Recruiters' Biggest Challenge with Candidates

The biggest challenge recruiters all have regarding candidates is the candidates' misperception of the marketplace and how their skills, abilities, and experience stack up with what is available to the recruiters' clients. The biggest complaints recruiters hear about themselves is that a candidate states, "Well, I can do that job—why won't you get me the interview? I sent you my resume; I am the most qualified that you can find, and I can't understand why you can't get me an interview.... and so on.

The recruiter's best candidates come from referrals or networking or actually calling a presently employed, well-qualified person and presenting a possible better opportunity (recruiting). Some recruiters will respond to a resume for a specific opportunity that they might advertise (if they do that) or respond to your phone call. Some recruiters will find your resume on the Internet and call you.

Most candidates, even qualified candidates, have no idea how many excellent people there are available for most opportunities. Candidates, as you know, if you learn from this book, have a tendency to "see the world" through their own eyes and their perceived ability to do a job. A good recruiter, even with a narrow search assignment, can usually begin with at least 100 to 200 "qualified" candidates or resumes. Even the top retained search firms, according to Kennedy Information, Inc., start out with 100 to 300 candidates in the database for each search they do. They then qualify and phone screen those down to twenty to fifty candidates, in-depth interview ten candidates and present a final panel of three to six candidates.

Candidates are often surprised and enlightened (or shocked) when they understand the number of quality candidates available for most positions and that their being successful in even getting an interview isn't based so much on their ability to do a job, as it is their ability to get the job. Most candidates do not see themselves in the light of how they compare with other viable candidates. Most candidates evaluate themselves based on their own perception, and unfortunately they don't have the perspective of comparing themselves to 100 or even fifty other people at their same level of professionalism.

Recruiters' Biggest Challenge with Hiring Organizations

If you absorb most of the information in this book, it won't come as a surprise to you that the biggest challenge recruiters have with hiring organizations is they are "spiritual beings acting human." Just because the organizations might need to hire a professional on any level doesn't mean that they're going to do it all the time, or that they will change their minds about the kind of person they need a number of times in the process of a search. Also in play are corporate politics, unrealistic expectations of what the candidate market will provide, mergers and acquisitions, buyouts, unexpected changes in the business climate, stock prices, product failures, and so on. Non-human events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina can postpone or shut down the best of intentions to hire someone.

Like most professions, the recruiting business is one that is full of uncertainty. They deal with human beings on both sides of the equation. They are one of the few professions whose "product" can say "no " and walk away and whose "client" is just as unpredictable.

These two primary challenges are what make this profession so exciting and gratifying. The service of recruiters can change the lives of the individuals they are involved with as well as the course of their companies. But the downside of this kind of gratification is lots of emotional and business risk.


Keep in mind that on average, recruiters individually only place 1.5 people a month. Even the top recruiters in the most recognized search firms, according to Kennedy Information, only manage ten to eleven "searches" at a time (the author averages twelve). If the 5,500 recruiting firms in the United States have an average of three consultants, and each one of them averages 1.5 people a month, that's only 24,750 people a month.

By itself that number may appear to be large, but when you put it in perspective of all of the professional job changes that go on in the course of the year, it is not that many.

What This Means to You

What this all means to you is simply this: A recruiter might be able to help you. But you need to manage your expectations of what a recruiter can do for you and help him or her help you. And what a recruiter can do for you depends on the nature of the recruiter and the relationship with the hiring authority or hiring company he or she is working for or representing.

There are a number of types of different recruiters and their relationship with the hiring authority or hiring company varies. The types are summarized in the following table, along with each one's advantages and disadvantages as well as how to deal with this type of firm.

number of types of different recruiters and their relationship with the hiring authority or hiring company varies.

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