Dear recruiters,

I understand your job is a tough one. You have 2 clients, one paying you, the other trying to impress you to put them forward to your paying client. I know you spend your time trying to strike a balance between pleasing your client and keeping good candidates warm and focused on the job you’re trying to fill.

I have a few random thoughts I’d like to put forward to encourage discussion:

  1. We often hear you say that you’re too time-poor to return candidates’ calls, read resumes or give feedback to unsuccessful applicants. I don’t understand this – what else are you doing in your job as a recruiter if not returning calls from hopeful applicants, reading resumes and cover letters and giving people the bad news that they’ve been unsuccessful. It makes no sense that you claim to be too busy to do what should make up at least 75% of your job!
  2. You often include the following statement in your ads: “Only short-listed applicants will be contacted.” This is such an arrogant thing to say and belittles the efforts of a lot of serious job seekers. Is it really so difficult in this modern age to at least let people know that their application is not going to progress?
  3. You word your ads in such a way as to exclude anybody who doesn’t tick every single box of your paying clients’ specifications. Most of the time you’re looking for someone who has done exactly the same job in their previous role. Your defence is that your client wants people to be “job-ready”. This is just plain wrong and you know it! As a recruiter, you should be adding value by strongly urging your clients to seek people who are looking for their next challenge, where there is at least a 25% gap in the new role for the new hire to sink their teeth into and make them more likely to stay in their new job because it’s challenging and provides them with new skills
  4.  To only hire job-ready candidates is short-sighted and costly in the long run for your clients. A big part of your job should be to stand firm and convince your clients of the benefits of strategic recruitment. I understand your reticence to do this as it could lose you the gig and your boss will not be happy
  5. To filter out unwanted applications (supposedly the main cause of your busyness) why not insist on a cover letter with every application? This would weed out 80% of unsuitable applicants. To cull even further why not insist that each potential applicant call you for a 10 minute chat before submitting their application?  This may seem like a lot of work but I guarantee you’d only get calls from really motivated and potentially excellent candidates. No cover letter or screening call means no chance.

I trust this letter will generate a healthy debate on a contentious issue that most of us in HR have struggled with over the years.

Yours sincerely,

David Wurth

(HR consultant and some-time recruiter)