A beginner’s guide to dealing with recruiters

I’m a start-up business so grateful for any work that comes my way and 99% of my clients are a joy to work with, but at what point do you say enough is enough? I’ve read enough blogs and LinkedIn groups where recruiters get pulled apart for sport. Some of it is completely justified, as some of the tactics that go on in our industry are wrong (but that’s another blog!), but there is much that I feel that I must take issue with.

The starting point for any recruiter has to be an understanding of their client; not only of the package on offer, but an understanding of the client’s business culture and of what opportunities there are for career progression. As a former in-house recruiter, my mandate was to recruit directly, but I would often work with recruiters and would always provide a comprehensive briefing about the company and the type of candidate that we wanted in our business. I’m amazed now when I work with some large clients to find that they only want to give me the basic information, so to help, I’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts that will make dealing with recruiters a much easier process.

  • Be open and honest from the start. A recruiter who does not understand your business culture and the reasons why you are recruiting will ultimately fail to attract the right candidate. Spend time with recruiters so that they become an extension of your recruitment process and are able to attract the right calibre of candidate for you. Spending this time up front will reap rewards and should not be considered a hindrance.
  • Provide a comprehensive job description that fits in with a competency structure and is something a candidate can get excited about and can do research on to find out more about the role.
  • From time to time you will need to cancel interviews. Sometimes circumstances are beyond your control and you will need to rearrange an interview. However, please don’t cancel interviews on a regular basis. It sends out the wrong message to the candidate and you might end up being the one who loses out. No matter how good the recruiter is, there is only so long a candidate can be kept “warm” as the market is beginning to turn!
  • Not all interviews need to be like The Apprentice, so you are doing your business no favours by doing your best Claude Littner impression. A good interview / assessment day should be a two-way process, leaving the candidate with a favourable impression of your business.
  • Please give the gift of feedback. This out of all of my points is the one thing that drives me mad. I recently worked with one client (a well-known utilities brand) who briefed me three months before actually interviewing candidates citing “internal politics” as the reason. They finally interviewed a number of candidates, who, after waiting for three weeks post interviews, were told via text that they were not suitable for the role and that the client was sure that they were disappointed to have missed out on the opportunity of working for such a great brand. Now I will hold my hands up here, as I did not manage to fill this role, however after a candidate has travelled over an hour for the interview, since when did it become acceptable to send a decision by text?! If you truly are an employer brand then take the time to explain your reasons for rejecting a candidate and be honest with your feedback. The candidate will respect you and your business more in the long run!
  • If they do a good job for you, pay recruiters within the timescales agreed at the start of process, thus ensuring a fantastic working relationship moving forward, as you never know when you will need to use them again and for a small business receiving timely payment for a job well done makes all the difference.

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