An Open Letter To Hiring Managers … On Behalf Of All Recruiters

By Paul Slezak - Aug. 7, 2014
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Mr Client,

I apologise in advance for the somewhat generic greeting, but it’s been ingrained in me from way back when I first got into recruitment.

I still remember all the role-plays and all the training manuals. Every scenario seemed to involve an interaction with “Mr Client”. Hopefully they’ve all been updated by now to include just as many interactions with “Ms Client” too.

Please allow me to start again …

Mr / Ms Client,

I’ve been in this game for a long time. So on behalf of my fellow recruiters (past, present and future), after some recent interactions with a few of our own clients on both sides of the Pacific, I feel compelled to share a few thoughts.

I just hope that in reading this letter you’ll realise that we really can make your life easier … as long as you’re willing to partner with us, and not lure us in and then forget about us. Or worse … promise us the world before stabbing us in the back.

It hurts …

What I am really trying to say is:

We want to work with you

I’ve heard this one over and over again: “But it’s so damn hard working with a recruiter!” To be honest it’s probably because you think we’re working against you! Trust me we are not (all) trying to rip you off.

Believe it or not, many of us won’t manipulate you into taking someone on who isn’t right for you; or convincing you to pay someone more than they deserve just so we can earn a higher commission.

We actually want to find you the best possible candidate. We’re on your side. We just want to let you get on with what you do best, while we get on with what we love to do … and do what we do best.

I beg your pardon? You can’t say that!

Bernadette recently wrote a great piece about the problem with stereotyping during the recruitment process.

One of our clients clearly did not read that post since when he briefed us just last week he said something so outrageously discriminatory to one of our team members that when I heard about it, I thought I’d been transported back to an era long ago … to the time of To Kill a Mockingbird.

So please just be mindful of anti discrimination legislation. Even if you tell us not to bother sharing the details with you of anyone [insert sex, age, religion, skin colour, etc] we actually won’t listen to you. Actually we probably won’t want to work with you anyway … so this was more of a heads up!

We’re not mind readers …

We might be good … but we’re not that good. So when we say we need to meet with you (or at least speak to you) to get a better understanding of what you’re looking for, there’s a reason for it.

If we don’t get to know you and your business properly, what will end up happening is that you won’t like anyone we send you (and that’s when all the complaining starts … and that’s how we end up getting a bad rap).

Nobody knows your business better than you do. And if you want us to help you grow your team, you’ll have to share some of the information in your head with us.

Every company is different.

So even if we’ve recruited a hundred [insert position title] candidates for other organisations in the past, the person you’re looking for will be different. Spending some time with us up front will prevent a lot of time wasted later.

Are you serious?

I’ve mentioned this story before, but it’s appropriate to share it again.

I will never forget on one particular occasion I was sitting with the General Manager of an organisation, when she looked me straight in the eye and said something that really took me by surprise. “Actually, Paul. More than anything, it’s crucial that you find me a Scorpio. We need a bit more bite around here”. I thought she was joking but she was being completely serious.

I mentioned above that we’re not mind readers. But we are not astrologers either! If you want a recruiter to help you find your diamond in the rough then we really need to be working to a professional brief. Please … no mumbo jumbo.

If for whatever reason you happen to have your own ‘alternative’ hiring criteria (like recruiting based on star signs), then please don’t waste our time.

Rather when you find yourself needing to bring someone new into your team, you may just want to consider running your own an ad along the lines of: “Scorpio required to add bite to a team of obsessive Virgos while reporting to a dynamic Piscean”! Good luck with that one!

This is not a job description!

I’m not a yes person. So if you asked me to find you a [insert position title] for your business and then said “Come on, Paul. Surely you know what I’m looking for”, you know what? I wouldn’t even think about your role for a second. I need a job proper job description. And you know what else? If you scribbled a few bullet points on to a Post-it Note and gave it to me, I still wouldn’t even consider working on your brief.

I loved Jenn’s recent reference to job descriptions being ‘lethal weapons’ since often they can bore a candidate (not to mention us recruiters!) to death. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t just here to put a bum on a seat.

We’ve seen thousands of position descriptions and could help you put one together. Here’s a hint. If you don’t have a position description, or if the idea of creating one is in the ‘too hard basket’, just ask!

Do I really need to define ‘exclusivity’?

It’s pretty offensive when you tell us you haven’t briefed (or won’t be briefing) any other recruiters but then after we provide you some amazing candidates, you go ahead and tell us that you’ve hired someone through another recruiter (one of our competitors).

That’s a slap in the face (or the ‘stab in the back’ I referred to earlier).

We’d rather know the lay of the land from the outset.

How would you like it if we told you our perfect candidate wasn’t looking at any other opportunities? You met them; you loved them; your team loved them; you wanted to make them an offer … Then … “Woops … sorry … we’ve actually just placed them with one of your competitors”.

Ouch. Right? As my 2nd grade teacher Mrs. Porter used to say … ‘honesty is the best policy’.

Here’s my number. So call me … Maybe?

If we wanted to work on the case of the disappearing client, we’d reach out to David Copperfield for some handy hints.

Working with a recruiter is a two-way street.

We send you profiles and résumes, we organise interviews, and you meet with our candidates.

All along the candidates are craving feedback … a quick update … eager to hear about potential next steps.

If we don’t keep them updated, their only thought is that we have forgotten about them (or actually that we don’t even care about them). Never once do they think you haven’t been able to come back to us with feedback.

So please … if we send through a handful of résumes, please call us (or at least email us) with your initial thoughts. If you interview one of our candidates, please don’t just delete and ignore those voicemails that we leave you over the next 24 hours asking for your feedback. Please call us to discuss how the interviews went.

We just want to keep your candidates in the loop.

I guess that’s it in a nutshell.

Yours truly,

All Recruiters Out There

PS … Did I mention that we all want to work with you? Really we do!

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.


Paul Slezak

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.

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