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I have been upsetting people of late. This is perhaps nothing new, but it’s got me thinking about the craft of Recruitment and how annoying it can be for all involved. In my 20 years in the game, I have only encountered a Beadle-sized handful of Recruiters who manage to walk the tightrope of keeping clients, candidates, colleagues, and suppliers constantly happy. In fact I’d guess there is less than 1% of us who can proudly state that, like Jesus, our actions have never right-royally pissed someone off. Respect to these folk. As someone who hangs out at the other end of the spectrum, let’s have a look at why we’re so good at annoying people.

Firstly there’s the obvious and avoidable. We don’t respond to all candidate applications. We keep calling “clients” who aren’t hiring. We don’t give feedback to candidates who weren’t successful. We go missing for days. We headhunt candidates from our clients who we placed 3 months and a day ago. We tell clients that a candidate has an offer elsewhere when they don’t. We hide candidates from our colleagues. We lie to candidates about jobs to get them to accept. We tell candidates there’ll be a pay review in 6 months when there won’t. We send CVs without a candidate’s permission. We send CVs to clients who didn’t ask for them. We write blogs with a level of honesty. We get drunk at office parties and verbally abuse/finger colleagues and bosses. We crash the company car whilst drunk. We fake invoices.

The list goes on, but you get the idea. All of the above are avoidable, and I’d like to unrealistically hope that none of you lot have ever done any of the above. However, there is a whole other category of stuff we do which inadvertently annoys and upsets people – some of which is avoidable, but not all of the time. Who you annoy however is typically preordained very early on in your recruitment career, and only changes following a major market shift. Let me explain. In the most part, us Recruiters either work in market where roles are more plentiful than candidates, or where candidates are more plentiful than roles. Depending on where your desk sits at any point in time, largely decides who you’re pissing of that week.

Let’s have a look.

Agency “rec to rec” almost always operates in a world whereby the candidate is king. If you have a $700k biller who is prepared to be represented by you, every business is a client. Even people who hate you. Your job in this market is to provide consultative services to the candidate; guiding them on which firm would suit them culturally and provide the best opportunity for them and their family. After agreeing a list of clients, you essentially become an interview booking service. However, throughout the process, watch and marvel at how every client wants you to steer the $700k guy in their direction. I never have more best mates than when I’m representing a mega-biller. For a moment, I even kid myself that I’m an easy-going, likable guy. At some point however, many of these clients will make offers to this candidate. Some will pull the trigger on the first meeting. Some will send contracts directly. Some will move slowly. Some will want to do testing. Some won’t care. The idea of a consistent process will fly out of the window. Ultimately however, it needs to be the candidate who, after meeting all the relevant clients, decides on what is best for them. And of course, those firms who aren’t selected by the candidate, understand that this was the candidate’s decision to make and not the recruiter representing them right? RIGHT?? Alas, not always. If you work in a candidate short industry, at times, you will inadvertently upset a client when a candidate accepts a job elsewhere. They will say you didn’t act quick enough, didn’t represent their brand well enough, demonstrated favouritism to another firm, or just couldn’t close a door. You will most likely have done nothing wrong.

The other option is you decide to work in a market whereby there tends to be lots of candidates but not so many roles. Firstly, you WILL piss clients off by trying to pick up jobs. If you don’t, well you’re just not trying hard enough. You will then have the job of taking many applications, sometimes in the hundreds, down to one person. You may, at times, not respond to every single enquiry. Yes, your ATS will help, but it may be a missed voicemail, a text you read whilst  driving, a LinkedIn message sent whilst on leave. Whatever the cause, you will be the recruiter who never replied. The next thing is that you’ll need to reject many more people than you’ll ever break good news to. Sometimes you can be honest. Sometimes your clients will put you in a position where you have to be dishonest. “We want a male”, “Dave worked with him previously and said he had BO”, “She’s too old”. Whatever it may be, you will have to navigate the stormy waters of sugar coating inappropriate rejection. At times, the storm will win, and you will be blamed. At times, the candidate won’t take rejection lying down. Like the son of an errant father, they will project their feeling of rejection on to you. The messenger will be very much “shot”. Most of your working life will be spent rejecting people and this is a potential powder keg of upset.

Sounds pretty depressing right? Not entirely. Personally, and believe it or not, I try not to upset people. However I also accept that sometimes I will. That’s just how it goes. And if clients get too grumpy, it’s nothing that a $700k biller won’t solve.