Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Way To Use A Recruiter

The other week I placed an executive I have known for twelve years.  It was the first time I had ever sent him out.  He pointed that out to me during the interview process and I explained to him what I am writing here.

People evaluate recruiters on the wrong criteria.  I know that everyone has a list of people they call.  That list gets passed around from one friend to another with either verbal or written commentary.  “This one did a great job for me and sent me on a bunch of interviews.”  “ That one was not helpful and didn’t send me anywhere.”  This isn’t the correct way to evaluate a headhunter.  

Recruiting is like doing a jigsaw puzzle. 


The pieces have to fit precisely.  Because a recruiter doesn’t send you out does not mean that he or she doesn’t like you. It could simply mean that they don’t have jobs that match your interests, credentials or you are not a candidate who matches their client’s needs.  In the case of the 12 year person I mentioned in the first paragraph, I always liked the candidate but had never, in all those years, had the correct job for him.  Simple as that.  

I saw a commentary from a recruiter a couple of weeks ago which I thought was apropos to this one.  She wrote that there are lots of people who believe they can do a job (and they probably can), but do they actually have the background, personality or skills for that job?  That is a great distinction between wanting a job and getting a job.  Effective recruiters have to make those distinctions.

Recruiters are paid to find square pegs for square holes.  When a recruiter knows a client well, there is room for some creativity.  I wrote about calling a client an asking them to see someone who does not fully match the job specs a couple of weeks ago.  There are some recruiters who simply play the percentages and send candidates who do not match their job specs and very occasionally those people get hired because of some reason which might not have been spelled out in the original job specs to the recruiter.  But that only happens, at best, 5-10% of the time.  That is not how I treat my candidates or clients – why send someone who you are sure will either be rejected or not ultimately get the job?  

What the candidate who I just placed did over the past twelve years was the perfect use of me as a recruiter.  He stayed in touch, always told me about each new job, assignment, account, promotion, salary increase and the like which he received.  That information enabled me to determine exactly when I had the right job for him.

When the puzzle pieces fell into place I knew he would be the right person for the job I placed him in.  I did not send anyone else.


  1. Excellent viewpoint. Years ago I kept getting turned down at a hot agency I really wanted to work at. I was contacted later by the agency's in-house recruiter to come to another agency. I said, I always wanted to work at ______. She said "we always wanted to hire you, we just didn't have the right spot."

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