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May 27, 2020

Salvaging the Recruiting Industry’s Bad Reputation

There’s a lot of animosity out there for recruiters. And if you view recruiters from the perspective of a candidate, it’s easy to understand why. Job-seeking is an inherently stressful process — you need to perform well during interviews, bills are due and you often go weeks without hearing any updates on your status.

When a recruiter makes this process even more stressful, it paints a poor picture for all recruiters. “I think the industry is plagued with a poor reputation,” said Adam Conrad, founder of Great Recruiters during episode 2 of You Own the Experience. “ I always go back to [Googling] ‘recruiters are…,’ and the top results are like ‘evil,’ ‘liar,’ ‘waste of time.’ There’s not a positive result out there.”

So, the million-dollar question is: Can recruiters salvage their industry’s crummy reputation and learn how to improve recruitment?

People, not transactions

Before Conrad founded Great Recruiters, he had first-hand experience working as a recruiter in a mid-sized staffing firm. There, Conrad saw that many of the poor experiences that recruiters were delivering were because they held a transactional attitude about their jobs.

Your candidates know that you’re getting paid to place them in a position, regardless of whether that position is with a good company or whether you’re a good fit or even — for the less ethical recruiters out there — whether they’ve been telling you the truth about your new job.

Recruiters that default to this transactional attitude are going to deliver an experience that will leave a bad taste in their candidates’ mouths. Essentially, these recruiters are putting their own agenda first; get as many bodies through the door as possible. Truly worthwhile recruiters put their candidates’ agenda first instead.

“It’s premature for me to talk to you about a job if I don’t know who you are as an individual,” said Conrad. “You are much more than just a set of skill sets, you have cultural needs, you have other needs outside of just what you do professionally.”

Why a people-first attitude is a long-term solution for recruiters

Ironically, when recruiters put their own agenda first in this way, they’re putting their jobs at risk. By making the bulk of their daily work primarily transactional in nature, they’re setting themselves up to be displaced by automation.

“The recruiter that is transactional is going to get replaced. Bottom line,” said Conrad during the You Own the Experience podcast.

To see why, we can look to industries where a similar dynamic has played out, such as real estate and travel. In the past, these individuals used to do the work of finding houses that are on the market or a good deal on airline tickets and hotels. But these tasks are easily accomplished these days by their customers — you can pull up an app and easily see what houses are up for sale in your neighborhood or compare and contrast the prices of a ticket.

Despite this, these jobs still exist. Why? Because real estate and travel agents focus on the people and experience aspects of these activities. When buying a house, people want to talk through the things that an app can’t tell them or hear firsthand what they can expect from their weeks-long trip to Europe.

“I see technology pushing recruiters to be more than what the industry has demanded of them,” said Conrad.

Recruiters who put the candidate first won’t just survive; they’ll flourish. Candidates who have a bad experience typically blame the staffing firm, but candidates who have a great experience credit the recruiter.

Getting to know the person behind the resume can have serious downstream benefits. If you take the time to figure out what really makes a person a great fit for a company, they’ll be more likely to stay there. When it comes time for that company to bring new hires on, that great recruiter is going to be the first person they talk to.

Before going on to start Great Recruiter, here’s how Conrad’s staffing firm worked to salvage recruiting’s poor reputation:

  • They used Herefish as a means of automatically staying in touch with candidates
  • They solicited feedback via survey after the candidate’s first impression, submittal, interview, first week, and off-boarding. This ensured they were keeping track of every touchpoint, testing their assumptions, and constantly improving their process.
  • They held Fanatical Fridays, where, rather than keep their candidates in the dark over the weekends, they’d reach out and talk to their candidates about their status at the end of every week.

Conrad had a lot more wisdom to share about how the recruiting industry can do better for the candidate and restore its reputation. Check out episode 2 of the You Own the Experience podcast to hear more.