I recently read through Elana Goodwin’s article on ERE Media titled “Why Students May Not Want to Work with Recruiters”. It seemed pretty important to me because if students aren’t interested in working with recruiters, I need to know why and I need to figure out how to fix these issues. If students feel a certain way – I’m sure there are others outside of University that feel the same way.
At the same time, I wanted to be able to provide a look from a different angle at the objections towards working with a recruiter and explain some of the stemming causes of these points of conflict. Elana covered multiple issues, the four strongest arguments I believe she made were the lack of transparency, lack of response, lack of activity and lack of reliability.
“Students feel working with a recruiter can be challenging as you can’t always be sure that what they’re telling you is the truth… Whether students work with an external or internal recruiter, they may end up being lied to — and while it may sometimes be ‘for their own good’ or to soften a blow, it’s still a lie.” (Goodwin)
This is a common issue raised by candidates working with recruiters. As Elana mentions, we see this with internal as well as external recruiters. I think the issue here stems from two things: a recruiter’s hesitance for confrontation. If you are working with a recruiter who shies from confrontation or that may be restricted behind corporate red tape from saying certain things, you will end up running into this situation.
One of the points we make at Legacy is that we must work with honesty and transparency. This isn’t only ethical, but it improves our business processes and our quality altogether. We do not look to put square pegs into round holes. We do not look to shy away from being honest with our candidates. We are a team looking to achieve a goal – increase a candidate’s quality of life through their career while at the same time building our client’s human capital. If we do both of those, retention is not an issue.
“Additionally, there are recruiters who may never call back candidates, and students will expect and accept a no-response when applying to jobs through a website in situations where says they won’t contact all candidates unless selected to move forward in the application and interview process. When students are dealing with a person and that recruiter fails to get back to them and let them know they weren’t picked, it’s likely that student won’t want to work with any other recruiters in the future, thanks to bad experiences in the past.” (Goodwin)
Another very common issue – most common with high-volume jobs where the amount of active candidates interviewed gets to an overwhelming level for human resources or recruiters. That doesn’t excuse the action, though. There is no excuse for not getting back to an active candidate in the interviewing process.
At Legacy, we don’t typically work high-volume roles. We are able to commit ourselves to conversation by phone. If we are working a high-volume job on a project, our software is able to send out status updates automatically through our system when certain stages are met in the hiring process.
Some firms have recruiters working eight to sixteen different search assignments at once which would make it very difficult to keep up with all candidates, but at Legacy we make sure to keep the search assignment load low in order to ensure we are giving candidates the attention they deserve. We have found that splitting a recruiter’s hours per week between fifteen jobs doesn’t turn out as positively as focusing in on two to four jobs.
“Some recruiters will keep a backlog of resumes to peruse and review for new job openings when they’re tasked with filling a position while others will seek out completely new candidates and won’t even check past applicants to see if anyone would be a good match. Knowing this, students may question why they should bother working with a recruiter, and the answer to that will depend on the practices the recruiter uses to fill empty positions.” (Goodwin)
Elana makes a great point here that took me a while in my career to really understand. A recruiter must be able to realize the passive candidate pipeline just as much (if not better) than the active candidate pipeline. A very prominent external recruiter swears by the process of building your passive candidate roster specific to the job functions you’re most likely to address.
For example, Legacy works primarily in the building materials industry and we focus on meeting and understanding sales and operations individuals’ aspirations for the next step of their career. That way, when our clients bring up the need to either increase their company’s revenue (sales) or lower their company’s costs (operations) – we are able to solve their problems faster than a company that needs to go out into the market and run an entire search! When the Panthers are in the middle of the season and need a lineman to cover an injury, do they quickly sign someone from the free agency or do they wait around and scout for next years draft? More than likely, they have a couple of free agents they know they can pull in when necessary.
“Students feel they are the ones who will be most motivated to find themselves a job — so relying on a recruiter may seem counter-intuitive and counterproductive to students. Students, especially millennials, approach job-hunting as they do many other tasks and things: with independence and the knowledge that whatever is unknown about the job or application process is inherently know-able and self-teachable, thanks to the power of the Internet”. (Goodwin)
This is one of the great things about millennials when it comes to finding a job – they know that ultimately, they are the ones responsible for finding themselves a job. For soon-to-be (or recent) graduates, I typically suggest the following strategy focusing energy on five avenues:
  • Passive Opportunities
    • Recruiters – Pair yourself with recruiters specialized around your background
      • Industry
      • Function
      • Location
    • Personal Network – Make your availability and interests known. Don’t stop at friends and family. Figure out friends of friends that may fall into an industry/function you’re interested in.
  • Active Opportunities
    • Job Boards – Apply liberally. If you’re on the fence, apply to learn more. Its a numbers game, remember the plate-spinning theory.
    • University Job Fairs – Make it a focus to speak to as many companies as possible in person. Endorse opportunity, learn as much as you can about every company and role so you can accurately make the best decision for yourself. It’s better to have five offers and turn down four than to fight for one offer because you limited yourself.
    • Target Companies – Make a list of 20-40 companies you are most interested in and reach out to their human resources department. There are plenty of ways to meet influencers if you are truly determined.
Want to know one of Warren Buffet’s big secrets behind getting rich? Multiple income sources. That way, when one fails, you still have money coming in from a handful of other avenues. The same applies to finding a job (or any goal for that matter). Don’t let your success come down to one strategy being successful, work through multiple avenues to leverage your efforts.
All in all, the criticisms college students have of recruiters are valid and present in many recruiting firms we see in the industry. As companies get larger and more complex, some things do fall through the cracks of process and overleveraging. All firms need to make sure they are able to respect a candidate’s time and perception or they may find themselves without any candidates in the future!

Written by 

President of Legacy Search, James Aiken has been dynamically involved in recruiting the elite candidates within the building materials industry for many years. With strength in sales and operations, James has built out multiple sales teams for manufacturers and distributors alike. Email him at james@legacysearch.net

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