Recruiters Stand Proud!

Recruiters! Stand Proud!

Recruiters get terrible press.

And it’s worse now then ever before. Everyone has a ‘terrible recruiter’ story. They are ‘lazy, sleazy, pushy and incompetent’. And those are just the nicer things said. Every day brings more abuse and increasingly, gleeful predictions of the demise of the recruiter.

Well, enough!

Today is the day we pay homage to the good that exists in our profession. It’s about time the world offered respect to the thousands of honorable, ethical and hard-working career professionals that make up our ranks. People like Graham Whelan and Peter Murphy.  These two are just the tip of the iceberg, representing an army of people across the world, who always put the person before the dollar, and who have had a positive effect on thousand of lives. I know dozens of such recruiters myself. Let’s talk about these recruiters for a change, and lets make sure we don’t tar every recruiter with the broad brush of disdain that often gets heaped on our industry.

And while we are about it, let’s shine a light on some of the reasons recruiters deserve respect instead of derision.

For a start, it’s a tough job! One of the toughest around. It’s brutally competitive. Hugely stressful. It comes with long hours. Salaries are usually low, with upswing pegged to great results, and so often recruiters work long and hard for a tiny return. It’s scary too. Cold calling is not fun. And as much as clients complain about unreliable recruiters, try working the other side of the fence!  Clients, who tell you it’s urgent, make you jump through hoops, then don’t return your calls. Clients who invite you for a meeting, and then don’t have the manners to show up! Job requirements changed in mid-search, or cancelled when weeks of work have been done. Clients who lie about their commitment to the brief. Candidates who play one job off against another, and leverage job offers for salary increases.  Candidates who beg for a chance, and then don’t turn up for the hard-won interview secured at the client, leaving the recruiter to cop the flak, for ‘flakiness’.

If every client or candidate who heaps abuse on recruiters for ‘wasting my time’, did an honest little balance sheet of who wasted whose time the most through the process, I know where the deficit would be!

But even more than that, what recruiters do is basically good. We find people work! And that’s a good thing right? Something to be proud of. It makes an impact. We change people’s lives. We solve companies staffing issues. We help people further their career ambitions.

How about a little nod of appreciation from clients who may make a living selling cigarettes, or alcohol, or junk bonds, or life-saving medicine at obscene profits, or defend criminals. How is that these people call our profession ‘bottom-feeders’? Pot. Kettle. Black? I am not saying what they do is ‘bad’, (even though it often bloody-well is!) but what we do is honorable, it’s positive, there is no collateral damage in our work.( Yep we find people work. Last year 10.4 million people world-wide went to work via a temp agency, every day!)

We create jobs. Yes we do. The often-quoted criticism of our industry, that there are ‘no barriers to entry’ has an upside too. Our industry breeds entrepreneurs who have the courage to start their own businesses, and hire people. I remember doing that myself, at 28 years old, (and several times since), and having endless sleepless nights, paying myself a pittance, while employing many people to get the business going. I have no complaints. I reaped the rewards. But I took the risk, as do thousands of other recruiters, many of who are women by the way, who leave the restraints and discrimination of bigger corporates, to create their own businesses and secure their futures. That is something to be proud of, surely? Does it happen in banking much for example? Or law? (oh, and if you think I am making this stuff up, then reflect on the fact there are 128,000 private recruitment agencies, globally, with 176,000 branches, employing 908,000 internal staff, worldwide.)

And what about the service we provide candidates? Our industry gets hammered for poor ‘candidate care’, and often it’s deserved. But lets have a reality check. Recruiters invest millions of hours advising, counseling and supporting candidates on their job search. Some of that is very tangible assistance, like resume preparation, salary information, or interview training, but often it’s a morale boost or good career advice, or just a sane sounding-board. And we act as an advocate for the candidate who does not shine through the resume, but can in the interview. That’s us that make that happen. And candidates don’t even get charged!

So, my recruiting brethren, as we face another tough week, and we read another article on our appalling service and our impending demise, I encourage you to stand proud!

