Recruiters Are Lazy

That’s right. I am putting it out there. Recruiters are lazy. 

My 18 years of experience as both a corporate recruiter and recruiting leader gives me the right to call it as I see it. And I’m not alone. “Recruiters aren’t as fussy as they were before,” the website Jobbatical says in referencing a Jobvite recruiting report indicating that “the need for strong conversational skills and enthusiasm decreased among recruiters by more than 20% [between 2017 and 2018].” 

Here’s why I believe many recruiters have gotten lazy:

1. Still Posting and Praying

Recruiters who claim they are sourcing when they go on LinkedIn or using Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder are living in an apocryphal world.

These are job boards, and while yes, job boards generally bring in the most candidates, ask yourself what percentage of them are quality candidates — that is, people who meet your requirements. Two percent. Maybe three.

Despite being better off not wasting your money on sponsored posts and instead investing in sourcing technology or training, post-and-pray remains the status quo. Why?

It is a question I ask people when I speak or meet with clients. Here are responses I typically get:

  1. “We don’t have time.”
  2. “We can’t invest in sourcing technology.”

All viable, but these are really excuses disguised as explanations. Let me help with each. 

“We don’t have time.” What if you were to plan your calendar and stick by it? What if you broke each day into four categories (based on an eight-hour workday, which doesn’t even exist anymore):

  1. Review resumes for X positions (2 hours/day)
  2. Source and contact candidates for X positions (2 hours/day)
  3. Conduct phone interviews (2 – 3 hours/day)
  4. Communicate with managers, Perform administrative tasks, and/or planning activities (1 -2 hours/day)

Of course, you’ll get a variety of requests that can throw wrenches in your day, and sure enough, we are afraid to say no to such requests. So consider replying, “I would be happy to help you, but I am working on a project that I need to get done in the next hour. May I get back to you then?” By keeping to your calendar as much as possible, you will see an increase in your productivity and your ability to fill more roles and faster.

“We can’t invest in sourcing technology.” Translation: Recruiting leaders do not have the vision, the drive, or the ability to write business justifications for the tools they need for their recruiting teams to be successful. 

Your role as the leader is to research and bring technology to the forefront. Encourage your recruiters to do the same. Also ask: Is the technology going to be easy for recruiters, hiring managers, and, most importantly, candidates? Involve a full range of stakeholders, including recently hired employees, in the tech and tool review. Once you have their buy-in, your business justification becomes a lot easier.

2. Not Understanding Overall Business Strategy or Recruiting’s Role in It

Ask yourself, “How did I get into recruiting?” The usual answer? “I fell into it.” This is perhaps why, at least initially, everyone thinks recruiting is easy: All you have to do is hop on LinkedIn, post a job, and the candidates will come to you. Maybe that was the case during the Great Recession ten years ago, but definitely not now.

Not taking the time to understand who you are working for, why you are working for them, and what you are working toward is a fatal mistake. How can you tell the story of your company and the open position if you haven’t taken the time to learn the business strategy? 

The best time for anyone to learn strategy is during onboarding — before taking on requisitions, understanding the recruiting technology and resources, or meeting hiring managers. When I was a recruiting leader, I sat down with new team members to review the organization chart, the HR strategy, and the overall business strategy. I found that my team members were light years ahead of other HR team members and that their ramp-up time to productivity was 30% faster than that of their peers.

3. Not Taking Full Advantage of Invested Technology

As my friend Mike “Batman” Cohen says, “Tools do a job, not your job.”

Recruiting technology exists to be a helper. That’s its only job. However, making recruiting happen by building content, creating fluent processes and workflows, leveraging data, and engaging candidates and hiring managers all requires actual people.

Recruiters and leaders need to learn, understand, and use the technology as much as possible to get the most out of their investment. I have spoken with dozens of companies and tech vendors that believe these tools will make sourcing and recruiting super-easy and will solve all of their problems. Yet when I ask about tool utilization, recruiters say, “I’ve tried it a few times, but it hasn’t helped me find the right candidates.” My follow-up question: “Have you taken the time to learn the tool?” ”No, I haven’t because I don’t have time.” Stunner. 

I am confused. After taking the time to demo the tool, getting it approved in the budget, and implementing it, now you don’t have time to learn it? What the what?! That is lazy thinking to its core. So here are my suggestions:

  • Learn your technology’s capabilities inside and out, and understand how the software will help you do your job more efficiently. Consider doing a lunch-and-learn with everyone in the room within the first week of implementation. 
  • Use the technology at least twice a week. Share new learnings with your teammates as you pick up a “hack” that may be helpful to all.
  • But don’t rely solely on software. Pick up the phone and talk to candidates. Don’t just email or text.
  • Use the technology to create more time in the day to source, pipeline, and present candidates to your hiring managers.

If your technology doesn’t help you enjoy a more productive and efficient workday, it’s time to think about throwing it out the way you’d ditch that container of mystery food in the back of your fridge. Find something better and don’t look back. 

4. Not Acting or Thinking Strategically

According to Glassdoor, on average, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes. Of those candidates, four to six will get called for an interview, and only one will get the job. Sounds like a recruiting funnel, right? Kind of, but what about the other 244 candidates? Some may have been reviewed, but not all of them were. What did you do with them? Send the obligatory thanks-but-no-thanks letter? I would guess that at least 50% of the candidates were not reviewed and just sent the letter. 

Candidate experience is something that we as recruiters aspire to provide, but we fall so short. We fail to provide them with the service they deserve. This is why everyone dislikes recruiting. 

Let’s go back to the 244 candidates who may or may not have been reviewed. The recruiter who is managing the role for which they applied chooses to focus only on finding the best candidate for that role only, but what if the recruiter:

  • Reviewed the candidates that applied for the position but who did not go through the entire process?
  • Found candidates who were qualified for other open roles?
  • Presented these individuals to other recruiting team members? 
  • Let qualified candidates know that someone would be reaching out to them to discuss other open roles?

Now that is thinking with service in mind.

Other ways to improve recruiting service:

  • Personalize communications to candidates you spoke to or met with
  • Establish recruiter-candidate touchpoints throughout the entire process
  • Call candidates with whom you spoke or interviewed to let them know that the position was filled by another candidate
  • Stop using the “candidate we selected was a better fit” explanation; give detailed, appropriate feedback
  • Establish a candidate Bill of Rights, put it on your careers site, and live by it (I did this in a previous role, and it made the entire team accountable for our actions; if we missed something, we encouraged candidates to call us out)
  • When there are gaps during the hiring process, take time at the end of the day (during your administrative time) to call candidates to provide updates even if there isn’t anything new to report

We are all guilty of ghosting candidates. That includes me. When a candidate calls, emails, or texts, respond with enthusiasm and transparency. Be empathetic. This person wants to work at your company. This person is excited. Letting the person down because you don’t have time or don’t make the time will be a critical fail on your part.

A change in mindset to be more proactive, to learn technology, to quit posting and praying, and to start thinking more strategically will help recruiting’s tarnished reputation go away. The choice is yours. Which way will you go?

Michael Goldberg, founder and CEO of Hiring Transformed, is a 25-year talent-acquisition strategist who gives a sh*t about his clients. He brings recruiting in-house to hyper-growth companies by helping them hire talent faster, smarter, and cost-effectively. Contact Michael at michael@hiringtransformed.com.

Topics