5 Recruitment Agency Behaviours – Explained!

Posted August 13, 2010 - By | 2 Comments

How the recruitment industry works is often a mystery to the job seeker. Individual agents can behave in ways which we don’t understand, seem counter intuitive and which leave us immensely frustrated and hostile to the idea of future engagement. Inside knowledge can go a long way towards helping the job seeker better understand the recruitment processes and why agents do the things they do. Here’s my take on 5 typical behaviours you may encounter whilst on the job search and what they mean for you.

1. He won’t return my calls

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You’ve called several times, tried his mobile and direct line and left several voicemails but there has been no word of response from your recruitment agent.

What’s going on?

Probably not much. In this case, the most obvious answer is likely to be the real one – he has simply nothing to tell you. The first call a recruiter makes is designed to achieve one objective – to secure your endorsement on his representation of you. It may have felt like the start of a beautiful relationship, but that’s the sugar coat all recruiters are trained to put onto any candidate sourcing call. Be clear on the real purpose of that call – it was basically to get you to say, ‘Yes, please send my CV to your client, Mr Agent’. Once you’ve conceded this, there is no reason for him to contact you again until there is progress of some sort in whatever scheme he’s got you up for.

What should you do now?
Don’t panic and leave it alone. Chasing recruiters rarely works and it might end up to be counter productive. You have no leverage and cannot do much other than get increasingly frustrated if he won’t talk. Send him an email registering your continued interest, check it down to as another lead you actioned on your job search and move onto the next thing you’ve got to do.

2. She won’t see me

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Your recruitment consultant does not seem to be enthusiastic about meeting you; you’ve heard its all about relationships, but every suggestion to meet has been met with apathy or an excuse why it can’t be done.

What’s going on?
There are two reasons why a recruiter won’t meet you; she may be prevented from doing so by company policy or she thinks that its not currently a good return to her investment in time. The first reason might sound implausible, but I can assure you that its common practice by many recruitment companies to prevent their consultants from doing anything that takes them away from the phone. The second reason will be based on how confident the recruiter feels that the hiring manager (her client, lest we don’t forget) will see her candidates. If she feels the chances are low, she will throw out the candidate interview from the process, hence no meeting with you.

What should I do now?
Follow the agents direction. There is no reason to be unhappy if the agent won’t meet; it simply tells you something about the agent & the company she works for (likely to be a high volume, ‘low touch’ recruiter) and on the type of recruitment process you’ve got yourself involved in (contingent, probably multiple agency). Arrange your hopes accordingly.

3. He wants me to call immediately after the interview

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Your recruitment consultant is insistent on having you call him immediately after your interview with the employer organisation. In fact, his insistence is a more than a little annoying and its crossed your mind that it’s bordering on the pathological.

What’s going on?

Recruiters are information brokers and they become deeply uncomfortable when they find themselves in a position when that is no longer the case. Unless they are present at your employer interview (highly unlikely), this is precisely what happens when you meet with their client, your potential employer, at the interview stage – the broker has lost control over information which is crucial to his business. Hence, all recruiters are trained to close this information gap as soon as they can – typically by impressing on the job seeker of the urgent need to keep them updated on every development, as close to real time as possible.

What do I do now?

Do as he says. This is one the moments of the recruitment process where job seeker and agency interests are actually closely aligned. Certainly, there may be some satisfaction to be had by keeping an annoying agent waiting, but its really not in anyone’s interests to play games at this stage. Call him up and update him in full. The sooner you do this, the sooner you will get him working for you in securing you client feedback and moving the process along. As a further bonus, you’ll also be building on your reputation amongst agents as a reliable candidate – great for any future options that agent may have.

4. He’s taking an interest in all other opportunities I’m pursuing

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Your recruitment agent has a high degree of interest in the other opportunities you’ve got in the pipeline, particularly ones not managed by him or his agency.

What’s going on?
Probably two things – ‘Candidate Risk Assessment’ and ‘Pulling New Business Leads’. A recruiter only makes money if his guy gets the job, with his client. It’s no good if you get a job with another employer who isn’t his client. In fact, that’s very bad as far as the recruiter is concerned, as he’s just wasted time, effort and opportunity cost in representing you, only to see you pull out of the process due to a competing offer he’s not managing. Recruiters are trained to assess of the risk that every candidate represents, hence the relentless interest on what other opportunities you have ongoing, and on what progress you are making on each of them. If he takes a more detailed interest – such as asking you who those other opportunities are with, and who indeed, the hiring managers are, he’s doubling up by also taking the opportunity of securing market intelligence for new business prospecting. He will almost certainly call these companies, offer his indispensable services, and more likely than not, submit other candidates in competition with you.

What do I do now?

Be polite, give enough information to preserve the relationship, but be clear on information you will not disclose. In this case, there is no harm in revealing that you are on the market and have opportunities, even some detail on where you are at with them. However, revealing the names of the those organisations, much less names of hiring managers, is not recommended.

5. I’ve been rejected but the recruiter won’t tell me why

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Your recruitment agent has called you and given you the bad news – you haven’t got the job. And yet, any details on why not have escaped him, and when pressed on the issue, seems to offer a response which is a facsimile of others he’s offered to countless other job seekers before you.

What’s going on?

Most recruiters hate giving feedback, most likely because they don’t get a great deal of it from their clients in the first place. Its not uncommon for employers to dismiss unsuccessful candidates with a simple ‘no’ and not provide any feedback at all. Indeed, due to increasing litigation concerns, many companies have implemented policies preventing ‘feedback’ to be given to unsuccessful candidates, rendering the recruiter as clueless as you are as to why you’ve not got the job. It also must be said that provision of candidate feedback is a low priority for many recruitment companies compared to candidate sourcing or new business development and agents are seldom trained in the sensitive task of providing authentic and constructive communication to unsuccessful candidates. So, either they don’t know, or they don’t know how to say what they do know.

What do I do now?

Nothing. Pressing an agent to get better feedback is certainly a valid request, but one with a low chance of securing the outcome you desire. Once again, you have little leverage, you’re out of the process (now a liability to the recruiter, not an asset) and can only hope on the agents good graces. If that’s not a recipe for a BS outcome, I don’t know what is. We’re back to chalking it up as another opportunity actioned on the job search and moving on to the next item on your to do list.

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  • Hayabusa brother August 15, 2010

    Great site! much appreciated.

    Sent via Blackberry

  • x-ray technician September 28, 2010

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