Excellent Follow-up to What I Wish Recruiters Knew

Harry Joiner - Marketing HeadhunterYesterday there were 14 (and counting) excellent comments on my post about what I wish recruiters knew. Most of them were from recruiters and all of them were thoughtful. Its obviously a sore spot for lots of folks, which seems to stem from misunderstandings about the roles. I’ll follow-up on various points in different posts but I wanted to highlight one specific issue – having a recruiter follow-up.

My frustration was that I would get no e-mail reply or returned phone call from most of the 30 recruiters that I had initiated a relationship with. It was so frustrating and not what I expected from people who I thought were in the people business. It didn’t help that in my last job I was high enough up that I always got replies from everyone… and now I was less than a nobody. Poor more salt in my wound, please!

What do the recruiters have to say about the follow-up? Here are 4 quotes from the comments yesterday:

Carl Chapman, Executive Restaurant Recruiter: The fact is that they do have a follow-up system. You see there are three piles – Can use right away, maybe later, and Can’t Help. The can’t help pile is the circular file…

Harry Joiner, the Marketing Headhunter: I liken being a busy recruiter to being a triage nurse in an emergency room: It’s tough to be the one to decide who gets treated and who dies in the waiting room, but that’s my job.

Rob Merrill, Utah Tech Recruiter: The hard thing my candidates don’t realize sometime, is that we receive about 200-300 emails a day from candidates.

Lucas Arnold, People Driven Solutions: “I think i am looking at it from the wrong way from the jobseeker…” (Jason comment: I hope that recruiters never stop looking at it from the jobseeker perspective. I’m not sure what expert recruiter and Big Biller Bill Vick has to say about this, as his emphasis is teaching recruiters to be more successful than they can imagine, but I hope that there is some emphasis on developing long-term relationships with candidates.)

Harry’s analogy (the triage nurse) helps me get it best. But it sure sucks when you are the one that gets neglected. So, here’s an excellent example of follow-up that I saw from Harry after I e-mailed him. Its an auto-responder. Note the content of this e-mail is much more than just “I’ll get back to you when I can”… check this out (I’m only linking out to one link, because it is awesome):

Thanks for your email. I will respond to it shortly.

Please Double-Click here to Download my vCard:

… then forward this email to a talented colleague.

Kind regards,
Harry Joiner
As seen in the WSJ’s “Career Journal Online”

NEW for Candidates: www.28-Job-Search-Tips.com

28 Job Search Tips? He is already doing what I wrote yesterday… if I wanted to work with Harry (I’m not a marketer) then I could read his blog and see his tips… awesome! He is sharing relevent tools, techniques and information to help me understand “where we go from here.” Kudos Harry, for having this in place already! And its in an auto-responder, so everyone that e-mails him gets it!

10 thoughts on “Excellent Follow-up to What I Wish Recruiters Knew”

  1. For what it’s worth, this is the whole reason I started FRACAT in the first place. I couldn’t communicate with 200 different folks a day and, frankly, they didn’t want to hear from me unless I had a new job or an update on the job they had applied for.

    So, I started another blog that grew into FRACAT. My candidates can keep in touch with me easily, see what jobs are available the second that they come available, and the typical advice that I tell people in order to be a better candidate is freely available.

    What you’ll find often is that new recruiters will re-contact you a lot more often than season ones. The reason is that when they say, “You weren’t a good fit”, candidates often want to argue about how wonderful a fit they were.

    This uses precious time and doesn’t change the outcome. Except the next time, the recruiter just won’t call.

    Personally, I think this is a bad practice, but that is why it happens.


  2. Thanks for the shout out. Boy. Humbling. The fact is, I was unemployed and flat broke just four years ago. I couldn’t get arrested, and the recruiters I dealt with were effing useless. I can’t tell you how stressful it was. I’m still not a big fan of recruiters. I know this is going to sound pretentious, but helping “dark horse” candidates find gainful employment is a jihad for me. I’ll forgive you for rolling your eyes. However, the market for recruiters who “give a shit” is infinite.

