5 Signs Your Recruiter Sucks

By Jenn Steele - Jan. 9, 2014
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Does your recruiter suck?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Do you even know how figure that out?

We have a lot of struggles as hiring managers, and evaluating resources is pretty high on the “difficult” list. Specifically, it’s tough to figure out how well your recruiter is performing until you make a hire.

To make it a bit easier for you, we’ve put together 5 really clear signs that your recruiter sucks:

1. You’re Buried in Resumés

Unless you’ve asked your recruiter to only source – and not screen candidates at all – being buried in resumés is an incredibly clear sign of suckage.

“Wait,” you say. “Isn’t the recruiter SUPPOSED to send me a ton of resumés?”

It may be surprising, but the answer is, “Probably not.” There is only one circumstance under which your recruiter should send every single resumé to you – that’s if you’ve only engaged the recruiter for sourcing, but not screening.

If you’ve engaged your recruiter for screening, you might only see 2-5 resumés.

Yes, you heard me right. If your recruiter doesn’t understand your company, your job description, and your ideal candidate well enough to present only the very top of the pile to you, your recruiter sucks.

2. You Haven’t Heard a Word

No news is good news, right?

Well, okay, you already knew that was crap. After all, you want to know what’s going on.

If you’re only hearing from your recruiter when they want something from you (e.g., they want you to hire their candidate), they suck. If they’re not checking in to see how progress is going on your end or letting you know if things are slow going on their end, they suck.

Why? Well, if you’re only hearing from them when they need something, all they really want from you is the commission. If they keep you updated as to what they’re doing and are checking in to see how you’re doing, they care about you, your company, your role, and your relationship. Recruiters who care that much don’t suck.

3. They Seriously Need to Answer the Clue Phone

You know how sometimes you’re talking to someone and they just look at you blankly? Yeah, I hate that, too. If you get that vibe from your recruiter and they don’t bother to ask for clarification, you should probably run in the opposite direction.

Your recruiter needs to understand the job description, your company, and your culture. Otherwise, how in the world will you get the right candidates in the door?

Sometimes, though, the need of a clue isn’t obvious until you see the candidates and notice that they just don’t fit. At that point, you need to check in with the recruiter and impart some major clue. If they still don’t get it, well, they suck.

4. They Start Poaching Your People

This one falls into the “seriously uncool” category of suckage. If you’re working with a recruiter who turns around and tries to pull away your best people, it’s time to run in the other direction.

You might lose a person or two to a recruiter you know because they have a relationship and were looking to leave your company, but that’s not quite what I mean. I’m talking about having someone walk into your office and say, “Uh… you know that recruiter? He called me about a different job that he’s placing. Isn’t that weird?” In other words, the recruiter is trying to proactively pull your people away.

This one is so unprofessional, I’d be tempted to tell all my colleagues, too, in order to warn them. And friends. And family. And pets. This one really isn’t okay.

5. They’re Flaky with Candidates

From a human decency perspective, it’s always disturbing to hear about a recruiter who mistreats the candidates that they work with. If your recruiter mistreats candidates, however, it can have much more dire consequences than breaking the golden rule – it can negatively impact your employer brand. All it takes is one seriously negative review on Glassdoor to start alienating some of the best talent, and having disgruntled candidates – especially ones who have entered the interview process – almost guarantees that the negative review will happen.

You may want to be a bit proactive with this one. Communicate to your recruiter that you expect them to get back to every single candidate. Check in with candidates you’re interviewing to make sure that they’re having a good experience. If they’re not, the recruiter sucks.

One thing with recruiter suckage: If you have a great candidate from the recruiter in your pipeline, you may not want to immediately sever ties, no matter how much they suck. In that situation, it is probably best to hire the candidate and then end the relationship with the recruiter. You’ll still have to pay the recruiter’s fees, but you can make sure that you don’t have to work with a sucky recruiter in the future.

Photo courtesy of Raúl Hernández González.


Jenn Steele

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