I do love LinkedIn. It was nothing more than a hopped up resume database with hyperlinks, and it made research real easy, and that was good. Over the last year or so though, it has turned into a different beast. The research potential is still there, but it’s become its own odd version of Facebook, and brought with it similar amounts of acrimony and stupidity. Specifically, it’s become a place for dipshit recruiters to adamantly give people completely subjective advice, which will be ‘right’ for some companies and ‘wrong’ for others, meaning not right or wrong, but completely random. What is a must for one company or recruiter when trying to get hired is irrelevant or verboten at another, and unless you’ve got inside info you’ll never know which is which. But LinkedIn has also become a place for people to bash recruiters, nonstop.
This is understandable to a large degree. Recruiting as a profession has made itself into a joke by letting fly-by-night organizations come in and hawk their wares and services, not having to meet any professional standards at all. It’s a high volume, minimally acceptable quality business at this point, and there are more than enough points to criticize, both the companies and recruiters that behave horrendously, and those recruiters who know better but allow it to happen while remaining silent. But, this glorious cluster fuck has also lead to a bit of an extreme over reaction, where it seems recruiters are apparently responsible for every evil the world has ever known, and there is nothing – nothing you hear! – which candidates can demand that a recruiter can say is unreasonable. And no matter what happens in the hiring process, it’s the recruiter’s fault.
With all due respect, that’s a load of shit. So, here are a few things you should know going in.
One, not everyone is going to get personal attention. That’s just the way it is, fucking deal with it. It is not a personal statement on you, it’s simply that with the workload most recruiters deal with, there’s too many God damn people to call and/or email them personally. The mechanics of doing so are a full time job in itself, never mind actually finding someone to hire while you’re at it. You could easily spend 40+ hours a week sending personal rejection notices to people, giving them all specific feedback, and helping them rewrite their resumes, or find a job at another company. And yes, all of those have been asked multiple time of me, which I’m apparently supposed to provide at no charge, in my spare time, or I’m a bad recruiter. If you interview and don’t get the job, you deserve and absolutely should get personal feedback. You’re likely not going to get anything terribly detailed though, and if you don’t like that, take it up with every vexatious litigant that has graced the court system. But, they should definitely email and call you to let you know you didn’t get it, at the very least.
Two, the timeline often gets stretched out. Recruiters can try and drive it to a close, it rarely works. My personal approach to this was always to give the hiring manager a week and then just let my candidates know the job isn’t on the table anymore, and flat out let them know I haven’t heard back, I don’t know why they’re not moving forward. This has happened to me both in agency and in corporate settings. Not every recruiter will have the balls to tell you that, I’m sorry for that. You are indeed owed that courtesy. But they often hope a little more time will make the difference, and then a little more time becomes a lot more time, and next thing you know, you think your day is over, and you’re already ten or twelve hours in, but wait! There’s more! There’s those four people you haven’t called yet about job X, which you hoped a little more time would lead to some feedback or action, but it didn’t, and one week became two, became three, and you’ve followed up before, but at this point you’re fairly sure it’s not moving forward. Do you stay and call them? Do you do it in the morning? What happens when you leave a voicemail and they call back? How much time do you devote to something that’s not going to earn you a cent, now or often even in the future?
Now of course these things should be closed off, but the point I’m trying to make here is everyone prioritizes their day and workload, and eventually you will not be the top priority. To you, it’s a personal attack worthy of a public shaming on LinkedIn. To the recruiter, it’s, “I meant to call but I had twelve other things to deal with and left work to get to my kid’s ball game before I realized I forgot to call, and then the next morning when I came in fully intending to call my boss hit me with a dozen new priorities…” This happens to everyone at their job, the balls you drop just don’t show up on social media vilifying you as some subhuman species.
And as mentioned, this is not unique to agency recruiters, contingent or retained. Even for internal, corporate recruiters, it’s the same dynamic. Did a coworker of yours ever not get back to you about something that you thought was critical, but it turns out no one else really agreed with that assessment? Did they ever purposefully not get back to you because they were dicks, and playing around with office politics? Yeah, the same shit happens to internal corporate recruiters. I’ve seen hiring managers ditch retained searches on which there is money down just to spite someone else in the company.
If companies treated applicants better, this wouldn’t be an issue. But most companies treat their own employees like shit, applicants are virtual non entities to them. As recruiters we try to compensate for that, but there’s only so much we can do to drive the process, and when it gets dropped as I said, I try and close things off so you at least know. But you know what? I’ve done that in the past and then had the hiring manager call and want to know if the candidates, the ones I just told the job was off, can interview the coming week. And they’ve done this after being informed that I was going to let the candidates know that, due to to lack of feedback, the job should be considered closed. The world is full of fuck ups and we’re often just in the middle.
Three, there is no magic in this profession. There are a metric fuckton of Monday morning quarterbacks on LinkedIn though. Here’s a sample assertion/response to illustrate what I mean:
Recruiter: We can’t get back to everyone because very often there’s a ton of applicants.
