3 (More) Ways Recruiters Get a Bad Name

Recruiter inside voice: “You hear those papers shuffling in the background? That’s me frantically trying to find your resume, but in the mean time I’m going to seamlessly small talk until I remember who the hell you are.

Candidate inside voice: “Seriously? You called me yesterday, jack-wagon.

If you’re part of #FOTNation, chances are North of 100% that you have:

  • Conducted a candidate search
  • Been on the receiving end of a candidate search
  • Both

Hopefully, your answer is “both.” There is no better training for a recruiter than to have been recruited at some point. Most of us have heard the complaints about “no call backs,” “no feedback,” or even a lack of understanding of the very position for which you are sourcing. But if you haven’t been on the other end of the phone for a while, you may have also forgotten some of the insensitive things we do when sourcing candidates:

  1. The Handoff: When you contact a candidate and they actually respond, do you immediately hand them off to another colleague (e.g., a subordinate)? In Texas we have a saying (actually, we have a million, we’re good like that): “Dance with the one what brung ya, son.” If you hand me off, you’re making a statement about my value (the candidate) vs. your value.
  2. The Re-Boot: I know, believe me, it’s impossible to keep the list of names straight when you’ve got 35 open reqs wallpapering your office. I’m an infamous multi-tasker and could have a 10-minute conversation with a person and  not even recall the gender, so I had to consciously change that instinctual behavior. Make a connection with each candidate, take copious notes, and have a master ledger of your conversations. Asking the candidate to “Refresh my memory” is another way of saying, “Remind me who you are again?”
  3. Not on The First Date: Have you ever been in a conversation with a recruiter, prospect, stranger, etc., and they mention something from your background that is pretty deeply indexed in your LinkedIn profile? Just a little too familiar, too soon, you know? Tap the brakes a little bit and work through some of the “favorite color” questions before we ask about how I like my eggs, Miss FancyPants.

Being a recruiter can be a thankless job—you’re squarely in the middle of two vocal client groups, you know way too much about bad CVs, and you have a love/hate relationship with all forms of technology (basically, it’s all out to get us)… candidates flake, clients freeze reqs, interviews go horribly wrong—and that’s not even counting the ways our inside voice is screwing us over.


FOT Background Check

John Whitaker
“Whit” is an HR Business Strategist and Staffing Professional: he primarily works in the healthcare industry, because... healthcare. A Texan, he tends to amuse us (okay, he amuses himself) with colloquialisms and a cowboy’s view on our industry. John honed his HR chops at Alcon Laboratories and CVS Caremark before starting HR Hardball™ in 2010. He currently hangs his sombrero at DentalOne Partners where he has been fortunate enough to lead a world-class team of recruiting professionals. You can email Whit, find him on LinkedIn, or read more of his brain-droppings at www.HRhardball.com


  1. kd says:

    Johnny –

    OK, like the rant. Two things:

    1. I find it helps to give a nickname to the background for a candidate. Something like “the Governor” (tie on the linked in picture) or Imelda (had a thing for shoes when I went to twitter account. Just me? OK…

    2. I think deeply sourced info from the linked in profile can be used on the first date if positioned correctly, something along of the lines of “what I love about your background is that you have a working knowledge of retail pharmacy warehousing practices. If dropping that knowledge is wrong, I don’t want to be right.


  2. Imelda? At least you used nicknames you can share publicly. As far as going too far on the first date, you had me at hello KD

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