Recruiter Pet Peeves

Plus, 10 do's and don'ts for recruiters

A good title for this article would also be "What to do so that hiring managers will always want to use your competitors…and ensure they will never use you."

Here's what I'm getting at: Every single week at our office, just like clockwork, we receive some dozen or so inbound calls from recruiters.

Almost always, they drop the ball when given the smallest task to perform as a test of their capability or skill. Nearly 99.9% of the time, they fail to demonstrate competent follow-through skills. So why bother even calling in the first place?

  • Recruiters calling to recruit the recruiter.
  • Recruiters wanting to work a split, enter into a joint alliance, or be hired as a recruiting employee of IRES in some form.
Recruiters Cold Calling to Recruit a Recruiter

In nearly all cases these calls are made by those who are rookies, poorly trained, given no Internet-search/reference-checking skills, or don't have a clue about the "secret pass phrases" or proper terminology/jargon they must use to capture my attention.

This type of call generally goes like this:

Rookie Recruiter: "Hi Frank…it is Frank, right?"
Frank: "Yes, how may I help you?"
Rookie Recruiter: "I learned you're a good recruiter in your area and have some years of recruiting success."
Frank: "Yes. Go on."
Rookie Recruiter: "Great, because I have a job for a recruiter to run a [pick your choice: Desk, Office, department, launch a new specialty, etc.] and was wondering if you would consider making a move?"
Frank: (Sighing) "Hmmm. First tell me how you got my name?"
Rookie Recruiter: "Well … uh … I … er… um … it's on this list here and I have no idea where the list came from but it says 'recruiter' next to your name!"
Duh. The simplest question from me totally throws this person off every single time. Here's where it gets fun:
Frank: "So how do you know I'm a recruiter? How do you know what kind of recruiting I do?"
Rookie Recruiter: (Falling deeper into despair for lack of having conducting any modicum of research whatsoever…) "Well, it sounds like you're really busy. Maybe you can refer someone who might be interested in making a move?"
Frank: "Why would I want to refer someone else? Recruiters are tough to come by and if I knew of someone making a move, I'd hire him or her myself. Why should I refer them to you who I don't even know?"

And so goes this dumb dance, day in and out. I can't blame the rookies. It's their managers that let them loose on John Q. Public without proper education. It shows.

Attention search firm owners: Don't put rookie recruiters on the phone unless you plan to train them and provide the tools they need to succeed! If you actually train these poor souls they just might have a chance at pulling a recruiter candidate in for you!

Not one of these individuals ever took one second to click a quick Google search on who they're calling. Even if they forgot…they could have done so while still having me on the telephone.

Not one bothered to develop rapport, or find out more about their prospect, or determine how to actually succeed in getting a referral. Now for the next category of dumb calls.

Recruiters Wanting to Split, Get Hired, Subcontract, Source, or Form Alliances

This type of call goes like this:

Recruiter: "Hi. I saw your name on…(splits board, Web ad, heard through a candidate, association roster, Monster, HotJobs, or similar ad) and wanted to talk to you about your insurance-recruiting needs."
Frank: "Great. Tell me something about yourself. How long have you been a recruiter?"
Recruiter: "Well, I've been an independent for two years, after five years with another firm…and…"

Usually the response here is quite good. More often than not, these experienced recruiters come across polished and trained during the initial contact. The experience is good. In fact, the employment calls for recruiters wanting to be hired progress far better than the prior type of call. Well, at least during the first call.

What's frustrating about these calls is not how they start, but how the process quickly falls apart quite prematurely.

As standard protocol whenever the first telephone screen goes well, I always give the individual a small task to perform. If for no other reason, I do it to test their seriousness, sincerity, and ability to get back within a reasonably prompt time to demonstrate follow-through skills.

For example, I ask them to visit our website (which most admit never doing prior to calling, even though all our ads link to it) or to Google my name to check out some of my articles to better understand my approach.

In just these past three weeks alone, I've had at least five recruiters vanish when asked to do these tasks. Why do we never hear back? Why would someone take the time to call and send a resume, but then not bother to follow through? Do they expect me to chase them around?

In a business that requires credibility, the easiest way to demonstrate this is by your actions, not your words. I guess I'm too demanding.

Recruiter Do's and Don'ts

  • Don't promise what you have no intent to deliver.
  • Don't say, "I'll call you back on Monday" if you plan not to.
  • Don't be naïve about contracts. If you ask to do a split, you will be asked to sign a split contract.
  • If you are asking to join a company with a multi-million dollar revenue stream, you will be asked to sign a non-disclosure. Be cognizant of what these are: joining an association would give you more knowledge as to what is standard versus non-standard.
  • Never promise to get back if you don't plan on doing so. I will never believe anything you say to me again.
  • Don't waste hiring managers' time by not being prepared.
  • Don't call if you have not even bothered to follow the link on the ad and at least peek at the website.
  • Do your homework. Google is free. So why aren't you using it?
  • Do undergo training. Understand what motivates your target. This will help your calls obtain greater benefit and return on your investment.
  • Never say, "I've heard of you" if it is not true. This turns me off and makes your lying transparent and approach shallow.


By Frank Risalvato, CPC, reprinted with the permission of Electronic Recruiting Exchange
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
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