The 5 Reasons Why Most RECRUITERS Hate HR

A couple months ago I wrote a post on Why I Hate (Most) Recruiters which put me squarely in the cross-hairs of pretty much every recruiter out there, and I took a bit of a beating.  I did learn, however, that recruiters are able to learn – 90% of the wrath happened over email.  Thanks guys, it’s much easier for me to take it on the chin that way!  A funny thing happened as I was sifting through insults and F bombs – some of you had an important point:  HR is just as much to blame for failed company/recruiter relationships and does a lot of stupid things that undermine the relationship.  Let me give you my favorite examples:

  • We Expect You To Be A Magician:  We call you up, give you the jobs specs (which by the way is usually one of our toughest jobs to fill), and as soon as you start telling us how long it will take to find candidates, we stop listening.  Why?  Because we think you have this secret crystal ball that you look into to magically conjure up candidates or that you’ve got a bunch of candidates sitting right there with you in your office just waiting to take the job.  You tell us it will take 2 weeks?  We hear 2 days.
  • We Show Off:  Let’s face it – most HR Pros think that bringing in a recruiter somehow reflects poorly on them and they want to prove otherwise.  So we show off.  You think you know the market, Mr. Recruiter?  Ha, let me tell you how WE find candidates.  Or we say things like “we have some great candidates already, we’re just looking for you to help us round out the field and give us some good comparators.”  Or we try to prove just how good we really are by listing off our staffing fills from the last 10 years.  Also, did I tell you, I once scored 4 touchdowns in a single game?
  • We Nickel and Dime You:  This is my favorite (and I have to admit, I’ve done it myself).  Clearly we’re calling you because we have a hole that we’re not capable of filling ourselves.  So once we’ve told you we expect you to pull a rabbit out of a hat and have wowed you with stories of our recruiting prowess, we go after your fee.  25% fee?  How about 20%?  20% fee?  How about 15%?  The number doesn’t really matter when we’re negotiating with you – we’re just looking for a “win” so we can go back and tell our HR pals that we knocked down the agency fee by X%.  Meanwhile, what we don’t know is that 5% fee knockdown is probably the difference between having an experienced recruiter work on your opening instead of the new grad we’re going to get now!
  • We Use You As A Scapegoat:  Yes, you sent us 5 really qualified candidates, fully vetted them and gave us the full rundown on the timing of their other job prospects.  But we took 2 weeks to get them in for an interview and surprise, surprise, we lost them.  Rather than telling our internal stakeholders that we dropped the ball we take the easy road and blame the recruiter.  Doesn’t matter really what we say you did or didn’t do, we just say “the recruiter messed up.”
  • We Never Call You Back:  I’m sure this has to be the personal favorite of every recruiter out there.  After putting in hours of hard work sourcing, prepping and debriefing candidates, we give you the ol’ high school break-up move.  We avoid your calls until you get the picture.  No explanation, no discussion, we just fade away into the sunset leaving you to figure out what to tell your candidates.

That is, until we have another tough job to fill and we call you up and start the whole process over again.

FOT Background Check

Andy Porter
Andy Porter is Chief People Officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA which means he works with some wicked smaaht people. Some days, he indeed does wear short shorts around the office(call it a morale booster) but it really just makes people uncomfortable. Other days, he spits some mad game on cheese. No really – he’s somewhat of a cheese aficionado. But more importantly? At Broad he gets to his small part to help change the world of healthcare.


  1. Brenda Le says:

    That pretty much sums it up in most cases! There are still some HR folks who are great to work with, though 🙂 Happy Friday!

  2. Bryan Wilson says:

    All I have to say to this is: WORD. So true. When you think about it, most problems usually come down to poor communication or ego’s getting in the way. Recruiters & HR folks are guilty of both. We’re only human. Its nice to hear the “other side” admit it though. 🙂

  3. Seth McColley says:

    Admittedly, I’m guilty of at least two of those bullet points. Great post…now I need to get back to work and blame our Staffing team for some deadline that I’m sure to miss.