Don’t let the bastards grind you down!

We do a good thing. We are surrounded by honorable, hardworking colleagues, we impact lives every day, and we create work across the world

Recruiters rule!


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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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33 Responses to Recruiters! Stand Proud!

  1. Recruiting Animal April 30, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    Greg, that line about creating jobs would read better if it said, “They create recruiting jobs.”

    To me, “They create jobs” makes it sound as if they create jobs in industry and the professions. It’s a little too vague.

    • Greg Savage April 30, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      Thanks for the comment @animal. I don’t really get your point. I say they create jobs, and explain how. A recruiting job is a job created is it not? And if we want to dig into it, they create the admin, sales, accounting, IT, HR, training and many other support categories of job that growing recruitment companies inevitably hire. So.. they create jobs. Seems good to me

      • Kevin Chappell April 30, 2013 at 11:08 am #

        Me too Greg. We do both actually. Create jobs that create jobs. We don’t get recognised for that.

      • Ria De Jager April 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

        ONWARDS SOldiers ~ Keep fighting the good fight!! Thanks Greg for this motivation 🙂 SO True to our Industry , and good to hear it from time to time – we are all fighting in the same Camp! Stay Honourable, Stay Passionate, Stay Committed to Service Excellence 🙂

      • Scott September 11, 2013 at 5:14 am #

        We don’t create any jobs. Our clients ask us to help them fill their jobs.
        Unless you own or run a company and hire someone your self, I would say creating jobs is the wrong terminology.

        • Greg Savage September 11, 2013 at 7:45 am #

          That is EXACTLY what my article says Scott. We create jobs because our industry employs thousands of people. So yes,we do create jobs.

    • Denise Fanelli April 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

      The “products” we invest our time in don’t eventually end up in a landfill!

    • Sam May 1, 2014 at 9:09 am #

      About 4-6 times per year client will interview one of my candidates and will give me the feedback of “he’s not right for the vacancy we originally instructed you on, but we will create a position for them as they are too good not to pass on”. That’s creating jobs!

  2. Andrew Gemmell April 30, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    I do think a lot of line managers, who are commercial and have a business to run (rather than a number of processes to follow) appreciate a good recruiter. However the power of this decision making and “strategic re-alignment” has diluted their voice somewhat.

    Until the “strategic thinkers” start to lose value in their current approach (in house recruitment teams, direct hiring, etc) not a lot will change. And that will dpend on the world econmoy IMO. When the money starts flowing and risk starts to decline within the economies of the world and people need more talent to keep up, I think we’ll see a change.

    Until then…don’t let them get you down. The relationship is king….in the long run.

  3. Dan Javinsky April 30, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Greg, great article! Your insight, as always, is very valuable!

  4. Kirsten Thomforde April 30, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    Cheers thank you for flying the flag Greg – the thing I love most about my job is the problem solving I get to do every day. I have the privilege in creating and sharing my candidates journey to a new destination within or from outside New Zealand (yes I know it sounds mushy its reality though). This takes a lot more then looking at their profession and fitting them into the first job that comes up. The daily rollercoaster I find myself in is interesting to put it politely but then again the feedback is worth it.

  5. Kevin Chappell April 30, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Greg, I thought you might get fired up and say it as it is! Thank you. When you published that piece about “recruiters are…” in the Google search, and ex-recruiters stated their embarrassment, I certainly was slightly offended by some of the comments and was compelled to respond. Hopefully though we gave back what we got! Yes, we are an under-valued and under-estimated profession that delivers an invaluable service to business – and that’s not just bias speaking. The few that get bad press tarnish those of us who have helped so many over many years. But hey, bad service happens in most industries, but we get more than our share because everyone is an expert recruiter, aren’t they? I speak to people I have helped over and over for 30 years and it is those experiences that make me proud of being in this profession, regardless of what our critics may say or think! So I will continue to stand up and remain proud!

