HR Roundtable: The Myths About Recruiting and Recruiters

You could sense that the November HR Roundtable in Cincinnati was going to be a little prickly.

Not only were we meeting on Election Day, but the topic was generating quite a bit of buzz! We gathered to talk about The Myths About Recruiting.

Since people were all ready to go, Steve lofted the following questions to the group to get them started:

  1. What is a recruiter’s job?
  2. Why is there such a negative view of recruiters?
  3. What can recruiters do to be seen more positively?

Before the groups broke into small conclaves, Steve took a general temperature check from the group about the general feel and perspective of recruiters. It was overwhelmingly harsh and negative.

This is very interesting! Read on and see why …

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What is a recruiter’s job?

  • Fill open jobs — Seems obvious, but it was great to see that the group recognized the baseline of a recruiter’s role. Open jobs are the backbone and driver of what recruiters regularly do.
  • Finding the best match (putting puzzles together) — This is a vastly different answer than the first one! Why, you may ask? A recruiter can honestly fill a job without it vaguely being a match for what is truly needed. This isn’t on the recruiter though. The hiring manager usually blames the recruiter, but so many people rush to make sure holes are plugged in departments, that they will settle vs. trying to find a great match. What does your organization typically do?
  • Sort through the resumes and muck — Love this! Not often do you get to hear the words “resumes” and “muck” in the same sentence. With the reality of so many people submitting resumes to any available opening, it may get mucky. That is a true shame because a shining gem may stuck in this mire. One has to wonder if people will take the time to find those gems though.
  • Multi-level marketing — Very interesting take! It’s also very true. Recruiters, whether internal or external, have a distinct marketing and sales edge to their role in both sourcing and placing candidates within organizations. It’s a great skill to have and one that HR in general should learn to adopt.
  • Align strategies with current and future business needs — This is going even beyond the “making a match” approach. Recruiters who can successfully do this are invaluable. It should be a goal of organizations to reach this stage with their recruiters because alignment always leads to future growth and value.
  • Great resource for the realistic cost of hiring — People seem to think that this means “fees.” It doesn’t. It means that recruiters can assist in gauging how much talent and cost to hire really is for an organization. It may include the fee you pay in using an external recruiter, but it’s bigger than that. HR and hiring managers need to look at this as a true measure of the impact of utilizing recruiters and the value of their hires.
  • Build relationships — What needs to be remembered in this bullet is this: relationships go both ways. HR needs to learn to embrace recruiters and vice versa. Too often both camps whine about how the relationship is all about sales. That’s a choice. Quit being a victim and break the cycle. Make relationships and expect them. If either party won’t do this, then don’t work with each other.

Why is there such a negative view about recruiters?

Before we jump into these answers, please note the great positive answers given to the first question. Steve pointed this out to the group because our filter and stereotype clouds what we may truly think. It’s a great lesson not only for this topic, but for most topics in HR in general!

  • Making the sale — In the last bullet point above, we alluded to this. No one likes a sales approach to anything, let alone people. Recruiters that are quota driven or commission based solely face a tough challenge here. If people would understand the value of relationships, they’d make more sales than they could imagine.
  • No follow-up — HR needs to be careful here. This is very much a “pot calling the kettle black” comment. The fact is that in today’s business environment, the pace is overwhelming and ridiculous. What’s missing is the ability to show grace. If follow-up isn’t occurring, reach out first. Don’t whine about it. Address it and get it to improve. If it doesn’t improve, then move to another source. Sitting to churn and complain about a lack of follow-up is not productive for anyone – including the job seeker/candidate.
  • Not responding — See the answer above. If people ignore each other on an on-going basis, why do we insist on churning thinking it will improve? Move on and quit being stuck.
  • Mismatching candidates to openings — Make sure that if this occurring to dig in and see if this lies with the recruiter or an unrealistic hiring manager. Also, if this does happen, step back and evaluate what happened so that it can be improved going forward.
  • Too many puppies — What does this mean? It’s the fact that most HR people cut their professional teeth in a recruiting role with little or no experience. Today’s marketplace is demanding candidates that can come in and hit the ground running. Without experience, new HR peeps struggle to make those matches out of the gate because they haven’t had their seasoning yet.
  • They skip HR — Now, whose fault is this? If recruiters work around HR, then call them on it. However, be a valuable resource yourself so that the relationship flows through you and doesn’t get stymied by you. Make sure that each party is clear on expectations of how things should work effectively.

What can recruiters do to be seen more positively?

  • Help HR succeed — Recruiters can reach out too. If you make your client look good, do you think it will lead to future business? Instead of being adversaries, be collaborators.
  • Be honest about your candidates — Don’t oversell or overhype your candidates. Be practical and make the ties of what these people bring to the needs of the organization. Don’t raise your voice and scream that this is already being done. It’s not. It’s a great area for opportunity for all involved.
  • Get back to every single candidate — This may seem daunting, but it is a great goal and practice. Even if you don’t place someone, give them the courtesy of letting them know where things stand. If you do this, candidates will embrace the experience you’re giving and will be your champion even if they don’t get the job!

Steve also reminded job seekers that they too need to respond every time. It’s great that you land a new job, but if a recruiter who you’ve asked to help you doesn’t know that, you leave them hanging. Not cool or professional. Remember – model the behavior you expect in others.

  • Educate everyone involved in the processes being used — Too often people make assumptions about recruiting. Clear up the ambiguity and lay out what may happen at all stages of the process. That alone would differentiate you from most in the field.
  • Build relationships — I know it was said before, but this is so critical. Steve noted that some of his most reliable HR resources are recruiters – and he doesn’t personally use them. Having strong business relationships can’t be an option for professionals anymore. It has to be THE foundation!

The Cincinnati HR Roundtable started off heated and ended passionately which is where they all should end! Make sure to attend (or check back here) in December when we are going to discuss How to Make a Workplace Great!

Steve Browne, SHRM-SCP, is the Executive Director of Human Resources for LaRosa's, Inc., a regional pizzeria restaurant chain in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio area with 16 locations and over 1,200 team members. Steve has been an HR professional for more than 30 years in the manufacturing, consumer products, and professional services industries. He facilitates a monthly HR Roundtable in Cincinnati and runs an Internet message board for HR pros that reaches 7,800 plus people weekly. Steve joined the SHRM Board of Directors in January 2016. You can contact him at, or on Twitter (@sbrownehr). You can also read more on his personal blog, Everyday People.



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