A lot has been written about the world of recruiting over the years, and unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it really means to be a recruiter. Of course, there are many different ways in which different recruiters are trained, and how they approach candidate sourcing and business development. But when it comes to highly skilled, experienced, and ethical recruiters, there are a few important things they want their networks to understand. We sat down with four of our industry leaders (Meredith Love, Jerry Wilkins, Justin Wilkins, and Bill Wolfe) to discuss what common misconceptions they face in the market - and what the truth is about their careers as recruiters.
Misconception #1: Recruiters Are Self-Serving and Can’t Be Trusted
Recruiters, and sales professionals in general, can have a negative reputation with many people who have experienced dishonesty and a lack of professionalism in previous experiences. “Unfortunately, because there is no barrier to entry to becoming a recruiter, there are some shady characters out there who have left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths about working with recruiters,” Meredith Love explains. “But we care about the people we work with - the people we place, and the companies we work with. I have built a wide network of industry leaders and professionals who trust me, and I trust them.”
Spending time to find the right recruiter is a critical part of having a positive and productive recruitment experience, because great recruiters want to be of service to their industries, their clients, and their candidates - not simply themselves.
Misconception #2: All Recruiters Mass-Market Resumes
Another common misunderstanding is that recruiters will market candidates to any hiring manager they know, regardless of potential fit for an open role. “We are not a resume factory, just sending resumes and just hoping that it is a fit,” Jerry Wilkins clarifies. Recruiters are in the relationship-building and career-building business; mass-marketing resumes is not a part of that process. Justin Wilkins adds, “Look, I’m sure there are high-volume, transactional recruiters who do just that, but in my world, that’s not recruiting.”
Great recruiters build relationships over months and even years, getting to know their market and making connections between top talent and great companies when an opportunity arises that seems like a potential fit based on a candidate’s career goals, the company’s culture, and chemistry between both parties. “Skill sets and resumes are only 40% of the fit,” Meredith says. “Chemistry is often 60% of a hire.”
Misconception #3: A Recruiter’s First and Only Priority is Making a Placement
Making placements is how recruiters earn a living, and it’s a victory when they can facilitate a successful hire. But a successful, long-term placement only happens when the recruiter has prioritized building market knowledge and relationships - not forcing a “square peg, round hole” placement. “The main question I ask myself on a daily basis is, ‘Who can I help today?’” Justin explains.
“We are ultimately career counselors,” Meredith adds. “Our days are spent talking to people about their careers to determine whether we have an opportunity that would meet their career goals, now or in the future. When we find a match for one of our job orders, that’s the cherry on top.” First and foremost, recruiting is about relationships, and a good recruiter understands that strong relationships take time to develop. “Many of my placements are years in the making,” Bill Wolfe says.
Misconception #4: Recruiters Work to Benefit Companies, Not Candidates
While many recruitment fees are paid by the company making the hire, recruiters are also loyal and committed to the candidates they work with. Recruiters cannot meet the needs of their existing clients or develop new business if they do not have strong relationships with the top talent in the market. “Presenting strong candidates has been the best approach for me when it comes to developing new clients,” Jerry says. “We listen to both the client’s and the candidate’s wants and needs, and then try to make a successful match where everyone wins.”
According to Meredith, “As with any partnership, the keys to success are chemistry, good listening skills, and trust. A candidate has to be able to open up to us about what they are really looking for in their careers.” Building relationships with candidates over a long period of time helps recruiters strengthen their networks, deepen their market knowledge, and ultimately match candidates with companies who can help them maximize their careers in the long term.
Misconception #5: You Should Only Speak to a Recruiter When You Need a Job
The truth is, there are benefits to connecting with a recruiter at every stage in a candidate’s career. A candidate doesn’t need to be open to a career move to benefit from speaking with a recruiter. “We have market information that they might never see otherwise,” Bill says. Candidates can learn about market trends, compensation information, and industry leaders who might bolster their professional networks. Meredith adds, “A good recruiter always talks to people of all credentials. We want to determine how we can help them, now or down the road. What is their long-term goal? Are they at a company that will provide this career track?” Taking the pulse of the market is always a good idea, even when a candidate is happily employed. You never know when having a market expert in your network could come in handy!
In addition, even when companies don’t have an open position to fill, connecting with skilled recruiters has a myriad of benefits. In order to best serve their clients, Justin explains that “great recruiters know what questions to ask and we listen to understand, so that we can resolve conflict, influence outcomes, and build trust,” ultimately bringing value in multiple ways to the people they work with. The same market expertise that recruiters provide to candidates can also benefit companies, from local compensation data to labor trends to retention strategies. “We can also connect companies with candidates who aren’t on the market,” Jerry adds. Those connections can lead to opportunity hires that can help a company bring on an all-star employee before their competitors even know they’re available.
Ultimately, recruiting is about building relationships and serving the recruiter’s industry. Great recruiters want to connect with companies and candidates at all levels across their market, whether a placement results from those connections or not. What’s the most important thing these industry leaders want you to understand about great recruiters? For Bill, it’s very simple: “We can be trusted.”