#trulondon thought number 1; Lazy Recruiters!

It has been 48 hours since #truLondon and we covered a lot of content. Over the next 5 days I will be sharing a daily thought from #trulondon. Something that stood out for me or made me think, and there was plenty of things that stood out in the memory bank. I’m going to kick off with one I’d love to hear your thoughts:

#truLondon thought 1: Lazy Recruiters

Igotmore annoyed in one track than I can remember at any of the #tru events I have attended. What caused me to get so irate was the comment “recruiters are lazy!”. Now I have worked with plenty of recruiters over the last 27 years.In the past it was all agency recruiters, and I was one for a long time. More recently my work has been mostly with direct recruiting teams.I want to start by stating that in all this time, I have met very few that could be described as lazy. Quite the contrary,I,ve met few people in any other profession who work anything like the hours, or as hard as recruiters. So why this comment, and judging by the lack of reaction, agreement?
From my position, there is little difference now between the working practices of agency recruiters and their corporate counterparts. Whilst third-party agency recruiters might have fee paying clients to satisfy, that’s not really different to having equally demanding and fussy hiring managers, except that a corporate recruiter can’t drop a hiring manager if they prove to be a difficult customer.

Over the last 18 months, the roles have got closer and closer in terms of how they operate. When we talk sourcing, technologies, candidate difficulties or control, as well as influencing hiring managers, the conversation is identical regardless of discipline. Corporate recruiters benefit from greater support in candidate attraction from employer branding communications and initiatives, agency recruiters often benefit from a wider exposure to the market at large, through working with a range of companies.

Time pressure is an issue for both disciplines, as well as a “hire now” pressure ahead of “hire future.” The pressure is on to fill seats and find the hard to hire talent. The “war for talent” is largely a war for other people’s talent. The talent that is needed to fill open positions is the talent that companies are fighting to keep, everybody is battling for the same candidates. I think recruiters have been slow to communicate this. There is a real perception that recruiting is easy and as a result, recruiters are lazy.

In my opinion, recruiters can be accused of being inefficient. When we look at most recruiting technology, it’s mostly underused, with little investment in keeping skills up to date, changing operational practice as the technology has developed. Whilst most recruiting technology issues regular updates and increased functionality to stay competitive, most recruiters use it as was bought.

One clear example of this is the recruitment database or ATS. Many recruiters, (by no means all), use the database for information storage and tracking rather than information retrieval. The progress from Recruiting 2.0 to 3.0, was really little more than the move from post and pray to source and spray. Recruiting is still focussed on volume of approaches in the hope that some of it fits,and volume often brings results.  Priority needs to be on developing smarter working practice, and development takes time. Time is the factor most recruiters aren’t allowed, with the current pressure to hire. Rather than recruiter bashing, i’d like to see a rethink on allowing recruiters to redesign operating practice, and link closer with vendors to make sure they are getting the best out of the technology they have.

Recruiters work far to hard to be described as lazy, and only those who have never had to deal with the real complexity of influencing both candidates and hiring managers beyond attraction would ever think otherwise. Recruiters need to communicate these issues better, and work on brand “recruiter” as hard as employer brand. If you work with recruiters, get to know their job better.

People play the critical part in  the success of any organisation. The recruiters who source and introduce them are central to the success of the business. I always felt privileged to be charged with the responsibility of influencing people s careers and getting the best talent in to organisations. Talk of “lazy” recruiters does not reflect this.

Sometimes, and in some cases inefficient, true , but lazy, definitely not!




11 comments on “#trulondon thought number 1; Lazy Recruiters!

  1. I would probably go to say that recruiters work hard but not necessarily smart.

  2. You know who works hard? Chilean miners. Even the hardest working recruiters don’t work hard.

    There’s a spectrum in every industry/career. And one bad apple spoils the entire bunch.

    • Laurie,
      Hard work is relative. Compared to Chilean miners or troops on the front line, we all have an easy life. The question is if we work as hard as we can at the jobs we do. There are bad apples for sure, but these folk tend to get weeded out quickly. Priority’s towards candidate care is another area that always needs attention. I think this, in a similar way, is bigger than a recruiter issue and closer to an organisational focus.

  3. Couldn’t agree more Bill, especially about hours of work and under-use of tech.
    This theme seemed to run through several of the tracks I attended which was disappointing to say the least. I have worked in recruitment a long time and never saw a longer working day…

    Recruiters have a great opportunity to debunk the lazy “recruitment is easy” myth with their use of social media (and use it beyond job advertising and candidate hunting.

    • Lisa,
      Rather than being disappointed, I think we need to take this as feedback and question why. Perception is reality, and the tracks reflected this feedback from real people in the space. I think recruiters would benefit from better PR as a discipline. Clearer communication on how hard recruiting actually is.

    • Hi Lisa & Bill,

      One point I’d suggest as a recruiter of in-house recruiters who sees both sides is that the smarter you work the lazier you’re deemed as an external provider.

      It seems to me that unless you can prove you unearthed a gem, headhunted them, persuaded them to see a client who otherwise they might not have seen, and secured them for the role, then you’ve been lazy! So the more you use technology, build a network and actually create a brand about what you represent as an expert in your market that is good bizarrely the more lazy you are seen to be, particularly by the paying client! Contrast that with an in-house recruiter doing the same thing and they have cleverly saved cash and time so gain respect!


  4. I’m not sure on this one; although many recruiters work long hours and are very busy: this doesn’t make them not lazy.

    I think if you’re not educating yourself on new technology, not looking at new ways of communication and media or not keeping track of the employment market, this could be called lazy or at least ignorant. Unfortunately I come across too many corporate recruiters who seem fine with what they’ve been doing the last couple of years; I think these people are quickly growing incapable of doing the job they’re hired to do, and should be replaced. The Recruitment business (and in general employment marketing) is quickly changing: keep up, or get out.

    Note: often I find (and get to work with) a couple of ‘new school’ recruiters at most organizations which lead the way by example for the rest of the sheep; some sheep wake up and follow track. The successful organizations have the guts to shake things up, but this will (and should) never go without a proper internal fight and some tough decisions. There’s no easy way out of this.

    • Patrick,
      I’m not sure the issue is so much recruiters as organisations. I work with plenty of recruiters who would love the opportunity to evolve their role, but time pressure and company restriction means a continuation of old working practices. My feeling is that the recruiter role needs to be valued more as critical to the organisation, with a greater investment in training and technology. This development will only lead to a greater adoption of better techniques. Look beyond the recruiter, those companies you work with that embrace social allow recruiters to be progressive.

      • Of course having a ‘willing’ organisation makes it easier; although this may never be an excuse!

        So many people complain they haven’t got the gadgets or aren’t allowed to go to courses. If you REALLY want to you go out and buy the iphone yourself, start playing around, or read blogs/tweets/slideshares/books/etc and educate yourself. I agree organisations can hold back willing recruiters and sometimes kill great ideas, but show initiative yourself first, in stead of waiting for your boss to take your hand.

        And it’s not as if a recruiter should overnight change all of his own tasks and responsibilities: gradual but steady change can be done in just a little bit of spare time.

  5. […] – RIDE on . . . and here is the article translated into English Are Agency Recruiters Lazy? #trulondon thought number 1; Lazy Recruiters! Defining talent is critical, says Lauritsen Are Recruiters Killing LinkedIn? Or is LinkedIn Killing […]

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