You asked for my feedback – Paxus JobSeeker Survey

It’s a common opinion amongst the people I speak to, that the recruiting industry has a long way to come to improve its performance. Too much, this industry relies on outdated practices that fail to treat candiates as people and to establish a real relationship with them.

So, today, when I received an email asking me to complete the latest Paxus JobSeeker Survey, I did so. And in the “anything else” question, I had this to say:

Paxus (and most other recruiting agencies) fail dismally when it comes to understanding and knowing their candidates – whether active or passive. It would take the effort of a few minutes work to Google each candidate and understand them better from their profiles on such things as their blogs, conferences they have spoken at, LinkedIn Facebook, etc. Yet, the industry persists in being a sausage factory, interested only in numbers through the door.

It’s no longer about this. It’s about a deep, close relationship with candidates and potential candidates over a long period of time. And it’s time the recruiting industry changed.

I have actually taken to refusing to speak with recruiters who haven’t done their research on me. They don’t deserve my time or any income they might make from me.

What do you think? My take is the recruiting industry won’t change unless we pressure it to. So, take the survey and add your views.

13 Replies to “You asked for my feedback – Paxus JobSeeker Survey”

  1. I got the same email.

    The industry as a whole might suck, but there are definitely individuals within it that are as progressive as you’re demanding.

    The consultant that got me my current gig invested a lot of time in me. Since I started here, I’ve had 5 cold calls from recruiters who tracked me down on linkedin. They all get a reciprocal investment of time from me.

    The ones that contact me for a ‘status update’ get told my minimum terms for considering anything they’re selling in the same boiler-plated style as their original query.

    So I agree with your point they need to change, I think it’s already happening. If they don’t make the investment as people, in people, candidates leave them and they don’t get the commission.

    1. Ben, agreed. It’s not all the recruiters. Far from it. But it is a large majority.

      Those that have changed their approach get my time, as they do yours. And those that have never used this approach get even more of my time.

  2. I’ve not had recent experience with recruiters – but it certainly sounds as if their approach hasn’t changed significantly in many cases.

    However your post caused me to reflect that it’s not only in the recruiting industry that this is an issue.

    The concept of developing a ‘deep, close relationship’ over time or , as Ben expressed it, making an investment ‘as people, in people’ is something that is a ever more crucial across many different sectors and in many different organisations.

    The same advice is very apt for CEOs, managers and other supervisors in businesses, nonprofits and government departments.

    After all, if you want to reach the best outcomes and also bring out the best in me, you need to know me, value me and acknowledge me. That’s the way you’ll help me – and at the same time, you – to succeed.

    Just my two cents’ worth. :)

  3. My recent experience hasn’t been good – despite personal referrals to headhunters, I’ve merely been asked for a resume, and fobbed off to juniors (with one exception). Certainly I have not felt as if I’m considered a potential source of value to them – most have treated me as one of a large and anonymous bunch of numbers.

  4. The industry is about making the easy wins and dealing with candidates (particularly at the moment) that aren’t of a high standard is simply just a waste of time for a consultant motivated by cash.

    When the number of candidates applying for jobs hugely increased at the moment – I think all recruitment firms can do is automate the candidate care behind the scenes and consultants just simply get on with their day job.

    I think job seekers are used to getting star treatment from recruiters – but now they won’t get calls returned.

    Times have changed now though and I’m actually now working in online marketing for one of the major recruiters so see what it’s like from the inside.

    It’s impossible it is to give candidates the care that they will remember with the sheer volume that comes through.

    1. Joel, I’m not sure I understand which side you’re falling on, as it’s unclear from your comment.

      If it’s pro the industry being this way, then you’re a dinosaur and will soon be extinct or ignored at best. If you’re pro change, then join the club. I’d be only too glad to point you to some resources that will make your job of facilitating this change all the easier.

  5. Change is definitely necessary, and now is definitely the best time to get it moving. But my point is that in reality this is a lot harder, particularly with so many available job seekers and so few jobs at the moment.

    Recruiters have bad habits and old practices because even with those they were still making a shit load of money when the economy was going good.

    The recruiters who are already building relationships and liked by their candidates, will be the ones who still have their jobs and a lot of the bottom feeders will have recently been pushed out in the redundancies going around the industry.

    What the main issue standing in the way change happening is CASH. Most recruiters are money/commission focused so will look at the short term. If they see a benefit with building a relationship with someone – they will spend the time. After all most good candidates will be a prospective client one day.

    Most of the time though when a recruiter talks to someone, they don’t see potential to make money from them. There’s no reason why a recruitment consultant would bother spending time. This is especially true when you have hundreds of people applying to the few jobs around.

    This is going to cause bad word of mouth for the company as a whole though – and this is the thing in my mind that needs to be fixed.

    The only solution I can see then is improving technology and increase the amount of automation behind the scenes.

    If every recruiter spent time building relationships and treating everyone with care – no one would be making any money in the short term. Cash at the moment, is important for survival.

  6. Joel, you’ve got your focus completely wrong. Technology is not a solution here. Building relationships, real relationships, is the solution.