  3. I agree with Harry, the market for recruiters who care is infinite. Unfortunately, the people who want an need the “caring” don’t pay us.

    Jason, I have integrated job seeker tips on my site that are pretty detailed, and available for free 24 hours per day. 😉 In fact, I think that my email template points people right to them, along with career alerts and online job listings.

    My take is that most job seekers don’t understand that we don’t have time to find them jobs. We only have time to deal with active candidates and those who can be. That leaves a bunch of people that are either going to “not get treatment” or end up “in the circular file.”

    Keep up the great work in keeping the dialogue open. -Carl

  4. Hi Carl. You raise a good point in that “the people who want and need [attention] don’t pay us.” I tend to spend a lot of time treating them anyway. Call it stupidity. Call it mercy. I’m sure you do the same thing. I read your blog regularly, and I know how empathic you are.

    The entire job-seeking / hiring process remains broken — and many talented executives and their families suffer needlessly. If I were in this thing just for the money, I wouldn’t find recruiting nearly as stimulating.

  5. After conducting hundreds of interviews with Big Billers and recruiting industry leaders it never ceases to amaze me how diverse our industry is in techniques and philosophy. However their some commonalities that all Big Biller share in common.

    They are:
    • Attitude – every Big Biller has reached a point where he or she has an unshakeable, winning attitude and relentless persistence.
    • Focus – every Big Biller has a crystal-clear purpose and a strategy for success.
    • Control – Big Billers control the process at every step, and are in control of the hirer’s expectations and the candidate’s presentation – nothing is left to chance.
    • Discipline – every day is planned, routines are followed, the process is respected.
    • Relationships – Big Billers put customer needs before fees (again and again it was emphasized that recruiting is above all a relationship business).

    Time and time again the respect for the client, the candidate and their peers came through loud and clear. Two of the leaders I interviewed were Tom Johnson and Tom Ruff. Both are Million dollar producers and lead their own companies. Tom is a franchisor with 42 franchises in place while Tom dominates the pharmaceutical and medical device sales recruitment space.

    To quote “Candidates for Life – Tom Johnson, founder of SearchPath feels “Probably the biggest thing that will create a big Biller is that you treat your customers correctly. If you treat them well, they’ll keep coming back. I never try to do a search and then walk away. I do a search, it’s the beginning of a relationship. And even today I’ve got very very deep relationships with, not a whole lot of clients, I’ve got my dozen or two dozen clients that I do work with. But they consistently come back because they’re satisfied and committed to me, because they know I’m committed to them.

    “If you ever put the fee more important than the relationships, you will fail in this business. It’s not about the fee, it’s about making sure clients are given the service they want and they find the talent that they need and then putting the needs of your candidates in front. As soon as they realize it’s all about you making a deal and doing a placement they’ll never work with you again, they won’t refer you to their friends, to their peers.”

    Build, lead and direct support teams Tom Ruff explained his philosophy of recruiting, based on a well-known touchstone of relationships, the Golden Rule, and how his company has benefited from this approach.

    “We are a contingency based firm so we do represent both the client and the candidate. However we only get paid if the client hires our candidate. So just from what I’ve learned through the years of recruiting is the Golden Rule. Just always treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself.”

    “Really getting to know our clients, our clients’ families. We take time to run consistently. We sent gifts to clients if they have a new baby, we send birthday cards to their children. We spend time with them going to sporting events, dinners. We travel to a lot of trade shows, and get to spend time with our clients at trade shows as well.”

    “So they do become friends. And that has made a huge difference to us. And over the course of time a lot of the candidates that we placed back in the early nineties now have moved up through the ranks. So they’ve gone to district manager, regional manager. So now some of the VPs of Sales are candidates that we placed years ago and we’ve just stayed in touch with them so the relationships have made a critical difference in the success of a relationship with them.”


    Bill Vick

  6. I’m not a recruiter, but am currently an in-transition executive. And I have often been a client of search firms. Here’s my view on this conversation.

    Customers define value for any business. A business needs to organize itself in order to provide the value its customers will pay for with as little waste as possible.

