01 October 2008

15 unwise assumptions for recruiters to make

This article originally appeared in Issue 52 of InSight Published 1 October 2008

I always knew that when one of my recruiters started a sentence with ‘I assumed…” that it was going to be a story with an unhappy ending.
 
Assumptions are for the unskilled, the lazy or the unthinking. The Macquarie definition of assume is “to take for granted or without proof, suppose as a fact”.
 
To take anything for granted in the world of recruitment consulting is asking for trouble. Here is a list of unwise assumptions, summarised from my 19 years of (often painful) experience in recruitment:

1. The client will read my brochure
Do you seriously believe ANY client or prospect will read your company brochure? Most recruitment company brochures are boring, filled with motherhood statements and provide little, if any, compelling reason for the client to use that recruiter. Why would a client read it?
 
2. The candidate will tell me about any other offers they have
Not unless you ask them, they won’t.
 
3. Getting on a PSA is great news
In my experience, a vast majority of PSAs deliver rewards well below expectations to those recruiters who ‘win’ a place on the agreement.
 
4. My calls will be returned
Not unless you gave the person you were calling a compelling reason to do so, they won’t.
 
5. People possess common sense
What might be ‘common sense’ to an accountant might not be ‘common sense’ to a salesperson.
 
6. The client will mention any internal candidates being considered for the role
Not unless you ask them, they won’t.
 
7. Resumes are a complete and accurate record of a candidate’s work history
As I wrote about earlier this year in InSight 21, US private investigation and security firm, Kroll reported that 49% of requested checks on their clients’ employees and prospective employees, uncovered discrepancies in the resume-stated employment history compared to what Kroll's background check revealed. Your job as a recruiter is to validate the resume of any candidate you represent to a client.
 
8. The client will tell me that they have listed the job with another/other recruiter(s)
Some will, some won’t. Make sure you find out every time you take a job brief.
 
9. A candidate’s referee will volunteer any relevant less-than-flattering information about the candidate during the reference check
Most referees want to speak well of employees who have worked for them and won’t offer any potentially negative information about the candidate unless they are asked a specific question that may reveal this information.
 
10. People read emails
Some do, some don’t. Most people are looking to delete emails as quickly as possible, so if you are emailing important information and you don’t get any acknowledgement, then follow up with a telephone call.
 
11. Candidates will accept a job at the salary stated/advertised
The closer the candidate gets to the offer the more likely they are to want more money to accept the offer. Keep re-confirming the salary.
 
12. Candidates will notify me in advance if they are not going to be able to attend a scheduled interview
Always create a reason to telephone a candidate same-day (or 24 hours at worst) of a scheduled interview to re-confirm the interview details.
 
13. Clients will ‘be reasonable’ and pay my fee without having signed our terms of business
My experience was that the amount of time it takes for a client to sign your terms is in direct proportion to how uncooperative they will be during the recruitment process.
 
14. Candidates will tell me if their circumstances change at work or at home
Looking for a new job is a function of many things - things that can change quickly. Touch base with candidates regularly about whether anything has impacted (negatively or positively) on their enthusiasm for a seeking a new job.
 
15. Other people have the same standards and values as me
Recruitment can be a tremendously fulfilling and rewarding career, however, you have to be prepared to experience, forgive and get past, some very strange, rude and inexplicable behavior. Operating as an optimistic cynic (expecting the best, preparing for the worst) worked for me.
 
Next time you start a sentence with "I assumed..." take note of what lesson you are about to learn. 

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