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February 2017

You Don't Actually Want Recruiters To Help You

How is that for a title? Forgive me. It's been a while since I've written here and I'm just converting a Facebook comment into a post because it's pretty good. I think. You be the judge. 

Derek Zeller posted a character study at Recruiting Daily where he creates "messages" from candidates. His main thesis lies in treating candidates better. I get it. It makes sense. But he's just dead wrong, and I'll explain why. 

Derek writes, 

"Without candidates, we wouldn’t have recruiters, and you’d be just another candidate desperately searching for a job instead of the person responsible for filling them."

This is the old, our clients are most important resource. Without clients, who would pay the bills? Unfortunately, that's not actually the point of those stories. Clients and customers and candidates exist because they exist. Our mindset in selling them is important, and there's a lot of truth in the idea that people do business with people they like. The point of treating someone as special is that they will like you. 

That's a sales gimmick. It's like the whole, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People pitch. It's not moral. It's effective. There is a big difference. 

I have two main problems with Derek's theory. 

1) People are not rational

In studying consciousness, we know that what we perceive of as a justification is literally a "fake" memory processed in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that is manufactured as a past event in response to a judgement from the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala. Basically, our brain gets good and bad tingles, and then tells a really good story about those tingles.

That makes it very hard to get into the mind of anyone. Their brains lie to them.

2) No candidate should care about you, and you shouldn't care about them. 

I'm serious. You should care about the people you plan to care about. Pretending that a candidate is special because they called you or emailed you makes you feel better, but it does nothing for them. 

Candidates care about getting jobs. That is their focus. If you want to help them, you help them. If you want to care about them, care about them as a person, not as a candidate.  

Let's slaughter another sacred cow to make the point here. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a candidate is to ignore them. 

What's funny is that is not a best practice for you, but it is the best thing for a candidate that you can not help. Time spent with you, especially time spent with someone who will use your conversation to put off other conversations, is not time well spent. If a candidate likes me, and I like them, our talking together creates a false sense of security for both of us. 

As a third party recruiter, I guard against this. Feeling good after a call is not the same thing as moving the recruiting ball down the field. Getting someone on the phone who isn't yelling at me is great for me - but it's a waste of time for that person. 

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Let's finish this off.  Here's how candidates act:
1) What's in it for me?
2) Will this person help me?
3) What do I need to do to make this person more useful to me?

It would be bizarre if they acted in any other manner. Our goal should not be to understand, but to be useful. Useful comes in many forms. One way of being useful is ignoring people you can't help. That's not in any training manuals, but it's more useful than wasting their time trying to make yourself feel better about not being able to help them.

Recruiters exist to perform their job. That job is making introductions to people who can get hired. When we try to be more than that, it's because we want to feel like we are doing more.

This is not bad. I'm not saying don't be polite and don't try to help people. I'm saying we should recognize our role, our limitations, and not pretend that a sales pitch is the same thing as having a big heart.