Moron Who has Never Recruited Anyone: Why’d you run an ad? You should have merely networked with the appropriate professionals and put together a shortlist of candidates and presented them.
Reality: Ads are almost always run, because recruiting isn’t sales, it’s marketing, and while networking is usually the ideal way to produce a candidate, this is not an ideal world. You want to hit all avenues, because your networking is not guaranteed to get the right people, or anyone for that matter, and when all is said and done you are responsible for producing a person who can fill the role. So, you will run an ad and you will have a metric fuckton of candidates to manage, which is why you can’t respond to all of them personally. Don’t believe me? Do the job for a few years. The only people who can reliably produce people from networking are either on some kind of ‘spectrum,’ or they only fill a few roles a year like many self-proclaimed ‘thought leaders,’ or extremely specialized and in deep with an industry. I knew a great engineering recruiter once, this woman produced amazing engineers. Accounting candidates, not so much. If you can’t specialize, your network simply won’t be adequate all the time. Especially if you tap it regularly for roles across multiple disciplines. Hence, running an ad.
Recruiter: the candidate bailed on me after getting an offer, I feel sad. Would have been nice to hear from them to at least turn it down.
Moron Who has Never Recruited Anyone: They don’t owe you an explanation, you guys routinely drop off the map for us, so fuck you. Unless it was in writing on their desk within one nanosecond of leaving the interview, you’re an incompetent and they have no professional obligation to let you know they won’t be accepting.
Reality: If you interview and don’t get the job, the recruiter absolutely owes you a personal rejection notification if it comes to that. I do phone and email, always do both. That’s just professionalism, and yeah some recruiters even fail there, but it’s without question unprofessional of them. It’s likewise unprofessional for you to just disappear after one or two interviews and a verbal or written offer. Say no, you don’t owe them an in depth explanation, or any really. But just as they do owe you a personal yes or no once it’s moved beyond you simply applying, but being submitted and interviewing, it’s also professional for you to at least tell them no if you don’t want the offer. Just as you shouldn’t expect a personal rejection from every application, we don’t expect a personal rejection for every reach out we make for this job or that. It’s when it progresses beyond that point to interviewing and what not, that each party owes the other some professional courtesy.
Anyway, you get the point. There’s apparently a veritable mob of Monday morning quarterbacks, people who have never been a recruiter in their entire careers, who not only know exactly how to ‘properly’ do the job and deliver perfect results in the judgement of all involved, but who also tend to think that there’s no demand, nothing which a candidate could ask of a recruiter, that could or should be refused. Help rewriting the resume? You owe it to them. Finding them a job even if you’re not getting paid for it? You owe it to them. A six month prolonged correspondence because they weren’t qualified for a job they applied to, covering everything from career coaching to resume writing to helping them research companies to apply to? You owe it to them. These people do indeed set the bar very high for recruiters, and honestly I’d rejoice in seeing their sorry asses thrown into the profession for a mere three months, just to see how well they do trying to deliver up to their own lofty standards under real world conditions.
For a variety of reasons I’ve gone into here and elsewhere, labor has been devalued globally and specifically in the US. Companies treat employees like shit, as if they are disposable. They go through employees like shit through a goose without a care in the world for turnover costs, and this has lead to a very lucrative market for substandard recruiters to help companies wade through the increasingly desperate mobs of people who need jobs. These recruiters have flooded into the profession, the companies have split the business development and recruiting functions to help bring in more (questionable quality) business, and loaded up even well-meaning and skilled recruiters with so many reqs that they have little choice but to push service quality to the barest acceptable minimum if they want to keep their jobs and get a paycheck capable of paying the rent. As such, recruiters fucking suck these days, plain and simple. The profession has been decimated by people who’d rather make a quick buck reinforcing the delusions of idiot business owners who think they can nickel and dime people without consequence.
But, that does not mean recruiters are the source of all the woes of the hiring process. They aren’t, what’s happening in the recruiting industry is the result of larger, economy-wide trends. More often than not, they’re just schlubs like you and me, trying to earn a check to pay the rent and put food on the table. And while service quality has been pushed ridiculously low, that doesn’t mean in a pristine market every recruiter owes you a steak dinner. Even if the process were working as it should, to a decent standard with respect for candidates, what some people expect from recruiters just ain’t happening. They are not your career coaches, resume writers, or psychotherapists. And if you have ideas on what you think recruiters owe candidates, or how to do the job in a better way, I’m all ears. But I’d also advise, if you’re serious about your ideas, to actually do the job for a year or two. See how it goes, how things actually work, and what the sources of the problems really are.
After you’ve done that, then come and tell me what you think reasonable expectations and requests are, from candidates and clients, and what changes you think will help. At the very least, after you spend enough unpaid overtime simply answering every application with a personal rejection notice explaining why they weren’t chosen, and not having seen your family for months on end, you’ll have a much different perspective on what ‘reasonable’ communication expectations from candidates should be. I’ll guaran-god-damn-tee you that.