregs and fight to rebuild your personal reputation.

Which will be… mud.

* Please note, I said ‘some’. Not all. Not even most. Some.

By Greg Savage

Greg Savage is a sought-after speaker and presenter, as well as consultant and advisor to the industry. He has founded several highly successful recruitment companies and worked in recruitment all over the world. To contact Greg please email: