Three Biggest Blunders I Made as a Recruiter

As with all professions, recruiting has many obstacles and challenges to overcome on the way to mastering the craft.  For me, starting my first Recruiting job in 2016 after a few years working retail, there are countless mistakes I remember making along the way.   However, nearly 4 years of mistakes propelled me to incredible success and I’m a Top Producer for my firm today.   For some good comedy, and to inspire other Recruiters with similar struggles, I took time to recreate the three biggest blunders I made as a young Recruiter:

  1. The Most Important Question
    Moms advice always helps.  Right?  Growing up, my mother always told me: “Daniel, you can NEVER ask anyone how much money they make, NEVER!”  Ingrained in my soul to never talk about how much money a person makes, I was, of course, extremely uncomfortable asking job prospects about compensation.   My boss told me this question was important.    I struggled to ask the right way.  Moreover, they all made way more than me, and I couldn’t shake thinking about Mom’s advice.  It wasn’t long before I realized why the compensation question can’t be dodged.   In fact, it not only has to be asked, but you have to ask additional questions to be sure to receive a solid answer.  

    One month on the job, I screened a candidate, let’s name him Johnny.   He was a super match for the job I was assigned, and so I hastily conducted my prescreen.    This is roughly how my prescreen conversation went with Johnny when I got to the most important question:

    Me: Hey Johnny, how much are you making right now and what are you looking to make in your next position?|

    Johnny: I’m making close to $60/hour and I’m looking to make $65/hour

    Me: Awesome, I will put you down for $65 per year. I really think this job could be an awesome fit for you!

    I rushed through this question and misinterpreted $65/hour with $65,000 salary per year. I made a huge blunder right there.    Johnny went through the initial phone interview and then, excitedly, I scheduled a personal interview with our client.    Neither my Account Manager, me, or Johnny was aware of my blunder.  Yet.   Johnny interviewed very well, and fortunately our client extended an offer for $65,000/year due to the information I recorded from our initial conversation.

    As you can imagine, Johnny wasn’t pleased with an offer that was essentially 50% of his expected compensation.   In fact, Johnny was furious that I wasted his time on this position - all because I failed to confirm his compensation after each and every step of the employment process.   He sent me a nasty email

    After this incident, I learned my lesson.  I love you Mom, but business is business.   Now, I make sure I confirm compensation with each candidate after every step in the recruiting process.   And then I reconfirm and reconfirm a few more times.  Just so I don’t have any more Johnny’s!
  2. “Let Him Go!”

    I’ve learned in the Recruiting business that we fail often.  In fact, most of the time.   We mill through dozens of candidates just to get the RIGHT one.   And even the right one doesn’t always accept an offer or show up for her first day of work.   At my firm, Recruiters are required to notify our candidates within 24 hours of finding out they did not get the job to which we presented them.   One of my Account Managers actually reminds me after a candidate is rejected by our client following an interview, “Let Him Go!”    That’s his way of saying, your candidate didn’t do well, but be professional and let him know this information.  

    According to my personal recruiting metrics, I’ve submitted 646 viable candidates to our clients, and 75 of those candidates have started working since I started recruiting in 2016. On average, this means for every 11 candidates I submit, one candidate gets hired. This also means I’ve had call 571 people and let them know that my client wasn’t interested in moving forward in the employment process.

    When I first started recruiting, I was nervous to tell a candidate they were not getting the job. All these negative thoughts flooded my brain.   “What if they get mad at me?”  Or worse, “What if I get another mean email like Johnny’s?”

    It took one big blunder for me to truly appreciate the importance of communicating negative feedback to my candidates.    I vividly remember one candidate being upset with my lack of communication; he called me one day:

    “Daniel, I wanted to let you know I found a new job.   Do you remember a few months ago I went in for a personal interview that you scheduled, and afterwards I called you to share how it went, but I never heard back from you?   I never heard from your client about my interview.   I wanted you to know although I found a new job, I thought we had a good line of communication but the truth is it hurt not knowing how I did on my interview with your company.   I can handle bad news and you should share that with the next candidate you work with.”

    Ouch!   What a blunder!   And of course completely my fault.   After that message, I never fail to communicate bad news to my candidates.    I recommend to all Recruiters - ALWAYS let a candidate know if they didn’t get the job. I discovered over time that candidates will be more thankful and appreciative of the feedback – good or bad - than you may think.
  3. Inconsistent Communication

    According to a 2016 publication by SHRM, The average recruiting lifecycle (from initial phone screen to actual start date being established) is roughly 42 days. Wow!  So much can happen within those 42 days!  For example, my candidates can find another job, or they can decide to stay with their current employer, despite going through the interview process with your client.    Just like me, job candidates are human and they must make decisions about their careers.   So I’ve learned through a few blunders the power of maintaining constant communication with my candidates.   My Candidates would probably tell you they hear from me too often these days.   But that’s what it takes to be a great Recruiter.

    Early in my training as a Recruiter, I successfully earned an offer letter for a Software Developer name Jamie.   It felt good to know I had identified the right fit for our customer.    Only step left for me to handle was calling my Candidate, and giving him the good news.     So I called Jamie with great joy and exclaimed, “Jamie, so apparently your interview with Lockheed Martin was great.  I’m pleased to let you know I have an offer letter coming to you via email for $126,000!  What do you think about that?”

    Jamie chuckled.  “I think it’s too late.   I already accepted an offer, put in my two weeks notice and start next Monday on a different program.”    Ugh.  I hadn’t communicated with Jamie in over a week, and this blunder was costly for my team and for our customer.   All a big waste of time and energy.   I lost out on this deal, and frankly I’ve been burned many times by candidates, but since my lesson from Jamie I’ve never lost a candidate due to not staying in constant communication with my candidates.

    Today, I over-communicate, starting with the initial conversation between me and my candidate. Now, I always ask my candidates: “Hey Johnny, are you interviewing anywhere else right now?” or “Do you have any active offers?”   And throughout the interview process, I repeatedly ask my candidates the tough questions: “Where do you stand now with your other prospects? Any offers yet?”

I’m still learning, but as you can see from my blunders today I’m a far better Recruiter than my early months on the job.   I hope they help you become a better Recruiter too!

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