    Feeling convicted in Dallas,

  4. LebHR says:

    Very well said Andy ! love how you laid out the relationship between Recruiters and company HRs

    Are you a job seeker, employee, manager, or HR fanatic? check out for info and tips.
    LebHR – The Lebanese Human Resources Community

  5. laurie says:

    I read ‘We Expect You To Be A Magician’ as ‘We Expect You To Be Mexican’.

    I think there’s some weird SHRM immigration/legislation/election issues in my brain, right now.

  6. Meredith says:

    I think I am more like a recruiter than an HR Director because recruiting is my passion. But I DO have to admit… I feel like a failure when I pay to get talent. However, sometimes, I HAVE TO. So I am cool with that.

    Thank you for all that you do! I KNOW it’s super tough!

  7. Kerri-Ann Hargreaves says:

    Interesting article and I completely agree with both sides, what I would like to reiterate is that there are some truly fantastic HR & Recruitment professionals out there. Personally I have more positive and real ‘working in partnership’ relationships with my HR contacts who value the consultative approach. When HR refuse to working in partnership I would personally walk away or at least make them I aware that I will not be able to work successfully with them. Recruitment & HR require an upfront, honest and mature approach to working together.

  8. Joey Aloisio says:

    This would be the difference with working with, what we call, “C Class Clients in comparison with a ‘A Class Client”. As our time is money and so is our Clients, being in a niece/highly reputable market, and the ability to tailor a efficient, personal, professional and honest service for our Client is paramount to our business.

    Personally, having these ticks against me (as mentioned above) would lead me to develop business with other competitors within the same market..yes/no? though important to minimize these bad “5 reasons why most recruiters hate HR”, open communication and importantly courtesy goes a long way. A lot of my clients who work in the Project Management Team for large $50-$100Mil+ Civil project often become candidates, however this is the relationship you build over time..

    For sure, it’s a competitive market. Though the ability to understand your Clients needs, intentions, environment and yes favorite footy team is important amongst others. Remember it’s in recruitment, ” it’s relationship building” and its for the long run…

    You’ll never tell the Client which category they fall in….but you definitely know the Clients, who in return invests time into you….

  9. Nice post, Andy … I blogged about it at and will be taking on your post about “hating” recruiters for my next entry. Keep ’em coming!

  10. Matt Lloyd says:

    Both sides are to blame, however one of the most frustrating things for the candidate and the line manager is the chinese whispers that happens in between. Line/ Hiring Managers give the brief to HR who pick up the bits they understand and leave out bits they might not or misinterpret what the manager wants. They then speak to the recruiter and pass on the information that they have retained and think is important. The recruiter then does the same thing and misses parts of the brief and passes this on to potential candidates.

    By the time the Hiring manager and the candidate meet they often find that the interpretation of the role is completely different from what each other were thinking

  11. Dave says:

    hi Andy
    good article but to me none of these reasons are the real reason i dislike HR. To me, the biggest challenge is that HR don’t always understand the actual job requirement, either because they don’t understand the business or because the line manager didn’t give them the proper brief. As recruiters we end up with an inadequate brief and a gatekeeper who doesn’t always understand exactly what the line manager needs. Ask any recruiter and our chances of getting the right candidate first up is much better if we get the brief from the line manager directly. i know this isn’t always possible, and i know that often when we place this way, we end up battling to get our money as the line manager bypassed all the protocol, but that’s a different debate. Please HR, force business to give you a proper spec, and allow the line managers to shortlist if you aren’t sure of the ins and outs of the position. Otherwise i love HR!

  12. Steve says:

    Andy! Love it and yes, what you are saying is pertinent here in Australia as well.

    There is this love – hate thing going on between HR and Recruiters (both agency and in-house). Having been in agency and in-house, I have always been amused with the way HR views agencies as the enemy. Running an RPO business now, I see everything you mentioned above AMPLIFIED because we are closer and easier to blame.

    I recently posted a true story on the role of a Hiring Manager in the recruitment process (see In House Recruitment Group – The Hiring Managers Role In Recruitment), with the names changed of course.

    I am sure there is a psychological study out there somewhere that can label this for us.


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