  6. Julie April 30, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Hear, hear Greg! Yes I agree there are good recruiters in our industry and we should celebrate that. At Intepeople we strive every day to provide the best possible service to our clients and our candidates. But it is a challenge to meet all expectations! Thanks for your blog.

  7. Paul April 30, 2013 at 11:42 am #


    A really well written blog, rather blunt but very much to the point and I completely agree with you on all parts. As a 15 year recruitment veteran and someone who has recruited through tough times, and really tough times (lets be honest, its never a boom time for us recruiters, is it??), I am amazed how clients and candidates take advantage of the great work we do and rarely appreciate it. Clients pay us (save for the elusive retainer) for our services upon placement as a ‘fee for service’, and clearly that would only be after we had found a great candidate for them. Candidates pay us nothing and yet they feel they are owed a level of service that I have yet to ever receive from any bank, retail business, or any service based industry, and yet we are often treated like pond scum!

    It is true that we recruiters change peoples lives, we genuinely do, I have placed significant numbers of candidates with clients and I take great comfort in the knowledge that they would never have met without my experience and network. Outside your family, your health and your wealth, what is next in line as the most important thing in life…. Career surely?…. we help people with this, we fill gaps in teams, put projects back on track and save clients lots of pain, but most of them only like remember the bad stuff!!!

  8. Jeanette Hockney April 30, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Here here Greg! About time someone stood up for our industry! As one of the 128,000 global private enterprises and a woman, I’m still passionate about this industry after 13 years. We train our people around our principals one being to “treat people as you would like to be treated”. Through this hard work we are often rewarded with testimonials of thanks for the hard work and service we provide. Unfortunately it’s the minority that has tarred the majority who do a great job and we don’t beat our chests enough.

    Love your work Greg.

  9. Simon Meade April 30, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    To say the our industry just creates ‘recruiting jobs’ (plus the support jobs that go with it)misses the most important thing our industry does. And that is to enable companies to grow thus creating more jobs across industry in general. How? Well there are few companies that are able to grow without the right personnel. Often these companies do not have the resources or focus or ability to find these people. That’s the key benefit of our industry. Finding the right people for companies that will enable them to improve and grow their businesses.

  10. Anthea April 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Love it! Well said (again) Greg.

  11. MelbRecruiter April 30, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    Greg, I totally agree with you. We should be proud of our profession and the good that we do. I just wish somehow that there wasn’t that certain percentage that give us a bad name. Don’t know what others think, but with the low barrier entry to this profession (and yes it is a profession) I would say about 20% over the last few decades.

  12. Navid April 30, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Great post Greg. I think if it is a word of encouragement, which is the way it comes across, then it is great.

    Otherwise I don’t believe the industry as a whole is guilty of anything to be defended. Yes there are people that blame us for their miserable lives but I tend to usually overlook that. If what I do is logical and reasonable and fair then it doesn’t matter what others think.

    Any profession including the clients that purchase services from us has good and bad in it and I don’t believe one is worse than another. Anyone who thinks recruiters are bad obviously has not dealt with real estate agents, lawyers, government representatives and the list goes on.

    Cowboys are everywhere including line management, HR, internal recruitment and candidates and recruiters are no different. The trick is to identify the cowboys and avoid wasting time on them. I think once you do this, good clients and good candidates will respect you more.

  13. Recruit for Glory April 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    Thanks Greg. This was a great piece. Recruitment does need defending – it’s an honourable profession. But it’s also a profession that needs attacking but not from outside but from within. Why do we operate in a way that encourages cut throat and short term behaviours? Yes I’m talking about contingent contracts. People compare us to no-win no-fee lawyers or estate agents but there’s one big difference at least they demand exclusivity. I’ve read these contracts and they are much more thorough than contingent recruitment contracts.

    Perhaps directors should all get together and discuss how to change how they operate rather than the latest regulatory changes or the best way to avoid paying tax.

    I follow your writing and can see you are not satisfied either. Keep up the good fight!

