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10 Universal Recruitment Truths

By July 10, 20144 Comments

With your usual blogger currently sunning himself in Samoa wearing nothing but his Arsenal budgie-smugglers, the whiteboard marker has once again been thrust in my direction. Not only do I have the responsibility of an 800-or-so word blog by the Friday morning deadline, I’ve also been intrusted with running the boss’s desk in his absence. With a buoyant agency market, there sure is a lot to do. In between organising Skype interviews, getting feedback from clients, and herding wayward cats candidates, I’ve realised that no matter what desk you’re running, or if your internal or agency, we’re all facing the same challenges. So here’s my 10 truths that hopefully we can all sympathise with:

1) Interviewing is bad for your family’s health

If you care about your family – do not interview for a job. A disproportionate number of candidates will cancel interviews due to a sick family member. I’m no academic, and I’m sure no one would lie to a recruiter, so interviewing must have an adverse effect on your loved ones. Play it safe and think of your children.

2) Every candidate is offered every job

How often do you hear “Yeah, I was offered that job, but the salary wasn’t right so I turned it down”, only to find out the candidate didn’t even interview? It seems that to a candidate, a phone call from a recruiter about a job constitutes an offer. I’m sure if you asked my Grandmother, she was only pipped at the post by Neil Armstrong after his stronger psychometric testing. 

3) Clients like European surnames

It’s a sad indictment of the staffing and HR industry that a candidate is more likely to get an interview if they have a European surname. A study conducted last year by the Australian National University showed that in Australia, if your surname is Chinese, you have to apply for 68% more jobs to gain an interview. Anecdotally, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a similar statistic here in New Zealand. It’s something that everyone in the industry should feel burdened by, and work tirelessly to address.

4) Being a “preferred candidate” usually doesn’t lead to an offer

Preferred candidate usually means “we’re not quite sure”. Actual preferred candidates have already been offered and are working their notice. My advice to any candidate in this situation is to ask “what questions can I answer to move from being “preferred” to being hired”. And if you’re a recruiter and one of your candidates is “preferred” elsewhere… them back in a week or so and you might have them back on your books. 

5) Booking an interview time via email will take up a disproportionate amount of time

A recruiter I used to work with tried organising an interview solely via email over two different time zones back in 2006. Rumour has it, he’s still trying to get it booked.

6) Every candidate on a shortlist comes first or second

On a shortlist of six, one candidate gets the job, and when it comes to delivering feedback, everyone else “just missed out”. If we were Olympians, picture a trophy room crammed full of silver medals. 

Silver dud: Nathan Adrian, Michael Phelps, Cullen Jones and Ryan Lochte look befuddled by their silver medals after the 4x100m freestyle relay

7) No news is bad news

Waiting for client or candidate feedback? Phone ringing once and going to voicemail? Candidates not having internet connection because they’re “moving house”? CVs disappearing into the black hole of an internal recruiter’s inbox? Us eternal optimists make up all kinds of excuses, clinging to the hope that we’ll close the deal and be carried aloft our colleague’s shoulders into the nearest champagne bar. The smart recruiter cries, moves on, and picks up the phone again. 

8) Every recruiter apart from you is having their best quarter ever

Recruiter A: “How’s business?”

Recruiter B: “Smashing it. Never been busier. Mind you, I need to be, what with Reuben starting at (insert expensive school name here). 

9) Female contracting recruiters make more money

Sorry guys, but the top billers out there are female – and they’re making money on hourly margin. Maybe, like heavyweight boxers, us men are always going for the knock-out perm fee. Our multi-tasking counterparts are jabbing away with accumulative hourly margin.

10) People share list blogs on Social Media

This is not unique to recruitment, but people lurve to write and share list blogs. It took all of thirty minutes following Germany’s  destruction of Brazil in the FIFA World Cup for articles like “5 lessons to be learnt from the German Football team” to spring up across LinkedIn. Personally, with a sense of irony that only I understand, I’ll only share the totally obscure stuff written by some crazy chancer; “17 reasons why your shampoo stops you getting a promotion”, “The 6 best tricks to share gum disease”, “23 signs that your boss is a human/reptilian hybrid”. That kind of stuff.

And so it seems that matter what desk we run, or what side of the internal/external fence we sit, our core challenges remain the same. Bearing this in mind, perhaps both agencies and internal functions get too hung up on sector experience? Surely if we can adapt, manipulate, and circumnavigate the above scenarios, then the battle to be a great recruiter is almost won.



Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.