    There’s a growing number of people who will reject out of hand an approach by a recruiter who isn’t interested in relationship building and being a part of an ongoing conversation. Have you not read The Cluetrain Manifesto?

    I’m not alone here, and there are a number of people who are listening to me. I don’t know who your organisation is, but it sounds to me like it’s on its way out.

  7. I just blogged about how job seekers should pick a few fave recruiters and approach them first for advertised jobs.

    The seeker gets to streamline their search process and the recruiter has the potential to earn new business from good candidates.

    Relationships always go both ways so recruiters should recognise the opportunities that candidates can give them in return.

  8. I wonder if it matters what industry the recruiters work in? Possibly not.

    My recent experience with recruiters in the government space may be of interest:

    • firm was positive in my initial meet ‘n’ greet with them. However, after that it was like pulling teeth getting any information on what was available or what they were doing on my behalf. Even worse was phone calls not returned and only finding out someone was on leave (with no one looking after her candidate list) after I rang up three times in one day to speak to her.
    • firm that was also positive in my first meeting. I get a weekly phone call if nothing is happening to tell me what is going on. However, I usually get two or three phone calls a week regarding job leads. I like these guys. (full credit to the Policy and Strategy team at Hays Recruitment in Sydney)
    • firm that calls me when they occasionally have a job lead. Otherwise it is total dead air

    The thing that is common amongst all three though is that after they put a resume forward on my behalf, I rarely hear back on how that went. Even a “the client decided to go with someone else” is good enough for me. Knowing when a door is closed is helpful when moving on to something else.

    Also, I wish more recruiters would be upfront and say “We can’t help you right now. There is nothing in the market for what you seek…” I’ve had dealings with other recruitment firms in the past where this would have been a very useful piece of honest feedback instead of feeling like hope was being dangled in front of me while they slowly slipped me off the radar.

    Anyway, short story way too long, the recruitment firm I feel happiest with and the one I will return to when looking for more work in that space is the one that has taken the time to keep me informed and build that relationship.

    I guess that agrees with your point, just in far too many words.

  9. Shane, Candidate care is extremely difficult right now – there’s too many people to deal with and not enough consultant time to do a good job of it. Stephen this is where I think technology can be a big help.

    Perhaps it’s a case of setting expectations? Golden rule of customer service is to exceed. Candidates expect a lot more than is physically possible.

    If you were an MD of a recruitment firm would you want your consultants calling candidates to tell them nothings happening or getting on the phone chasing job leads that could create a revenue? Cold calling is primitive but day after day, I see it working.

    Another interesting scenario at the moment is the power recruiters have over candidates. I’ve heard of bribes from job seekers to consultants to be put forward for jobs.

    In this situation, why would a recruitment consultant spend time building a relationship with a candidate who you could treat like rubbish and would still take a job? Remember these are short-term sales people who are incentevised by cash.

    ONE POINT I DO WANT TO CLARIFY – I really don’t want to defend they way recruiters work. It’s old fashioned and I ethically don’t like it – I put it to the nature of a salesperson, which is what they are.

    But building relationships is not the solution. It’s merely something good recruitment consultants are already doing with the right people. Most people aren’t the right people, although everyone likes to think they are.

    In my mind there’s a lot that needs change to bring it into more of a pull type of industry like everything else is going compared to a massive push that it’s relied on for a long, long time.

  10. As someone who ran a start up recruitment company (admittedly in a different industry than is probably focused here) that employed over 400 people nationwide a week in GOOD economic times, it is NOT hard to use both automation and personal attention in order to improve business.

    I agree with the comment that said just hearing a ‘no’ would be enough, or a ‘nothing at the moment’ – when you are applying for multiple jobs at once (and anyone who says they dont use multiple recruiters / apply for multiple jobs / network their asses off on all occasions is lying) – it would be great to just get an email saying NO, if the recruiter is not going further with your application.

    I also agree that the lack of communication / availability of recruiters borders on ludacris. I do understand that they have to spend time searching for new business / doing interviews / having internal meetings – but a business courtesy should be that they are in contact with their candidates, and treat them like they actually care.

    I dont know many industries where one of the essential money making tools comes to you – ESPECIALLY during this economic situation. If they didnt have candidates, they wouldnt have people to fill the positions they do the business development on, wouldnt have companies coming to them with new roles to earn their commission on etc etc. Cultivate a good candidate list, and you can build your business development from there. If you work enough with candidates, you then know what you have to offer to people without having to advertise / search – if you dont have a current candidate to match the role, you know how to tailor your job ad to get that.

    Just opinion, but recruiters could definitely do with working smarter, working harder at being more efficient and cut out the BS that annoys both clients and candidates alike.

    PS – if anyone wants to give me a job in recruitment, I will fulfill all my rants and raves and show you how its done :) (no this wasnt a personal job seek – but I am currently ‘between jobs’ and dealing with a LOT of recruiters at the moment)

  11. Googling you and reading your blog? Getting to know you?

    I’d be happy if they actually just returned phone calls or acknowledged my resume submission with an email from a real person.

    I guess this is what you get when candidates outstrip opportunities.

    Although I must say that Paxus were great when I was working through them in the late 90s.

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