Recruiters are LIARS

I’ve been thinking about writing an FAQ section for the website for about ten years but have never got round to it – until now!

So, what questions do people ask?  What do people generally want to know about recruiters and recruitment agencies?

I wasn’t sure so I thought I’d seek advice from Google, using its autocomplete algorithm.

First I typed in ‘recruitment agents are…’ and got this:

Hmmm.  Not a good start.

Next, I tried ‘recruitment agencies are…’ and was presented with this:

I’m beginning to think that recruiters don’t have a very good reputation.

Finally, ‘recruiting is…’ gave me this:

I decided to aggregate all these questions into a single list, which is as follows:

  • Are recruitment agencies liars?
  • Are recruitment agencies rubbish?
  • Why are recruitment agencies good?
  • Which recruitment agencies are best?
  • How many recruitment agencies are in the UK?
  • Are recruitment agencies worth it?
  • Is recruiting necessary?
  • Is recruitment hard?
  • Is recruitment a team sport?
  • Is recruitment sales?
  • Is recruiting quizlet?
  • Is recruiting a numbers game?
  • Is recruiting like dating?
  • Is recruiting broken?
  • Is recruitment sometimes viewed as unethical?

The answers

This is what the public wants to know, so I’m going to have a go at supplying some answers.  Here goes:

Are recruitment agencies liars?

Sometimes, yes.  There are all kinds of people working in recruitment and there are therefore many different approaches.  The better recruitment agencies will have a transparent process and will be open and honest throughout.  Having said that, there is a place for tact and diplomacy, and the occasional ‘white lie’.  Occasionally one party will turn down the other for an unrepeatable reason – maybe because they simply don’t like them.  Our job is to give constructive feedback without giving offence, so we will find a way to let them down gently while giving encouraging suggestions for the future.  Some agencies don’t give feedback at all, believe it or not.

Are recruitment agencies rubbish?

Often, yes.  In theory it’s a simple game – introducing one individual to another and stepping back to see how they get on.  Add to this the very few barriers to entry – all you really need is a phone, a laptop, and a mouth – and you have a recipe for low standards.  And cutting corners is easy to do, but it comes back to bite you in the end.  One of my personal bugbears is when feedback isn’t given after an interview; there’s really no excuse for that.  So make sure your recruitment agency isn’t rubbish by checking out their references and testimonials online.

Why are recruitment agencies good?

Done well, recruitment is an investment that will pay for itself many times over.  It’s especially useful for high-profile appointments and other roles where behaviours, intelligence and learning ability are important factors (actually, most roles).  You don’t always need a recruitment agency though.  We’ve recruited for ourselves with great success over the years, and haven’t had to use any of the rec-to-rec (recruitment to recruitment) agencies that exist.

Which recruitment agencies are best?

No need to ask this.  It’s Blues Point Ltd.

How many recruitment agencies are in the UK?

A lot!  Between 25,000 and 40,000, according to a cursory search online.  For comparison, there are around 40,000 churches and 38,000 pubs in the UK.  So each recruitment firm could have all its employees sitting in EITHER a pub OR a church, but not both.

Are recruitment agencies worth it?

Yes, if done well.  And you will usually get a rebate if the appointment doesn’t work out within a certain period.  We offer a 6-month free candidate replacement, but we very rarely have to do this.  However, if recruitment isn’t done well it can cost you both money and time, to say nothing of reputation and team morale.  My advice is to go for a reputable agency that will back up its offering with a guarantee of some kind, and avoid the lower-end operators.  Choose your recruiter on value, not on price and remember the old adage: buy cheap, buy twice.

Is recruiting necessary?

Yes, if you plan to grow your company.  If you don’t plan to grow your company, why are you reading this article?

Is recruitment hard?

Often, yes.  Sometimes it appears easy because we know the right person for the role almost from the start, but this is because we’ve been doing it for years and have built up a huge network of contacts.  But most of the time people come to us because they’ve failed themselves, or they anticipate failure.  Why?  Because it’s hard.

Is recruitment a team sport?

Yes.  The team is the recruiter and the hiring client together, with the candidate as the ball, and all three need to co-operate for it to work.  Just like on the football field, openness and communication between team members are essential features of the game.  Unlike on the football field, the ball has a mind of its own and often decides to leave the game altogether without letting the players know.  Other complications: there are often multiple balls on the field at once, there’s no referee, no-one really knows where the goalposts are, and the game is ended by a single goal but could last for anything between half an hour and six months.  All this might explain why there are so few spectators.

Is recruitment sales?

To some extent, yes.  Most recruiters are salespeople at heart, but you also need a consultative brain.  The selling element is in convincing new clients to use you in the face of enormous competition, and in persuading reluctant jobseekers that your client’s role is worth investigating further.  Usually, both parties have been bitten by bad experiences in the past, so they are now shy of being bitten again.  This is frustrating for a non-salesman like me.

Is recruiting quizlet?

I don’t understand this question so the answer is probably no.

Is recruiting a numbers game?

Good question.  It can be, yes.  It’s very frustrating when we have identified what we think is the perfect candidate for the role from a very limited pool, and the client wants one more for comparison.  While I understand this caution, there’s no need for a comparison – we were doing that for you before we sent the CV!  Most of the time, though, we do present a shortlist of more than one person – not least because jobseekers are also playing a numbers game and usually have more than one option available to them.

Is recruiting like dating?

Yes.  More accurately, interviewing is like dating, and a job offer is a proposal of marriage.  A proposal of marriage with the expectation of divorce after approximately 2.5 years, which is roughly and anecdotally the average length of time that people spend in a permanent job.  The average marriage length is actually 32 years before it ends, in either divorce or death.  I’m reluctant to extend this analogy to short-term contracts so I think we’ll leave it there.

Is recruiting broken?

Yes, in some ways.  I believe that a hiring company’s relationship with their recruiter should be on an exclusive basis, except in extreme circumstances.  Anything else and the whole thing turns into a race – and what do people do in a race?  Unless they’re being observed – which recruiters are not – they cut corners in order to win.  We don’t like cutting corners, which is why we work on an exclusive basis in almost every case.

Is recruitment sometimes viewed as unethical?

Yes.  But I don’t see it that way.  I consider some agencies to be unethical, but recruitment itself is an inevitable by-product of our capitalist economic model.  You may consider the whole system to be flawed, but for the time being we’re stuck with it and I don’t see it changing any time soon.

Summary of FAQs for recruitment agencies

In summary, I know that the recruitment industry has an image problem – and with good reason.  But there are plenty of ethical operators within it, and if you choose the right one to work with, you are likely to have a positive experience.

Any questions?