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The Trolling Of Recruiters

By February 23, 2017One Comment

The internet has given rise to many amazing things that have helped make the world a more connected place. But for all the positives it is undoubtedly balanced out by a lot of downsides too, not least of which is the platform it has afforded complete and utter idiots to voice their moronic opinions in an aggressively viral way (and yeah haha I know the irony but please…read on).

This particular wart on the nose of the internet has been given a name: trolling. Wikipedia describes it thus:

“In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.”

Recruitment as an industry is particularly exposed to trolling, both online and in the real world (is there much difference these days?). We recruiters connect with other humans at a particularly fraught and stressful part of their lives and are often the lightening rods for criticism and invective when things don’t quiet work out as hoped. Which sadly, when dealing with two moving human targets of client and candidate, is quite a lot of the time.

There is a truth that many recruiters dare not speak of though, even though it is constantly there: Despite the understandable onus on a recruiter to provide good candidate care and a positive “candidate experience”, we do not work on behalf of the candidate. The expectation is right, but only in the sense that it is right to treat our fellow humans with dignity and respect, especially when in a position of temporary weakness.

Candidates do not pay a single cent to recruiters for their efforts. It is the clients that recruiters work for and it is the wishes of the clients that the recruiters seek to fulfill in order to generate their fees.


And yet… The most vociferous trolling of recruiters comes, of course, from candidates who are unsuccessful in their quests to secure employment. A good case in point was last week’s blog about why I feel recruiters might as well have unlimited annual leave, which gave rise to a plethora of balanced views and also, predictably, some more hysterical ones too. My favourites were:

“They don’t deserve even one day off!!! As my personal experience the recruiters did nothing for me! the most useless group of people I have ever seen!”

And just to ratchet things up a notch:

“All I have seen is recruiters getting big bonuses and fully paid holidays off my back and hard work, and now you want to be able to have holidays all year round. AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED YOU ARE ALL ON PERMANENT HOLIDAY WHILE I SLOG MY GUTS OUT LOOKING AFTER 2 HOUSEHOLDS ON MINIMUM WAGE AND UNEMPLOYMENT BENIFITS… YOU CAN KISS MY A>>”

(The capitals were the commentator’s own embellishment)

I’m not seeking to nullify or argue against these opinions at all.  That would be like shouting into a wind tunnel and just end up feeding the trolls the vitriolic ammunition they thrive on anyway. So instead I thought I’d lend some balance to this eternal battle and promote some positive feedback about some of you out there in recruitment.


Whenever I meet people in my personal life who have engaged with recruiters, either as client or candidate, I ask their opinions. Responses are mixed, as you would expect, but the detractors in no way outnumber the promoters. So it was when I chatted on Monday with a tennis team mate who has been interviewing with a company through a recruitment agency I referred him to. He spoke in glowing terms about the recruiter he has been dealing with, and we (kinda) joked about how people only ever say anything about their experiences with recruiters when it’s a negative experience – often because it’s an easier thing to do than to face up to your own shortcomings as a candidate.

So… props to Seth from Consult Recruitment for taking care of this guy in an awesome way. And also in recent weeks I’ve had similarly positive feedback from a neighbour of mine who dealt with Guy at Potentia, and another who has been a client of Kara at Talent.

It’s fair to say that not all recruiters are sh*t, it’s just that the ones who are get all the public feedback, and then we all get the trolling.

Keep up the good work out there.

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.

One Comment

  • Stephen Banks says:

    I never wanted to kill myself until I started interacting with recruiters.

    But hey, I guess I’m just a troll, right?