  14. Michelle Jeffers May 1, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    Thanks for the article, Greg! Recruiters often do get blamed for everything from the job falling through to the candidate flaking out. There are only so many times you can tell a client you decided to pass on a candidate because they weren’t the best fit for them when they actually didn’t show up for the interview.

    Don’t forget we must also be editors, proofreaders and writers of resumes, often for free. If I had a dollar for every resume a stranger has asked me to “look at”…well you get the point.

    Still, I love what I do and get great satisfaction when my hires call me up a few months later to thank me for helping them get the job.

  15. Brian Kevin Johnston May 1, 2013 at 6:09 am #

    I Am A Lifesaver…I Am A Proud Headhunter!!!

  16. Super Duper Recruiter May 1, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Great article Greg!

    As one of those brave females who has ventured into her own business, I stress, struggle and cold call to bring in the business but you know what? I’m LOVING it! I pick my own clients and ensure that they follow my values. As a result, I have grown my little business into an honest company that is known for it’s integrity and ability to deliver. I love this industry and am so proud of what I do.

    However, we all know where the bad rap comes from. It’s not from the small businesses, it’s from the larger ones that require their consultants to harass clients on a daily (even hourly) basis. It works to an extent but it’s why we are referred to as pond scum at times.

    Relationship development is key and if you’re in it as a transactional recruiter then fair enough, but I’m in it to grow relationships and place people into amazing jobs – long term!

    Happy candidates and clients is number one … the fee comes second for me!

  17. Shilpa May 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Hi Greg,

    I’m new to your blog and loving it:)! I’ve recently been offered a recruitment role. I’ve got no experience so I’ve been researching the net to gather info so I can use it to develop skills or find a medium that would help me develop a skill. I’ve also been talking to people etc….

    I came across this blog and it literally freaked me out! I was wondering if there was any truth to it? If you read it you can imagine why… I was quite excited about this opportunity but the amount of negativity out there about recruiters is making me a bit nervous…

  18. Mike Walmsley May 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    Reading this article makes me think about estate agents. Most of us have a negative view about estate agents but one that’s not necessarily based on fact or personal experience.

    Years ago, my brother had his house on the market for a year but he couldn’t sell it. In desperation, he instructed a new agent who surprisingly advised him to put the price up – the rationale being that aspirational buyers would be looking in a slightly higher price range. A week later the house was sold for several thousand pounds more than the advertised price over the previous 12 months.

    Everyone I’ve ever told about this anecdote has remarked that the advice my brother received was quite brilliant – and to some degree I’m sure it woke them up to the fact that there are really good estate agents out there in the market (as well as shabby ones!).

    But, that brilliant estate agent missed a trick. He did not get a case study to put on his website. Every day, estate agents (and recruiters!) are doing great things for their customers. Sadly, very few have the foresight to collect case studies and testimonials that showcase their exceptional service to candidates and clients.

    Think how much collateral you would have if, after every single placement, all your staff routinely wrote up case studies and collected testimonials from happy candidates and clients.

  19. Rachida May 2, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Are you seriously writting a blogpost complaining about your clients?
    If you think you get the monopole of clients waisting your time, changing their briefs, changing their minds and not showing up to meetings well … Think again! This happens either you’re a PT at the gym or a CEO at a creative/media agency… It’s the Client / Suplier relationship most of us has to deal with.

    Yes there are great recruiters out there but there are also some terrible ones.
    Cold calling is hard is it? Well how do you think it feels like to have a recruiter ring your desk during office hours when you sit right next to your boss? Not great!

    I beleivr to redeem itself the recruitement industry really needs to review their processes…

  20. Candidate May 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    I’m not in the recruitment industry- am a candidate currently seeking an opportunity so have been dealing with a few recruiters. I do not think that I have enough experience to form an opinion on who is a good recruiter or who is a bad one. I will say that a recruiter is good if the person returns my call or provides me good feedback or lands me a role :). There are a couple of things that I have trouble understanding though.

