It’s common knowledge that Recruitment is not the most coveted and prestigious job in the world. But like in most sales and service professions, there is that 2% that make a difference or at least attempt to do so.

What are recruiters best known for - spamming the market? I wouldn’t take a stand against it because 98% of them do exactly that. While the remaining 2% aim to understand their industry of specialization well enough to work the top end of the market that allows for a relationship to nurture and a service model to function. This class of recruiters command the respect of their clients and candidates and start thinking of alternatives, solutions, or processes that will differentiate them, offer their clients or candidates service that impacts them professionally and is paid that premium they demand and deserve for it.

Life is all about choices. We can choose to be the spammers or we can choose to create value. I definitely endorse the view that recruitment can be highly satisfying for those who perceive it as a tool in their hands to control an outcome and provide matchless service.

This isn’t really a write-up on why recruitment should be your next career choice but having spent almost five years in the regional Asia Pacific recruitment market, I would very much like to share some of the frustrating moments of my recruitment experience:

1. Hiring Manager: Thanks for finding me this candidate for my team, here is my CV now!
When the Hiring Manager makes a hire in his team through you and after the process closes, immediately reaches out to you asking your help in exploring career opportunities for them due to “company restructuring” or “switching focus due to lack of good projects in the markets” or XYZ. Clearly, these are situations that could have avoided that hire in the team and de-stabilizing someone’s career in the first place. I remember literally losing sleep over this one!

2. Hiring Manager: ASAP start working on this most urgent leadership retained search (you mean a market mapping exercise?)
When you get paid a hefty retainer for a search that seems pretty solid and committed in the beginning, but eventually turns out to be just another market-mapping exercise. I mean, I am surely not complaining about the retainer ($$), but what most companies don’t realize is how badly it reflects upon their brand, what kind of message it sends to the market, and how difficult it becomes to attract senior talent again for another “real” search with the company (after presenting cleared shortlist for this critical, urgent search that vanished into thin air).

3. Hiring manager - Great headhunt but lacks motivation. Rejected.
Very often what surprised me the most was the unwillingness of the Hiring Managers to sell an opportunity and simply reject senior headhunted candidates for their “lack of motivation”. Why are Hiring Managers so reluctant to educate or semi-sell the role to a headhunted candidate? I don’t understand where the logic gets derailed here. It’s a search given to a recruitment consultancy, because the internal team cannot find a half-decent candidate. So we are getting paid to headhunt someone from a competitor and ensure we generate their interest to explore. There is no way, the candidate will show-up wearing a hire-me sash straight away to an interview. For instance, earlier this year, I successfully closed a pretty senior role in China where the candidate came from an alternative industry with unique transferable skill-sets to wind energy (an industry that requires a highly specialized talent pool across a spectrum of alternative industries). And, in this case, the Hiring Manager and the candidate had several discussions, meetings, site-visits for the candidate to be convinced and challenged to take-up the role. The process was gradual but the interest grew mutually and resulted in a win-win. I know every search, situation, candidate, and client is different but also, gone are the days when the expectation out of the candidate was to show an insane level of motivation. We have progressed ahead of that. Nowadays, we align with candidates and clients on situations, common factors of interest and prepare them to immerse in the process, to realize a mutual fit exists or not.

I believe it is important to question the above, because if we don't challenge the status quo, we are not helping the recruitment industry progress.

There is a lot to learn in recruitment and it can be an absolutely thrilling profession for many who would like to be mentally challenged and wish to develop many important skills such as critical thinking, communication, and decision-making. However, thanks to the 98% of the recruitment market, the general impression we end up leaving on our clients/candidates and the market at large is just how transactional and meaningless this job can be.

There is no big mystery or rocket science in how we can develop a real connection with clients and candidates. It took me a while to learn this reality about recruitment and to be able to differentiate myself (also, I was coached by the right manager). In all honesty, not all clients and candidates agreed with my stance and approach because they were happy with the approach of the 98%. I respect that massively - at least they know what they want and are satisfied with that approach. As for me, the clients who gave me the most challenging projects and believed in my approach were the ones who I worked most passionately for and generated most repeat business from.

So, who were you today - a SpamBot or a Human Recruiter?