Top 10 Mistakes Made When Recruiting Recruiters

By February 14, 2015Recruitment

Recruitment companies are recruiting again. The ‘war for talent’ has started once more (did it ever stop?) and thousands of recruitment consultant jobs are being advertised on the job boards and recruitment-to-recruitment specialist agencies are getting steadily busier.


It is imperative that we don’t make the same mistakes we made previously when re-staffing our teams. Forget about ‘double dip’ if you want to send your recruitment company or team down the swanee, then follow the ten most common mistakes we make when recruiting recruiters:

  1. Hiring ‘experienced’ recruiters They are on the market for a GOOD reason. Proceed with caution – you may just end up with someone else’s problem recruitment consultant.
  2. Recruiting low energy people because we like them – If they’re low energy in the interview process how do you think they’ll be after 6-12 months with you? Do you really want to have to light a fire under people?
  3. Not checking references – You may as well give them the keys to your house and car whilst you’re at it.
  4. Making compromises when we take someone on (settling) – If you settle for second best, they will always be second best. Don’t you deserve ‘FIRST BEST’?
  5. Hiring to ‘fill a desk’ – Far better to keep it empty until the ‘best’ presents themselves
  6. Hiring friends – A recipe for disaster
  7. Paying no attention to what the team says
  8. Paying too much attention to what the team says
  9. Selling too much to the candidate
  10. Taking too long (time kills all deals)

It’s a sad and ironic indictment of our recruiting industry that the one universal role that we struggle to recruit for is the one of recruitment consultants for ourselves. Even recruitment-to-recruitment companies find it easier to locate and place recruiters at their client companies than to fill their own internal gaps – you work it out??!!

I think one of the biggest reasons we get it so wrong is reason no.9 in our list – ‘selling too much to the candidate’. I see it time and time again in recruitment companies I go out to train. Often I am asked to be involved in the selection process of new consultants coming in to some of my clients. They figure if they can get me to endorse them and they don’t work out maybe I’ll give them some money back – yeah right!
The mistake I see the client make is telling the prospective recruiter what a fabulous company they are to work for, how they’re about to float on AIM in 2 years, how they will be financially independent within 3 years, how they don’t believe in ‘office politics, how they have an ‘open door’ policy to management and ‘we have never had a staff member leave the company EVER’! Now some of this may undoubtedly be true and of course you have to play up the positive aspects of any job. However I reckon we could dramatically increase our chances of recruiting the right people and retaining them if we were just a bit more truthful during the interview and selection process.

For a start, let’s tell people realistically how hard they need to work in their first year including what hours they need to work to be considered doing the job. If the culture in your business is that no-one leaves before 8pm at night it seems only fair to point that out during the interview and not reveal it to them in week 3 of their probation period. Likewise if there is an office bitch (most often a bloke) that makes rookies life hell for the first three months Warn them! If you as the boss only come in after 10am and frequently leave before 5pm (why??) tell them that’s the way it is. If you’re embarrassed to, then maybe you need shut up and change your hours to reflect how hard your team work. If their first three weeks are going to be spent cold calling to build up your client vacancy list then tell them to expect the worst, i.e., lots of rejection, low morale, wanting to give up, etc.

The way I see it is if you paint the job as the worst they could ever imagine but talk about the rewards once you get past the initial boot camp feel then you are getting someone whose job expectation is based in reality which ultimately will lead to job satisfaction. If you bullshit the job up, their expectation is artificially high and unreal and will definitely lead to job dissatisfaction and the churn and burn we have come to expect in our recruitment industry just keeps on rolling on. Tell it how it is and remember to keep it real!

P.s. I would like to add in an 11th biggest mistake when recruiting recruiters and that is ‘failing to train them properly’. Stop spending a fortune identifying and recruiting superstars and then sitting them at a desk with an induction manual and the promise you’ll spend some time with them next week. Do it properly and get me in there!

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