Recruiters and Candidates, Unite!

Posted by Paladin on August 26, 2009

I’ve been fortunate to deal with some great recruiters, both as a client and as a candidate.  And I’ve been unfortunate, on occasion, to have run across some who clearly should have pursued careers in trench digging, coal shoveling, grape stomping or other fields requiring aptitude in wielding a blunt instrument.  The lack of functional expertise, responsive service, and simple finesse in professional staffing is sometimes laughable, and not in a funny ha-ha way.

True story:  A recruiter, who maintained he “knew marketing up one side and down the other,” asked if I had experience in preparing advertising and brochures, promotional materials and the like.  I said I’d developed numerous integrated campaigns with advertising and collateral.  He replied, “Collateral is fine, but what about brochures and promotional materials?” He wanted me to drop everything and immediately re-write my resume, which I did, and then he didn’t follow up for weeks, even after repeated phone calls and emails.  When he finally called, he said he’d never presented me to the client, and commented snidely, “you’re not a good fit but do you know anybody else who is?”  The problem wasn’t that he’d decided not to present me — my issue was that he refused to explain why, that he took so long to do it, and that his attitude reflected the clear assumption that he held the more important position in our relationship.  I was disappointed — but more importantly, I was unimpressed and vowed never to work with the guy in the future.So here are just a few basic tips I think could potentially be valuable for both recruiters and candidates as we all navigate the (hopefully) soon-to-come swell in recovery-related hiring:

Know the Work
Candidates should know something about the client’s business, even if industry experience isn’t required. Recruiters should know something about the actual responsibilities – don’t just take the client’s job spec and dump it into your template. Ask questions until you get what’s really required.

Follow Up Properly
This is so simple, but it’s amazing how many candidates can’t find the right balance between staying top of mind versus being a stalker.  Recruiters should tell candidates when they expect to present to/hear from the client. If the recruiter doesn’t discuss a follow up plan, candidates should simply ask “how/when may I re-connect with you on this? Both clients and candidates should return phone calls promptly; it’s basic courtesy.

Respect the Connection
The best recruiters and candidates know that establishing a strong relationship is key to years of future success for both. If you’re a recruiter, try to remember that candidates (especially those who are in transition) are not commodities – they’re flesh-and-blood humans whose lives may well depend upon your engagement; if you’re a candidate, remember that your recruiter works for his/her client, not for you, and has to pay attention to the buttered side of the bread. If you can unite – finding that middle ground of mutual respect – you can cement those relationships effectively and enjoy many successful placements as a result.

Monica Levy blogs about the good, bad and ugly in marketing and communications at You can follow her on twitter at

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