    1) The amount of call-backs I get from recruiters even after multiple follow ups. No, I do not leave them an extra friendly cheeky voice mail. I leave a clear and concise message- my name, number and the role I’m calling for. I have only been searching for a few weeks and have only been called back by 1 recruiter out of (around) 10 that I had called. The same recruiter told me how important it is to call before or after applying as very few people do call for a role, so I was a bit surprised that I did not get a call back from at least a few more.

    2) I have been reading a few HR articles like “how to interview candidate” etc articles from different HR websites and Linkedin. I’m shocked at the fact that I have not seen one article that mentions how important it is to keep in mind the candidate’s cultural background (until just now while typing this, I just googled “interview across cultures” ). I am in the field of IT, from non-english speaking background and have worked for a number of years with a top global consulting firm. In the same firm, each one of us was required to take up several training courses such as effective communication in an environment having people with different cultures etc. and I think the course content would be relevant to any area- IT, HR, Accounting etc. I think it’s unfair that some people dismiss CVs just because the CV has a few spelling mistakes or some grammatical mistakes if the intent is to find the best qualified candidate for the job unless the job description specifically mentions that the candidate should have exceptional english skills. It does not necessarily mean that the person is incompetent for a job if a person’s english is not ideal incorrect but clear and understandable. These people might not have the resources to get their CVs reviewed for grammatical correctness. I have worked with a lot of bright people who have workable english but are just brilliant at what they do and far better than someone who might have superior english skills. Do we train the people in the recruitment industry to interact with people from different cultures, or do we assume that the person would automatically inherit it as we live in a multicultural country?

    3) Storing CVs in the database to assess suitability for future roles. I can understand there are certain benefits doing so but for someone like me this is not good as I prefer to tailor my CV and include only information that is relevant to the role I’m applying for. So there is no wonder I have less chances of hearing back from recruiters for a different role which I could be suitable for. Any tips?

    There are other points but I’m just aware of the space I am taking. I’m not sure if the recruitment industry has got itself out of some of the traditional styles and believe that it should if it has not already. Just want to thank you Greg for sharing your views which has always helped me understand things from the recruiter’s side and maintain my respect for people in your industry.

  21. David Lawrence May 6, 2013 at 6:27 am #

    Some great points there Greg and in particular the lack of respect prospects/even existing clients show to recruiters especially around the client meeting. I’m embarrassed by some of the behaviour I’ve witnessed from people I’ve met at their place of work and how little respect their show. Not the people I want to work with

  22. SimpsonJudge May 10, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    A response to driving down costs and the companies that do so.

  23. Tara Tana May 12, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Just wanted to say that a lot of good points were made.

    To add to the positivity, I have to say that while I have recruiter horror stories of my own, one recruitment company I found to be legitimate and professional, was Australian Professional Recruitment Group in Brisbane.

    As a candidate, I felt that they not only knew their clients well, they also took the time to listen to me when I outlined what I was looking for, to assist in matching me to the best job with the best company I’ve ever worked for.

    I’ve now been with my company for 2 years, and haven’t looked back!

    A creditable achievement, and the team at APRG are definitely worthy of not only praise, but commendation!

  24. Eden Scott June 13, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    We recently attended a seminar where small business owners told them never to use a recruitment consultancy.

    Everyone’s had a bad experience, but there are good guys out there:

  25. Shauna-Marie Wilson April 21, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    Perhaps they are out there (honest recruiters) but I feel I encountered few. Perhaps it was my previous field (personal assistant) or just cultural fit being used as a tool to cut out candidates from poor neighbourhoods or who don’t conform to.convention (I am a transsexual). I know from previous communication with Greg that he’s honest, but he I feel does not speak for the majority of recruiters I encountered. In fairness, the recruiter is meeting the client expectations, so the problem may be dodgy employers hiding behind a use unethical selection processes so only the recruiter cops the flak while the client hides. Of course recruiters can.avoid this by refusing unethical instructions from clients.


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