    Recruiting is a business. The customer is the client who is paying the bills. The customer values a slate of great candidates in a timely fashion – a slate full of “perfect” fits. Of course, such a slate is not often delivered, but I think that is what search firm clients are looking for. The customer is not paying for – does not value – any time the recruiter spends on candidates who don’t fit the spec. The customer doesn’t care less about you unless you fit the spec – and that’s as it should be, I believe.

    The recruiter produces a slate by sorting through a large number of potential candidates and finding those that best fit the job spec. Recruiters would like to minimize waste – of their time, their client’s time, the waste of submitting candidates who are very poor fits for the spec, and so on.

    The recruiter needs to spend his or her time on the activities that are going to deliver that value. My guess is that a large number of the really good recruiters are working long hours already. Is it reasonable to expect them to drop value-adding activities in order to call a large number of unsuccessful candidates and tell them they don’t fit? I don’t think so.

    Job seekers are potential suppliers to the recruiter. Job seekers are not not not the client. Want to build a relationship with a recruiter that will get you a response? Find ways to eliminate waste and speed the slate-building process for that recruiter.

    1. Don’t waste the recruiter’s time with an application that is far off the spec. Unless I meet 70 percent of the spec, or better, I don’t bother applying.

    2. When a recruiter calls looking for candidates, troll through your network (within 24 hours) and see if you know anyone worth passing back to the recruiter. If not, tell the recruiter so (yep – ya wanna get responses in the future, you have to give ’em today). I always then email a few folks in my network, asking them if they know anyone who might fit the search.

    3. Always return any call or email from a recruiter as soon as you can. They are often working against tight deadlines, and the quicker you get back to them, the better.

    4. Rather than sending letters or emails that essentially say “hire me,” find useful things to send them. For example, I have sent links to a few good recruiting blogs to some of my recruiter friends. Try the subtle approach of letting recruiters know how your search is going and offering to help them find candidates for current searches. When I do that, I get a thanks note and I know I’m top of that recruiter’s mind for a moment. Mission accomplished.

    In general, respect the recruiter’s time. That recruiter is on a deadline. If you are a job seeker, you aren’t – at least not a deadline that you have any right to impose on the recruiter.

    As I read what I’ve written so far, it takes me back to Jason’s brilliant pair of articles last Thursday and Friday. Treat recruiters like anyone in your network. When you contact them, concentrate on offering to help them. Ya gotta give to get. And, to paraphrase a quote/proverb I heard somewhere long ago, “If you give enough recruiters what they want, you will eventually get what you need.”


  7. Thanks for mentioning Elite Business Communications and our etiquette classes.  We also do gender and generational differences in the workplace and dining etiquette. One of our most interesting seminars is: \”For Women Only, Dumb Things Women Do To Sabotage Their Careers\” Quite an eye opener for men and women, especially mangers.

    Your blog segment on recruiters is terrific. While I was researching my book The Complete Job Search Handbook I talked with several recruiters. I also interviewed for a Branch Manager position for a national recruiting firm for their SLC office. The interview process was quite long and very educational. I also thought that a recruiter\’s customer was the job seeker. Not true, the recruiter\’s main client is the company that needs the position filled. That is their main client base and the client that will bring in the big bucks. The one time job seeker is just that – a one time person that moves on and does not use the recruiter again. Any business would structure itself to gravitate to a position where you have recurring business as opposed to one off. So what does that tells us about the type of recruiters a job seeker should look for?

    Anyone care to dialog around that?

  8. Your blog on recruiters really set the record straight. Understanding that recruiters are working for the companies that have positions to fill and not for those seeking jobs helps people understand why they don’t get responses from recruiters very quickly, if at all. Kent makes an excellent point about making yourself useful to recruiters by only applying for jobs you are truly qualified for and helping recruiters find qualified candidates if you can. The more helpful you are to a recruiter, the more likely they will be to remember and recommend you.

  9. Carl, thank you for your excellent blog. I will utilize your and Jason’s information when working with clients.
    Your points are well taken. Often we only think of what someone can do for us without presenting value
    to them and enlisting their support by showing them how a relationship with us can be mutually beneficial.

Comments are closed.